Writing for Hubpages: How To Write Online and Not Get Discouraged
Looking back at my first year at HubPages is an exciting and interesting prospect for me. I have learned and grown. I've made mistakes and had some success.
Before I start my reflection I can tell you that, if you are reading this outside the HubPages community and are looking for a legitimate place to engage in real writing and possibly earn something from it, then you should give HubPages a try.
It's not perfect. There have been ups and downs and writers gained and writers lost. But overall, what seems to be emerging from the depths is an emphasis on quality writing, a great database of resource articles from knowledgeable writers and an emphasis by the staff on high quality writing and visually appealing material---the kind of articles any of us hope to run across when we are looking for information on the internet.
What I Learned Within a Few Weeks of Joining
The first thing I learned within a few weeks of joining is that there seems to be two distinct schools of thought among HubPage writers.
One group believes very strongly in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you can find many fantastic articles from some of my fellow HubPage authors on this very subject.
The other group tends to write fantastic, beautifully written articles, stories and poems. And from their own self-disclosures, they don't make very much money from them---ever.
But I also think there is a third group---the in-betweens. We have neither viral or SEO-amazing articles nor do we have a profile with all beautifully written articles that never get much love from Google or anyone else.
We're pretty quiet and most of us just keep working, writing and publishing.
Here's a breakdown of the different kinds of HubPages writers and why I'm a "Mr. In-Between."
What I'm sharing is my personal journey and observations and should not be considered a formula for success. Each of us must design and implement our own goals.
Fast and Furious
It doesn't take long to realize that there are people that are very good at earning money through Internet writing. They know how to research SEO, implement those techniques into their writing and find markets that are still full of untapped potential.
These SEO writers proclaim that they find topics that get less than X number of hits a day to not be worth their time.
Now that X seems to be different for each writer but they all know their numbers. If an article doesn't start performing well for them within a certain amount of time, they rework it or kill it.
And though we don't disclose personal earnings numbers, by their own declarations they are doing well.
If you look at the SEO writers' works, they seem to employ specific layouts and specific wording choices for their titles.
The only downside of this, from my understanding, are the dreaded algorithm changes that can occur as Google tweaks their formulas, their page rankings, and how their bots crawl a page. Suddenly, a writer that is doing well can find themselves doing poorly based on rule changes and what can be seen as gaming the system.
So SEO seems to require constant research and close eye on what Google search engines want and what they consider to be okay.
Beauty That is Forgotten
There is another set of writers on HubPages. When they publish it is a thing of beauty. They may have fantastic writing skills, write beautiful essays, fiction or poetry.
They have many admirers and followers within the writing community.
They are arguably the best that HubPages has to offer in terms of pure writing skills. Their technical mastery of the language is inspiring.
And yet, by their own admittance, they struggle to make any kind of money off of the writings they produce. Some claim to be fine with this and that they are not out to make money but just looking for a public outlet for their work.
But others, understandably, are frustrated. Their work is high quality and beautiful and yet it languishes and never finds the audience the writer wants or deserves.
Slow and Steady: Mr. In-Between
And then there's people like me. We're neither the best writers nor the worst. We have some hits and some misses. But "hits" is a relative term for us.
A slow and steady rise in traffic and earnings is our long term goal and, like the tortoise and the hare, by plan or accident, we're the tortoise in this race.
I've researched some SEO. I've looked at the Keyword Planner tools. And sometimes I use them. And sometimes I don't. And sometimes I have a hit that surprises me. And sometimes I have a miss that I thought for sure would work.
But if I look at the long term numbers. My audience is growing. My earning potential is growing.
It is important to look at the long term and not the day-to-day or even the week-to-week. Look at the trends.
What I might lack in viral posts, I can make up in sheer volume. If you have 30 articles that get 10 search engine hits a day or one article that gets 300, you're still getting 300 search engine hits a day.
And while you might have spent more time initially to get to that number (by writing 30 articles), your passive income potential after that time could, in theory, be the same.
So my emphasis is on quality and quantity, on writing about subjects I care about and about numbers.
Google algorithms may change, but if you have a quality article that readers read and engage with, you are looking at the potential for success over the long term.
Don't Mess With Mr. In-Between
Tips That Worked For Me
- Get in the habit of writing
When you have a few free hours. Write something. Keep notes on your phone or on a piece of paper at your desk when you run across ideas. Try to make it a goal to publish at least an article or two of high quality each week.
- Volume can help you attain short and long term goals
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes slow and steady wins the race. Maybe you're just not really knowledgeable about subjects that can bring in 300 views a day on one article. But can you write ten, high quality articles that might bring in ten search engine views a day?
Well, there's a place to start then.
- Have at least three articles in mind when writing on a topic
Divide your knowledge up into useful chunks of information and try to stick to just that subject. With the current HubPages format, you can also use the grouping feature so that your three articles are in constant carousel at the bottom of the other article. This gets you more exposure for your other writings as well.
If you can't think of three different articles on a similar subject, ask yourself if you really know enough about this subject to even write about it. And be honest!
- Think about what people might search for
Sure it's fun to write a beautiful poem or a great essay about a beloved family member. But what can you write what might prove useful to somebody? What can you write that someone will look at and think: "there it is" or "that's exactly what I needed to know."
These aren't always the most fun articles to write and research but they can, in the long term, bring in more views than the other kinds.
- Write at least one functional and useful article for every indulgent piece
Many of us on here are writers. We enjoy writing. I have degrees in English and part of the reason I got those degrees is because I wanted to spend my life reading and writing. And sometimes I want to write about something that I want to write about. And that's okay.
But make it a habit to balance out those indulgent pieces (like this one) with ones that are more practical and useful to the average search engine user. There's room for both but only one has true potential to grow and prosper most of the time.
There's always exceptions---those articles that are indulgent but strike a nerve and go viral. While they may be a long shot for most, it doesn't hurt to throw a few in the mix and see how they do.
- Quality of writing really does matter
If you can't write well, if you don't have a strong grasp of the language, if you struggle to come up with even a 500 word article, then the online writing game is not for you. More and more, how well the piece is written, matters.
You're just going to end up frustrated and unhappy.
- Please use and credit photos legally!
Speaking of indulgent. Please use photos correctly. Unless you get a public domain photo, a photo with a creative commons license or take them yourself, you aren't supposed to use them!
Different Hubpage authors will explain different ways for attributing. I personally prefer to include the link to the creative commons and public domain photos that I use. This way, if it is ever removed from the public domain, I get a broken link notice in my account. It helps keep everything on the up and up and in the open.
I see so many writers in HubPages and other places who write fantastic pieces but the images they use are obviously not theirs or not attributed correctly. It's so frustrating.
Here's the Hubpages Tutorial that explains all about how to attribute images. In fact, the Hubpages Learning Center should be required reading. It has so much fantastic information.
- Give it time
This really is about allowing time. I have articles that don't get much search engine interest at all for several months. Then all of a sudden they pick up some steam. It can take months or even a year to see a steady increase in views per day.
And while there is no guarantee, this should be about the long-term game. Research and write a high quality article, publish it, be proud of it and let it go for awhile.
No one seems to fully understand why some articles are indexed quickly and some take months. But you truly don't know if you've hit the right audience until you give it time.
No Magic Formula
So I don't have the magic formula.
I don't have mind-blowing success.
But I'm not a failure either. The trends so far are upward and onward for me.
Some have raced past me. Some have sped along and then floundered. I've kept it slow and steady.
And didn't we learn from the fable that "slow and steady win the race?"
Maybe not always, but it's worth a shot!