HubPages: The Yearly Review
Imagine...I'd never heard of Adsense?
In keeping with the semi-tradition of some hubbers who feel inclined to share their thoughts on "my first year at hubpages" - I thought I'd do the same. Such things might be of interest to newcomers, as they were to me when I arrived. First off, it's hard to believe it's been a whole year. Whoever said the older you get, the quicker the time goes, was spot on.
I stumbled upon HubPages during one of my fruitless searches on" how to make money writing online"...I was only half-serious, since every site I'd come cross thus far had I Don't Think So written all over it. Anyhow, i found HP and put in a very short three paragraph on the first thing that came into my head, not really expecting to ever come back, or rather not even thinking about it much. Little did I know what was in store....
The next day I half-heartedly looked at my hub and noticed I had a comment from someone called "The Voice", who had thoughtfully written "Nice hub Unique thoughts" beneath my little clump of words.. Well whadya know I thought, someone actually read my hub and thus, from that small act of kindness, I was on the hook, dangling like a sardine in a great big ocean of "online writers". I later discovered that "The Voice" made a point of commenting on just about every new hubbers work -to this day I'm not sure if he's not some kind of aut-bot, but nevermind.
Over the next couple of weeks I began moving around the site, reading other people's work and leaving little comments "interesting", "thoughful" "hmm, yes, I agree" and so-on.I'd never written online before so it was all a new experience. It was fun and I really enjoyed the variety of different styles and personalities. For a while I worried that everyone was "too nice"..was it a mutual wank? I wasn't used to the polite conversation as I'd come from YouTube and political forums where "you retard" and "what a moron" peppered every second sentence. But you know, the civilized conversation was refreshing and I appreciated it. I decided to view it not as 'mutual wanking' but rather as 'mutual support'...and I'm glad I did. I've met some terrific people here and that alone has been worth my involvement. I put my big toe in the forums and retreated again not long after. Not that I couldn't take the heat of debate but it was altogether too much of a distraction from writing articles...my main purpose for being here.
Everything about HubPages seemed designed to foster addiction - the scores, the accolades, the interaction, adsense, Amazon, the constant checking of traffic totals..it was like some sort of bizarre, really challenging game and I was fast getting hooked. I found myself getting thrilled over sums of money that wouldn't even buy a meal for my cat. In the real world people would roll their eyes when I announced with pride that "I'd made 20 cents today". They didn't understand and who could blame them? It was a bit of a joke.
Yet the thrill of being able to instantly publish was a powerful pull and every time I pushed the 'publish' button on a hub I felt like I'd given birth - to what remained to be seen. Could it be the Golden Hub..the one that would attract millions of views and enable me to fulfull my lifelong dream of buying a yacht and retiring to some warm, tropical corner of the earth? Ok I'm just kidding with that one..I am a bit of a fantasist but even I am not that unrealistic. I still do believe however, that HubPages is a fantastic publishing platform and at the very least, it has enabled me to build up a stock of articles that I otherwise wouldn't have had.
The Two-month Itch
A couple of months in and I was starting to feel a creeping sense of dissappointment. Negativity was getting to me and I reasoned I was spending a great deal of time here for little result. The comment exchanges were nice and I really did enjoy the interaction with my fellow hubbers but it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel as far as money went. While I never deluded myself that I'd get rich quick writing for HubPages, I was hoping to make a a very modest supplementary income...a few dollars a month even, would be a help but even that wasn't happening and didn't seem likely to happen in the future either. Occasionally I'd read on the forum that someone who had been here only a few months had may payout and I felt a pang of jealousy and resentment...I must be doing something wrong or I just haven't got what it takes to succeed in this game. I was forced to examine what it was I really wanted from this site - was the writing experience and social interaction enough to justfiy my remaining on the site?
Back With a Vengeance and The Crap Account
Well, the break proved to be a tonic, because after a couple of months off I returned with a renewed commitment to writing -I was going to crack this online income thing, come what may. and despite, no, in defiance of, what people in the real world were telling me.."you're wasting your time'..it's a mugs game'..'the time for making money online is over'...and so on. I ignored them and began to slavishly read up on "what the experts were saying" ...you know, the importance of keywords, backlinking etc. Most of it went in one eye and got lost somewhere in a brain cavity but I did start to write with a new consciousness of "search engine traffic". I set a goal to get 50 hubs out by Christmas, which I achieved.
Plus, toward the end of the year I opened a new account which I called the "crap account". Not that it was really so crappy but I meant it specifically for Amazon oriented hubs, though it has become a kind of experimental account where i try out new things. Needless to say the crap account has proved slightly more successful than my main account.
The Panda Thing
In March it seemed Hubworld got shaken up and turned upside down as their was much flurry, debate and discussion about the changes to Googe's algorithms. In truth I wasn't getting enough traffic to really tell how much my own hubs had been affected, although I did notice my my most viewed hub "Men's Pyjamas" (of all things) had gone from up near the top of page one to total obscurity, so far back in the search pages I couldn't even find it.
As a novice in the online writing world, I was, am still, unsure of the implications. I noticed some people bailed out...was it all over, before I'd barely begun to get serious? I decided to plug ahead, still unable to let go of my dogged determination to make a supplementary income online. In fact recently I've begun to get ambitions about starting my own webstie..reaching for the sky and have a few, admittedly as yet not fully formed ideas.
I'm still very fond of HubPages...it's become a home on the web for me and perhaps in the end, it will have proved to be a good starting point for writing online. I've certainly got faster at article writing, particularly on my crap account where i'm churning them out like a production line.At the end of last year I said to myself, I'll just get to a hundred and then if I haven't made money I'll quit...but now I'm thinking I'll just get to five hundred and quit. I've already invested so much time here, I feel I can't quite quit yet. I figure since my SEO practices leave something to be desired, I'm going to have to get there through sheer volume. Part of me feels like a fool for persisting, the other part feels I should keep the faith. If you're reading this you may want to now if I'm making any money? I know I would. The answer is no..not really....just over 20 dollars a month. Since I've been writing alot of hubs recently, I'm hoping to see this increase but if it doesn't..? Well, I don't know...I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Sometimes I do feel this place works through the perpetual dangling of a carrot that most us never quite get to eat....
Update: Two Years at HubPages
Yes, incredibly, amazingly, another year has slipped from my grasp and it has now been two full years since I first set foot on HubPages virtual soil. Iv'e done very little with this account, having produced only five hubs in the last year. I did however write many hubs for my alternative account here - the one where I tried to be commercially viable. For a while that account was going swimmingly well and I almost believed I could make a success of it but then, in January the whole thing crashed and burned and my views were reduced to a pitiful trickle. I had, apparently been too commercial and had incurred some kind of mysterious Google penalty, from which I still haven't recovered. It was extremely disappointing, considering the effort I'd put in and the slide brought home to me with full force, the dubious wisdom of trying to make money online.
Although I'm sure some people can manage it, there just seems to be too many unpredictable variables at play - it's too insecure. I do understand, even vaguely believe, Google's mission statement to push 'quality' to the top but at the same time I resent them having seemingly changed the rules mid-stream. Just when I felt I was beginning to master the whole 'commercial' thing, whatever I was doing (and it was nothing at all Black Hat) is no longer acceptable. However, I must try not to be bitter and twisted. Perhaps I deserved to crash - I'm still not sure about that. Ironically, at the same time my alternative account crashed, this one, which I have ignored, has shot up, though it has not compensated for the loss. The commercial workings of the internet are still a mystery to me.
Outside of HubPages I've had more success. Halfway through last year, I began my own blog, which is really more of a mini-content site than a traditional blog. I've been a little bit astounded by the amount of views on that site which have been far more than I have ever had here. This has encouraged me to continue with writing online and I do also intend to put more effort into this account - I at least want to get to 100 hubs, if only for symmetry!