Some Things I've Learned After Three Months on Hub Pages
I'm not a big fan of writing about writing. For one thing, it feels self-serving to me, if not a little sneaky. (You want to know the best way to make money online and get traffic to your site? Write about making money online and getting traffic to your site.) Nevertheless, a lot of hubbers, especially newbies, seem to be interested in other hubbers' experiences, so I decided to take the plunge, too. Having been here for three months, and having written over fifteen hubs with more on the way, I figure I have the chops for it. So here are some of the things I've learned.
1. Writing Is Easy
Writing is easy. Just open a vein.
Actually, writing on HubPages is easy. Unlike with some other websites, there is no particular content you have to focus on and no "beat" that you're assigned. You can write about whatever you want to. If you want to write about travel and then cars and then history and then relationships, you can do so. If you want to post your grandmother's recipe for snickerdoodles, you can do that, too. And while it's good to have your hubs clustered about a single theme, there's no requirement to do so. You can write about whatever strikes your fancy. True, there are certain rules -- nothing obscene, for example -- but in general the content is whatever moves you.
Remember, though, that a hub is not a blog. It's a place for getting facts, not opinions. You can put opinions in them, certainly, but in general hubs need to inform more than they entertain. (Sorry, William Randolph Hearst.)
Writing on HubPages is physically easy as well. There have been some websites out there where you have to pay attention to HTML rules, putting in breakpoints or starting and ending indicators to italicize something. On HubPages you don't need to do any of that. You just point and click. And the capsule structure makes it easy to add things or to rearrange your thoughts.
2. Making Money Is Hard
Can you make money on HubPages? Yes, you can. Is it enough money to buy a candy bar or a newspaper with? Well, no, not necessarily. At least not initially.
Making money online -- and on HubPages in particular -- is all about traffic, about getting people to view your hubs, and maybe to click on an advertisement or to buy a book or some other product. But in order to even think about making money online, you have to set things up. Sign up for Google AdSense. Enroll in the Hub Pages Ad Program. Become an Amazon Affiliate.
You'll want to have a bit of a track record, though. Some people ask, how many hubs does it take for me to get approved by AdSense? I don't know Google's specific policy. I can only relate my experience. I waited until I had written six good quality hubs before applying and I got approved right away.
You'll also want to explore tweeting about your hubs and backlinking, but I have no experience with these, so I can't comment other than to say they sound like a good idea.
Once you have the tools in place, you will need to monitor them to see how effective they are and how much traffic you are getting. One way to do this is to go to the statistics page. You can also go to the keywords tab and see if there are any keyword combinations you haven't yet put in your hub.
I can't really speak too much about search engine optimization at this point or how to find topics that pay. I don't do a lot of keyword research, although I intend to do so in the future. Right now I'm concentrating on writing good, quality hubs on topics I like. But it's good to have these tools available and to know how to use them.
3. Lists Are Your Friends
Some hubbers don't like lists. They seem to think that there is something wrong with them, that making a list is a sign that they're fresh out of ideas or that their writing has lost its spark.
Personally, I love lists. (Which, I suppose, should be obvious. This hub is a list, in case you couldn't tell.)
Lists are a great way of organizing your thoughts and grouping things. What number is a good number of items to have in a list? It all depends. For my hubs on interesting facts about celebrities, I like five because I like to focus on lesser-known or unusal facts and sometimes it's hard to get more than five of those. For my travel hubs I've used ten. I could have used seven or eight or twelve. It really doesn't matter just so long as things are grouped in an organized way.
Lists are also a great way to assemble things that haven't been assembled before. As I was reading a book about the Vice Presidents of the U.S., I learned for the first time just how many of them had died in office. I checked the web and discovered that no one seemed to have put this together in an organized way. Yes, the information was there, but not with that particular focus, and that led me to write my hub on the 25th Amendment. The headings in that hub are a little different than in some of my other hubs, but the hub is essentially a list.
4. Wikimedia Commons Is Your Friend, Too
One of the ways to add a little sparkle to your hubs is to include pictures. You need to be careful, though. You can only post pictures that you have the rights to, which means that you either have to own the picture outright or have permission to use it. Wikimedia Commons is a great source for pictures that are licensed for general use. You need to pay attention to the type of license that it is, and follow the attribution rules, if any. But the pictures are there for you to use.
I generally prefer to use pictures with no restrictions whatsoever. Often this means pictures that are in the public domain. True, your choices may be more limited that way, but you can get some great illustrations nonetheless. Anything generated by the U.S. government -- pictures of the Presidents, for example -- is in the public domain. This includes any work generated by a government employee on government business. My picture of a brunette Marilyn Monroe working in the Radioplane Factory in Burbank is a public-domain photograph because the photographer, David Conover, was on assignment for the U.S. Army at the time.
5. Evergreen Is Good
Last Christmas I wrote a hub about Christmas. No real surprise there. A lot of people do so at that time of year, and I was in a holiday mood. But while I enjoyed writing and posting that hub, it hasn't done nearly as well as some of my other hubs.
Some of the best hubs are the ones that are timeless -- that have what is known as evergreen content -- that will have people reading it year after year no matter what else is going on in the world. That's one of the reasons I've chosen to write hubs about cultural icons such as John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. It seems that people will always be interested in them.
6. Keep Some Hubs in Your Back Pocket
Recently I achieved a milestone. I was able to publish three hubs in one day. That wasn't because I was a fast writer. It was because I'd started a number of hubs a while back and happened to finish up three of them about the same time.
I believe it's good to have some hubs on the back burner to fire up at an opportune moment. That way, if you're not sure what to write about, you can go to something that exists already. It doesn't have to be perfectly formed initially. If you have an idea, it's usually good to get it down before it goes away. Some of those ideas won't go anywhere, but others will blossom and grow, sometimes in a different direction than the one you originally intended.
The universal rule here seems to be to get something down and save it. Don't worry about your hub score at this point. It will probably be pretty terrible -- 50 or below (although I've had some early hubs come in with a score in the low sixties that had only two or three sentences, presumably because my topic looked promising). You can have as many hubs in process as you can stomach. The main thing is not to publish any of them too early. You can always add to your hubs and tweak them later, but for their debut they should have a little meat on them at least.
These are some of the things I've learned. I'm sure I'll learn a lot more as time goes on. The best part is that HubPages is a wonderful place to come to, packed with a lot of good information and a good place for us writers, budding or experienced, to showcase our work.