Capstone Hub Program
Why Capstone Hubs?
A Capstone Hub is the culmination of a series of Hubs on the same topic. It provides links to the entire series of at least 15 Hubs on the same topic, as well as other supplementary information and details that helps wrap up the topic.
Just a reminder...
I am not a HubPages staff member. I speak in no official capacity. But, if you've read any of my other 'how to hub' hubs, you'll know I'm not beating around the bush or spreading inaccuracies, I stick to the facts.
Now I'm not going to give you a blow by blow description on HOW TO MAKE A CAPSTONE HUB SERIES. But I will tell you how, what and why I've done certain things.
This is the official line from HubPages HQ:
"Why are we offering this program? We believe we'll make our money back! This is good news to you, since, beyond the $25-40 you earn outright, you earn even more through the impression-share program from Google AdSense, Amazon, and EBay than we do. Publish a great, informative, detailed series of informative Hubs, and link them all together, and you'll very likely see a long-term stream of traffic from search engines which you'll continue to earn from."
Sound good? Then lets move on...
What gets you onto the Capstone Program?
A proven track record of quality.
I published a Flagship hub first. In fact I had published three Flagship hubs before the Capstone series was announced.
You don't have to have published a Flagship hub but if I were to be considering the Capstone Program for the first time with a few dozen good quality hubs behind me, and with the benefit of hindsight, I'd be still be wanting to do a Flagship hub BEFORE trying a Capstone series.
It gets you in the groove. It's a lesson in quality content writing and hub building.
Again, from the horses mouth:
The Flagship Hub program is available for current HubPages users only, who have an established history of publishing at HubPages. It can also not apply retroactively — all associated Hubs must be published after approval.
I'll rephrase that: PRIOR APPROVAL IS NEEDED.
You can't make a hub, even an outstanding one, and ask HubPages Inc to pay you for it.
If you're thinking of doing a Capstone Series simply for the immediate financial reward, all I can say is: don't. Flagship hubs will make you about the same money, and much quicker. When you calculate the time spent researching and writing, it'll probably be the lowest paying writing job you'll do in this lifetime.
So why do it?
The reason I do it is for the focus. For the direction. The money works out to be a pittance compared to how much work you need to put in. The ongoing rewards though, are worth it.
Use the money you get paid from HubPages Inc to buy yourself a celebratory meal, or get yourself drunk (whichever takes your fancy) after you've been greenlit to publish the final Capstone.
See it as a small reward as a job well done and go and spoil yourself to the tune of $25
In addition to the $25, you could be eligible for an extra $15 if you meet a traffic goal. For Flagship Hubs it's known as the "10 from 10 for 10" bonus. For Capstone hubs though it's more like "10 from 10 for 15" bonus.
Traffic Bonus - an additional $15
Raise your total cash earnings to $40 by getting at least 10 page views from each of 10 non-HubPages sources (as shown in the Capstone Hub’s View Stats) within the first 30 days after publication of your Capstone Hub. Do a little promotion of your Capstone Hub and earn an extra kicker! (Note: The page views must be to the Capstone Hub, not the adjoining series Hubs.)
Submit a link to your published Hub meeting the traffic requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Capstone Hubs traffic bonus” (no quotes, exactly as written). Upon confirmation, payment will occur at the beginning of the next month after approval for payment.
10 visitors from 10 sources? What? Too easy!
Not so fast!
If all goes to plan, you will get a lot of visitors from search engines, but 10 different referring sites doesn't happen without at least some extra effort. I'll talk about that more a little later under "Promoting your Capstone Hub"
How do I choose a topic?
HubPages suggest a few: specific consumer products; business, money, finance and investing; health and diet; automotive. You can suggest your own though.
Me? So far I've gone for Greek Philosophy (each individual hub covered one ancient Greek Philosopher) and the Roman Empire (each hub covering one Emperor).
I think you need to choose a subject that's not too wide, and certainly not too narrow. Pick a topic that can almost write itself.
Not long after I published a hub about Aristotle HubPages HQ announced the Capstone program and I thought, "If I can find another 15 philosophers from the ancient Greek era I could easily fufil the critera." Talk about a learning experience! I just managed to find enough information on at least 15 more philosophers, though the information was getting a bit sparse after the first dozen. But I managed to sneak over the line. But it was a lot of fun in the process.
The Roman Empire has been something that has interested me since childhood, and with over 150 Roman Emperors to choose from, I wasn't going to be short of content. Though I did find that after the initial 15 the amount of information dropped off sharply. But I've still got enough content for another 50 shorter blog posts which I'll be using soon to link back to my Capstone series.
One might expect after doing Philosophers of Greece or Emperors of Rome that the next Capstone project would be Kings of England or 15 Famous Muppets. But no. I'm going somewhere completely different.
Update: Just finished my latest Capstone series, it's on Muscle & Fitness. The human body split up into 15 muscle groups, and exercises you need to train each one.
Bottom line though, you'll have to do a short pitch to HubPages HQ as to what you want to do, and why you want to do it. I don't think it has to be more than a few paragraphs in length, as they're clever enough to pick up a scent and figure out whether or not it smells of success if you point them in the general direction of what you want to do.
Choosing the right URL
As already mentioned, I'm currently on my third Capstone Project. I never make a grand announcement to the general public of what I'm working on, just in case anyone wants to go claim some hub URLs that I may have my eye on. I usually like to work on 2 or 3 or 4 hubs to get the ball rolling, and I'll publish them together, and then quickly grab up the URLs I need for the rest.
Some people go for the longtail URL. I prefer something short and sweet.
I think the longtail is alright for people who have liked your hub and emailing it to friends. But my hope is that people who dig my stuff will be able to 'say' the URL, without having to verbally throw in a lot of hyphens (or underscores).
http://hubpages.com/hub/fonts is easier to remember and repeat than http://hubpages.com/hub/cool-fonts-where-to-download-and-how-to-install
Though I'd probably prefer http://hubpages.com/hub/cool-fonts-where-to-download-and-how-to-install over http://hubpages.com/hub/coolfontswheretodownloadandhowtoinstall
You may have a slight advantage when it comes to search engines PROVIDED you use your keywords wisely. But by titling it "Cool Fonts - Where to Download & How to Install" I don't think there is any significant disadvantage.
But the choice is up to you.
Publishing elsewhere while you make your hubs.
When researching a topic, I often end up with more material than what I can use. After editing, reworking sentences, slipping in better words, cutting out crap... I often have a lot of offcuts. I use these offcuts, to cook up another article. I also refer to them as leftovers.
Whether it's a similar article, or a different viewpoint, or putting one aspect under the microscope, I don't actually publish it here at HubPages. I publish it elsewhere. There's a lot of other places. I've even gone so far as to create other sites and blogs to house these articles. And I add backlinks to my hub.
I avoid slapping up a two or three paragraph teaser with 'read more' linked to these articles. I like to throw a curve ball. I had enough offcuts about the Roman Emperor Augustus that I didn't publish it as an article elsewhere with the sole intention of linking to my original hub on Roman Emperor Augustus, instead I avoided doing that completely. Here was a fantastic chance to link to my Julius Caesar and the Emperor Tiberius hubs.
Now it's a little very sneaky, but the result is wholesome. As far as people know, they're reading one of the best webpages on Augustus Caesar they've ever found, and they can learn more about the persons contempories, predecessors or successors. And they may end up clicking through to my original Augustus hub anyway.
I also keep some of the offcuts aside for the big promotional push for the Capstone Hub itself. But more on that later.
The word from HubPages HQ:
Minimum Content Standards for the 15 serial hubs
- A minimum of 300 words, of your own, purely original writing
- Either a relevant image or video
- At least 2 relevant, helpful links to other sources. Choose sites that are not promotional or affiliate in nature. They should be recognized as credible authorities on the topic. These are to be inserted as a Links Capsule at the bottom of your Hub
- At least 2 contextual links within the body of your text, to other Hubs in the same series
- A news capsule or eBay Capsule if your topic is product-related
- 10 relevant tags, including 2 to 3 typos or spelling variants
Minimum Content Standards for the Capstone Hub
- A minimum of 500 words, of your own, purely original writing
- Links to all of the Hubs in your series
- 15 relevant tags, including 2 to 3 typos or spelling variants
That's the basics, there are a few more additional rules here.
How long does it take?
If you were to take two days to research each hub, write it up, edit, find the right amazon and ebay products and then publish, it will take you 30 days to do the series. Then allow yourself another 2 or more days to do the Capstone Hub...
Getting back to the 'Profitability', it ain't real profitable is it?
It is actually quite exhausting. If you go all out by the time you get 16 hubs published you won't have the energy to promote the hubs to get the $15 for the traffic goal. So I found out with my first Capstone Series.
In fact I was doing it at a leisurely pace, I fastened my pace to complete the project because I was going to be moving house (I knew about a month in advance as to where we were moving next). So with half a dozen serials hubs left to do I threw myself into it, and completed it (and had it all approved) just before I had to unplug the computer from the wall. The new place took a while to get the internet connected, and even then we had to suffer with dial-up for a few months (I live out in the country and the only broadband is satellite). So the deadline for the Traffic Goal was long since gone. But that didn't worry me.
Capstone Project #2 has been a little different. Almost immediately after approval, I published Julius Caesar. Who sat alone for quite some time. In fact I think I published him while hitting the internet at a snails pace on dial-speed. That's when I figured that I was going to wait a while longer until I got back to some serious content publishing (having the phone tied up for hours at a time was a problem too, and my caffiene intake while I waited for pages to load was getting to be a bit of a concern).
The thing is though, you can go at your own pace. It's taken me 3 to 5 months to complete the ones I've done thus far. HubPages Staff won't stand over you with a whip. There's absolutely no pressure. Set your own goals and deadlines. Don't make any promises. Find a method or system that works for you.
Obviously doing what I've done (publishing articles at other places as I'm working on the hubs) means it will take me longer. But I think it's worth it.
Do what feels right for you, but for me, publishing a whole series of hubs and then cramming in loads more at other sites is a bit of a rush. The go slow approach should yield better results, and tap into traffic without looking forced.
Though that theory is all about to be turned on its head with my next Capstone project running in conjunction with the 100 Hubs In 30 Days Challenge that has just been announced.
Setting the Capstone
After you've written and published your 15 hubs and before you publish your crowning achievement, you might want to stop for a moment and have a good think about how it all went.
Be sure that all the requirements have been fulfilled for the individual hubs. Paying close attention to the fact that you need to link each hub to two other hubs
(this is where it's made it easy for me when doing the Emperor hubs, I could link to their predecessor and their successor).
If you haven't thought about how you're going to promote your hub for the $15 traffic bonus, then now is the time to do it, before you throw yourself into the capstone hub grand finale.
Before you hit the publish button on your Capstone
You need to have Maddie of HubPages HQ to check over your hubs. But before that, as mentioned previously, make sure YOU go over your hubs.
Have you fulfilled the criteria? Word count? Spellcheck? Proofread for grammar and flow?
Send off that email!
Immediately after publishing the Capstone
You'll have to go back to all your hubs and link to the Capstone.
Promoting your Capstone Hub
People have their favourite sites and methods. Personally I don't like getting into peoples faces and screaming at them to visit my hubs. I like organic traffic. As mentioned earlier, I've published supporting articles at other sites. Between that, and the quality of the hubs in terms of originality and usefulness, my hope is that the Search Engines pick up on them and give me whatever traffic I so deserve (I'm not unrealistic with my expectations, I know that my topics aren't BIG GAME traffic keyword topics).
I put all those things in place as I plod along, and as with my last published Capstone Series, I started taking notes and making a plan long before I even claimed the URL.
I made a list of sites... my sites, community sites that I am actively involved in, social networking sites, and I hit them systematically. I had original blurbs typed up ready to roll. Trust me, you want to do this before you publish the capstone, otherwise it's a bit of an anti-climax.
Make sure your blurbs are original! Copying the introduction and pasting it on every social bookmarking and networking site is going to look obvious when the search engine spiders crawl your backlinks.
I go into this in more depth and share my own plan in the hub "Traffic Bonus". It's a separate hub because the information is relevant to both Capstone and Flagship hubs.
I'm keen! Where do I sign up?
- Sign up to HubPages.
- Publish a bunch of good hubs.
- Apply for Flagship hub status.
- Get accepted.
- Publish a Flagship Hub.
- Pitch a Capstone Topic to HubPages HQ.
- Write them and publish the whole darn lot!
- Post a link to your Capstone Hub in the Guestbook below!
- Rinse and repeat.
UPDATE: The program is no longer offered. It was fun while it lasted!