For the past year or so, I've been paying very close attention to this subject. Squidoo pushed its lensmasters for a long time into providing personal content full of first-person perspective and personal pronouns. This has been a problem for me, personally, because I prefer to write in the second or third person in as professional a manner as I am able. It's a constant struggle to insert myself, in the first person perspective, into my hubs, because I don't believe that I belong there.
My goal is to inform the readers who have chosen my hub out of the thousands of pages on the Internet, and I don't believe that I belong in my hubs. I write about a variety of topics, including holidays, celebrations, and gift guides; pregnancy, trying to conceive, childbirth and breastfeeding; women's history; cryptozoology and paranormal; and religion (these days mostly paganism).
In all but one of these cases, I feel that it's better if I don't insert myself into the midst of a hub. There are a few rare exceptions in the case of the pregnancy articles that I write, but for the most part, my goal is to inform people. I don't treat Hubpages as a "blog," but as a place to share information and to hopefully make some revenue at the same time.
I'm curious as to what other people think. Experimentation has shown me that, for the most part, people seem to stay on the hubs reading them longer if they are not personal (about me, my pregnancies, etc) and that I have higher traffic on those hubs which are primarily informative rather than personal.
As for me, I much prefer to read hubs in the second person over hubs in either first or third person. I'd rather read third person hubs than first person hubs. I generally bounce on first person hubs.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer to read first, second, or third person hubs? What's most useful to you?
Maybe Squidoo gave that advice because most of their articles contained product reviews and they found first person reviews converted better into sales. But information and how-to instructions read better in second or third person. Sounds like you are doing what everyone else would do for the types of articles you write.
I had never thought about it until I read this. Before I commented here, I looked back over several of my Hubs and I seemed to have written about the the person or item which my Hub was about. Plus the second/third person when called for. If a small piece, a sentence or a paragraph, involved myself then I would write in the first person there.
There are a couple of Hubs which I wrote mainly about in the first person but I also included the second/third person.
I don't think about it too much, to be honest. I write most of my Hubs in second person, but there will be first-person sections too. I think a personal perspective is important on Hubs, otherwise you might as well write for Wikipedia. On most subjects (especially medical) there are already plenty of "authority" sites out there presenting the facts. Our point of difference is that most of us are not professionally trained, highly decorated experts in whatever we're writing about - but it's something we have a passion for, or have had personal experience with, and that's what we have to share. For instance, people can get the facts about cataract surgery on a thousand optometrist websites, but they come to my Hub because none of them talk about what happens afterwards, which I've been through with my husband.
For me, it's "situational;" I can't get a general rule to fit everything.
If I am reading a product review, or some advice, or a how-to, or travel descriptions... or pretty much anything that involves a "call to action," I prefer reading something that lets me know that the author has actually "been there."
"How do you KNOW that the restaurant at the Sea Pearl Hotel is excellent? Did YOU eat there? How did YOU like the food? Were the waiters ACTUALLY arrogant, like some of the travel forums suggest?"
I give very little weight to information that seems like it could be just a conglomeration of what other people already said. I want to know what your unique angle is. I'm looking for the "in MY experience" language. I don't want to read a regurgitation of what I can already find on a manufacturer's, resort's, event's or whomever's web site. So in some contexts, I'm the exact opposite of you... I tend to "bounce" on 3rd person content because it feels "generic." But not always...
If I'm reading about "the history of China" I don't expect anyone to have "been there," so 3rd person is more appropriate.
But that's just me!
There is a delicate balance in play with this. You can inject personal experience and still make it about the reader, for example "you'll find if you do it this way, you'll be less likely to have this problem" etc. You are still making "personal' suggestions from experience - but making it about the reader. Sometimes I do inject personal experiences, but it's more like peppering the advice to help illustrate how something works.
For example I did a hub on mnemonic devices to improve memory. I gave examples in a couple of areas of things I did personally. You can tell someone to develop an acronym for example, but that's rather boring. Instead I inserted a couple of sentences that explained one I created and how it helped me to focus on concepts.
I think it's a delicate balance. Too much personal info, people don't care. Not enough and the writing becomes "too generic" and can lead to boredom. You can inject personality into your writing to make it unique, without becoming overbearing.
For example if you're writing about pregnancy facts in general and you've gone through a long list and something was kind of unusual about your pregnancy, you could include that. Say you were talking about morning sickness and how most women only have it for the first trimester. this is factual, but there are some of us who threw up our socks the entire first pregnancy lol - I might include a paragraph in that kind of hub that says "If your sickness lasts longer, don't be discouraged. I personally dealt with severe morning sickness and ...... etc
This connects with a reader and she knows someone cares about something she's doing/facing etc.
all things in moderation I suppose.
This is excellent advice. I like to keep it about the reader, but also interject some personal information to show the reader that I have experience in the subject. They then know how much to trust me. In my medical hubs for example, I show them that I am looking at things from a patient's perspective and not a doctor's.
I'm talking specifically about the use of first-person perspective in the hub ("I" instead of "you"). It's possible to illustrate personal experiences while still using the second person pronouns. I find that this is preferable when I'm reading a page, in large part because I find that most people who write from first person perspective lose perspective on the information they are attempting to impart. It sounds like you're still primarily using second person perspective, rather than first.
In the past, I've gotten around this by writing a personal blog post or article and then linking it within the context of an informational hub. There have been a few hurdles with regard to the pregnancy hubs because I did have a particularly difficult pregnancy with my youngest, and I want to be able to share the experience without taking over the hub. At some point, I'll write the birth story (or once it's transferred from Squidoo) in a new hub and begin linking to that hub from the informational hub. This way, I can share my experience without allowing it to take over from what the reader was already engaged with.
Obviously people vary in their opinions on how much personal content is appropriate in an article on any platform, and that's what makes it sticky: There are as many opinions from the reader's perspective as there are from the writer's perspective. I know that for me, my content seems to do better when it's mostly factual rather than relying on my personal experience. It gets frustrating, at time, considering that much of what I know comes from personal experience that caused me to research like a mad woman lol
I think you have gotten a lot of sound advice here. Like most writing choices, it all depends on your purpose. "Purpose" should drive everything about how you craft your writing. Using only third person can make your writing sound authoritative and direct. Using second person "you," can make it more personal but can seem a little pushy. For example, "You should be sure to ... ." But second person is totally appropriate for a recipe, crafting, or other "how-to" piece. For example, "First, you combine all the ingredients... ."
First person should be reserved for a personal anecdote written to support your purpose. If you want the reader to realize that you know what you are talking about, include a first-person experience to use as evidence. Otherwise, stick to the 3rd person.
I think it depends on your topic. I write vegan recipes, and arts and crafts how-to stuff. People want to know that I made whatever I'm writing about. In the how-to area, I think it's better to write "I did this, but you might choose to do this other thing", to keep that personal touch in there.
I agree! In this case, when I read recipes or craft how-tos, I'd personally very much like to hear anecdotes of how it went for the person writing the hub.
I'm going to be doing one for my father about his wine making. He's writing the content and I'll be typing it into a hub format. I can't wait to see how that one turns out. He plans on including stories of his early wine-making experiences.
How-to's are generally an exception to the rule (my rule, about what I like), as are some product-related hubs.
I am with you. I am starting to migrate content from Helium, which is closing down at the end of the year. Helium standards required a professional, third person impersonal style and I, too, feel this is much professional and authorative.
While I will be able to rewrite some of my articles, most just simply read better in the third person.
I varies for me. Depending on the topic, first person can add credibility.If the writer is saying I know about this thing because it happened to me, that makes it believable. If, as Lisa said, the writer is adding value by explaining their errors and how they corrected them, that first person info is useful. On the other hand, if the writer is babbling on endlessly about what I would view as irrelevant information, then I give it a miss.
The key is balance. You don't want people to feel like they are reading a blog - "look what I did today," but you also don't want them to feel like they are reading a doctoral thesis. You want them to have a personal connection with what you are writing. So make sure you focus on making the article interesting and informative.
I think if you limit your personal experience to a couple paragraphs in a longer article, it gives the best of both worlds. I personally like articles that are a mix of both. I don't want to read a journal article but if you are providing your personal experience with accurate knowledge and facts it makes it more interesting and I think to myself that the writer has more authority.
I like first person mixed with second and third person because it allows the author to give personal experiences and advice in the piece that usually strengthens the writing overall. I'd rather take pregnancy help, for example, from someone who clearly has gone through the process and can offer insight on a deeper level than someone who writes the information like an owner's manual for a car; I want to know that the person discussing and writing about a certain topic actually has knowledge, background, or experience with it because that's where the credibility comes from. Also, it accounts for any bias that could be picked up throughout the hub because otherwise all the information comes across as straight facts, and more often than not, our biases come through our writing whether it's intentional or not. Referring to yourself in your hubs is perfectly okay if you alert your readers which part is completely personal experience. If you have personal opinions that would help, enlighten, encourage, or inspire someone regarding to your topic, I'd honestly rather read that than statistics.
Thank you for this discussion and for asking your question. As a newly minted Hubber, coming over from Squidoo, this is something I am trying to puzzle out, and I am befuddled about the tone my articles should take.
Should I make them 1700-2500 words long, full of lots of capsules, and mostly third person, as HubPages advises? Or should I go with the shorter, punchier, more personal stories Squidoo encouraged the last year or two?
Cruising the site for the past couple of weeks, I see hubs all over the spectrum. I regret to admit that most are way too long and have way too much verbiage to hold my attention, and I'm an avid reader, both online and off!
The hubs that hold my attention most are those that include some personal story woven into the article, that stay focused on a fairly narrow topic, and that do not include lots and lots of capsules.
But those seem to go against what HubPages seeks from its writers. For that reason, I've written just one hub, following the guidelines as best I can. I did include a personal story, and I go back and forth whether I should remove it.
Personally, I would prefer shorter hubs, narrowly focused, with links to related information, my own or another's. In the beginning at Squidoo, we were encouraged to write long, busy articles as well, so I have plenty of those coming over in the move. But I also have several shorter, more focused articles. I'm leery of writing a second hub until I figure out which style is likely to do better here.
If you look in the top right hand corner of a Hub when you're editing, you'll see the "Stellar Hub" guidelines. Those indicate what HubPages thinks is best practice. You don't have to tick every box, but the more you tick, the higher your HubScore will be (not that that matters one iota, but that's another story). You'll notice there are no check boxes for polls, quizes etc!
As for "what works here" - it's not a case of what works here vs what works at Squidoo or what works on Seekyt. What matters is what works for Google, because without Google you'll get no visitors. And longer articles work better because they have more content for Google to crawl and more variety of keywords. HubPages founder Paul Edmonson says they've found the "sweet spot" for articles is around 1200 words. Once you go over that, you're not getting a worthwhile benefit in additional traffic.
I'm not sure what you've been reading which recommends such ridiculous lengths and third person? HubPages says it doesn't want "overly personal", but that basically means they don't want blog posts on what you had for dinner or how worried you are about your Auntie Flo's ingrown toenail. Sharing personal experience which can help others is absolutely fine.
Marisa, thank you for your kindly response. It helps me understand better what HubPages (And Google!) is looking for and, more importantly why. I am so NOT an SEO person.
Like many Squids new to HubPages, I've spent dozens of hours reading articles throughout the site, absorbing as much as my brain will hold. I thought the article that recommended 1750-2500 words was in the Learning Center, but I cannot find it now. Apparently that is not an official recommendation. Yay!
The two articles I relied on most in writing my first Hub were Elements of a Stellar Hub, (which you so kindly recommend also) and HubPages Style Guide and Helpful Writing Tips. At 1131 words, this Hub is already much longer and busier than I find comfortable for a recipe share, yet remains 19 words shy of that 1150 bare minimum advised in "Elements ... ." More work to do!
Regarding voice, the "Hub Pages Style Guide and Helpful Writing Tips" says Hubs "should ... if possible" be written in the third person. Short first-person forays, as you noted, are acceptable.
Marisa, thank you again for your response. Like so many of the baby Hubbers coming over from Squidoo, I am deeply grateful for the warm welcome and helping hand you and others extend to us each day.
The voice, in my opinion, varies depending on the content of the hub, and I think the reasons for this are fairly plain: If you're writing an article intended to educate, the long-format, third person style that Hubpages recommends is useful. If you are attempting to pass information that you have to the reader, I find that the second person works well. Most of what I write at the present is health-related, and the second person style works exceptionally well for me. In my case, I use a blog for inbound links and for a more personal "me to you" style of writing, then link to my hubs from that blog (and occasionally to the blog from a hub). We'll see how covering my bases this way works out in the long run.
Most of what I have written for Hubpages, and previously for Squidoo, doesn't leave room for personal stories. When I started out on Squidoo, I wrote about history, and even then I included a bit of information about how I connected with the stories in history. I no longer believe this to be appropriate, and would encourage hubbers to stick to the third person when writing about history, unless your connection to the stories are particularly strong.
For example, I was hard of hearing as a child, so writing about the story of Helen Keller or Anne Sullivan leaves room for me to express my personal gratitude that Sign Language is available for people who don't have access to spoken language.
My advice to you is to experiment with your voice in your hubs. You won't be penalized as long as your hubs are over 400 words in length and are original (not copied from elsewhere on the web).
You write what works best for you. I'm here to, as much as possible, earn from what I write, so in my case, I am constantly looking for what people actually want to read. I should start experimenting with some shorter hubs to see what comes from them.
Also: My longest lenses were also netting the most traffic. I had a "How to Use Create a Sim" lens (Sims 3 style) that did exceptionally well. I'm trying to figure out how I want to piece together the Sims 4 edition right now, and am actually considering a video hub, if I can figure out how to get the voice over to work. I'm on a new computer, so we'll see if the microphone doesn't function better on this one than on the one that I've been using.
It would be my first video hub.
My advice is: don't. We've had a few video specialists here who have tried it, and they don't do well. Video content does much, much better placed directly on Youtube. Once you've done that, then you can create a Hub on the topic and embed the video.
Does it change the way that Google scans the page, if there's plenty of text-content too?
What if a video capsule is loaded into the top of the page, before text? Is that even possible?
I might not do this at all, because the more I try to put together what I want to do, the more it becomes a disaster that I don't want to even think about. There are already videos on this topic and I'm beginning to feel flooded out. At one point I was the top Sims writer on Squidoo, but it's not worth it with the current atmosphere surrounding The Sims 4. Tons of research yesterday suggests I might spend the entire hub defending my reasons for purchasing the game, with all its changes from The Sims 3, instead of actually writing about the topic of how to play the game.
I honestly don't know what the problem is, I only know the experiences of a couple of video-makers, who tried posting video Hubs here compared with posting on Youtube, and found the difference was enormous. By posting on Youtube and then embedding that video on a Hub, they got the benefit of both channels and the flexibility of having a "normal" Hub which was easier to edit and change.
@Ecogranny: Crazyhorsesghost says that his best performing hubs are at the 1500 word mark. I personally have two hubs getting about the same amount of traffic 150-180 views a day, one with 500 words the other 1500 words. I try to shoot for 1500, but recipes and certain topics just won't support much more.
If you can create a niche with articles having a mix of lengths, I think they can work together to draw Google traffic as a whole.
My top-performing hubs are in that range as well.
I believe that it has something to do with the amount of time that users stay on the hub, and the fact that it's easier to squeeze a lot of images into a longer hub, meaning that Google's search engine picks up on the images in the hub.
Recently I edited my top performing hub (big mistake) and changed the images. It's not doing as well now than it was before. Good images with excellent captions go a long distance to helping ensure that you get the traffic you're looking for, especially with Pinterest. The more text, the more images you can squeeze in.
My preferences vary by topic, as so many others have said.
Some articles do benefit from the personal perspective, such as my own on having gone through knee replacement surgery. In such a piece, I cannot speak for anyone else's experience; only my own. Therefore "I" do belong in that article.
My own struggle is with having been taught not to "personally address the reader," by using the pronoun, "you."
To me, it feels very stilted and overly formal, almost to the point of putting on airs, to constantly have to say, "If one is going to travel to this location..." or "One must keep in mind..."
Who in blazes is "one?" To me, you, the author are addressing anyone reading the article, and using "you" within that article makes it feel more personally addressed to "you, the reader," as a given.
I don't care to read third-person addressed articles; I want to feel as if the author is speaking to me, personally.
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