Helium's New Zones
Helium, the online writing community has a new feature to its website which is currently in beta (or Betaville, as it calls itself). The feature allows its users to quickly and easily create web pages a la Hubpages.
It has a solid design with easy to use blocks that allow you to add content from other sources including YouTube, Google, and Helium. Since you don't have to write every word on the page, an appealing website can be created in minutes.
For many of Helium's users, the zones will be a place to display their writing samples. In this way a zone might be little more than an article-focused profile page. For any writer who already has great samples on Helium, its easy to create a portfolio to present you work.
But the zones can be used to discuss anything and many users are using the pages to gather information on a subject from multiple locations. Helium also suggests that zones can be used as a place for social networking.
Making Money with Helium Zones
The zones do allow you to make money using Google and Amazon ads. In this way it differs greatly from Helium's current model in which users lose all control over their work and any direct revenue that work creates. At this time the number of zones any one user can have is limited, and I doubt any real revenue could be created off of one single zone. But the potential is there to create, over time, a number of pages, all of which generate cash.
Starting a Zone
At this time zones are available, in limited quantities to Helium writers. I created a very simple zone located here: http://www.helium.com/zone/1846-saving-money-in-your-kitchen.
Zones vs. Hubs
It has been months since I started my zone at Helium, and I feel that there has been enough time to assess them against Hubpages. Helium Zones simply to not match up.
Firstly, Helium is strangely controlling about Zones topics. You have to go through the process of applying for a topic and getting it approved. This slows down the creation process and stifles some enthusiasm.
Secondly, I have found that the traffic on my Helium Zone is minuscule compared to comparable sites I have on Hubpages. The community is not nearly as active as it is here. In fact, much of my traffic there comes from the link on this page.