The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 153
A Bag Full of Questions
The new month has opened the flood gates for questions, many of them about NIUME and the state of affairs regarding pay-for-write sites. I guess we better get right to it and see if we can gain any clarity.
IS NIUME THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
From ?????: “A good Monday morning to you and a Happy Memorial Day too. I was pretty surprised about the Niume thing as I started writing for them about 10 days ago. Just like me to come to the party a little late! Oh well. I have a feeling there will be other sites hit as well. Have you advice on where to turn next since HP isn't really bringing in revenue to speak of? Maybe this is a question for next week.”
First, my apologies: I somehow managed to forget who asked this question, so I’m sorry in advance.
Do I have any advice on where to turn to? No, I don’t. I suspect this is a trend which will grow in stature. Sites like HP and NIUME were begun to make money. Revenue sharing was an afterthought, and will continue to be an afterthought and marketing ploy. The HP revenue is down, NIUME no longer pays for articles, and I suspect we will see more of these sites drop by the wayside or stop payments completely. Hopefully one of our readers will have a suggestion about a great site which actually pays writers what they are worth, but don’t hold your breath on that happening.
From Ann: “Do you find that you have to set yourself rules as to how much or how many hubbers you read per day, week, or whatever? I'm finding it increasingly difficult and often wonder if I should just start again with 'today's' and skip the catch-up. Trouble is, as I say, I don't want to miss out on some great stories or poems. Use that as a mailbag question if you like but it just popped into my head!”
It has finally happened to me too, Ann, and it actually bothers me. For years I was always so good about reading countless hubs from hubbers on HP, but now, due to business overload, I have to limit myself to only articles written by people who reciprocate and comment on my articles. That may not be fair, but it had to be done. I simply could not work my business and support countless other writers.
From Lori: “The setting was a generic town. I didn't put one in there because most of the story took place in a hospital. There were some instances where I described outdoor settings because it's important for the scene but it's still an unnamed. How important is it to make the setting a specific town or place and when, if at all, is it okay to keep it generic?”
Lori, I see I cut off part of your question. My apologies. About the only nice thing about being 68 is I can use it as an excuse for mistakes like that one. Anyway, I don’t see it as all that important, quick frankly, and I don’t see the use of a generic, fictional town as a big deal at all. I think familiarity is nice for readers, especially if they have visited the real city you mention, but I will always believe that first, and foremost, the story is the most important thing to concentrate on. Write a great story and people won’t care where it takes place.
More on Niume
From Rasma: “Another interesting mailbag. Some things I would like to clear up. With NIUME not able to pay should I continue to write on the site or should I get out? So as far as I know there is one site that still does pay however little and that is myLot. However it is more of a discussion kind of site but there are people who do write interesting articles on there. Perhaps I should start writing more there and write stories about my dad over there now. I have a number of followers and I can share on all of the social networks. What do you think? Are there any other paying sites out there I haven't discovered yet? Should I get into some serious writing here on HP? I left mostly my poems here and my music hubs. The one problem for me is that even when I was writing different hubs here I never made a cent. So please give me your wise and always worthy opinion.”
Rasma, honestly, I didn’t even bother to do research on this question, so strong is my belief in what I’m about to say: if you truly need residual income from your articles, sites like NIUME and HubPages are a whole lot of work for very little money. The longer I write for a living, the less I believe in HubPages and other sites like it. I think the trend is to pay out less money to writers, not more, and I don’t think that trend will end.
If it were me, I would concentrate on building your following, and maybe monetize your own website…or concentrate on writing books and promoting them….or becoming a freelancer and making money writing blogs for other companies…but this whole HP thing is far too much work for the returns. And I don’t see spreading your work over three or four websites as beneficial either. Concentrate on one site, or possibly two, and be done with it. Bouncing around too much is a good way to lose followers, not gain them.
Should we continue with the Writer's Mailbag after the 3 year anniversary?
And Still More on Niume
From Brian: “I saw that Niume announcement. It said in part, "Due to ... decreasing revenues in the advertising industry, we ... will stop paying Niume creators for views after the end of this month.... In the coming months we will work on offering alternative sources of revenue.... Niume will continue operating exactly as it has until now...." Alternative sources of revenue such as what? And meantime, what's the motivation for writers to self-publish on Niume? Most writers, I've heard, don't get paid on Medium either. Are Niume and Medium comparable?”
Brian, sorry about that, we already covered this one earlier. I know nothing about Medium and yet I know everything about it. If it is a corporation then their goal is to make money, and paying writers quality pay for articles is not the way to make money. I just don’t see it happening with any of these companies. I hope I’m wrong!
PROPER LINKING TO HP
From Bill: “I have been having a conversation with another travel writer here on HP's discussing travel blog's and she (Janda Raker) is asking questions that I can't really answer effectively. She is wondering how a blog would be different from what we are already doing here on HubPages? And as far as monetizing the blog how does one go about doing that? I assume that we can't just copy our HP's articles and place them in a blog but can we have links in a blog that would take readers to HubPages? I always envisioned having a short article in a blog about some destination and then placing a link to the full article that would remain on HubPages? Anyway, hopefully you can shed some light on the topic? Perhaps in the weekly mailbag.”
Hey, Bill, thanks for a question not about NIUME. LOL First, let’s get this point straight: you cannot publish an article on your bog AND on HP. That’s flagged as duplicate material and/or plagiarism, and it won’t fly with HP. Yes, post on HP, and link to HP article on the blog.
Next, how to monetize your blog? I’m going to give you my opinion, so keep in mind it’s just my opinion. I think putting ads on your blog is a fool’s errand. The money made from those ads is equal to peanuts and just not worth the effort to set it all up….and a personal opinion, I think it makes your blog look cheap.
You could, however, and this is something I would strongly consider with a travel blog, become part of an affiliate program with a company like Travelocity or some other popular travel host. That way you are only advertising for one company on your blog, and the money is better that way.
Other thoughts: if you really want to get serious about monetizing on a blog, then monetize your own talents. Write travel books and then market them on your blog. It takes time to build up a loyal following, but once you do, the profits are much greater.
There are numerous other ways to monetize a blog, and I’m sure some of our readers will mention some, but those are my first thoughts about it. Hope that helps!
Writing as a Release
From Eric: “On a lighter note. I wanted to know if you, as a busy pro, still get the release of pent up stuff by slinking into writing. I do but maybe it is escapism, like my religious stuff and my boy. Can you still use it as a wonderful release? Or is that reserved for your farm?”
Eric, I don’t know if this is the answer to that specific question or not, but it’s the answer you’re going to get, so there! LOL Writing is my release, period! This is how I communicate with the world. I’m a quiet, reserved, shy human being, and writing is my way of sharing my thoughts, my emotions, my concerns, all of it. The written word allows me to reach out to all of you and scream “I AM ALIVE AND I MATTER!” When I am happy I write. When I am sad or angry I write. When I’m in love I write, and when I’m lonely I write. If it were not for writing, I would probably be in a straight-jacket, and that ain’t hyperbole, my friend.
From DREAM ON: “Have you done any of your own book signings ? If you have do you feel they increased your sales?”
Dream On, I’ve done exactly one book signing. Why don’t I do more? A variety of reasons. Time is a big reason, but it can also be an excuse, because if book signings were a priority, I would find the time. I simply have quite a few other things I need to do before I get around to book signings.
Here’s the thing about me and writing books: increasing my sales isn’t that important to me. I don’t really need the money. I’m not sure I would want fame anyway, because with fame comes more responsibility. I’m a purist, I guess. I love writing, and I gain infinite joy from the act of writing. If people read my stuff, and enjoy it, great, and if they don’t, that’s also great.
I do believe book signings eventually increase sales. I think any old time a writer gets out and interacts with the public, it has either a direct or indirect affect on sales. A book signing may not sell one book, but it is still a marketing action which will show results eventually.
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Great Week of Questions
Remember, please, that many times, when answering these questions, I’m just giving my opinion. I make no claim to being correct with those opinions, but at least you are getting my honest opinion based on seven years as a freelancer/author. That’s the best I can do for you. I happen to love HubPages, but not because of their money-sharing program, and thus I’m down on them regarding that aspect of the site even though it really doesn’t affect me because the money isn’t important to me.
Anyway, I wish for you a fabulous week ahead, and thank you for keeping this series alive.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”