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Writing HupPages for profit - My experiences so far
I started writing for HubPages with the goal of making $2/day of passive income from my writing.
Why $2? Well I've read that 50% of the world's population survives on less than$2/day so although it's not much in North American terms it represents a living wage in many developing parts of the world. $2 a day also equates to a coffee a day at my favorite Vancouver coffee house, The Artigiano Cafe. And I reasoned that if I could make $2 with say 100 articles, I could just scale up my writing - 500 articles should earn me $10/day. 1000 articles $20/day and so on. I imagined myself happily wintering somewhere in Central America living off the spoils of my mini-publishing HubPages empire.
I opened up a HubPages account wrote a few articles and then quickly got distracted by life. It was only in November, 2009 that I decided to get serious and published about 30 articles over a month to test out my plans. The results have been underwhelming, I've made all of $1.30 in four months (I'll try to keep my profile updated with my earnings). Meanwhile I've spent about $25 on coffee - I like to write at Cafe Artigiano away from all the household distractions; childrens' homework to review, laundry, shopping, dishes and the odd battles over whose turn it is to use the Wii.
So back to my publishing empire. I'm making a penny a day with a total of about 40 articles. At this rate I'll need 8000 articles to reach my $2/day. Since an article takes about an hour to write. 8000 hours translates to about 160 full-time weeks of work or 3 years of writing full-time. To achieve my Guatemala dream of $20/day would take 30 years of full-time writing. This month my earnings have fallen to an estimated 1 cent for the entire month. The Google Gods give and the Google Gods take away. To make matters even worse, Google doesn't pay out until I have at least a $100 dollars of earnings in my Google account.
I'm not giving up on my passive income odyssey, but I definitely have to change my strategy. I'll share what I've learned so far. All my $1.30 has come from two articles, "Bodum - Make A Perfect Cup of Coffee" and an article on "Visa Gift Cards". My most popular article by far "Write one true sentence - Hemingway's advice" earns zero clicks.
I think the keywords "Bodum" and "VISA gift card" make it easy for Google to give a related ads - the Bodum French Press and Gift Card Offers. I need to rewrite a couple of my articles about coffee to mention Bodum and also add some more articles related to gift cards.
Any article that reviews a popular brand name item should be easy for Google to target with ads. This month I intend to write an article about a multi-took for bicycles - "The Park multi-tool" which I really love and my experiences with the Dell mini 10v netbook. I'll give an update in a couple of months on how my writing/earning experiments turn out.
The creative writing and personal writing like the Hemingway article isn't making any money. I guess because it's not as easy for Google to target with an appropriate ad. I've added a link at the bottom of the Hemingway article to the Bodum story in the hopes of gaining some more traffic and clicks (this is known as adding a backlink). Plus some Amazon links to try to earn some alternative affiliate income.
I also use Google Analytics to analyze what's happening with my articles. Originally the bounce rate (users who click on the article and then leave in a couple of seconds without reading the article) was 95%. Since rewriting articles and adding photos the bounce rate is still about 80% which is terrible. When I work on customer sites (I'm a web developer I try to keep the bounce rate at 25% or less). The typical reader reads 2 articles per visit.
I'd love to hear from other HubPagers on how they've increased traffic and clicks to their articles. What kind of bounce rate are you getting. Please leave a comment or send me an email.