What Can We Learn From the Fall of Bubblews?
Bubblews is Dead
On Bubblews, Every Voice Was Supposed to Be Important
This post is now historical, since Bubblews shut down its site in mid-November, 2015. We could just heave a sigh of relief that the months of agony of waiting for it to die are now over. Or we can reflect on what we might have observed earlier that might have prevented the loss of data and money earned that many experienced when the site closed.
I was a very active member of the site from February, 2013, until it showed signs of its approaching failure in December, 2014. I thought of just deleting this hub when I heard that the site had closed. But it seems better to let you see how it looked to me during my Bubblews experience. I have left some sections in the present tense as I first wrote them. Consider that an eye witness account of why many of us joined and stayed as long as we did. As you read, consider whether you would have stayed as long as some of us did. Which signs of the failure to come were visible months before the site died? What mistakes did many make that resulted in much wasted time and effort and the loss of their posts.
It's not all just water under the bridge now. We can take some of the lessons to be learned with us as we evaluated where we will continue to spend our time.
Are You a Bubbler Yet?
Do you consider yourself an active part of the Bubblews community yet?
- 45% Yes. I've been active there for at least three months.
- 16% Yes, but I'm still new and been a member less than three months.
- 16% Yes, but I've been there for a month or less.
- 20% No, I'm still thinking about joining.
- 2% No, and I'm not inclined to join after all I've heard so far.
This poll is now closed to voting.
Update: MyLot is Back
MyLotis now back and paying its members again. You can connect with me as bagarad there. They no longer have an affiliate program. Those who left to join Bubblews are now coming back and they are bringing new friends from Bubblews with them. MyLot was good enough to leave all the content of members like me who had not closed their accounts intact. It was really easy to come back and be active again without skipping a beat. Payment is low, but better than other social networking sites. most of which don't pay anything. It is now one of the best places to connect with friends from many closed content writing sites.
My Journey to Bubblews
I heard about Bubblews from a friend at Gather. I suppose Gather is another site considered inferior by many writers, though a lot of real writers were hanging out there. It was a social networking site for those who liked to write. Just as on Bubblews, the quality of the posts varied. I was there because some Squidoo friends had mentioned it. While there, I made many new friends.
One or more of those friends mentioned a site called myLot, so I decided to check it out. It was a pay to post site and I guess there was more attached to it than its forum, but I never checked out the other parts of the site. It was a site that paid pennies for posting and commenting, and I enjoyed it more than Facebook because conversations tended to have more substance. It was also filled with people from places like the Philippines who desperately needed the pennies myLot was paying them.
I didn’t visit myLot much after I had attained the highest commenter score and also had posted enough to have all the privileges possible. But I had formed relationships and went there now and then to socialize. I discovered that many people I knew at myLot were also on Gather, even though the names were different.
It was about this time that Squidoo started making drastic changes that brought me back to it almost fulltime to try to prevent having any lenses locked. As it turned out, I never even had them flagged, but I was so busy editing and backing up lenses, just in case, that I neglected all other sites. I had stopped in at Gather for some conversation and a break when a friend mentioned Bubblews. Shortly after that, Gather seemed to go off line almost without notice.
Those who were also at myLot started spending more time there. But it seemed within days that myLot announced they were coming out with a revised and better interface for the site, and they were down for a bit. They also then announced they would no longer pay for participation. This started a furor, especially from those who really needed that $10 a week or so they worked so hard to earn. There was suddenly a mass exodus of refugees from Gather and myLot to Bubblews.
Why Bubblews? As one person put it, the money is good while it lasts. None of the writers I knew expected it to last. But my own earnings at Squidoo and HubPages were down to almost nothing. I decided to check Bubblews out. I was not expecting the next best writing site. I really had no expectations except a new adventure and staying in touch with friends I had already made at other sites. The money to be made seemed too good to be true, but I confess to wanting my share of it while it lasted. Gradually, disillusioned squids whose lenses had been locked and Hubbers who had too many sleeping hubs began to appear.
The Bubblews Bubble has Finally Burst
Bubblews as a Social Network
Note: This section was left as I wrote it when Bubblews was still active and it remains in the present tense, along with most of the next sections.
Most of the people I know who have migrated to Bubblews from other sites, came for social networking and blogging instead of to publish articles. Judging from the words of the CEO, the real purpose of the site is to be a global voice, reflecting the mood, spirit, and thoughts of those from all over the world. From that perspective, maybe posts on what happened on the way to work or what people had for dinner, are not as unworthy as some writers think they are.
As far as I can tell, Bubblews is not another content site as such. It is a vast social network for anyone who can write in English and wants to be read. So if you are a writer expecting a site on which to publish your content, you might be disappointed that your work is appearing next to work you consider quite inferior to your own. If you compare the quality of work you see on Bubblews to that on HubPages, Wizzley, or Zujava or some of the freelance sites, you will be disappointed. I suggest you compare it, instead, to Facebook or Google+, and now, tsu.
I find Facebook rather disappointing in actually communicating important thoughts to friends and family. The best I normally get is shared photos, and most of those aren’t really personal. Some people even have nasty arguments and insult so-called friends and family. Occasionally someone actually shares something that’s important to them, but those posts are few and far between. I find Google+ more professional, since many in one’s circles are relationships that exist only in the virtual world. Both appear to be sites where people feel free to drop their links to affiliate products and work on writing sites. Sometimes I feel I’m looking at a huge bulletin board.
The best things about Facebook, as far as I’m concerned, are that it helps me find friends I’ve been out of touch with and gives me the illusion that I’m staying in touch with a lot of people who have been or still are important in my life. I use it most for networking with other writers in closed groups about various writing sites and Zazzle, and how others are handling the latest changes or glitches on those sites.
What's Your Favorite Social Network?
Where on line do you most like to spend your networking time?
- 24% Squidoo, HubPages, or another such writing site
- 32% Facebook
- 41% Bubblews
- 0% Google+
- 3% Some other site
This poll is now closed to voting.
I think Bubblews is Competitive as a social network.
True, it’s not easy to get real world friends and family to join Bubblews if they are currently active on Facebook and freak out at the idea of actually having to come up with 400 characters of something to say. But if most of your friends are in the virtual world, it’s one of the best social networking sites there is.
Bubblews is trying to take the pulse of the world’s people who are literate in English. You personally will see only a fraction of that world on Bubblews but I envision that researchers will someday soon be able to see what ordinary people all over the planet are thinking and talking about. Advertisers will have a giant audience of people who wouldn’t willingly miss a day on Bubblews. Chances are Bubblews may not have to rely on Goggle ads forever.
On Bubblews, you will find the refugees of Gather and myLot -- people who are used to being paid to talk to each other. They have come in search of friends to stay in touch with. They already know a great deal about those friends – maybe more than they know about their own family members. They speak from their hearts about the things that are really important to them, and also about the little everyday parts of life. They reflect on what’s happening in their countries, their communities, and their families. They share interesting things they learn about the natural world. They review books and movies and other forms of entertainment. They talk about sports. They don’t just share their photos, but they also say something meaningful about them.
Bubblews writers can make you laugh and cry. They can also make you care about them and their pets, family members, and causes. They ask for advice. They don’t drop affiliate links. They aren’t posting for back links. Many people would remain on Bubblews even if it did not pay – just for the friendship and communication. If you drop your expectations of Bubblews as a writing site to compare with HubPages or Squidoo, and see it instead as the social network it is, you will, perhaps, be kinder in evaluating it.
Another thing I appreciate about Bubblews is that people can have only one user name. If they want to insult someone or drop spam, they will suffer the consequences. Since there is no personal messaging (at least not yet) everything is said and done in public. Unless they have your contact information from another source, they cannot harass you privately.
Interview with the Co-Founders of Bubblews
So Where Does a Network Like Bubblews Fit into Your Life as a Writer?
I used to feel Bubblews was a great place to go when you were discouraged at the other sites after a round of changes has kept you on a merry-go-round of updating just to stay even. You could write what you care about and just be yourself. You could share what you were feeling about those other sites and their changes and get a bit of sympathy or some suggestions as you learn how others dealt with them.
You could try a new genre under a different pen name. You could get ideas as you read other posts and comments, and you use those ideas in your other writing. You could continue to earn good money while resting from writing longer articles with more stringent specifications. You could forget maps, polls, affiliate links, videos, etc. and just write. (As I'm revising this in December, 2014, embedded videos have just been introduced with great fanfare as a new Bubblews improvement.)
It was a great in-between site. Some days I don’t have a hub inside me wanting to be written. But I still want to write and earn something. So I used to bubble. Sometimes I’ve had an experience in life I just want to vent about. I knew if I posted it on Bubblews someone would care enough to read it. So what if they hoped I’ll read something they wrote, too? I chose most of them as connections because I enjoyed reading what they wrote.
Bubblews was a great place for a blog – a web log or journal. I kept my gardening record on it, complete with my photos and what has worked and what hasn’t. I found a lot of other gardeners were interested in it. Your entire world or any part of it you want to share could fit on Bubblews, and you would get paid if people read and commented on it. ( My garden journals are among the unlucky bubbles the July 15, 2014 Bubblews update butchered. The update deleted everything that was in the extra content boxes -- the photos and their descriptions -- that were vital parts of the bubbles. I think that's why I'm now disillusioned about putting quality work on Bubblews.)
You will notice this update is mostly in the past tense. I stopped recommending Bubblews in December, 2014. It was wonderful for the first 16 months, and then things started to go downhill. As I write this sentence on November 19. 2015, Bubblews has just gone out of business.
Bubblews Was a Cash Cow Many Milked
But Did People Really Get Paid?
It all depends. Most people who follow the very easy-to-comply-with rules got paid regularly. I was one of them. I joined on February 15. It took me 17 days and 53 posts to reach my first cash out of a little over $25.00. In my first six months redeemed 20 more times, and during that period, I was paid through PayPal and the e-checks cleared. I made $517.58 on Bubblews in those first six months. Although it took me 53 posts to get to my first redemption, it took less time to reach redemption after as I increased the number of my posts.
On Squidoo during this same time period, with 159 featured lenses, I made less than one fifth of that, and on HubPages, with 75 of 90 hubs still featured, I have made just about one fifth of what I made on Bubblews. As you can see, I’ve found Bubblews a profitable place to relax while I’m deciding what to write next on some other site.
At the present time (December 9, 2014) I have I have started deleting the posts Bubblews mutilated. I now post once in an average week. I am not sure the site is worth my time now. The time of easy earning is over. Bubblews has changed its payment policies finally to be more sustainable. Now the redemption threshold is $50, not $25. Once you redeem, you have to wait 60 days for payment -- if you are one of the lucky ones who still gets paid. So far, except for one redemption missing a year ago, I have been paid. But like many at Bubblews, I feel almost like redeeming is playing a lottery. You never know if you will win or not.
As far as residual income goes, it's pretty much gone. I use to make on average one or two dollars a day if I didn't post, but still did some interacting. On one day I had not posted for 36 hours, I made $3.32. That was more than I made in that whole month on HubPages. I realize that most Hubbers make much more than I do, since I really don’t do much with affiliate sales and have to depend on traffic. I also don’t research the keywords before writing. I write what I care about.
Because I had a large body of work at Bubblews, I could get by with staying away for a few days and still collect residual income. That income went down if my connections thought I was no longer active in helping them earn money by reading and interacting with their posts. So were I to disappear for a week, my friends would wonder where I was. Were I to disappear for a month without warning, many would stop checking my profile to see if I'm still there, and just disconnect.
Now I only drop by to interact now and then and rarely post. I'm deciding whether to stay. Some people still say they are making more at Bubblews than on other sites, and that's fine. I'm not. I am no longer willing to put in the time there when I can still connect with most of those same people at tsu, the new social network that pays you for interactions on your content. (If you're not a tsu member yet, you can sign up with this invitation. Membership is currently by invitation only.
I know you’ve heard about all the people who have not been paid and say Bubblews is a scam. I cannot speak for them. They all say they have followed the rules but many of them are lying. Many have since been kicked off the site for plagiarism, participating in like exchange groups, or manipulating views. Violating only one rule on one post can keep you from getting paid for an entire redemption. So one post that’s too short in your redemption batch or one affiliate link can keep you from getting paid.
On the other hand, many of the people who have not been paid a redemption are people I know from other sites to be those who would not knowingly break a rule. I am hoping that in spite of the delay, they will be paid. Bubblews completed a major upgrade on July 15 and claimed to be planning more "improvements." They still seem to be behind with payments and there is a still a backlog, since they do check each post for violations. The new version of Bubblews has more automation and better filters, keeping some violators from being able to upload posts and comments that don’t meet the minimum or that are plagiarized. But the payments are slower than ever.
Bubblews Was a Gamble and Many Lost
Who Earns the Most on Bubblews?
When I joined Bubblews, I had the advantage of having a network of friends there when I joined because I knew them from other sites. It was simply a matter of our finding each other under new names and connecting. The way you make money on Bubblews is to have connections who read and comment on what you write and to keep writing posts they want to keep reading. It’s that simple. If you also want to optimize them for Google with keywords, etc., that may or may not give you a larger audience. Those outside the community can give you likes and views. They cannot comment.
When you first join Bubblews, you choose your connections and some will choose you. Those who know and like you will probably connect back. You should connect with those you know and like or whose writing you have sampled and liked. You should not connect to everyone who connects to you, just to be polite – especially if they have asked you to connect back . You will be notified of every post someone you have connected to makes. Unless that’s what you want, don’t connect.
If you are the sort of person who wants to post and run, don’t bother joining Bubblews. Remember, it’s first and foremost a social place. If you are not reading and commenting regularly on the work of others, you are not only missing an important part of the experience, you are also not going to earn as much as people who enjoy the networking part. If you write thoughtful comments, people will notice and see you as a desirable connection.
November, 2015 Update: Was the Wild Ride at Bubblews Worth It?
What Was Good About Bubblews
Bubblews was about writing and interacting with others who like to earn money for writing. Some used English that may not be as proper as yours. Some wrote articles you may consider inferior. Others were already published authors and members of many content writing sites with high standards.
For those who enjoyed getting to know new people and were open to making and communicating with new friends from other parts of the world, Bubblews was more play than work. If you wanted to leave your niche topics now and then and do something different, like write a poem or short story, Bubblews made that possible. If you just wanted to relax and enjoy writing for a few minutes a day without meeting strict quality standards, and still earn a few pennies,Bubblews was a welcome diversion.
If, on the other hand you prefer a more structured writing experience, and only associate yourself with sites who demand strict standards, Bubblews might have been a bit too casual for you. If you weren't a bit of a gambler and didn't want to chance missing a payment, Bubblews was a bad risk, since some good people were never paid one or more payments owed. If you would not have enjoyed Bubblews for its own sake and would have rather spent uncompensated free time at Facebook or Google+ sharing pictures and playing games, maybe those were better social networks for you. At least they did not make promises they couldn't keep and you knew you would get nothing for your time except pleasure.
Personally, I did enjoy the interaction and genuine sharing, I loved the freedom to write what I pleased when I pleased in any genre. I liked earning money for doing what I love. Bubblews was a very good fit for my world. Unfortunately, Bubblews changed so much in the last month of 2014 I could no longer enjoy it.
Here's why I Stopped Posting to Bubblews before it Died
Many of us who were there almost two years or longer could see the site going downhill. The administrators didn't provide anyplace on the site where all the rules were clear for everyone to see. Bubblews stopped paying people from certain countries. Those still earning had to wait twice as long to redeem as before, and even then those redemptions didn't always come as soon as promised. The common belief was that the site was running out of money.
I was going to stay until I made enough to redeem once more, but I wasn't even halfway there yet. I wasn't even sure sticking it out would get me paid unless I kept posting. Rumors were flying that only active posters would be paid. So it appears one couldn't just reach redemption and then go inactive until one's payment arrived. Staff started leaving Bubblews. No one was sure why.
I never deleted my account. I thought they might delete it for me after I published this, because this is part of our world we weren't really supposed to write. I forfeited the $19 in my bank, but I also didn't want to invest the time to maybe keep it when there were no guarantees. I don't know if the owners of the site planned for this to happen. I don't think they deliberately misled people back then. I think they just got in over their heads and didn't know how to get out of their financial mess. So now the site is dead, and as I write this the URL only leads to an announcement that they are gone.
What Can Be Learned from the Bubblews Experience
- Believe your head, not your heart. If the pay seems unrealistically high, the site probably won't be able to sustain their pay rates.
- Write posts in your own word-processing program and paste your post into the form the site provides. Save it on your own computer. If you use a lot of photos and extras that won't convert to text, save your post as a complete webpage with your browser tools. Then you can later see exactly how it looked if you need to reproduce it later when a site disappears. I wish I'd done that with my Garden Journals and other photo essays.
- When you start to see the signs that a site is in trouble, make the hard decision about whether to continue investing time into it. Make sure you have backed up everything you might want.
- Don't delete your account just because you are unhappy. That closes future options if the site comes back or unexpectedly turns around. If staying doesn't hurt you, leave your account open to make it easier to come back. I'm very happy now I did not delete my myLot account.
I don't regret my experience with Bubblews. I really did enjoy it, and I'm sorry the experiment failed . I met some new friends there I now see at tsu and Persona Paper, both of which are now better social experiences. Maybe I'll see you there, or at the resurrected myLot.