Bubblews: Probably Not A Scam, But Not Ready For Prime Time
NOTE: UPDATED ARTICLE AVAILABLE
Many things have changed at Bubblews since this article was first published in November of 2013. Because it still gives a good sense of what Bubblews is all about, I am leaving it online. But for my view of how recent changes to the site affect the assessment of whether or not it should be called a scam, please read the updated article in addition to this one. You can find it at:
Bubblews: Probably Not A Scam, But Not Ready For Prime Time
Bubblews is a writing site that seems to be raising a lot of questions these days. A lot of people are asking whether it’s real, or some kind of scam. I’ve been posting at Bubblews for four months now, so I thought I’d add my experiences to the discussion.
My experience with Bubblews
I joined Bubblews in July of 2013. Here are my stats so far:
- 210 articles
- 11204 views
- 219 comments
- 832 likes
- 4 dislikes
- 249 connections
Those 210 articles have earned so far just over $100. I’ve had four redemptions (you now must accumulate $50 to redeem, up from $25). The first three were all paid on time; the fourth was paid but only after a delay.
Here's my view of the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning Bubblews.
The Good about Bubblews
Bubblews’ pay rate is great
For me, Bubblews has been by far the quickest and easiest way to profit from my writing. Honestly, I haven’t put nearly the effort into writing for Bubblews as many others seem to. Bubblews limits you to 10 articles per day, and a lot of writers there make it their practice to get their ten pieces uploaded every day of the week. I, on the other hand, have never published ten, and there are many days when I publish none at all.
Yet the $101.57 I’ve received from Bubblews in four months far outstrips my earnings from Yahoo Contributor Network and HubPages combined.
When you redeem on Bubblews, all your stats in what they call “the bank” get reset. After my most recent redemption, I happened to look at my bank when just one new view was showing. For that one view, I earned one cent. No other writing site I’ve participated in, including HubPages, Yahoo, RedGage, and Allvoices, comes anywhere near that rate of pay.
Bubblews articles are quick and easy to write
The minimum Bubblews requires for a submission is that it have at least 400 characters. That’s characters, not words.
For my HubPages and Yahoo articles, I always spend much more time in research than in the actual writing. But with Bubblews, I can write an article on a personal experience in 15 minutes or less.
For example, I recently wrote an article entitled "Handicap parking spaces should be respected!" about the experience I had finding a handicap parking space when I went that day to get my driver’s license photo taken. With 30 views, 8 likes, and 1 comment so far, that article is, for me, not a bad performer (many Bubblews writers get many more views than I normally do – more on that later). Obviously my research was simply my own experience, and I probably spent no more than 15 minutes writing.
Often I’ll turn a news story that interests me into an article. My top performing article at this point, "Bank repossesses wrong house, changes locks and throws out owner’s belongings," is of that type. I may spend an hour on something like that, because I tend to search for several sources on the story to make sure I have accurate and complete information. But still, compared to the time I put into a HubPages or Yahoo article, my Bubblews writing is done very quickly.
You can literally write about almost anything and get views
I list this as a “good,” but I’m actually somewhat conflicted about it. Many of the Bubblews articles I read would make Jerry Seinfeld proud – they are almost literally about nothing. A typical example of that genre goes something like this:
Hello, Bubblers. I just had my 75th redemption, and I’m so happy! Now I’m sitting at my computer trying to think of what to write about. I’m sure something will come to me soon. I had a good night’s sleep last night, and now I’m ready to have a great day. I hope you have one, too!
Admittedly I’ve exaggerated a bit in this example, but not by much. The word “vapid” (offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging) comes to mind.
On the other hand, Bubblews gives me the opportunity to write short pieces from a personal angle, with irony or humor that I find harder to display in my more “serious” pieces.
For me writing Bubblews articles is a matter of adhering to personal standards of quality. I really try hard to offer readers something of interest or value to them, rather than just trying to make sure I reach my character count requirement. But that’s entirely up to the author. Someone who is content to put out garbage can do it on Bubblews and be well paid for it.
The Bad about Bubblews
You’ll probably get paid – but maybe not
Bubblews states that when you ask for a redemption, they will contact you within 72 hours. With my first three redemptions, everything worked as they promised. Within a few days of my requests, I received emails from PayPal saying “eCheck payment in progress.” Then 4 or 5 days later, PayPal would confirm that the money had been successfully deposited.
Because I had never had any problems with my payments through three redemptions, I was having trouble understanding why so many people claimed to not get paid. But then with my fourth redemption, I began to get the picture.
I turned in my redemption request as normal. By the 72 hour mark, I had heard nothing from Bubblews – no acknowledgement of any kind that my request had been received. After a couple of more days of no contact from Bubblews, I started to get worried. Had I unwittingly joined the company of writers who initially got paid, but then got dumped by Bubblews with no money and no recourse?
A frustrated Bubblews user with 5 unpaid redemptions
After more than a week of waiting for the payment notice they promised would be received within 72 hours, I was ready to join what seems like hundreds who have emailed the Bubblews support team asking, often in vain, where their payment was.
Then, 11 days after my redemption request, PayPal sent me notice that the payment had been made. So, I got paid, but late. But many Bubblews authors have apparently never been paid for some of their postings.
The conclusion I reached is that Bubblews does not appear to be deliberately robbing writers of their legitimate earnings, but that they are simply overwhelmed and can’t keep up. That conclusion was strengthened when I read what the Bubblews support team has to say about the issue:
We are a brand new company attempting something that is so big and bold that no one has attempted it before. We will get to all payments and process the ones of the people who DID follow the rules. However, if you cannot be patient enough to allow Bubblews to get through these growing pains, then I suggest you LEAVE Bubblews until we can process your payment or wait until version 3.0 of the website which will be a LOT smoother and automatic.
The key to Bubblews success is not quality writing, but connections
From my experience, the number one determiner of view-count success on Bubblews is the number of connections you have. It’s a simple application of the law of large numbers. When you have hundreds or, as many do, thousands of connections who are notified every time you publish an article, some percentage of those people will view your post. It doesn’t really matter the topic, or how good or bad the writing may be. The more connections you have, the more views you will have.
That’s why, it seems to me, a lot of posts that have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say still get tons of views. So, if you focus more on quality in your writing than on trying to gather connections, you may not be one of the top producers of views on the site.
Do Bubblews' pluses outweigh its minuses?
The Ugly about Bubblews
Bubblews may drop you, or refuse to pay you, with no notification and no recourse
The site has strict terms of service which must be followed if a user is to be paid. That’s not a problem.
What is a problem is that, according to what some frustrated users say, the site claims the power to unilaterally decide that a user has failed to abide by some aspect of the terms of service, and to deny payment or even close an account on that basis. And all this can happen without the user even being notified.
Having read comments by other users about how strict Bubblews’ enforcement of their terms of service can be, I’ve been very careful to make sure I observe all the rules.
For example, before my first redemption, I saw comments from users indicating that use of photographs to which the author does not have proper rights clearance, or failure to correctly attribute such photos, could cause an entire redemption of $50 or more to never be acknowledged or paid. So, I went back to all my articles and added the URLs from which I obtained my photos so that it would be clear that I had a right to use them.
I don’t mind that. But what I would mind is if Bubblews determined that I had failed to observe some aspect of their terms of service and didn’t discuss it with me, or even notify me. That hasn’t happened to me, but other writers say it has happened to them.
How to fix Bubblews
In my opinion, Bubblews could fix its image problems with a couple of simple adjustments.
First, if they would simply stop promising more than they are delivering, people would be a lot more patient with them. If their stated policy was that redemptions would be processed within, say, two weeks rather than the 72 hours they now promise, I would never have had any apprehensions about being paid.
Even if they are understaffed, Bubblews needs to make it a high priority to let their users know what’s going on with their payments and other aspects of their accounts. For example, sending a simple email acknowledgement that a redemption request has been received should be built into the system. And the practice of denying payment without informing the user of what happened and why should be abandoned immediately.
My opinion is that Bubblews wants to be a quality site for writers, but they just haven't fully gotten their act together yet. Their image is suffering from some self inflicted wounds that should be dealt with as soon as possible. Whether their business model, with its larger than normal rate of pay, will prove successful remains to be seen.
I hope Bubblews does succeed. Aside from the great pay rate, I actually enjoy writing the short, personal articles they not only allow but encourage.
So, I plan to continue for now. Since I make it a point to redeem as soon as my account reaches $50, I figure that's all I ever have at risk. I'll keep going until Bubblews proves they can't be trusted.
© 2013 Ronald E. Franklin