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Not Making Money With Online Article Writing?

Updated on February 22, 2015

I’ve seen numerous "net-preneur" wannabies asking the same question: why am I not making enough money with Google AdSense or Amazon with my blog or website? People read about other people’s success, about teenage kids becoming online millionaires, about getting rich overnight and being able to go on long vacations and still come back to the same income or making money while sleeping. Some of those stories are true and some serve as baits for desperate people who want to make a lot of money with very little effort.


This hub is a result of the time I’ve spent on Hubpages since I signed up three years ago. I get some income every month or every second month depending on traffic, of course. I still haven’t learned what will work and make me some decent money, but I sure did learn what won’t work if you want to build an online business and make a full living by writing web content. Dozens of dollars on a monthly basis from Hubpages are gold for some people and peanuts for other people; success can be defined in different ways, but one thing is certain – trial and error is critical to your success. Once you learn what doesn’t work, you’ll be able to focus on what may work until you finally find what really works.

Common Mistakes

There are certain mistakes that are common in people who start writing web content in order to earn money online, usually with Google AdSense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to earn money with your own website or blog, Hubpages, Wizzley, Infobarrel, Xomba, Seekyt, SeekSuccess, etc.

Not Being Ready to Learn

The No.1 mistake some people make is that they create their accounts and then just any content hoping people will be all over their pages clicking on ads and making them money. Maybe it’s because they’ve heard or read that making money online is simple and easy and that they can get rich overnight. This is far, far away from the truth. You have to really work your as* out to succeed and that it is even questionable if you are not ready to learn how to market your content. On-page and off-page search engine optimization, principles of good quality content, social media optimization, etc are some of the pearls you need to possess in the sea of knowledge to make your time spent online worthwhile.

Not Writing Regularly

Writing on a regular basis (every day, two-three times a week, once a week, etc) is crucial if you want to succeed, especially now with the new SEO thing going on and social media gaining more and more attention. This is the one mistake I keep on making. I love writing so the question is why am I not writing? SEO kills all my creativity, to be honest. I used to spend endless hours working on keyword research, but it seems I still have no idea about it. The whole keyword research thing brought my attention to a whole new set of topics I wouldn’t have otherwise written about, but I’ll get to that in the next section. Here I’d like to add that if you are hubber hoping to get more followers, your duty is follow with great content so that your followers actually have something to follow. Hope you follow me on this one :)

Also, you have to decide whether you’ll treat your online writing as a hobby or as business. A hobby is something you do when you have free time, which means you can expect to earn some extra cash. A business will require a full-time commitment so you could expect to make a full-living out of it. The downside is that not all businesses work out, moreover, more businesses fail both offline and online. I guess, you have to be lucky, too.

Keyword Research

My favorite. I’ve been following the activities of a very successful online writer who writes about boring topics (at least, they’re boring to me) or "stupid" topics for an audience I can’t really understand. Well, I may call those topics stupid, but they sure make this writer significant amounts of money each month. This is where my enthusiasm totally went down. I tried writing about such topics, but it took me hours of research to provide correct and useful information, another few to actually write an article, and still no positive results.

I took a few successful online writers and their keywords in the article titles they produced as examples of what kind of keywords I should use; by this I mean that I checked how many results based on those keywords there were in Google, what the global monthly searches were and what their CPC was. I found other keywords of interest to me based on the topics I like and found approximately the same numbers for each of those three elements, and then tried to write using my own numerically similar keywords. That was a dead end. No success.

Another thing bugging me is that I may end up on the No.1 result for a highly-paid keyword and see ads totally different from the context i.e. ads matching my shopping or searching preferences (behavioral targeting at stake here) so I’m wondering if in-depth keyword research is really that necessary. Well, I’ve learned that it is, but in practice I totally suck when it comes to choosing the right keywords to start with. Lord, give me patience!


Highly-paid keywords

I did a test with a few such keywords (with a CPC value expressed in dozens of dollars). I can’t help smiling at the moment because it must be the most stupid mistake you can make as a beginner in the online writing world. I’ve read articles listing such keywords – lemon law, credit cards, personal finances, making money online to name a few – advising you to write articles around these topics. I mean, there are millions of highly positioned websites offering great information about these topics, with hundreds and thousands of pages of related content – who can compete with that? I’ll take Lisa’s example from her free book Untold AdSense Facts: 401 million sites focusing on making money are quite a competition to swallow compared to parenting advice covered on about 2 million sites.

There was a contest on Hubpages in January 2010 (I think that was the year) encouraging people to write about finances the whole month. Good for Hubpages, but how good was it for an individual writer? A few months later, who knows how many hubs were unpublished because of content violations such as "this hub seems to be about getting out of debt." Those hubs of mine are idle now, of course, and you probably understand why I’m not taking any action to update that content. I just don’t see what difference that would make when it was wrong to write about those topics in the first place. If you have a different experience (or a similar one), please, don’t forget to share it in the comments below.

Writing About Topics You Don’t Know Much About

If you decide to write about topics you don’t know much about, it will take you a lot more time to actually write an article. People want to read about certain subjects written by people who are successful in the field. You may provide exact data because you’ve read dozens of pages covering the same topic, but in the end you’ll be paraphrasing what others have written, you’ll get bored with this type of writing and search engines won’t recognize your content as something unique because it really isn’t unique. It doesn’t have to be copied (and it mustn’t be), but it will still ring a bell or evoke a déjà-vu feeling. Simply not worth the trouble.

Lisa's Advice

Final Thoughts

A man learns best from his own mistakes, but it’s also good to learn from other people’s mistakes because that will save you time. If you don’t plan on giving up, my advice to you is to learn and be persistent. What’s important is that you don’t make the same mistake over and over again.

Because I enjoy reading and writing, I started working on my first novel and this turned out to be the easier option for me. At least, I write. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on HP and similar sites – I’m just waiting for my moment of enlightenment.


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    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Hi, sorry for the late reply! I didn't find that magic formula, but those who did keep it a secret indeed. Keep trying if you're happy with what you're doing, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones ;)

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing what you've learned. I'm fairly new but am already getting discouraged. It's hard to find that magical formula and, if you do, you probably want to keep it a secret!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @kittyfree: Lisa (the woman on the video) has a lot of great videos on Youtube if you want to check them out. She's encouraging and has a lot of great tips for AdSense publishers. Good luck with SEO :)

    • kittykfree profile image

      Kitty K. Free 

      7 years ago

      Great hub! Thanks for sharing. There is so much I'm learning and SO much more I need to learn. This is great info and I like the info in the video too.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      You're right about that, Peggy. That's how life in general is. Some great writers here on HP have decided to stop wrestling with the "writing for the web" type of writing, though. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I think that most of us who are not SEO experts continually learn through trial and error. I know that I continually learn new things by writing on HP. There are moments of elation and also frustration...but that is like life in general. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Voted up!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jasmine!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Barbara Kay: All of my hubs about credit cards needed some editing to avoid the "getting out of debt" part. However, that didn't help because they are all idle now. Well, at least they were not unpublished. As for the topics to write about, I don't know what to say. You're right about running out on ideas. My advice is to keep on trying and looking for something new you love to write about. Thanks for the comment :)

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @moonlake: Oh, I wonder how, too! They must have mastered the keyword part of SEO or they must have great contacts with other online writers. Thanks for the comment!

      @Patrice: If you ever write a novel, I'll be among the first people to read it. I love how you write. Stephanie Meyer didn't begin from the beginning when she started her Twilight romance series. She wrote down a dream that later became chapter 14 of the first book. Don't give up if you really wish to write a novel. And believe me, it feels good!

      @fpherj48: I absolutely understand what you mean. I can write about things that are of no interest to me, but as you can guess, it will take me ages to finish. It seems I'll start writing about what I like as well - just for the sake of writing :)

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Betty, I can't agree with you more - the community here is very powerful and reading other people's hubs is very enjoyable. Thanks for stopping by!

      Hi, Rebecca! Nice to see you again :) I have to improve my hubs as well, and I hope that will bring some results. Like you said, try and try again! Thanks for commenting :)

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      7 years ago from Canada

      well said, I will go on record to say I agree with what you've said it is a lot of trial and error-- but forgive if I missed this-- there needs to be a balance between great writing and keywords. I know that keywords are important, but after spending weeks improving my hubs, there is something to be said about a good deal of balance, but you've really made it clear, it is try to try again!

    • bettybarnesb profile image


      7 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Excellent article and very informative. In other words, "don't quit your day job." It is easy to become discouraged, writing online, I suppose is the motivating factor for me is enjoying the "Community" on Hubpages. Just reading what others write is enjoyable.

      Votes you up! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Jasmine, I envy you and your novel writing. I tried it back in the 90s - wanted to write a romance novel, but my inner critic just wouldn't shut up, so I gave up. I've thought about trying it again, but I wouldn't know where to begin. I know how to write, but telling stories is an entirely different animal.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Carson City

      A very well-written hub, full of the education so many writers look for.

      I can understand and appreciate the usefulness and importance of these key points. You've explained this all so clearly.

      However, This writer has her own drum beat....whatever the consequences, I can only write what I love to write, regardless of veering off the suggested path. Thanks for sharing!! UP+++

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Enjoyed reading your hub. I know I will never figure out all of this. When people say they get a 1,000 views each day on one hub it just shocks me. How, how, how? Voted up.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      7 years ago from USA

      Oh no, I was going to write an article about how to get out of debt. I didn't know that was a no, no. I really think I have some helpful tips about that.

      The trouble with only writing what you know is that you run out of ideas or you already found that the subjects aren't successful. I've written a lot of gardening articles which is something I love to do. They get traffic, but very little.

      I've noticed some of the successful people write about how to fix computer problems or how to get to the next level on computer games. That just isn't my area of expertise.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the compliments, Patrice! Writing at least once a week would be enough to say we're consistent and that we're writing on a regular basis. As for the writer's block, I learned that SEO and keyword research cause it in my case, but as soon as I started working on my novel, all my creativity and writing abilities finally became live. I really enjoy it. I've decided to write once a week without the whole SEO package attached to posts. Even if it doesn't pay off in terms of monetization, I'm sure I'll feel better. Thanks again!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent hub with some good advice, Jasmine. With all of the Google animal-algorithm updates, I'm not sure how important keyword research is anymore, at least the way we used to do it. I have typically written about subjects that interested me and then gone back to see if I could find some relevant keywords that would help get the article found. I'd basically given up on Adsense but I might reconsider after watching the excellent video.

      And you're write (couldn't resist that one :-)), writing on a regular basis is a must. It doesn't have to be every day, just regular and consistent. I kept a journal for over 10 years and wrote 3 pages in it every day. It was one of the best ways I found to eliminate writer's block. Now I can't shut up :-).

      And on that note, I'll end by saying I've voted this one up and will be sharing it. Good job!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @shiningirisheyes: Hi there! I love reading other people's hubs and participating in conversations going on in the comments section, too. As long as you are happy, it doesn't matter whether you earn a lot or not. Thanks for commenting!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great insight and I share many of your thoughts as well.

      I am someone who joined Hub Pages for two reasons: 1. I love to write and 2. I love to read what other people write. I may not be collecting large sums of money but I'm quite happy.

      Fantastic hub

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      You're so welcome, Linda :) Sorry to hear that you're not as successful as you'd like to be concerning SEO and keyword research. I checked your profile and learned that you enjoyed writing and that you were not a victim of those dreadful elements. That's the way to go! Thank you for commenting!

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      7 years ago from Central Virginia

      My word, you have said what I have been thinking and much better than I could have said it. I absolutely despise SEO writing and don't think I will live long enough to understand keywords. I try but I am failing miserably because I just don't get it. Thank you. Thank you for making me feel almost normal. This was a great, great hub.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @MillionaireTips: I hope so, too. Finding the right keywords is important, but being able to write about topics that may not be of your interest and doing that often is also a challenge. Good luck with your writing :)

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      I am still trying to figure out the keyword stuff as well, and I hope that one day I can figure out enough to earn a check every month but I'm not there yet. We can just keep trying and hope somewhere in there, a hidden gem will come out.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @billybuc: Hello, my friend! So we're swimming in the same waters. It's just that you were much smarter than me and you started writing from the beginning about the topics you really like. I should go in that direction, too. I'll try writing at least one hub every week just because I'm a "writer." lol Thanks for your comment! And, yes, when that moment of enlightenment comes, I'll be happy to share it with you.

      @bdegulio: Hi, Bill :) I've learned a lot, too, it's just that I've become quite frustrated over time because the amount of time invested in learning and writing online simply didn't match with the amount earned so far. My goal is to continue writing without giving much weight to keyword research. We'll see where that's going to take me. Good luck to you, too and thanks for commenting :)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Jasmine. Very interesting article here. I learned a few things that I didn't know so this helped me a lot. Figuring out this whole on-line writing thing is turning out to be much more complicated than I thought but that is okay at the moment as I do this for fun and a very extra dollars. You know the saying, don't quit your day job.

      I am finding that the longer I am here on HPs the more I learn so it is good to read hubs such as this one to expedite the learning process otherwise it would take me forever to learn all that there is learn her.

      Many thanks and good luck with the novel.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well my friend, when that moment of enlightenment comes, will you share it with me? LOL

      Great hub! I'll tell you, I simply can't write about the keywords stuff; I would quit writing if that was all I did. I try to write one of those a week just so I attempt to grow in another direction, but my heart and soul are not in it.

      So I keep cranking out the stuff I love to write about, and I may not make much money, but I'm happy with my product. :)

      Good to see you back and good luck with that novel.


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