Revenue Sharing Sites Still Suck
I am always on the lookout for places where I can share knowledge, and hopefully earn a backlink or two. Unfortunately there are many sites out there that seem promising, but end up being a huge drain on your time. HubPages is one of those sites: big promises, little delivery.
While I have never been a fan of revenue sharing sites, I am a fan of getting my name out there and earning backlinks. The promise of “residual income” is enticing, but ends up being far from what you should ever actually work for.
Here are the results of my experiment to see how things went over there.
Determining a Topic to Share
Whenever I write, I almost always try to choose topics that are evergreen. This means that they will have impact for years to come, and they aren’t temporary sensations (not always true, I wrote on Tsu closing and Pokémon Go because I knew that those would earn traffic). Sure an article about how Donald Trump claims he’s the smartest man in the world will earn a bunch of clicks now; it will have minimal impact in 2 years. Even less in 4 years, and virtually no impact in 9 years.
I chose to write about something I have talked about before: how to earn more money. I went with the idea of How to Earn More Money in 5 Simple Steps (you can click that link if you really want to read the article). It’s evergreen, the same concepts will apply now and in 20 years. It’s optimized, people search for “How to Earn More Money” all the time. It’s enticing, who wouldn’t want to earn more in 5 simple steps? And it should be doing well on their platform.
I believe the article is a good one, but HubPages dumbs things down so much, it’s virtually worthless.
The First Problem: Clunky Content Management System
All of my work is composed as a Word Document. I write, edit, and add my hyperlinks in Word, and then it’s a matter of simply copying and pasting into WordPress or whatever other platform is being used. It’s an easy system that works well, and helps me save everything to my computer rather than putting it right onto another site.
Unfortunately, HubPages makes it hard for you to upload right from the computer and onto their site. They have it designed where you upload in blocks, and then add other blocks, and add blocks to hold your pictures. It likely works well for those with no WordPress experience, but it makes it so that you have to copy and paste a dozen times, and minimizes how you can have your content laid out.
Since I have a set hourly rate that I have to meet in order to stay in business, I want to maximize my efficiency. What is usually a 30 second copy and paste was now several minutes of clunking through HubPages cumbersome content management system.
The Second Problem: Automatic Rejection
HubPages obviously wants high quality writing and is trying to avoid spammy links pointing back to people’s websites. That’s understandable. But to get around those links, and to avoid the spam, they dumb things down so much that you can barely get anything approved. Here’s what I mean.
My article was about 1,400 words. Longer content is favored by Google, it shows that a person has taken the time to put thought into it, and it has more words for search engines to scan that can ultimately result in more people clicking on it.
I uploaded a few pictures that I found with open licenses on Pixabay. Since the topic was about earning more money, I just had to get pictures of dollar bills and the like. Nothing fancy, but it helped to break up the monotony of text blocks.
In the first paragraph, when I was introducing the concept, I put in a link that pointed to someone else’s site (no idea who it was, I can’t even remember if it was Forbes or some other major name), that showed how income and cost of living have increased disproportionately. It was a solid link, not self serving, and helped to support the rest of my article. Also, it’s SEO 101: have outgoing links.
The article was edited, ready to publish, was clickable, easy-to-read, grammar and spelling error free, linked to sources that backed up my claim, and ready to be published and to start earning me tons of residual income… or at least get my name out there a little more. I submitted it, and a few hours later I received an email saying it was rejected.
I logged back into my account to see why my article was rejected. The response: your article failed to meet our quality standards; add more content to this hub (at 1,400 words, it didn’t need more content). No other information, other than the fact that I could submit it to their writer forum to see what other people said. So I did that.
The Third Problem: No Feedback from HubPages
After a few hours on the forum I received a response from another writer. This was the only perk I found with HubPages, many of the writers are actually involved and kind to one another. The feedback I received went through the entire article.
First, the link going to the source where I support my claims had to go. HubPages apparently doesn’t like ANY outgoing links, so I had to remove my citation. Now I had an article that was filled with opinion instead of factual and data driven content.
Second, the pictures didn’t have sources cited. All of my pictures were license free, no citation needed. What if I had created the graphics myself? Could I have cited my own website?
Third, the article sounded spammy. It started off as How to Earn More Money in 5 Easy Steps. I changed that to 5 Simple Steps because it’s not going to be easy, but it’s simple. I couldn’t change the URL, so the URL still has the word “easy” in it. People might see that and then think, “I like easy” but then be irritated when it’s going to take actual work. Nothing I can do there, people need to learn that earning money is almost never easy.
I went through and did all of those changes, and resubmitted. It was rejected again. And again, there was no feedback from HubPages other than, your article fails to meet our quality standards.
I made a couple of other super simple tweaks, as simple as swapping a picture from the bottom of the article with one near the top. After 4 or 5 tries, my article was finally approved. Of course it wasn’t nearly as good as the original, but it was approved. Time to sit back and watch the residual cash come flowing in… or not.
The Fourth Problem: You Don’t Actually Make Money on HubPages
Like all revenue sharing sites, this website is designed for one reason: to entice people to write content, growing their site bigger, so that they make more on ad revenue, while promising that you will make something too. The actual result is that you basically work for free for them.
After 6 weeks on the site, my article has earned exactly 3 pennies. It gets no views (so much for “promoting your work for you”) anymore, and doesn’t earn me any links or promote me as a writer.
There are some specific reasons that it just sits there.
I don’t promote that page. I have thrown it out there a little bit, but for the most part why would I waste my time and effort to promote a page where the majority of the revenue goes to someone else? I have this site monetized (although it doesn’t really make me any money) but at least if I put content here I have control over it and it helps to build my content base. If I’m going to promote my work, I’m going to earn 100% of the ad revenue.
The second reason it isn’t viewed is because Google doesn’t like revenue sharing sites. In one of the recent updates, these sites are devalued. The content is spammy (despite their efforts not to be spammy), it’s designed to milk Google AdSense, and it’s generally lower quality writing than you can find elsewhere. In short: my article isn’t shown to search engines. It may come up on intra-site searches, but who goes to HubPages to search for information? Likely only other HubPage writers.
Finally, I am not playing their game. Between spending hours writing for mere pennies, HubPages wants you to “Hop some Hubs”. Essentially you read other people’s work and rate how good they are. As far as I can tell, this is how an article is rejected in the first place; another Hubber didn’t like it. Earning a few pennies per month isn’t worth my time to write the article, much less spend time evaluating other people’s work.
HubPages is Nothing More than a Hobby
If you’re looking to earn money on HubPages, don’t expect very much. If you have loads of free time, want an online community to join, don’t mind earning nothing for your writing, and need something to pass the time, then this is absolutely the place for you. Pound out a hundred articles and you might be able to earn a few dollars per month. If you don’t want to build your own website, and just need a platform where you can spend some time, then HubPages is great.
For the rest of us, those that do this for a living and don’t want to deal with the crap that HubPages throws your way, pass right by this site as another revenue sharing ripoff.
Have you written for HubPages? Was your experience different?