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Bubblews: Probably Not a Scam, but Not Ready for Prime Time

Ron is a long-time writer of non-fiction articles who also enjoys writing short fiction.

A cluster of bubbles on a person's finger. The writing site Bubblews was focused on connections.

A cluster of bubbles on a person's finger. The writing site Bubblews was focused on connections.

Important Notes and Updates

This article was first published in November of 2013. In the time since, many things changed at Bubblews, and the site eventually closed down. Because this article still gives a good sense of what Bubblews was all about, I am leaving it online.

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 as of November of 2013:

  • 210 articles
  • 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.

My "bank" stats just prior to a redemption

My "bank" stats just prior to a redemption

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 10 pieces uploaded every day of the week. I, on the other hand, have never published 10, 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 on 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 handicapped parking space when I went that day to get my driver’s license photo taken. With 30 views, eight likes, and one 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.

My Bubblews articles list

My Bubblews articles list

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 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 four or five days later, PayPal would confirm that the money had been successfully deposited.

My redemptions

My redemptions

Because I had never had any problems with my payments through three redemptions, I was having trouble understanding why so many people claimed not to 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 acknowledgment 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?

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.

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 the 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.

Stop Overpromising: 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.

Communicate: Second, communicate! 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 acknowledgment 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 Assessment

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Ronald E Franklin


Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 11, 2014:

Thanks, nightcats. I hope you have a good experience at Bubblews. Although it still has a long way to go, I think it's getting better all the time.

June Campbell from North Vancouver on September 11, 2014:

I joined Bubblews a few days aco. I had read the mixed reviews and decided to go into it with my eyes wide open. I agree it is sort of fun to write these brief posts. Thanks for this balanced overview.

CherylsArt on September 02, 2014:

That would be good to see. There are some regular commenters that I follow there, so I tend to read more quality posts but have come across some doozies from time to time.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 02, 2014:

Thanks, Cheryl. With the revamp of the site in July I think they've made a lot of progress in the right direction. With so many other sites, like Yahoo Voices, Squidoo, and Helium going away, there's been an influx of good writers at Bubblews. Hopefully that will help strengthen the site.

CherylsArt on September 02, 2014:

I hope they succeed too. I write there as well but not as often anymore as I do on other sites.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on March 31, 2014:

Hi, Torrs13. I'm glad Bubblews is working for you. I think knowing your purpose in posting there is the key, as well, of course, as being paid! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on March 31, 2014:

I have been writing for Bubblews since September 2013 and have received my redemptions, but a couple of mine have been late as well. I think the site can be hit or miss sometimes, but I agree that it's a great site for just posting little thoughts and making some good side money doing it.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on January 29, 2014:

Askme, I also had the experience of getting one email from Arvind concerning a problem, then not hearing from him again. I think he is trying, but is overwhelmed. I also think the Bubblews system is very brittle: if anything goes wrong, they are ill-equipped to deal with it in a timely way. So, once there is any issue with a writer's payment, it seems it may never get fixed. I'm with you on the quality of some of the writing. I try to read others' articles before deciding to comment or "like." Some are, for me at least, literally unreadable. I finally reached the same conclusion you did: Bubblews is more of a social media site than a writing site. I guess we must simply take it for what it is. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Rebecca O'Reilly from California on January 29, 2014:

I started with bubblews back in July. I have redeemed 3 times and getting ready for my 4th, however, I did not get paid on one of my redemptions. I mistakenly put down the wrong paypal email when I hit redeem. I don't know why the address is not saved but it's not. Once the mistake was caught (via email from Arvind who is one of the founders of bubblews), I corrected it and sent an email to Arvind. He responded once. 5 more emails to bubblews--NO response.

Bubblews seems to have a real problem with paying people. Just today one of their big bubblers who is always on the "front page" posted he has not been paid for his last 2 redemptions.

I've been on hubpages since 2008 and in all that time, have only been paid 3 times so I guess bubblews is good for making money by writing but some of the bubbles that get major attention on bubblews are so annoying to me. The mis-spelled words, the grammar errors and outright illiterate writing really bothers me. I realize bubblews is from all over the World and I have connections from India, Italy, Philippines , I am not talking about people for whom English is a second language--those people I commend. It's the people who are American and the laziness to proofread or care about using words the correct way or spelling. I enjoy hubpages and their insistence that any hub be of good quality and writing.

I guess I have learned that bubblews is trying to be social media and not "real" writing of articles. It exists to make money via online advertising and to drive traffic to their site, they have to have people writing and posting. Quality does not matter.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on January 16, 2014:

Thanks, grand old lady. I'm glad the info was useful. I think you're right about social media sites developing a "connections" mindset in people. I've noticed a lot of new Bubblews contributors who post just a few articles while putting most of their focus on building connections.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on January 16, 2014:

I have been curious about Bubblews but you make interesting points -- that the pieces are easier to write, and that connections is what really counts, so it's important to have lots of connections. I think that is true for many other social media sites, too. Thank you very much for this interesting piece of information, and I appreciate the learning I got from your artice.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on January 14, 2014:

Congratulations, mgt28, on your payment. I continue to be hopeful for Bubblews.

mgt28 on January 14, 2014:

Bubblews is doing well. There are challenges here and there but the model is unique . I look forward to its full potential. I need to come back to HP to complete my Adsense application ! I already earned my first payment at Bubblews.

Teresa Schultz from East London, in South Africa on January 14, 2014:

Thanks for the reply - just keep going; and you may just catch up to me - good luck!

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on January 14, 2014:

Thanks, Teresa. I think you're right that any startup can't wait to be perfect before getting started; with all outgo and no income, most of them would never get started at all. On the other hand, there are some basics that should be in place from the beginning, or you damage your reputation. At least Bubblews now seems aware of this, and is moving to fix their issues. 22 redemptions! I'm going to have to work hard to catch up!

Teresa Schultz from East London, in South Africa on January 14, 2014:

A good review of Bubblews. I'm all for Bubblews and hope they go from strength to strength - I put up with site glitches etc, knowing they are trying to improve their site, making it better for all. I know I'd be freaked out managing a site like Bubblews myself, with just a handful of staff to help me, and I think they're doing a great job, and I appreciate that they started the site when they did, rather than only later when they were sure of how everything would pan out. That might take ages, getting the site perfect before it even became available to the public, and may still not have been around nearly 6 months ago when I first joined. I have received all 22 of my redemption payments so far, and love the site.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 13, 2013:

Thanks, LittleKnownStuff. You're right about the type of writing that seems to predominate on Bubblews. But there also are a number of writers there who put out material with at least some meat in it. Those are the ones I try to connect with. As I said in the article, I think it comes down to each author maintaining their own standard of quality.

Joe H. from Maine, USA on December 13, 2013:

I gave it a shot the other day but my opinion of the site (in the admittedly limited time I spent there) was that most of the writing was more social and less meaningful which was a bit of a turn-off. I guess they're going for some sort of middle ground and maybe they've found it but I tend to enjoy writing more when it leverages proper spelling, punctuation, etc. Published one article there, "earned" 25 cents or so in a matter of minutes and then left and never looked back.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 11, 2013:

mgt28: If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, Bubblews has a " State of the Brand Address" you might want to look at. The link will be at the top of your account's "Bank" page. They say that raising the redemption threshold to $50 will help them eliminate the site's "wrinkles" and "respond in a timely manner" to redemption requests. It may be worth giving them a little more time to see if they follow through.

mgt28 on December 11, 2013:

I have redeemed once but I have not been paid and it is within a period I think I must keep watching. If not paid, I will just slacken my writing and concentrating on building my writing portifolio elsewhere.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 11, 2013:

Thanks for the heads up, Netra84. I'm close enough that I think I can get another $25 redemption in before the threshold goes up. I just had my fifth redemption, and it came through on time. Why some get paid on time and some don't is a complete mystery. It's good to see that Bubblews is now saying they will focus on communication and processing redemptions in a timely way. I hope they follow through.

Netra84 on December 11, 2013:

Well now, they have increased the payment threshold from 25$ to 50$. It's a bigger gamble now. I have only redeemed once but it's over a month and I haven't been paid.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 26, 2013:

Thanks for commenting, mgt28. I've just put in for another redemption, so now the suspense as to whether I'll be paid! I hope you have a good experience with Bubblews.

mgt28 on November 26, 2013:

Thanks, I enrolled with Bubblews and wrote two bubbles today in less than 30 minutes. I now have earned $1.27 according my last check an hour ago. What you said is true in every aspect.

I think I will post more on that platform and see how it goes.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 25, 2013:

Thanks for commenting, derek_ayre. I think you're exactly right: Bubblews is not being run by pros. And as I say in the article, the worst thing about them is their failure to communicate with writers about payments. It appears that getting paid by Bubblews is a gamble.

derek_ayre on November 24, 2013:

I have trying to get payment for a month or so now, and am being totally ignored even after sending them 4 e-mails. The rules are not rocket science and I have not broken t hem.. If by some slim chance I have made a mistake I would have expected an explanation, but in my opinion this Bubblews is not run by professional business people or they would look after their users.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 22, 2013:

Thanks for commenting, Buildreps. I think your first two suggestions are in line with my suggestions in the article. Regarding the Bubblews earning model, you're right that we don't know what it is, or where the money comes from. But that applies to every other writing site I've been a part of as well. For every site there's a level of trust required to make it work. And that's what Bubblews' deficiencies have put in question. If they can't be trusted, it may never be clear whether they're a scam or just incompetent. The results for writers, in either case, will be the same.

Buildreps from Europe on November 22, 2013:

Hi Ronald, nice article and very thoughtful writing. Well done. In my opinion your conclusion is only a little bit too quickly. I think Bubblews misses at least three essential things in their business model.

1. To verify violations of rules and explain;

2. Giving feedback;

3. The earning model. Think deeper Ronald. Where does the money comes from they pay you? Any idea?

In general the whole business idea makes absolutely no sense and this is the essence that makes Bubblews a scam.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 21, 2013:

Thanks for commenting, Eddie. I think Bubblews would do better by even lowering their pay rate and hiring more staff to make sure everybody gets what they were promised. I hope you get your missing payouts!

Eddie on November 21, 2013:

Bubblews would be great if not for those payment problems. I got 3 out of 8 so far, and only one of them was paid on time. To be honest I am not sure if I will ever get the remaining 5 despite of following all the rules. It seems like a lottery, some people get paid while others do not while Bubblews is making money on each post from ads. It is bursting many people's bubbles...:(

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 19, 2013:

Thanks, Barbara. I'm with you on enjoying just writing without worrying about SEO. But do you know, I do find some of my bubbles showing up in Google searches. Go figure!

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 19, 2013:

Thanks, Patrice. You are very right that the Bubblews TOS can easily become a trap for unwary writers! And, judging from comments I've read, Bubblews can be pretty quick on the draw in claiming TOS violations. So, caution is not a bad idea.

Barbara Badder from USA on November 19, 2013:

I'm near my second redemption. I am having some fun there, but just go over there when I"m bored. I could put in more effort, but the fact that so many claim not to be paid, scares me from putting too much time in until things get straightened out.

It is nice to be able to write about anything you like without worrying about keywords.

PWalker281 on November 19, 2013:

Thanks so much for this detailed review of Bubblews, Ron. You make some excellent points about what it can do to improve. I have been trying to decide if it's something I want to pursue. The thing I don't like about revenue sharing sites is that they can change their TOS at the drop of a hat. And sometimes their rules are stifling. So I'll hold off on Bubblews for the time being and keep working on my blog. Voted up and shared.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 18, 2013:

Thanks, Carola. I'm with you on not connecting with people who only write drivel. I've spent time actually trying to find something to "like" in some writers' posts, and finally giving up. Writing those short pieces and getting immediate feedback can can be satisfying in its own right.

Carola Finch from Ontario, Canada on November 18, 2013:

You make a lot of good points. The thing I don't like about Bubblews is the amount of drivel and spam. I am not interested in how good someone's day has been or their personal problems. I do not connect with people who post that sort of stuff. I like Bubblews for now. I like writing short, interesting pieces. I have been on since mid-September and have had two payouts so far delivered in good time. If I run into payment problems though, I am out of there.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on November 18, 2013:

Thanks, KoraleeP. What I'm starting to do is to look for episodes that happen in the course of my day that I can write a short but informative, amusing, or persuasive article about. Since there's no research involved, it doesn't take a lot of time. But for me, it does take 10-20 un-distracted minutes to really focus. I hope you find a way that works for you.

Koralee Phillips from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 18, 2013:

You have some great suggestions for Bubblews, and you wrote a pretty convincing sample of a "nothing" bubble lol. I get tired of reading endless Bubbles about redemptions.

I joined a little over a week ago, and I haven't redeemed yet, and at the speed I'm going I don't know when I will. I do really like being able to write and read articles that don't require a lot of research, but I can't spend hours on it like some people do.

I've read that people use their TV time, but I don't watch a lot of TV.