Can You Really Make Money Writing Online? How I Make Money on HubPages
Can You Really Make Money Writing Online With HubPages?
The short answer is yes, but how much really varies.
When I first started writing online I made a few cents per month, it was pretty sad. As I continued to build my content though, those cents would double each month until eventually I was earning several hundred dollars every month on HubPages alone - we were paying our mortgage with my HubPages payouts.
The nitty gritty truth though is that as of 2020 I'm not making much here at all. Here's the run down of things that'll help you earn money on HubPages versus the stuff that's going to trip you up and lower your income:
Things That Will Help You Earn More Writing on HubPages (and anywhere else on the internet):
- Understanding how search engine optimization (SEO) works. Here's the holy grail guide to understanding what this is and how to utilize it in your content.
- Creating quality articles that you're qualified to write about. If you're a sous chef with zero experience in dance or performing arts, don't write a piece of The Best Dancewear for Beginner Ballerinas. One of the reasons you don't want to do this is that Google's algorithms are getting smarter and they're tracking who is who and what they know. Google knows you don't know squat about dance and they're going to move your article to the 57th page of their search engine result pages (SERPs).
- Have a fantastic command of the English language. If English is not your first or second language, you should reconsider writing on HubPages or any other English-language site only because Google is a stickler for grammar. Does anyone know of a non-English site where writers can create content for ad revenue? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Things That Will Keep You From Earning Much on HubPages:
- Ad blockers. Do you have an ad blocking app installed on your browser or device? If so, you're consuming my content and I'm not getting paid for it. HubPages writers like me earn based off of ad revenue. That means we only get paid for the advertisements that are seen by visitors to our pages. If the ads displayed on our pages are blocked then we don't get paid, simple as that. We could have thousands of readers a day (and I do) and we could get paid mere dollars for those reads (as is true for me this past year) because of how prevalent ad blockers have become. Yes, flashy, loud, distracting ads suck but the alternative is a paywall. That's when a website doesn't let you into it until you agree to pay for the article, or to pay for a subscription.
- There's so much competition. Ten years ago, when I first entered the world of online content creation there weren't as many quality how-to articles out there on the interwebs. Fast forward to 2020 and everybody and their brother is in the business.
- Voice queries. Hey Alexa... even I have a chat with my AI friend from time to time, especially when I'm in the kitchen trying not to burn it down and have a quick question about splitting a recipe in half. But these voice results are cutting down traffic for those of us who create written content. That's because instead of a user scrolling through Google's search results to find the answer to their question, then clicking on the article and viewing the ads (that pay the writer) while they read, AI is reading the shortened version of the answer from these written articles and the ads are going unseen while writers go unpaid.
- Thin content. I love, love, love HubPages and the opportunities it's afforded me over the years, both as a place to direct potential employers and as a means of financial revenue. But the truth is, there's a lot of low-quality content here and Google knows it. Google has really cracked down on keyword stuffing, a tactic where a bunch of highly searched words are thrown into an article without any regard to how relevant they are to the topic. Since the standards for publication on HubPages haven't always been top-notch, there's definitely been some keyword stuffing, along with short, valueless articles floating around on the HubPages domains. Because Google tends to read a website as a whole, and not page by page, our sites have been ranking lower and lower over the past year.
- Google SERPs suck. All that being said, Google search engine results pages have been on the decline quality-wise over the past year too. Ever noticed that you now have to dig 2-4 pages deep before you find a relevant answer to your question? Why weren't those pages listed on page 1? Chances are, you had you scroll past YouTube videos, sponsored sites (ads...), and an irrelevant "featured snippet" (where Google sticks a paragraph from a page they think answers your question at the top of the page) before you found the actual page you wanted. With constant Google algorithm updates you'd think the results would only get better and better but update quality is hit or miss. Why is it like this? I really don't know.
Still interested in creating content with HubPages?
Here's the best advice I have for succeeding here to make a small passive income but first:
How Does HubPages Work?
- Sign up to write on HubPages (it's free)
- Complete your profile (write an About Me and add a profile photo)
- Choose your ad program
- Start writing
- Make money from the ad revenue earned from readers visiting your articles. Another way you might make money is by selling products on Amazon through affiliate links
- Your earnings will be split with HubPages - they take a small amount of your total income each month and you get the rest deposited into your PayPal
Simply put, HubPages operates a lot like a blogging platform (though it's not a blogging platform - more on that later), meaning it's super easy to add capsules of text, photos and more.
All of the money you make from HubPages is coming from ad revenue from ads placed on the site.
That money is then deposited into your PayPal account at the end of each month.
Will You Make a Lot of Money Right Away?
No. At first you won't make a lot of money. When I first opened my account and started writing I was making pennies each month. What happens though, is that income begins to snowball as your traffic grows.
Income through ad revenue has two components - the traffic and the CPMs.
The Two Most Important Factors in Making Money on HubPages
What is Traffic?
What Are CPMs?
Traffic is how many people click on your article. People who click THROUGH your article are even better.
This is the amount of money advertisers are bidding to have their ads seen on your articles. CPMs vary each month depending on marketing budgets.
HubPages has a specific area to track your traffic. In my first year on HubPages I had just a few visitors to my articles each day, maybe up to 10. Now, my articles are clicked on thousands of times each day.
For instance, I make a lot more money in the months leading up to Christmas than I do after the New Year.
Traffic (readers who click on your article) can come from a lot of places but the most lucrative place I've found traffic is just Google. Sometimes I will run a campaign on Pinterest to get a particular article seen many times. This can help me find readers in places other than search engines and broaden my audience.
Historically, my CPMs (the amount of money I'm making from each click on each of my articles) are highest in the middle of summer and right before the holidays. Advertisers are willing to spend the most money when they know that people are spending the most money on products.
How I Make Money Every Single Month Writing on HubPages
Here are my tips for earning and making the most of my articles on HubPages.
If The Title of an Article is a Question, Answer it Right Away
First thing's first, if one of my articles is asking a question in the title, I try to make sure that I'm answering that specific question in the first few sentences or at least paragraphs. This is for two reasons:
- It annoys people when you make them dig for answers, especially because most people Googling for answers are already freaking out and...
- Google likes answers! And Google is my friend, Google is where the majority of my traffic comes from and I want Google to like me. Answers that appear in the beginning of an article give that article a better chance of showing up on the first few pages of a search results page as well as the top result which (currently) gives a detailed preview of the article.
Write at Least 1,500 Words Per Article
When I set out to write an article I ask myself first if I can realistically write at least 1,500 words pertaining to the subject that contain helpful information and original thought. If I can't, or if I start writing it and realize it's just going to end up being stuffed with a bunch of fillers, I move on to the next article. I'm not going to waste my time writing it and I'm not going to waste a reader's time with a low-quality piece that will probably be written better by someone with more experience on that subject.
One thing that drives me crazy when I click on a Facebook link or a search result is ending up with an article that's barely pushing 500 words and doesn't really give me an in-depth commentary on the subject (I'm looking at you, Apartment Therapy, even if your site design is super cute).
Another reason I'm sure to write at least 1,500 words per article? Google favors longer articles (probably for the reasons I just mentioned)!
Include at Least Three Pictures That You Have the Legal Right to Use
Photos help break up an article so that it's easier to read and digest. But photos that are irrelevant to the subject, that are bad quality (pixely, small, dark, etc.) or that I don't have permission to use aren't going to help me at all. If I click into an article and hate the pictures I honestly shoot back and start over, looking for an article with photos that make me happy.
My content is a fraction of what's out there and just like in retail, shoppers are going to reach out, touch, and then buy whatever looks like it has the best value for the price (in this case, the price is the reader's time) and I want to be valuable to them by providing them with stimulating visuals alongside fresh, well-organized information.
Where to Find Free Stock Photos
UnSplash and PixaBay are my go-to's when it comes to finding quality stock photos that I can use legally, for free.
Use Canva to Create Social Media Graphics
Speaking of high-quality pictures, I couldn't create the content I do without Canva which I use to create graphics that will appeal to readers on social media. Because even though a lot of my traffic does come from Google, a good portion of it also comes directly from Pinterest, a place where the first thing people will see is a graphic, not the content I've written.
A well-designed graphic is my only chance to explain to them that they need to read what I've written. I'm not a designer, I'm not good at it, I wouldn't ask someone to pay me to do it, but for myself, these images suffice.
I use one of my free-photo sites to find a picture that is free to use for commercial use (and is also allowed to be edited) and use that to build my graphic over on Canva with the title of my article, add some flare, and upload it into my article from the plugins on HubPages.
Write With a Vertical Site in Mind
When I start out a "hub" I take a quick peek around the niche sites to see where the subject I'm writing about would fit in best. From there I try to cater to the audience who would search that particular niche or vertical site (they are, to my knowledge, the same thing).
I want the majority of my articles to be eligible for a niche site because these sites gain the most traffic and traffic = money (Unless ya'll are using ad blockers. Then it just means giving my work away for free).
Treat Writing for HubPages Like a Part Time Job
At first, I didn't and all of that time I spent trying to do other things feels like a waste to me now that I'm legitimately including my income from HubPages into our monthly budget.
Researching subjects, extracting the most relevant information out there, and packaging it into an easy-to-view, easy-to-find, and most importantly, easy-to-read article is a service that I do for money and I can't make money if I don't work.
Understand that HubPages Isn't a Blog
Blogs are awesome and successful blogs have the potential to rack up the creator a crazy awesome amount of money, much more than I make. But blogs are also more work to establish in search engines and out on the interwebs in general, something I don't have a lot of time to do (yet!). They cost money to startup and operate whereas HubPages is completely free from the start. Plus, the audience for a blog is also slightly different than the audience for an article. I think of blogs as an ongoing story, a peek into a writer's life with deeply personal stories and a lot of "community" happening in the comments.
That is not HubPages, at least in my experience. With a blog, I could really brand myself, but on HubPages, I'm branding HubPages, representing a website's ability to deliver a constant stream of high-quality, researched content to the world. For this reason, I try to avoid using this as a platform to publish more personal issues (besides how I pooped while giving birth without an epidural) unless they're an anecdote to information I'm giving to the reader to help them better understand why something is the way it is.
From my own experience here, that material doesn't get a lot of traffic on HubPages.
Use Your Real Name
This goes along with a reader trusting the information I give them. I'm personally put off by writers whose name is very clearly not their name like "Super Momma PowerPants"* or OMDfan99*
That's not to say that there aren't great reasons to use pen names, like if you're writing about something controversial, or that could jeopardize your day job but I think it's a good idea to pick a name that is at least legitimate sounding.
Use an Actual Photos of Yourself in Your Profile Photo
See above. If I click onto an article out there in the twisted interwebs and the writer's photo is a picture of a cartoon character or worse, a stolen profile picture from some random person, that's really off-putting to me. I like to put a face to the real-sounding name and know that someone coherent wrote these things on the other end.
I don't know if using real photos of myself as my profile picture here on HubPages actually works to drive traffic, but I like to believe that it helps build trust with my readers.
Track Stats and Update Accordingly
The first thing I do after getting my kids their morning milk and pouring myself a cup of coffee is open up my laptop and login to HubPages to check my stats. I see if my traffic is up or down, where it's falling, where it's rising, what search phrases are bringing people to my articles, which articles are being shared most on social media, and of course, how much money I made the day before.
From there, I can gauge which articles need to be tweaked (sometimes changing just a couple of words in a title can have a dramatic effect on how many people read it) or updated completely.
One of the reasons I'll update an article over writing a brand new one is that that article's particular url has probably gained a lot of rank over the past couple of years and I don't want to mess with it. Still, I know it's no longer up to snuff and could use fresh photos, more relevant information, or even a few more capsules of content to make it a worthier read.
Do You Write on HubPages?
What's the best advice you have for driving traffic and helping other writers to realize their income potential on HubPages? Let me know in the comments below!
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.
Questions & Answers
How can we change our account once we've signed in to HubPages?
To edit articles go to the MORE tab in the top left-hand corner of the page and then click MY ACCOUNT.
To edit your profile click the MORE tab in the top left-hand corner of the page and then click PROFILE
To create a new article just select WRITE at the top right-hand corner of the page once you've logged in.Helpful 5
Why are you writing a review of HubPages on ToughNickel instead of HubPages?
Once you sign up for HubPages you're able to start writing and publishing from the HubPages platform. After publishing on the platform your article may be selected to be put on one of it's niche sites, like ToughNickel. HubPages runs many niche sites.Helpful 5
© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg