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How to Earn Money Writing on HubPages

Tessa Schlesinger has been a writer since birth. She was published early, is opinionated, and, in her 7th decade, still continues to write.

Tessa Schlesinger - Thinking about what to write!

Tessa Schlesinger - Thinking about what to write!

Earning a Passive Income on HubPages

I know a lot of people who want to write. It seems to be everybody’s dream. Yet few manage to do more than host an unsuccessful blog or earn more than a few pence a year from it. While I can’t pretend to be one of those mega hitters, I have, at times earned $35,000 a year from writing, and I do a reasonable job on HubPages as I do reach payout every month. For those who don’t know what that means, it means that I have a steady income of $50 or more per month. This is passive income. It happens whether I write new articles or not.

So let me tell you how to get there.

"It ain't whatcha write, it's the way atcha write it." Jack Kerouac

"It ain't whatcha write, it's the way atcha write it." Jack Kerouac

Write What People Want to Read

There seems to be a fallacy that writing is about expressing who you are, and that you can write anything you like, and if it is good enough, then it will be published, and you will be rewarded financially. It’s a fallacy.

You see, even bad writing gets rewarded financially – if it’s what people want to read. The Cellestine Prophesy and Fifty Shades of Grey are examples of this.

The major concern of the reader is whether the topic is what s/he wants to read.

Write According to the Number of Searches on Search Engines

Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc. are search engines. Your biggest market on a content writing site is not the people who follow you on a social network like Facebook. It’s not even all your fans on HubPages. It’s the readers that Google sends to your article.

So you have to write something that people are searching for, and then you have to use the exact words that they put into the search engine for the title of your article. That title needs to be a long-tail keyword. Preferably, it needs to have two or more long-tail keywords.

That said, it might be worthwhile for certain over-presented topics to consider getting to the top of the SERPS for other search engines.

"When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, I am going to produce a work of art. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose... and my initial concern is to get a hearing." George Orwell

"When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, I am going to produce a work of art. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose... and my initial concern is to get a hearing." George Orwell

Long-Tail Keywords

If you haven’t heard the phrase before, it means the list of words that people put into the search engine. So, for instance, if people want to know what the latest cricket score is, they might type ‘cricket score.’ That’s a long-tail keyword. It comprises more than one word. Or if they want to know the time zone in another country, they might type ‘time zone Canada.’ That’s another long-tail keyword. There are hundreds of thousands of long-tail keywords that the search engines respond to.

There’s a problem, however. If you were to search for “Michael Jackson Bio,” hundreds of thousands of articles would come up. There would, however, only be one article at the top of the Google page (SERPS). And it probably isn’t going to be yours.

So it’s not only a matter of having your title (your article) recognized by the search engine; the title has to meet other criteria.

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Write on Topics on Which Little Has Been Written

You have to walk a tight rope between sufficient people on the web searching for that topic and very few articles having been written about it. Twenty years ago, that was an easy thing to do. Now it’s not. Now it’s the most difficult thing of the entire aspect of writing on the web. That’s why you can’t afford to write about what you want to write about – not if you want to earn money, and the clue to earning money is being read.

This is why writing as a specialist in a niche market pays big dividends. If there are only a few people writing about a particular topic, then you have a good chance of making the top ten on the Google SERPS. Google has most of the traffic on the web, so that’s why it’s important to consider the way that this search engine works.

The other aspect of writing for a niche market where you are one of few experts is that you will develop a following because there isn’t much competition.

Of course, if you are not an expert on anything (like me), then you have to do the research so as to discover which topic will be suitable.

The Artwork is Vital

I learned a lot from my posts going viral fairly frequently on Google Plus. At times, the number of views would hit almost 1,5 million in 24 hours, plus it would have 5000 or 6000 likes and 500 comments (the maximum). The number-one thing I noticed was that it wasn’t the headline that drew people—it was the picture.

I’ve seen that on HubPages as well. At one point, an editor changed the illustrations on one of my articles. My traffic dropped by a third. I left it that way for three months. Then I changed the illustration to one that was even better than it had been previously. My traffic immediately climbed and was better than before.

The first picture you upload is the one that is attached to your article when you share it. Whether people even read the headline is 100% dependent on that photo. Take good care that it draws attention, and that it is very, very powerful.

"The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book." Samuel Johnson

"The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book." Samuel Johnson

English Grammar

Your grammar matters more than you can ever believe possible. Most people are unaware that we speak in a colloquial (informal) way, and that if we write as we speak, then we will not be writing grammatically. Writing is a formal exercise.

It is not a matter of ‘if your reader understands what you are saying, it doesn’t matter.’ The truth is that grammar enables people to understand what you are saying, and if you do not use grammatical rules, no editor will publish you, and you will not be paid. It’s one thing self-publishing your blog. It’s quite another being selected for publication.

If you’re struggling to earn money as a writer, then I suggest you take the time to go and do a grammar course. The best way to learn English grammar is to do an ‘English as a Second Language Course.’ For some reason, those who teach English as a foreign language do a better job than first-language English teachers. I learned more about English grammar in my five years of Latin than I ever did in an English class!

"I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story."  Tom Clancy

"I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story." Tom Clancy

Write Concisely

Avoid purple prose. Decorative language is not highly desirable in good writing. Cut out every word that isn’t absolutely essential. Vary your sentence lengths. Be rigorous in dividing up each new idea into paragraphs. Above all else, make your information easy to read. People will not struggle to read your glorious, highly decorative prose.

Why HubPages?

I’ve been on the web since 1994. Actually, I’m not sure of the exact date, but it was around there. I do know that I was curious as to how many websites there were on the web. There were 3,300 websites. I was in despair as I thought I could never read that many! The gist of what I’m saying is that I’ve written a lot on the web during the last twenty years, and if you want a content writing site, HubPages is the best there is. It is under excellent management, and you are not going to do better.

I’m not telling you it is going to be easy. Writing is probably one the lowest paying jobs there is, and if you don’t believe that, check with the IRS.

Yes, there are people who earn millions, but not many. And it’s probably easier to find a man (if you’re a 60 year old woman), than it is to make any sort of meaningful money out of writing.

You can, however, earn an additional sum of money that could be useful to you.

Where Does the Income Come From?

Your income is the result of people clicking on ads while reading through your work. It can also come from the Amazon affiliate program, but that is rare. However, you are not permitted to click on your own work, and if Google even suspects for one moment that you are getting an uneven number of clicks, then your account will be closed.

The amount you earn is dependent on what the cost of the ad is. You will get a percentage of that price. Some ads are very expensive while others don’t bring in much. In the old days, the ads used to match the article, but this is no longer so. These days, search engines place advertising according to what the searcher is looking for.

This is not an immediate reward.

Firstly, one has to have a certain number of articles plus a certain amount of traffic in order to be accepted into the Google Adsense program. So that will take a few months. Next, there will be learning curve as to what works and what does not. For the most part, some articles will draw traffic while others will flop. It’s not a precise science.

"I don't need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me." Ray Bradbury.  I have that in common with Ray.

"I don't need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me." Ray Bradbury. I have that in common with Ray.

Vertical Sites on HubPages

HubPages has topic-specific sites which are separate from HubPages. If your article is good enough, it will be selected for one of these sites. Selection does include an editing process, and you have to allow the editor licence. This is where there is an increase in traffic and the opportunity for increased income. It’s worth studying what the sites want and writing according to those specifications.

All things being equal, if you’re a grammatical writer, select the right topics, and provide good artwork, you should do well.

Good luck.

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.

© 2017 Tessa Schlesinger


Rodney Charles Marsden from Wollongong on May 17, 2020:


Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 09, 2019:

My pleasure! :)

Michael from Indiana, PA on November 09, 2019:

I've been writing for Hubpages for a year now and finally hit my first $50 threshold. I learned a lot from this article though, because you outline a lot of things that beginners are almost sure to overlook. Thank you very much for the new insight!

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on October 26, 2019:

Michele, just looking through your articles, you need to make your title keyword friendly. The key to success for writing on hubpages, is to make your title the exact phrase that people are searching for on the web. That is often a combination of skill, luck, and inspiration - very difficult. For most of us, it is a hit and miss affair.

Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on October 26, 2019:

Very well written article. Thank you for sharing your success stories and advice. I'm sure it is well received on here as many writers are trying to figure out how to navigate and make a passive on HubPages. I know I did well the first few months I was on here and I didn't know anything about how to make money here; then I studied all of the tricks of the trade and for some crazy reason, since then I have just made pennies, so I am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong; articles like this are very motivating to me. Please share more hubs like this! Thank you, Michele Kelsey (misslong123)

John Dove on February 21, 2019:

Your point about readability is really important. Sentence length (not too long), variety in sentence length (some short), and using words that people understand -- are all qualities of readable writing.

I like your use of famous authors and their quotes about writing.

Keep it up!

Deepak Velayudhan from Bangalore on January 08, 2019:

wow..thanks for the help. I hope it would really help.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on September 25, 2018:

I haven't seen anything like that for a while. We can still earn on getting writers to join hubpages and earning on theirs. It's an investment, though, and it really depends whether you get good people. I have offered to teach people how to do this (I earn every month), but most people simply aren't interested.

Nell Rose from England on September 25, 2018:

Hiya, I remember for ages that we could also earn from sharing other peoples hubs, but I am not sure if that still applies? any ideas? thanks