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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.

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

Lisa from Central USA on September 25, 2018:

For anyone out there interested in writing for HP, know that it is not a get rich overnight success scheme. However, persistence, diligence and patience will eventually pay off. Keep your articles updated, always recheck for grammatical errors (I have found more than once a word that is either misspelled, or it is not used correctly in a sentence). Make sure to proofread before you let it go into cyberspace.

I'm not 100% dedicated it to writing like a lot of others are here. However, when you start seeing some of the income and earnings flow in, you will want to start writing more articles and you will find yourself being more articulate and really wanting to put effort into your article; that's when I decided to actually go through and check my articles more frequently, update them add/delete content etc.

markiy071384 on September 08, 2018:

Thanks for this article. I learned a lot. I will try to do all in your writing.

Paola Bassanese from London on August 16, 2018:

Thank you for sharing your wealth of experience with us! I have noticed that in the past few months the domain authority of Hubpages has decreased (currently at 55 DA from about 90) but it could be from the recent acquisition and splitting into vertical websites. I agree with you that Hubpages is a great way to promote one's writing.

Galaxy Harvey from United Kingdom on June 15, 2018:

Great article, very informative. I have decided to put my all into writing here on Hub Pages as I have definitely been spreading myself too thin for a while now. This article will be a big help, thanks

Janda Raker from Amarillo, Texas on March 21, 2018:

Tess, good of you to take time to help those who were struggling to meet payout. I'm sure your help was much appreciated! Just as I appreciate it! Thanks!

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on March 21, 2018:

No problem Janda. That's why I wrote it. I belonged to a hubpage group on facebook and discovered more of them weren't earning monthly. I wrote that in order to help them write in a way that will draw the 1000 or 2000 views per day which are needed in order to rich the payment ceiling every day. Best of luck.

Janda Raker from Amarillo, Texas on March 20, 2018:

Tessa, thanks for this article. It is concise and still makes me think about my online writing. I especially appreciate the part about titles. I need to think about what people would google!

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on January 31, 2018:

No, Jeff, it's English only. And you need excellent English.

jeff arcabos on January 31, 2018:

CAN I WRITE BLOG IN HUBPAGES IN MY OWN COUNTRY LANGUAGES? because im not fluent in english mate.

Rachelle Williams from Tempe, AZ on November 24, 2017:

This was an informative article for newbies. I'm always surprised when I make payout every month, even though I've done so for years now. I feel if I put more energy into this site, it could really grow into something much larger than it already is for me. It's hubs like this that help me to remember that HubPages actually pays bills for me, and I need to get serious about the articles I write here. Thank you so much for sharing this one Tessa!

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 23, 2017:

Yup. In the days of my youth, one was seen as educated if one read widely and traveled much. These days, there doesn't appear to be a difference between receiving a 'qualification' at university and maintaining an educated (through reading and traveling) and informed perspective. :) I think many of the things that were passed down to us by mothers who didn't work are long forgotten.

Stella Kaye from UK on November 23, 2017:

I think it's much the same in the UK which is sad. My mother, who was always very literary-minded, always told me to read widely and above my years to increase my vocabulary and knowledge but with people nowadays it seems the exact opposite is happening.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 23, 2017:

In the US, the average reading age is just below O levels. Even the newspapers write that at level.

Stella Kaye from UK on November 23, 2017:

Yes, you're right Tessa, I'm quite formal in both speech and writing. Concerning the searches, the same sort of thing happens with an online writing tool called Hemmingway, which makes you dumb down your writing to get a higher readability score. It picks up on sentences it views as too long and convoluted that are supposedly difficult to understand. I think I give too much credit to readers, assuming that they've attained some reasonable level of intelligence but perhaps this is not always the case!

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 23, 2017:

Stella, it's not so difficult. It's a matter of understanding how most people speak. What happened to me, initially, is that I'm an intellectual, and I speak as I write - not the other way round. In other words, my spoken language is highly formal, and I didn't/don't speak the way others do.

This put a limitation on my ability to figure out how other people were doing searches. I had to dumb down. I noticed that your writing can be quite formal as well. You probably speak that way! It took me a long time to understand what was going on.

I think your hubs are excellent. The only issue I can see is that they are not SEO friendly.

Stella Kaye from UK on November 23, 2017:

Thanks Tessa, I really appreciate your detailed reply and I'll put your recommendations into practice. I do internet searches for information all the time in the course of my daily research and hardly ever does a HubPages article come up, so it must be very difficult to get articles to the top of search engines.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 23, 2017:

Stella, I don't have a lot of time, but I took a look at your hub 'How can I sleep better at night?" That is not what people search for. They use words like "Can't sleep." "Insomnia." etc. Nobody searches for 'How can I sleep better at night." Your title has to use the actual words that people search for.

That said, it's also a tough topic because so much has already been written about it. So you have to specialize a bit. Something like "Can't sleep? Natural remedies without side effects instead of sleeping pills." There are four keywords in that lot.

1. Can't sleep

2. Natural remedies.

3.without side effects

4. sleeping pills.

That should draw you some traffic.

Then you don't use your capsule titles for keywords.

For instance, you have 'The Young,' 'Midlife." Those aren't an effective use of a keyword opportunity. Every single bit of your hub must be aimed at drawing people to it through their search in an search engine.

If they typed in 'The Young," I can guarantee that your hub will not even be in the first million!

Rather have something like "Children with Insomnia" or "Child can't sleep" etc. You have to research the keywords that people use.

Every single one of your subtitles must relate to your title in an obvious way. They must be related to insomnia.

Next, I did a search for the word 'insomnia' in your hub. It's not there.

Google looks for articles that have related words. So if you're talking about not sleeping, have to mention insomina, sleeplessness, etc.

Your article must contain related keywords to what you are writing about.

That's just off the top of my head. Hope it helps. :)

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 22, 2017:

Stella, let me take a look through. Well, a more careful look. :) I will come back to you. Your traffic has to come from google for any sort of earnings to take place.

Stella Kaye from UK on November 22, 2017:

Thanks for your reply Tessa, I haven't hit payout ever. My total earnings to date since I joined HubPages over 3 years ago is $21.82. None of my traffic seems to come from Google at all. I think I've got a good mix of different subjects so I don't know what else I can do to increase traffic to my articles.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 22, 2017:

Great! Can we switch to the hub Three reasons the earth is dying? One of them is business. Essentially, your desire for personal greatness (which is what comes across in what you wrote) is at odds with the fact that we all have to substantially shrink our personal footprint on order to heal the earth. Let's talk on the other hub.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on November 22, 2017:

I don't understand what you mean but I feel a great conversation coming on. How is it that my way of thinking, based on my comment below I'm assuming, I am responsible for global warming?

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 22, 2017:

Maurice, Does it ever occur to you that your way of thinking compounded by millions of people thinking the same way is responsible for global warming and the destruction of our planet? Not what you wanted to hear, I know, but if you read a lot of what I write, you will understand.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 22, 2017:

Kari, it's a touch and go thing. When I started writing on the web 18 years ago, I was always on the losing end. It is only in the last two years that I have developed a feel for it. it has been my experience on G+ that developed my antenna for what was catching people's attention. Basically, I read for three or four hours each day, and while I am doing that, ideas occur to me.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 22, 2017:

Thanks Tessa! Where do you find the right titles? I always struggle with my titles, lol.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on November 22, 2017:

The passive income is nice but that isn't the reason I write. I have dreams of a much bigger business and this is a means to get there by first educating myself by continuing my education and then expressing my experience by writing and teaching. Continuing education is important as a massage therapist and by writing and teaching I create a brand for myself and increase my authority and show that I'm knowledgeable. I am so glad you explained here that it isn't as easy as it once was to write on topics that reach the top of search engines. For me, that was the most useful and I will be considering that more strongly in my future selections of topics.

Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 22, 2017:

Stella, your hubs are good, but I'm not sure about the topics :) The really, really difficult thing is to find a topic that has sufficient traffic but not sufficient articles. It's a hit and miss affair. For whatever reason, most of my traffic comes from google. I'm not sure what your level of traffic is. To me, so long as I hit payout every month, it's working.

Stella Kaye from UK on November 22, 2017:

An interesting read. Thank you. I find if I don't continually post links to my articles on various Facebook groups and pages, I rarely get any page views for my articles on HubPages. There's hardly any traffic from other sites such as Pinterest, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn. I really don't know what more I can do as I already incorporate most of your tips into my writing and marketing strategies.

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