8 Things Successful Writers Do to Maintain Their HubPages
So you got on here. You figured out the basics of writing and publishing an article. You know to have more than one picture, to not have too many links, and how to write content people will genuinely enjoy reading. Congrats!
But you might notice something if all you've been focusing on is the writing. Hear those crickets? Nobody is reading. It kind of makes it feel like you spent all that time researching and writing your articles for nothing. right? Sad...
But despair not! The reason you're not getting many page views as a new writer is for one, it takes time for anyone to get lots of page views, but also because the actual writing is just a small slice of the overall 'job' of being a Hubber. It's similar to how, if you self-publish a fiction book, you have to be responsible for a lot of the things a publisher does for traditionally published authors; public appearances, marketing, graphic design, editing, and so on. When you write on HubPages, that's what you basically are—a self-published author. So your success depends on more than just the actual writing you do.
Edit, Edit, Edit
When you edit, it's not just about grammar and spelling mistakes. It's also asking yourself if each sentence adds value to the article. One trick I heard of is to read an article backward, going through it sentence by sentence. However you choose to do it, the point is to be making sure that every sentence in your article not only communicates clearly and effectively but is also necessary.
It also needs to be in a proper place. I sometimes have issues with the placement of my ideas. I'll start off talking about one thing, and then get sidetracked thinking about another idea. If you find yourself doing that, copy and paste the sidetracked part and put it into another section, or delete it. Pay attention to the organization of your content. Every paragraph should be one topic. Every text capsule should have related paragraphs. Don't be afraid to cut sentences or paragraphs that don't fit.
1. Edit a Recent Article—but Not the Most Recent One
One thing I like to do is hop onto HubPages and check out (go to 'My Articles' and choose to sort them by date published) my most recently published articles. Of these, I like to take a closer look at one and make changes to it, if necessary. I do this about once a day. It's a good exercise to do in the morning - or whenever during your day you want to start getting into the "Hubber" mindset.
I like to choose an article that's recent, but not the most recent article I've written. Because, when you write, the last thing you've written is still in your head. It's good to have had a break from thinking about an article for a few days, so that when you edit it, you're looking at it with fresh eyes.
2. Edit an Article With Low Page Views
I choose articles to improve based on page views, rather than Hub Score, though the two are usually closely related. To me, what matters more is the page views, because I'm more interested in what people think than what HubPage's algorithms and Google bots think of my content. But improving one will usually lead to improvement of the other.
Usually, if an article has been around for 3 months or more and it's not doing well, there's a reason. It might be too short. It might just be on a topic that nobody is interested in. It might be that you have a boring introduction or headline.
Things to do:
- Check the title. That's your attention grabber. Is it interesting? If you saw an ad with that headline, would you click on it?
- Check your summary of your article. Same deal. It should get people interested, and briefly answer the question "Why should I read this?".
- Check your introductory paragraph. This part is crucial because without a good introduction, people will stop reading, and are unlikely to share your content on social media.
- Consider - is the topic really something people are interested in, or is it more personal to you? It's not bad to write in a personal way, but it generally doesn't get big numbers of hits.
- Think about what the value of the article is for someone reading it. Does it create value? What use is it to read the article?
I've scrapped a few old articles because, as it turns out, they failed this test. They turned out to be interesting for me, with my specific interests in things like storytelling tropes across a broad range of media, but when I really worked to imagine my work from an audience's perspective, I could see why very few people were reading. Sometimes, I was guilty of writing like a stuffy old academic. But people read blogs for fun and entertainment, so don't write in the style of a Master's thesis.
Other times, an article may be perfectly fine, but need a bit of sprucing up. Does it have broken links? Is it too long or too short? Maybe it could use more pictures? Maybe the content can be broken up more - you want short paragraphs that are easy to digest.
With practice, you'll become an expert at patching up 'dead' articles and making them work again. I've been able to turn around several of mine.
The cool thing is that HubPage bots know when you've edited. So even an article from 7 years ago that no one is reading could become a hit overnight if you just spend a little time remodeling it.
3. Edit an Article With 0 Hits in the Last 30 Days
Sometimes, an article never gets a high number of page views, for reasons mentioned above. Other times, an article peaks at a certain point, and then page views just drop off to zero. It's kind of a bummer when that happens. You knew you had something good to get the initial spike in page views. But then what happened?
Largely, this is usually due to the topic of the article. It probably means that the topic was something people cared about a lot once because it was once on trend, but now it isn't, so people don't care about it. This is what HubPages means when they say they want "evergreen" articles. That means an article that will stay popular without depending on the fleeting nature of trending topics.
For example, a while back, I wrote that I thought "Pokémon Go!" was a piece of crap. That is because, in a nutshell, I felt like the game was overhyped and delivered very little of the pleasures a real Pokémon game offered for me. But as it turns out, that topic was a trend. It didn't stay on top of the news for very long.
It's good to be news-savvy and to know what's hot right now, especially if you blog about trend-heavy fields like technology, beauty, dieting, and fitness, or fashion. But know that trends are very temporary, and interest in trending topics is short-lived. It's better to simply give people good advice, that will still be meaningful and relevant in 6 months, in a year, in 10 years.
Here are some things you can do to help an article that is no longer trending:
Generalize the topic of the article. Broaden its scope more. For example, if I stopped talking about "Pokémon Go" specifically and wrote about the Pokémon franchise in general. Or, I could talk about AR games in general. Or weigh in on the issue of child safety with smartphone games. It's good to have a specific topic pinned down so your work has focus. But sometimes, there's a problem with being too specific. That means your article's popularity relies on the sustained popularity of that one specific thing. Writing for a magazine that's discarded every month in this way is very different from blogging since a blog is on the internet permanently until you choose to take it down.
Past Tense: You can change an article from trendy to evergreen by switching the tense and talking about the trend as a thing of the past because it now is. With my Pokémon Go example, I could simply choose to change it to an article looking at it that way. For example, maybe I can change it to "Was Pokémon Go Overrated?", or something like that. Then, you'll get hits from people who are thinking about the past, for whatever reason. In 10 years, "old news" trends become nostalgic relics some people idolize.
4. Know When to Delete an Article
I'm usually pretty conservative about deleting articles. I like to think even an old article that's total junk might be worth rebooting at a later date. Since I'm pretty good at fixing up my fixer-uppers, I don't usually see the point of discarding them altogether. It's much like how remodeling a house is usually a better move than tearing it down and building a new one from scratch on the lot.
I usually don't delete an article just because it is ad-disabled or copied. Sure, that hurts my revenue. But, an ad-disabled article, if well-written, still builds your credibility and reputation as a writer. And those articles can often lead readers to other articles by you that they would be interested in, that are not ad-disabled. As far as copyright violations, yes it's happened to me, but usually on a foreign website, and it usually hasn't worked to try to take them down. Your audience and theirs isn't likely to even overlap most of the time. Not worth it to worry about, in most cases.
But sometimes, you should delete an article. This for me usually happens when I know the content I created there is better presented in a very different way. For example, I had an article spaced into 3 articles, that were all very long, and all on one topic. Using my editing machete, I was able to cut that down to one article, that was much more concise and effective. Or if the article is junk, in that it's never gotten a high number of page views, and likely never will, unless I completely rewrite it. I definitely don't mind deleting anything that I know I only wrote for myself or some personal reasons. Also, as you develop your focus as a blogger, you may decide that you want to stick to just X topic and cut out everything unrelated to that topic. When you're new, it's a good idea to try writing a variety of articles on many topics. But when you get more seasoned, it's best to specialize. Then, you become a respected expert on one or two topics. The specialization of your blog gives you focus and credibility. You'll probably notice over time that you naturally gravitate towards certain topics, and some things you will notice you like talking about, thinking about, reading about, and writing about, more than anything else. Then you can weed out posts that are unrelated to the topic you've chosen.
Tip: When deleting an old article, make sure you take out links in any of your other articles that link to that article, or they will become broken links.
5. Write a Follow-Up or Sequel to an Old Article
Critics hate sequels, usually. But they're made because studios figure, if the first movie was a hit, it will draw audiences back who want more like it. This is often the case. Sometimes, instead of deleting an old article that's not doing great, you can edit it to make it better, but also write a follow-up article on the same topic. For example, if you write about gardening, something like "Bamboo - Still a Solid Investment". The trick is to make your new content different enough.
Think about how your topic has changed. Have people's attitudes about it changed? Has the media's attention or response to the topic changed? Has business or technology related to it changed? Also, consider how your own experiences since writing the original article have changed how you feel about the topic. For example, one of my more popular, but controversial articles was one tearing apart the sitcom 'Big Bang Theory' for being unfunny and consisting of boring, unlikable, stereotyped characters. But since I wrote that, the show has evolved. Maybe it's not as bad as it once was. Maybe my experiences discussing the show in the comments of the article have changed my viewpoint. Maybe I was angry at it for reasons I no longer consider as valid. Maybe I would feel differently about it if I gave it another chance. When you make a follow-up article, you are discussing how the topic itself, or how you feel about it, has changed. The bonus for you is that this can add linked traffic to old articles. It can also be good to follow up on a big hit article. If a lot of people are interested in a topic, they're likely to be interested in more thoughts and opinions you have about it.
6. Respond to Comments
Being active on HubPages not only increases your Hubber score and gets you those fun little accolades for your page, but if you appear responsive and knowledgeable, you will build rapport with your audience.
No, I'm not saying you have to respond to everyone. I've gotten my share of spammers, trolls, psychos, and people who were just unpleasant for no reason. But, when I get a genuine comment, I like to take the time to respond to them. It shows that I'm interested in them as a person. As a (possible, undiagnosed) Aspie, I forget sometimes how important personal relationships are to others, even on the internet. People like me are attracted to ideas, but other people are attracted more often to people. So showing that you're responsive to other people's inquiries and opinions, even opinions you disagree with, fosters this important human aspect of blogging.
7. Get Active in the HubPages Community
To be honest, I'm not personally doing this as much as I probably should. It's tough for me because there's not that many anime bloggers on this site. But I try to follow and read most of them, and I try to stay atop of the big discussions happening on the HubPages forum. I like any opportunity that I can get to help someone understand something better. Sometimes, the forum can even give you blog topic ideas. And teaching is a great way to learn anything, so if you can help someone improve their writing, it may help you improve your own. Engagement and activity are important on HubPages. This is a community of writers, and we all help each other. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek help from other writers, either. Or you may find that in the forum, other people have already answered your question.
I'm also active on social media, and some of that has translated into page views for me. People who like my "fancy words" on Quora or Facebook might search for me or find a link to my HubPages profile on my profile on that site. If your blog has anything to do with business or money, be on LinkedIn. Go where your target demographic is. Establish yourself as credible and knowledgeable, whether you're writing an essay or a short quip on Twitter.
Comment on other blogs and news sites, using the same name you use on HubPages, and you can add links to relevant blog content you've made. As long as you're not spammy about it, this can help you generate views and establish your credibility as an expert in your field. Just say, "I also write about (topic), here's an article I wrote about this (link)."
The problem with being a new blogger is, you're not famous, but name recognition is a big deal. If you're everywhere, on all the major media sites, and taking up as much space as possible within your corners of the internet, you build the fame it takes to be successful. Remember that you are a self-published, non-fiction author. Everything you do on social media can and should be leveraged towards the goal of increasing your visibility as such.
8. Define Content Goals and Strategize
The editing is about working through your past articles. But then there's also planning the future. A lot of people start writing a few articles and then don't know what to do next in terms of how to keep writing.
I don't know what will work best for your particular situation, niche, and writing style, but here are some ideas:
When you first started in the hobby/activity you're writing about, what were some hurdles you overcame? What initial obstacles make what you're doing appear challenging? For example, a runner might talk about how they were initially daunted by the challenge of getting up earlier every morning to run.
Find out what people are Googling in your niche. But remember to be cautious about the temporary and fickle nature of trends.
Think back to when you started in your hobby/activity. What were you curious about? What kinds of questions did you have? For example, "I got into gardening, but at first, I just wanted to know why some bulbs were so expensive and others were so cheap" and, there's your article idea! Because chances are if you once wondered that, enough to search for an answer on the internet, someone else is likely having that same question, and Googling it, now.
Look at your past articles. Like I said, follow-ups or sequels usually good ideas. If you've covered one aspect of something or one perspective on a topic before, maybe talk about a different way of looking at, or a different part of, the same topic. Let's say I wrote one article about buying the right guitar strings. Maybe a few weeks later, I'll make an article about stringing and tuning a guitar. This could lead to another article about the history of guitar strings. I often use old articles to generate new ideas. If you wrote a really successful article in the past, write another article similar to it, but about a different topic. For example, you could follow up a story about the history of chess with one about the history of mahjong.
Think about your audience. Imagine a fictional person who represents your target audience. What problems does this person have? What are they most interested in reading about? What kind of blog would they most likely not only read, but enjoy reading, and share? You can give your fictional person a name, age, gender, occupation, etc. That makes it feel like you're not only writing for yourself, but for a real person other than yourself. This will make your writing stronger on a subconscious level.
What's an opinion or idea you have that might be considered unconventional or controversial? This might be a source of strength, if you can defend your opinion. This is because an unusual way of thinking attracts people and helps you stand out in a crowd. Be a 'black swan', something that sticks out because it's unusual. You don't have to go to extremes, but it's good to be unique. For example, everyone and their brother writes about dogs, right? Maybe you could shake things up by saying "Nobody Outside of Alaska Should Own a Husky" or "Defending Dog Breeders". The controversy caused by the boldness of such statements will invite comments, discussion, and social media shares, which = page views. Just, like I said, try not to be too radical, too emotional, and have logical reasons to back up what you say, especially if it's going to ruffle feathers. Try to find credible experts or scientific data to back up what you say. But people love stuff that is surprising! For example, a big hit of mine was an article defending the Star Wars prequels. I bet no one expected that!
Is the field you write about plagued by misconceptions or stereotypes? Write an article to correct them. For example, a lot of people think autism entails a lack of empathy, but more recent research is suggesting that not only is that not true, but that people on the autism spectrum can have a great deal of empathy. What's something about your group/hobby that you wish more people knew about?
Think about the comment responses you've gotten to previous articles. Write a new article responding to them. You love a show, but everyone commented on your article on it, saying it was lame? Write another article responding to those criticisms of the show more specifically.
I like to plan for my future content with lists in a Word document. Then on these lists, I will allocate time for writing each article on my calendar (I use a dry-erase calendar for this). If time passes, and I don't write what I was planning to, I don't really sweat it. The important thing is: to have lists of ideas, to keep updating and improving your ideas, and sincere commitment to carrying out these ideas by writing and editing on a regular schedule.
People respond to bloggers who put out new content regularly. I would shoot for at least an article a week. But more than 5 articles a week might be an unrealistic demand. 3 really is a magic number. I would start out doing one a week, and if you can do that consistently for a few weeks, increase to 3 gradually. Also schedule time for the non-writing things, including goal-setting, editing, and community engagement.