Thursday, May 21, 2009

Writing for Helium.com #2

Here it is, the follow-up post to my experience writing for Helium.com. If you haven't had a chance to read the first post, you can do so here: Writing for Helium.com #1. Once you've caught up, come on back and let's talk!

I've been writing for Helium for a few weeks now and I've had a chance to learn more about how the system works. I have posted creative writing content, competitive content, and articles to empty topics. I have also participated in a writing contest and have submitted an entry for a Marketplace request. I've even successfully invited another writer to Helium.com and suggested a title for a new topic.

All of these things have been fun and I have felt very accomplished in my writing in the past few weeks. I have been working very hard on expanding my presence on the internet and adding content to my green living blog, www.OurGreenAdventure.com. I have even taken the time to write a few new Hubs on Hubpages.com. I mention all of this to illustrate the point that I am writing this particular review on well balanced experiences and not at all in a manner of being burnt out with Helium.com.

While this won't be a scathing review, I must admit that it isn't the best. Helium.com, for all intents and purposes, is a decent place for a beginning writer to start out and increase their presence.

It isn't as hot if you are looking for long term passive income from the articles you post. Unlike Triond.com and HubPages.com, Helium requires you to remain active in order to keep pulling in your share of the ad revenue earned from the content you submit. Any day in which you do not maintain at least one rating star will be a day that you will earn nothing from your previously posted content. That said, passive income for content is very limited.

The rating system itself has proven very suspect in the past few weeks, in my opinion. Some of my articles have been beaten by other submissions that don't even stick to the topic at hand. I have been given articles to rate in the same topics that I have submitted to, which seems a bit unbalanced as I can impact the ratings of my competition. This is a system where mob mentality wins, and I often wonder if half the mob is assigning comparative ratings without even skimming through both articles. So it begs the question, do you try to write for the rating system to get a higher number on display results for your topics, or do you write for the larger audience? My gut tells me that the rating system is a poor man's game and that the real money to be had is in the articles themselves.

That brings us to another point, ad revenue. Helium.com does not disclose the payout equation for revenue sharing. I am not sure what that rate is for Triond, but with less articles and all of them ranging in not-so-popular keyword topics I've made a comparable amount to my current earnings with Helium. The only difference will be in the upfront payment system that Helium has recently incorporated. Right now I stand to make probably around 10 dollars extra since I have 1 writing star and I've included some articles in empty titles. So if there is a system to making decent money with Helium, it has to be with accumulating enough published content to increase your upfront earnings and including a decent percentage of empty title submissions.

What about inviting others to join Helium? Well, I suppose it's better than Triond in that you can actually get referrals for other writers joining up with your invite. You earn 5% on their earnings out of Helium's cut. The bad news is that you can only refer other members through the Helium generated email. There is no referral link option like with HubPages tracker system. That means that the only way someone could show their appreciation for an informative post such as this by signing up under me would be to ask me to send them a referral email. How inconvenient! Most people would just type helium.com into their browser and sign up for an account that way, and that works out just fine for the site, it's 5% less they have to pay out of their share.

Back to the content. You maintain all other rights to your content, but Helium reserves first publication. That means that even if you delete your account, those submissions stay on the site earning them money. You could re-post them to your blog or website if you wanted to, but you'll take an SEO hit for duplicated content.

When it comes to creative writing content on Helium.com, your biggest reward is the warm fuzzies of the creative writing medals. Which, by the way, just so happen to do nothing other than provide warm fuzzies. I have made a few pennies from some of my submissions in the creative topics, but it definitely isn't a way to make money. These submissions also fall under the same rating system as the rest of the content. Rest assured that you will probably get a few einey-meaney-miney-moe ratings on those submissions as well, so gauging your writing ability off of how the rankings look isn't necessarily an accurate method of assessing talent. And this isn't coming from someone scorned by the rating system. Several of my pieces have faired nicely. It's just my observation.

The writing contest was disappointing. I was surprised to find out that the winners are determined not by the writer of the best article, but by a cumulative effort of as many articles they wish to publish to the select range of titles presented in the contest at hand. So, to stay competitive, you must write 6-8 articles to even have a chance at winning. I opted not to participate in one contest when I noted that one person had over 10 articles published with several previous contest wins stamped on her profile. I used my time, instead, to post to a few empty titles and to other topics I was interested in.

I just received notification that my title suggestion was returned, unapproved by the Helium staff. The topic was: How to Make Money in Military Basic Training. Apparently, this is too ambiguous as you already draw a paycheck while attending training. It's okay, don't feel bad. I already published a Hub with the article I had written. The piece illustrates that many of the fears that people have before they head off to Basic and many of the things they will encounter, but it does so based off my own, somewhat humorous, experiences. I just so happened to make quite a bit of extra cash when I was in boot camp, but then again I also sold wallet critters to other boys when I was in Junior High. What's a wallet critter? Keeping it as family friendly as possible, I suppose you could say it's a rubber band that isn't very musical - if you catch my drift. If you'd like to read the Hub, you can check it out here: 5 Ways to Make Money in Boot Camp.

I'm still waiting to hear back on the Marketplace request, but my overall experience with that was good. I entered a creative essay for the topic entitled: My Great, True, Personal Garden Story. It was fun to do and even though there were over 100 entries the last time I checked a few hours before it closed out, I had made it to number 7 in the rankings - which don't actually count towards the selection of the winning article. As long as you can find topics that interest you, the Marketplace can be a lot of fun. But then again, isn't that what AssociatedContent is all about anyway? The only difference that I saw from my limited experience with AC is that it adheres to stricter reporting standards for their writing projects than Helium does.

I will continue writing for Helium.com for a while as I work on my writing, but it will not be my sole venue for publishing content for money online. I don't think I will be publishing any more creative content, though, as I can't really see a benefit from it in the long term. I'd be better off just posting here, even though I don't get very much traffic to this blog.

But hey, don't just take my word for it. I was able to rummage through Jena Isle's older posts on her blog and I came up with this one concerning her writing experience with Helium.com.

Also, check out Marisa Wright's Helium Hub. Marisa was kind enough to share her insight in her comments on the first part of this review and I found her Hub to be both a good read and very insightful.

Creative Writing Prompt:

13 comments:

Brady said...

Sorry, maasaipress, I have deleted your comment. Comments left for the sole purpose of self promotion will not be tolerated.

I guess it's back to comment moderation for a while, but please, don't let that discourage you from leaving a note and engaging in discussion. Only promotional comments will be filtered. You are still free to tell me that I'm full of rubbish if you so choose. :)

Jena Isle said...

Lol..I won't say that definitely Brady. You've written a non-bias post about helium. I'm writing for AC and triond as well, and I can honestly say that I've earned a lot in helium, compared to the two sites.

This is because there are several ways to earn at Helium. As you have discovered, you can have sure earnings just by posting to empty titles. I've earned $30 just throught this alone. It's like 3rd place at the writing contest too.

The writing contests motivated me to write more, hence the increased number of my articles from which I earn monthly per view.

I know of some writers who have earned $ 200 just from the marketplace, but this is not for me. I've written only 3 and then quit and concentrated on the writing contests in which I have won 1st and 2nd places previously.

What you say about writing at least 7 articles for the contest is true. A 400-word article would be easy for you . That's only 2,800 words for the 7 articles...lol...

Continue writing for the empty titles..that's a steady income plus the page views. Helium has a way of motivating you to write more.

I write creative articles when I just feel the need to express myself and not really to earn. The page views are less but it feels good when you watch your article climb the charts. Eventually your ranking will settle down and those that were written well , would be on top. You could read the forums too , so you'll learn about the thoughts of other helium writers.

Thanks for the link Brady. It is appreciated. Stop by anytime.

And btw, Plotdog has also a weekly contest about writing, anything. The prize is of course a free widget or link to your site and they'll tweet your post too.

Keep writing.

Jena Isle said...

I have twitted this post Brady. Good luck with helium, triond, and hubpages. You may want to join us also at Associated content...lol...cheers.

Kristyn said...

I go back and forth about Helium myself. I sold one article on their marketplace, which was nice, but it's hard to make anything from content written for Helium itself. You literally have to have thousands of articles on Helium to make anything worth mentioning.

The marketplace is also a bit suspect, in my opinion. Most of the content sold to the marketplace is ghostwritten material and the writer doesn't maintain a copyright to that material. I have yet to find a place where they state that things sold there are ghostwritten submissions. Perhaps I missed it, I don't know.

I think, overall, if the goal with Helium is to make money, it's not worth writing there. If it's to increase presence, that's another story.

Also, I agree with your assessment of their rating system. I personally don't feel like their rating system promotes honest ratings. You have to do it to make money there, so what keeps most people from randomly clicking without even reading the whole article?

Izzy said...

hmmm...this sounds like a decent site, though to be honest I like AC better. Still the market place would seem like a great place to make money. I signed up a while ago, but still have yet to really do anything on that site. I guess we shall see what comes in the future.

Jena Isle said...

Izzy, I'm sure you'll be able to sell in the marketplace. Brady will eventually too, right Brady? One must be patient to keep trying.

Anyway, if it won't get accepted, you'll still earn from the page views. Good luck.

Brady said...

@ Kristyn Congratulations on your Marketplace sale! I would have to agree with you that the overall primary reason for writing to Helium is to increase your online presence. Authors are there to make them money, hands down. The rating system is just a way to make people jump through hoops - miss the hoop and you don't get ad revenue share.

@ Izzy Helium is a great place to write if you don't know what to write about. The articles are easy to do as far as requirements go and it really wouldn't be that hard to submit quite a few quality articles based on their standards. As Kristyn said, many of the Marketplace officers are ghostwriting jobs, meaning that you won't have your byline attached. That's big when you are trying to get your name out there, but sometimes money and experience can be good motivating factors as well.

@ Jena Thank you for Twitting my post! I really appreciate it! I was looking over my analytics the other day and noticed that you had linked to the first part of my review on MyLot. I am glad that you were honored that I mentioned you in my post, but don't think for a second that you didn't deserve any of the nice things I said about you! You truly are a nice person and there just aren't a whole lot of those around these days. :)

My Marketplace article did not sell. Instead, it transitioned over to Helium this morning. As of this writing it is ranked 2 out of 98. Please feel free to check it out:
Gardening StoryBut, to answer you question, yes - you've got to keep at it and keep trying. Don't let rejection get you down.

Patricia Rockwell said...

Jena recommended this post from her site so I am stopping by. I am on both AC and Helium. After trying both for several months I far prefer AC because they are much more explicit about exactly what and how you are being paid. Helium is so vague. It seems they just pay but don't say what it's for. Also, I agree with you about having to maintain the stars to get passive income. You don't have to do that with AC.

Laura said...

Brady, did you know you can moderate comments without sticking word verification on?

I looked at a lot of the writing networks this month. Helium was among those I passed up quickly.

Bradpetehoops said...

Nice blog, have a nice day.

Dr. Lauren said...

I spend a week on Helium and I really didn't like it. I am a 1 year vet now of Triond and the article that helium didn't buy has made me double at Triond.

The pay is no where close to the pay at Triond. Of course, this does depend on your presence, and I have spent much more time with the community on Triond. It's more personal I think.

Marisa Wright said...

Thanks for the link Brady! In just a short space of time, you've got Helium's measure, I think. I hope HubPages does well for you in the long run.

I've started my own website and am publishing all my Helium articles on there. I know that's duplicate content, but I'm doing it more as a repository of my articles. I'm getting concerned about Helium's longevity - I found out recently that they borrowed around $17 million last year, and it's hard to see how any online business can survive carrying that amount of debt in the new environment.

Mike P said...

Hey Brady,

I enjoyed your synopsis of Helium. Thanks for this! What does Helium pay for 1st and 2nd place in their writing contests?

Thanks;
Mike