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:
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