Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bubblews Review: Easy Money for On-Line Writers?

Bubblews has burst. The notice reads:
After being up and running for almost 3 years now we regrettably need to inform you that we will be shutting Bubblews.com down. The climate for display advertising has drastically changed and made it impossible for us to sustain the business model and operations.
We want to thank everyone that was a part of this journey. We wish you all the very best.

My first impression of Bubblews was not a good one. The site looks cheesy and unprofessional. My second impression was that it resembles the Tower of Babylon. It is madness. But it is a site where you can earn money a lot faster then most revenue sharing sites. You don't even have to write well, you just have to write in English - or something which resembles English.

The minimum post is 400 characters - not words, characters! You can post a review, a complaint, a story, even your grocery list. A lot of people are using Bubblews to link to their blog or to their articles on other websites. I write on Bubblews using a pseudonym because I would rather not have my name associated with the silliness I post there.

But there is money to be made, you just have to know the system. A person earns a penny for every like, comment, and view their "article" receives. You receive a penny for every tweet, Goggle+ or Facebook like your article gets. When you post your first article, people will descend from nowhere and "connect" with you. You are expected to connect back, and start a reciprocal relationship where you like, comment on and view  each other's posts. It doesn't matter how awful or inane it is, you will get your penny! If you have the time to play the game you can earn money with little time or effort. (Bubblews has changed its earning system. See my last update at the end of the article)

There is a $50 minimum payout  (up from the previous minimum of $25) which is paid through your Paypal account. I have read of people who cash out every day, even sometimes twice a day. It may just be urban legend, but I believe if you have a good network of "friends" it may be possible. I have 8 posts currently and have earned almost $5 by basically throwing up crap. I have made a few connections, but I don't have the inclination to play the system.

If you have the time and inclination, Bubblews may be the place for you. How many products do you have in your home on which you can post a 400 character review? Got a gripe?  Write about it. Have a blog you want to promote? Use Bubblews for link building and for promoting your site. If you decide to try it and have success with Bubblews, drop me a line. I'm interested to hear how it works out for you. Happy Bubblewing. :)

Update 4-18-2013
I am up to $13.44  for 18 "articles". They are either links to Hub Pages or my blog here. Pretty impressive for a few minutes every day! I'm going to continue linking as it seems to be paying off. As one fellow writer said, it is like Twitter, but we get paid for promoting our own sites.
I'll update this again when I hit the payout of $25 and report if I get paid. I'm off to write another Bubble "tweet."

First Bubblews Payout, May 14. 2013
I hit $25 on May 11 and hit the redeem button that same night. On May 14th I received notice from Paypal that the money was in my account. So Bubblews does work! (So why can't I get motivated to write more there?)

Update: November 1, 2013
After moving June first and being offline until mid-August, I logged back into Bubblews and found myself half-way to pay out again with no new posts.  I have since received another payout, and am again half-way to a third payout. I post about once a week, and like or comment on one or two articles a day. I could earn much faster by posting and interacting more, but I am now working full time.

Check Bubblews out with this link: Bubblews

My last update for Bubblews: December 26, 2014.
I have decided to stop being active on this site. I was at $24 last year when the payout changed to $50. In the last 12 months I have earned only an additional $20.

I usually post something once a month, but I wrote a few times hoping to get to the payout by Christmas. I received NO views at all. Even when I "played" the system by liking and commenting on others articles, I did not earn anything.

The rate of earnings has changed to some unknown formula, and we can no longer see how many people have viewed our pages.

I am looking to earn residual income with my writing. I do not have time to connect and comment all day long.

At least I did earn $50 for the time I was there.

C'est la vie. :)

ASMR and That Tingling in my Spine: Why I go to Bed With Bob Ross

Photo source: Pixabay

What is ASMR?

You know that tingly feeling you get in the back of your head or up your spine when you get a haircut or a massage? That pleasurable tingle and feeling of relaxation has a name:  ASMR  (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.) The term ASMR was coined in 2010 to give name to the sensation few people talk about or can even describe. It doesn't have a scientific name yet, nor has it been studied. It is speculated that the sensation is caused by a release of dopamine, but it is hard to research a a neurological "feeling."

The best description I have seen of ASMR is "sounds that feel good." But ASMR is not just auditory; the feel good tingles can be triggered by sights, taste and touch, too.

ASMR viewers credit the videos with curing many ailments from insomnia to post traumatic stress disorder. One fan wrote, "ASMR videos have changed my sleep for the better so drastically. I've always had a hard time falling asleep, and it's pretty amazing what difference just some whispers and gentle sounds can make. I love the ASMR community!"

YouTube and ASMR

ASMR videos are a YouTube sensation with over 1,400,00 videos dedicated to to the tingly sensation. It is triggered by different sights and sounds in different people, and YouTube caters to them all. Some videos are of crinkling gift wrap or origami paper, some are fingers tapping on glass, but most are of women whispering while acting out a scene.

Many videos are dedicated to receiving a virtual massage or watching a real one. Virtual haircuts, hair brushing, and make-up application are just a few of the most popular offerings. Role playing videos run the gamut from doctor's appointments to the process of passport application.


Yes, I DO sleep with Bob Ross

Do you remember the soft spoken painter Bob Ross who painted happy little clouds and trees on PBS? Though he died seven years ago, his videos are regaining popularity  with people looking for the ASMR tingle.

I imagine many people watched Bob's show when it originally aired not just for his amazing painting techniques, but also because his voice was so calm and relaxing.  How many of his fans were mesmerized by the gentle tap, tap, tap of his paintbrush and the occasional  quiet scraping on the canvas.

Watch one of his videos and you too will want to go to bed with Bob Ross.

GentleWhispering, ASMR Superstar

Maria, a Russian woman whose user name is GentleWhispering, is the reigning superstar of soothing videos. A single one of her whispered, simulated haircut videos has over 13 million views. In total all of her videos have been watched over 170,000,000 times

According to Maine Public Broadcasting Network , Maria says some soldiers "...share with me how much they struggle with their nightmares.. The ASMR whisper videos, they actually help them fall asleep better..."

Maria has videos which cover about every ASMR trigger possible: tapping, crinkling, hair cutting and massages. I enjoy her soothing voice and role playing so much I made a list of my My Top 5 GentleWhispering videos.

How did YOU discover ASMR?

I discovered ASMR one long, sleepless night when I thought some relaxing music would help me relax. I searched YouTube for spa music and came across a "soft whispering" video. I watched it, at first skeptical of being whispered to by a stranger. But wonders of wonder, I felt that wonderful tingling and felt the tension leaving my body. Halfway through the video, I was so relaxed that I fell asleep. I have been hooked ever since.

Whenever I have a stressful day and have trouble falling asleep, I load one of these soothing videos on YouTube and prepare for total relaxation. It is better than a sleeping pill, and there is no groggy feeling the next morning. Try it, you'll love it!

Let me know how you discovered ASMR and your favorite stars in the comments below. Have a relaxing day! :)

Is Squidoo a Scam? Who Earns Money at Squidoo?

Another content site bites the dust. Squidoo is no longer. It has been incorporated into HubPages - my own favorite writing site.

Is Squidoo a scam? The simple answer is no, not really. A little deceptive, maybe, but some people do make money and do on Squidoo. Let me explain by sharing my own personal experience and research.

Giant Squidoo. Photo by Citron at Wikimedia

The Squidoo Welcome/Come-on
Squidoo was the first shared revenue writing site I wrote for after I had searched for ways to write and earn money online. Although I was a little puzzled by the silly squid characters and inane squid related phrases (squidlikes?), I was intrigued.  Here was a site that promised to be easy to use, would host my writing, and would share the revenue I created. Says Squidoo: "It's simple to write a lens. And of course, it's free. Even if you build 100 of them! You can also start to earn royalties from your writing, when the pages earn their way up in the site and when readers start interacting with them."

Squid Angels
It was easy to create a lens, especially for a web content neophyte like me. I wrote three "lenses" - articles in the real world  -  using their helpful guidelines displayed on the side of every lens. I had pictures, links, polls, and Amazon and eBay sales capsules. I wasn't sure who would actually buy something from my lens considering my writing topics, but they were required to have a "perfect" lens.
After a week I received an email. The Giant Squids had selected me as a rising star  - or was it a squid - and they wanted to interview me for the site! Wow, I had some talent, eh? I agreed to the email interview and I was named a rising star/squid a few days later. It was exciting to watch my view numbers rising so fast. I was blessed and praised by "Squid Angels" and high-ranking Squids. My most popular lens rose to the rank of 4,000 quickly. This isn't so bad, I thought as I quickly planned out more lenses. Dollar signs were dancing in front of my eyes as I wrote.

Squidoo Lens Payout
As I explored the Squidoo community, I noticed there was a big emphasis on lens rank. I started to research what it meant. It was very discouraging to learn that not everyone is paid for the views they draw to their pages. Payout depends on lens rank. Tier one, the top 2, 000 lenses, get the bulk of the money  - up to $50 or more from what I have read. Tier two is the next level of payout is the next 8,000 lenses, or lenses ranked from 2,000 - 10, 000. They earn $5 or less. The next 80, 000 lenses (this figure varies)  is tier three and they get pennies.

Reality Sets In
The next few weeks I watched as the lens blessings (which give you a boost in lens rank) wore off.  Surely I could stay in the top 10, 000 at least? Nope, by the end of the month my lenses had dropped off into the "pennies" zone, even though they had been picked up by Google's search engine bots. By this time I had started writing for Yahoo and was getting upfront pay and pennies for my views there. And it was mine, no matter how popular my articles were.

Who DOES Earn on Squidoo?
The top 2,000 lenses do earn decent money, but the odds of achieving that level are not in your favor. There are over 4,000,000 lenses all battling to reach the promised land. It is sad, really. All those lenses earning money for the "elite" lenses. There are rumors of a clique at the site that controls who ascends into the upper levels. That may be true, but it also may be sour grapes. I honestly do not know.

Marketing 101
If you have ever explored Squidoo, most of the lenses look more like ads for products then "real" articles. The marketing of Amazon, eBay, and other products is the reason some people achieve financial success at Squidoo. Well, that and the people who write "How to Succeed at Squidoo" lenses.
My writing isn't something which lends itself to marketing. Writing about autism, politics, and animals doesn't lead to sales. I may have to learn though - there IS sunken treasure waiting to be discovered out there in Squidoo-land.
If you write and  market products well, go for it! I wish you happiness and much success. I may even see you there someday - after I brush up on my own sales skills.

Update 4-30-13
It appears the Squidoo community was hit hard by a Google update. People are speculating it is because of the spammy, low quality content of the site. Some people claim to have lost 50% of the income due to the update. Others say they have lost a bit less. Here is one link: http://squidu.yuku.com/topic/2208/Squidoo-vs-Hubpages-the-statistics#.UYBXS7VQGTw
This is a webpage to a real Squid, and her experiences and advice to Squidoo: http://greekgeek.istad.org/

Squidoo has also updated their policies. I have copied some of the content and gave my view of it.

  • We pool that money in order to prevent click fraud -- this is a pretty common solution.

Yes, it is common for some sites to pool the money, but not common to give it to only a select few.

  • We work in a meritocracy, where lenses earn royalties based on how well they perform. We believe in paying our best people, who make the best lenses, more.

And the rest of you undeserving, lowly schlocks get squat!

  • And if a lens has an average LensRank of #400,000, let's say, well, we're making the bet that lens needs some work and isn't that useful to readers on the web. It probably didn't get much traffic or contribute a whole lot of goodness to the whole Squidoo community (and didn't drive any ad clicks, either), so that lens gets 0% of the ad pool.

Um, I bet these lenses are getting views and ad clicks,  you just may not want to share. And I have seem some REALLY bad lenses in the top tier which were little more than full page ads. I'd like to see what the millions of lenses that "aren't contributing" earn every month. I bet it's a nice chunk of change which goes to the top tiers.

  • Our goal is to pay out best lensmasters, the most. As more lensmasters make better and better lenses, it might make sense to shift the tiers in the future.

So, with over 7 years and millions of lenses, there STILL  aren't enough good lenses to increase the 2,000 top tier payout scheme? What about Squid Blessings that add a little "up rank"  juice to lenses? Isn't it possible there is a "clique" that likes the payouts just the way they are?

  • Where the real money can come in for you is using Amazon and eBay and your own strategies to monetize your lens, without waiting for a handout from the ad pool. (Emphasis is mine.)

Really! People are writing lenses hoping to make a little money, and you think they are waiting for a handout?!? Wow! Words escape me.

Update November 2,  2013

The new payout amounts for Squidoo were released:
Tier 1:  Ad Pool $12.24
Tier 2:  Ad Pool $2.08
Tier 3: Ad Pool $0.10

Yes, You CAN Earn Money at Home Writing on Hubpages

What is HubPages?

A "hub"  is a blank page waiting to be written on. The site as a whole is made up of writers who create and manage their own articles in exchange for a share of the  revenue generated by people reading the articles. HubPages provides the tools to design your page, does the work of keeping track of money and page views, and regulates the site to ensure quality.

You have only to abide by a few of the site's rules  about what subjects are taboo. You can write about anything along as it is not pornographic, illegal, or spammy. It has to be original and your own work. They have a duplicate checker, and you may lose the privilege of publishing on HubPages if you plagiarize or create content strictly to promote your own products or services.

The staff at HubPages is very responsive to questions. They regularly show up in the member's discussion forums to help out and answer questions. I had a  problem with my eBay account, and within an hour I had a response and a promise to fix it. For a site as large as theirs, that is impressive.

How do you earn?

There are a few ways to earn. HubPages  and Google Adsense display advertising on your hubs, and you get a 60 percent share of the money earned by pages views or ad clicks by readers. The RPM (rate paid by advertisers per thousand views) varies daily, so I cannot give you a direct dollar amount. I have heard it ranges between $3- $10  per mille. I can assure you I have not seen the $10 mille.  I have yet to discover the "golden goose" topic, though I have personally had a PPM at just under $9 .

In order to share in the revenue, you must apply to and be accepted by Google Adsense. When you apply, Google Adsense will view your hubs, and if you have ample content that is well written and abides by Adsense's terms and policies, you will be accepted.  The current thinking is that you must have a minimum of ten hubs to be accepted, unless you are an Asian writer. AdSense appears to want a minimum of 20 hubs and six months of being published for writers from Asian countries.  Most of the money I earn right now is through the HubPage ads, not AdSense.

Additional earning possibilities

With the HubPage program, you can make money when someone buys a product from eBay or Amazon.com through your hub.  A hub has a special feature to add text, photos, and eBay and Amazon modules. To earn off these two, you must apply and be accepted as an affiliate marketer by eBay and Amazon.  Your Hub page will have an earning tab which will help you apply for Adsense, eBay, and Amazon. EBay  and Amazon pay a percentage if a product of theirs sells because someone entered their site through your hub.

Once approved, you can choose which products to display on your page or let EBay and Amazon automatically choose an item. You will want to display items that relate to your topic. You will get an automatically generated warning if you try to place too many eBay or Amazon items on your page. Remember, too few words and too many ads looks spammy to Google, and your Hub may not be published as a consequence.

I give HubPages a thumbs up!

How much can I earn on HubPages?

This depends on what you put into it. If you throw up low quality pages and expect to make money - it's not going to happen. Like every other PPV site (are there any others left?), you need to have many (at least 10) quality articles that have been researched for SEO (search engine optimization.)  It is a slow process that takes work, research and lots of patience.

Each potential Hub goes through a quality review process. If it doesn't meet the staffs criteria for quality and clarity, it will not be published.

As to my earnings - I have been on HubPages for over three years.  I have weathered the upsand downs and the Panda hits,.

The first month I wrote only two articles. I decided to get into gear and wrote 8 more hubs two weeks ago. As soon as I finished, I applied to Adsense , and I  was approved a few days later. In the first week, I have earned more in PPV's on my  hubs than the entire first month PPV's writing for Yahoo.

I'm not getting rich, but I earn a nice residual income that comes in handy for emergencies and holidays. Some "hubbers" do support themselves through HubPage earnings. These people have been there years and have found a niche market.

Helpful hints for writing on HubPages

Write about things that interest you, unless you have excellent marketing skills; You will have more motivation and will write more frequently if you are passionate about your subjects.

Get involved with the HubPage community. Until the search engines discover your hubs,  you will want the views and support of others to keep motivated. You can also learn strategies, be exposed to differing  writing styles, and even make some new friends.

Certain topics earn more PPV. Technology, insurance, and medical gets higher rates than recipes or gardening.

Be patient! As you will see with my updates below, it does take time for Hubs to "mature" and start earning more than a few cents.  Not every Hub will be a winner, but most will earn some money every day.

Update 4/20/2013

With only one month of ad revenue, as of today I have earned $6.79 with 28 hubs. The traffic appears to be growing a bit every week, with Google and Bing sending  people to my webpages.  I have had no eBay or Amazon sales, but did not expect any because of the nature of my writing.
I also received a Rising Star award, awarded to new up-n-comers.  :) I plan on adding a few more hubs in the next month. I'll update then.

 Update 4-30-2013

As of today, I have earned $10+ through HubPages on page views alone. It is well shy of the $50 minimum payout, but you can see the steady progression. I hope it keeps up. :)

Update 10-29-2013

After being offline since the first of June, I made payout in August. I have added no new Hubs since May and as of now I have 39 Hubs. I did have 45 hubs at one time, but not all of the hubs were great performers, and some garnered fewer than 10 views a month. I removed these low performing hubs and put them on Bubblews where they could at least earn a dollar or two.

There was a drop in traffic in August, but my views are picking up again, and I anticipate making payout again in November. Like most people, I have just a few Hubs that perform really well, with the rest pulling in a few views a day. I am pleased with my progress, and I plan to add more hubs as time allows.  :)

Update 12-9-13

Not only did I make payout in November, I also had a pleasant surprise when someone purchased a used truck through my hub. I received 2.5% of the purchase price, though I am forbidden to give the exact dollar amount. I will say  the commission brought a big smile to my face and reinforced my commitment to HubPages.

Earnings as of  May 14, 2014

I am now earning between $1.50 to $2.50 a day on my Hubs. I also earn money on EBay and Amazon. Its not enough to live off of, but I expect to reach the $50 dollar payout threshold every month now.

I think it is great to be earning this money off of pages I wrote a year ago. If I only had more time to write more Hubs!

Earnings: 2015  

The Google "Panda" updates hit content sites hard. Many failed but Hubpages has hung on. I no longer earn payout every month unless my Amazon sales are good.  I do still earn approximately  $30 a month   at Hubpages. Not bad considering I have only 35 Hubs and  haven't added any new ones since 2014. :)

Earnings: 2016

Hubpages staff has decided to branch out and make niche sites dedicated to certain topics. It was a wise decision as earnings and views have come out the post-Panda slump and have started to earn again.

Click here to view my HubPages profile. Happy writing!

Writing for Yahoo Contributor Network: What They Pay and What They are Looking For

Yahoo announced today, July 2,  2014, that YCN will be closed down. They will no longer offer upfront payment for unsolicited stores, and all previously published content on Yahoo Voices will be removed at the end of July.

I have been writing for Yahoo Contributor Network, also known as Yahoo Voices,  for just a short time. While it is not a way to make a full-time living right off the bat, it  was the start of my writing online  in order to receive monthly residual income.

What is Yahoo! CN looking for?
If you are an American citizen, Yahoo Contributor Network is looking for you! They want you to write about a variety of topics from your personal point of  view.  Do you like writing about traveling?  They want an article that describes the sites, culture, food, etc. as you experienced it.

How about politics? There are tons of articles being written every day about  US politics.  Yahoo wants to know how politics and political decisions affect you personally. Were you laid off because of the March 2013 sequester? Are you someone who couldn't get medical insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition, but can get it now because of Obamacare? Yahoo will publish it. Yahoo! CN also accepts creative writing, but you will not receive upfront payment for it. Poetry and stories are strictly on a pay-per-view basis.

How much do they pay?
Yahoo will make an upfront offer on content if they believe it is marketable. The upfront pay is  based on Internet SEO and reader interest. The pay will be from $3 -$20. The higher pay is generally for doing a special  "assignment". Assignments are  offered to all contributors periodically, and you can choose to accept and submit it by a pre-determined deadline. Accepting and writing the assignment does not automatically guarantee acceptance, and most routine assignments do not receive upfront pay. Everything is explained in the writing assignment details.

Yahoo also pays $1.50 per thousand page views on Yahoo Voices (where most of your content will be published), $1.25  for articles published on their Yahoo! News site. The pay-per-view rate increases as you become more successful and garner more page views. The pay rate is much less then what you can earn on other sites like Hubpagess. At Hubpages my cpm has never been below $3.00 and often is much higher.

Yahoo! CN also has regular featured contributors, but I do not how to become a featured writer or how they are paid.

Is it worth it?
It depends on what you put into it. A few articles aren't going to earn much unless you get lucky and hit a hot topic that doesn't have much competition, or get "featured" by the editorial staff. The most successful writers have 1000's of articles and millions of page views. If you want to earn a nice residual income, plan on writing many articles and being patient. It will take time to build up a following and for the search engines to find you.

Networking is a helpful when you are first starting out. Utilize Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Introduce yourself in the Yahoo forums and make connections with the other writers. Not only will you grow your audience, but you will introduce yourself to many unique writing styles.

Utilize the Yahoo CN learning center

Yahoo! CN has an academy specifically for learning to write for the internet and Yahoo. I would recommend doing the academy even if you decide not to write on the site. It has information on punctuation, grammar, and spelling. The academy teaches you how to use words for search engine optimization (SEO), which is critical for getting the search engines to find you. It teaches you how to grab a reader when most people only take a few seconds to decide if they are going to read your article or move on. You will learn how pictures help garner attention, why tags are important, and what keywords are and how to use them. I knew basically nothing about internet writing when I started - it is definitely not the same as writing for print media.

If you do decide to give it a whirl, unless you are submitting creative writing, I suggest always choosing the non-exclusive, up-front pay option when submitting your work. You will retain your rights to your work and can republish it elsewhere. It takes a little longer to have your work reviewed by the editors, but if you can earn a few extra bucks, go for it.

To see some examples of my Yahoo writing, click the links below. Happy writing and earning!

White House Petitions You May Not Know About

Radiation Exposure: Who's Taking Your X-ray?

Update 5-7-13

It has been approximately 4 months since I started writing for Yahoo. I have earned about 70 dollars in upfront pay and PPV. I have been neglecting Yahoo and concentrating on HubPages since the pay per thousand views is so much better. There is also a lot of upheaval at Yahoo with many old-time contributors losing their regular beats.

My views have not picked up. I probably average 15 views a day, and I have 31 articles. Contrast that to Hubpages where I have 38 articles and I average about 90 views a day - and the views are growing! But everything I have read says it takes a good 6 months to start seeing regular search engine traffic. I won't hold my breath as I knew so little about SEO when I started writing at Yahoo.

I'm sure I will keep submitting the occasional article for Yahoo, but I see HubPages as a better bet for long term growth. That and my blogs. :)