Category Archives: Helium

Helium.com Does Not Suck, and Neither Does Associated Content, or HubPages, or…

So, about Helium…

To wrap up my cursory evaluation of Helium.com, I’ll say they are a good writing site. You can make a little money, but you have to work pretty darn hard at it. You’ve got to publish hundreds of articles to start earning a few dollars each month. Think about it–if you add up your writing time and then figure the present value of the maximum dollars each article might ever earn, it’s not a good business investment.  On the other hand, If you enjoy participating at Helium, you’re getting another benefit all together. At Helium, it’s a good one. They are fun and fair minded people.

Better than that though, is Helium’s Marketplace. It’s not a place where an established writer will spend a lot of time, but it does give a novice writer a real chance to get a pinkie toe in the web writing door. If you can sell a couple articles to Helium’s independent publishers, you’ve got something to use to pursue other work, which is exactly what I’ve done.  To sell work in Marketplace, write your *ss off. Tackle every Marketplace title you can handle, whether it interests you or not. Remember, you’re after paying work.

I haven’t mentioned Helium’s contests, where there’s also some money to be made, because I haven’t participated in them. If I do, I’ll “circle back” and let you know how that goes.

Associated Content

AC pays modest up front dollars for content. $4.50 is the most I’ve ever been paid. On the happy side, a writer doen’t have to compete for these low dollars. You write write, you get paid. And you get page view pay as well. But just like Helium, you have to publish hundreds of articles in order to make $50 or $100 per month. With my twenty odd articles, I earn about $0.06 per week.

I’ve heard that Partner Calls on Associated Content pay better than standard Calls for Content. How much better? Legend has it that writers earn as much as $25/article. I’ve also heard that writers have gotten regular work from AC partners, though this is also unverified. AC periodically gives writers a chance to “apply” for the more lucrative Partner Calls by submitting an original article that is worthy of purchase. After review and publication of the article by AC, the writer waits to see if access is granted to Partner Calls. I submitted my Partner Call application article almost four weeks ago. It’s still awaiting review and publication.

Read here for more from a more experienced AC writer: The Barefoot Scribbles

Hub Pages

I’ve got a few HubPages too, and they earn me zilch. It’s fun to publish them though. In addition to the Google ads and the Konetera ads, you can put Amazon.com offerings on your pages. I imagine that if a person got enough page hits, they might get a little ad or product revenue. With five Hubs published over seven months, I’ve had an average of 5 page hits per day, and about $2 total from Google Adsense ads. I’ve got so few Hubs though that my experience with HubPages is hardly worth citing. As for using HubPages to move up in the writing world, I don’t know how that would be done. Somebody more knowledgeable can clue me in.

Now, this is all very nice, but my ultimate goal is not to learn the intricacies of writing websites. It’s to MAKE MONEY. And I’m earning some money these days. It’s not a living though, unless you live under a bridge.

Next time… Demand Studios: Movin’ on Up

Helium Marketplace Sputters and Stalls. Does AssociatedContent.com fly steady?

Amid a continuing trend of publisher disingenuousness, Helium staffers offer “we’re working on solving this problem”  reassurances to Marketplace writers who grow increasingly disheartened.  As part of the solution Helium is supposedly now requiring deposits from publishers who post Marketplace requests, but no mention is made of what happens to those deposits if publishers do not buy.  Helium has compensated some writers when publishers fail to follow through (BostonNOW, when it folded – but curiously not all writers to the BostonNOW titles, just some “special” writers).

No doubt Helium will deny that Marketplace is in trouble, but all evidence available to outside observers indicates that Marketplace is nose down and gaining momentum in the wrong direction.  Most worrying for Marketplace writers is Helium’s refusal to directly answer pressing questions.  The top querry?

  • Why can’t Helium Marketplace writers know where their work is being published?

“Answers” have been supplied, but they are unsatisfactory and circular in logic.  Apparently Marketplace publishers require anonymity so that competitors won’t steal their ideas for web content.  But competitors can already easily check the Marketplace listings and see that somebody is looking for content.  They are surely shrewd enough to know who their competitors are, if it even matters at all, which I doubt. 

Anyway, Helium’s responses do not in any way explain why Helium is not willing to divulge the publication information of sold articles to the writers of those articles.  Though this question has been posed many times on Helium’s community boards, it has not ever been addressed adequately.  Writers can only assume that Helium somehow benefits from keeping them in the dark.

The fact that Marketplace writers find Helium’s lack of response troubling is borne out by the pronounced reticence of Marketplace writers who formerly took great interest in Marketplace goings on.  These would be a group of writers who regularly sold work, not only because they are gifted writers, but because of their discernment, their inclination to rely on supported facts and – to put it plainly – their critical thinking skills and intelligence.  This is the group of writers who have grown silent – a telling trend.  Perhaps they no longer care. 

An “upgrade” preceding the recent decline in open discussion on Heluim’s community boards may have something to do with this.  One of the “improvements” is a much less accessible community forum.   The “Community” button has been demoted from a promintent tab at the top of the Helium home page, to an unobtrusive menu item available only to Helium members on their “My Helium” page.  Certainly this is no accident.  As far as I’ve noticed, nobody has asked about this.  Very strange.  What ever Helium’s intent, community participation has declined dramatically.

And with this Helium is effectively carving out a niche for itself as a nice place for the hobby writer, not for serious writes who might ask serious and uncomfortable questions.  A very select few writers have used Helium as a spring board to better writing venues, but these are writers who would have made it anyway, one way or another.

Like those other wirters, this one has grown tired of Helium’s song and dance over publisher identity and the fate of purchased articles.  Despite having sold several hundred dollars worth of work (close to 12,000 words), I have not a single portfolio worthy clip (Helium’s latest line is that you can always simply reference an an “article sold to a Helium Marketplace publisher”.  Give me a break!  Are they serious?  This is where a writer with any confidence at all – and I do mean ANY – walks out of the meeting.).  So, I’m investigating other writing venues.  That’s the point of this blog anyway. 

In addition to other ventures that I’ll describe later, I am writing at AssociatedContent.com.  Based on my experience so far, and from what I’ve heard from other writers at AC, I am no where near convinced that AC is good for making money.  Nor am I thus far a believer in the value of publishing at AC for sake of exposure.

AC is open about its pay per page view ($1.50 per thousand views).  This is a good strategy for AC.  People like to be able to guage their progress and will be satisfied with very little reward as long as they can watch it accumulate.  While Helium attempts to give this to writers with real-time penny earning data (but with no page per view data – a rather opaque policy), AC reveals of how many page views an article racks up, and a writer’s approximate earnings per page view, (much more satisfyingly transparent).   That said, page view earnings are almost equally dismal at AC as they are at Helium.  A writer has to be thoroughly convinced their work is otherwise worthless to invest time in writing for page views on somebody elses website.

For the sake of this exercise I’m pretending I think my work is otherwise worthless.  So far I’ve posted slightly fewer than ten articles at AC, all for page view earnings only.  I’ve been paid a little more than $1.50 and have accumulated a little more than fifty cents more that I’ll receive when I reach payout threshold ($1.50) again.  This far exceeds my page view earnings per article at Helium.  However, the comparison is not direct since the type of articles I write for each site is different.

As for up front payment, AC does not have a set up that is equivalent to Helium’s Marketplace.  Rather, AC selects content providers (what AC calls its writers) to receive “Calls for Content” based on previously submitted writing.  A new writer at AC will not have access to Calls that offer up front payment, but will have the opportunity to claim page-view-pay-only calls, which might be the first rung on the ladder that leads to up front payment, but AC is not up front about this.

(Writers may also submit articles on topic of their own choice for up front payment review.  I’ve tried this once so far, with no success.)

This past week I have finally received some Calls that offer as much as $4 up front payment, in addition to page view pay.  I have selected (“claimed”) two of these and will submit them by the beginning of next week.  At that point they’ll be subject to review by AC’s Content Managers, and I’ll find out if I receive payment.  I’ve heard tales that a writer may be paid as much as $20 for an article, and I’ve seen Calls for as much as $25 on AC’s main page Calls for Content, but these are not accessible to mere plebes like me. 

All this I have figured out by reading the AC community boards.  Some official posts by AC staffers offer a bit of good information.  However, do not count on helpful responses directly from the “community”.  Instead you’ll likely receive acerbic and sometimes biting replies that seem to gratify a self appointed little posse of AC members who patrol the boards vigilantly.  They love to toss around big words and mundane banter that excludes newcomers, and congratulate themselves for getting paid as much as $20 per article.  This is sad.  In all, the AC community boards are a waste of time for the purposeful writer.  

Next post will contain some interesting AC related links and an update on my copious AC earnings and publishing accomplishments and frustrations.   I’ll probably be moving on from AC after that since I’m not feeling enthusiastic about wasting too much of my time.  As for Helium, I’m not counting them out of the game, but Marketplace has no listings that are attractive to me at present, and offer prices have sharply declined, so…

  • Update June 20, 2008:

I have sold an article to Associated Content for $4!  I can see now how AC seduces members into producing masses of content.  Within hours of submitting my article is was published and I will receive $4 in my paypal account in a few days.  It is fun to be paid immediately, and the article was easy to write.  However, this still amount to a less than minimum wage rate of compensation.   Truly skilled writers can earn much much more. 

  • Here are a few of those promised links, just to start:

 USC Annenberg On Line Journalism Review (Read this) – http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/070326grier/

 

Silicon Valley Insiderhttp://www.alleyinsider.com/companies/associated_content

 

My Lot ( A bunch of AC users trying to figure out how AC works) http://www.mylot.com/w/lists/7_62910/default.aspx

 

Venture Beat – http://venturebeat.com/2007/08/01/associated-contents-bold-media-strategy-relying-on-google/

 

Barefoot Scribbles (a prominent AC member’s blog) – http://thebarefoot.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/associated-content-begins-distribution-payments/

 

Assignment Zero (Interview with Luke Beatty, Founder of Associated Content) – http://zero.newassignment.net/filed/luke_beatty_power_brokering_new_media_democracy

 

Mashable Social Network (Some dirt on plagiarism at AC) – http://mashable.com/2007/12/04/associated-content-plagarism-2/

Also see http://mashable.com/2007/12/01/associated-content-plagarism/

 

 

Associated Content’s Blogspot bloghttp://associatedcontent.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_archive.html

 

Westword, Denver News (Ham sandwich fiasco at AC) – http://www.westword.com/2007-05-10/news/ham-it-up/full

 

Helium.com related articles and blogs (and one of these links is really interesting):

To save you a little web surfing,

Here is a sample of Helium related articles, blogs and press releases I have found on the web.  Some are older, and so are not really relevant to the current Helium set up, still they may offer insight into the phsychology of the organization.  You’ll notice some opinons you’ll see here do not stand up well under the scrutiny of a critical reader.   Others are quite well thought out.

I’ll update this list as time goes by.  Feel free to put your own Helium related blog URL in the comment section.  I’ll add your link to my list.

Peopleaware.com (Be Passion Now magazine) dupes writers in Helium’s Marketplace

  • Peopleaware.com masquerades as Be Passion Magazine in Helium.com‘s Marketplace, cheating writers out of rightfully earned compensation and publication.

In early March, 2008 “Be Passion” magazine posted requests in Helium.com’s Marketplacefor articles with titles such as ‘Best ways to reduce stress’, ‘Reflections on real life heroes’, ‘How to get the most energy from common foods’,  ‘How to find your true passion’, and ten others.  The offer price was as much as $120 for selected articles.  After weeks of nagging by Helium, Be Passion finally made their selections on April 8, 2008.

Today though, it is known that Be Passion has renigged on its promise to pay.  Furthermore, Be Passion has been revealed to be a pseudonym for Peopleaware.com. 

Peopleaware.com promotes itself as a place “where ideas meet the marketplace”, but sources say that Peopleaware.com is in fact a scam operation that lures writers and other entrepreneurial and creative sorts to pay for promotion by Peopleaware, with promises of networking opportunities, and lofty ideas of changing the world through innovations born in the humble minds of ordinary people.

What Peopleaware.com’s motivation for launching this deceitful compaing  could possibly be, remains to be discovered.  Plagiarism?  We’ll try to find out.

  • What we know about Peopleaware.com so far:

Peopleaware applicants are asked for personal information including real name, phone number and zip code, as well as a description of the type of work (article, book, invention) the applicant wants to promote.  An opportunity to upload a file containing the applicants work is conveniently offered on the application page (If you try it, don’t be so foolish as to actually give them anything).

The applicant then receives a confirmation email which displays all the application information.  Peopleaware.com tells the applicant to “Have a beautiful day!” and wait for further response.

More to follow, when a response from Peopleaware.com is received by this writer.

Have a beautiful day!

Edit June 2, 2008:  Please note, all writers who sell work in Helium’s Marketplace, including myself,  agree to keep the identity of each publisher confidential.  Also note that the identity of Peopleaware was made public by Helium (on Helium’s the discussion boards) prior to the posting of Peopleaware’s identity here.   No publisher information, that has not already been made public by Helium, will be found on this blog.

The Latest – Revamped Helium Marketplace hasn’t quite hit its stride.

  • Helium Marketplace has been overhauled: 

It’s been a few weeks since the launch of the latest Marketplace edition, and though Helium staffers like to believe their site is polished, Marketplace currently is Beta, by real world definitions. 

Articles are not moving from the publisher selection process to the general pool of Helium articles as promised, and some Heliumites threaten to mutiny.  However, most Helium members seem to understand that problems are inevitable, and a sort of disgruntled sanity is the mood of the day.  To Helium’s credit, they seem to be working on the problem.

The Helium staff remains courteous and responsive, for the most part.  Even Mark Ranalli posted a reply to a well thought out list of Marketplace concerns from a regular contributor.

  • Here is a good place to talk about the Helium boards in general, as promised in my last post: 

The boards are continually monitored.  Some posts will not get an immediate answer however.  If the topic is uncomfortable for the staff or channel stewards, it may take more than one post to illicit a response.

An occasional staffer will come across as a little defensive, but some allowance should be granted.  After all they are emotionally involved with Helium, and honest concerns may seem like criticism.  On the other hand, one can easily get the feeling that Helium lacks the perspective of an outsider who really has no way of discerning the inner workings of the site, and who can easily feel insecure when things don’t run smoothly.  My personal opinion is that staffers who cannot remain dispassionate should probably refrain from posting on the boards.  There’s just too much oportunity for misunderstanding.

The Helium boards are an interesting place to read up on the latest gossip, and to get a feel for what’s going on.  But, if you’re at Helium to write, beware of becoming caught up in the board exchanges; they can be a little addictive, and a waste of valuable writing time.

Also, do post your concerns with regularity, but try to do it with self depricating humor.  This gets a better response.  Sometimes problems (like articles not transitioning) are conveniently resolved after a concern is raised, but without any official response on the boards.  Best to just be grateful and move on.

  • Back to Marketplace: 

Helium users are not entirely happy with the new setup, particularly the fact that we can no longer see the selected article, and have no way of knowing if, or when an article is chosen.  The general unhappiness surely stems partly from a natural resistance to change, but also is due to a move toward a more impersonal Marketplace, which leaves Marketplace writers with no sense of control.  This is not good for Helium, and they’d be very wise to find some way of appeasing the writers.

Also, the current offerings on Marketplace are little meager.  Except for one Miami Herald article, none of the titles are offering very much money.  There’s no way to tell if this has anything to do with the changes to Marketplace.  It could just be a natural lull.

  • Other Helium stuff:

The Rewardathon (a contest that paid members to post articles, according to their rating and writing stars)seems to have concluded without incident.  Most people (myself included) received their payments promptly.  I suspect Helium put a lot of effort into making sure no snags were encountered.  A problem (beyond the perennial griping about rating and stars) with the Rewardathon would have been devastating for Helium’s reputation.

  • Coming up:

More on Helium, and…

I’ve started writing at AC and also at Constant Content.  I’ll tell you how I think they compare.