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My HubPages 7 Deadly Sins

Lana is a published writer and editor who helps aspiring authors take their writing to the next level.

This is not your typical HubPages tutorial. In fact, this is an anti-tutorial.

It will not be sweet, inspirational or reassuring. It will not make you want to ride a magical rainbow. But it will be honest. In this article I will describe my HubPages "deadly sins" for which I'm banished to writers' hell where the traffic is abysmal, the earnings are non-existent, and the links are always broken.

This article is my version of the seven deadly sins.

This article is my version of the seven deadly sins.

1. Not writing more.

Six years ago, when I first started on HubPages, I've had wildly unrealistic expectations about creating passive income with this site, so fairly soon I became discouraged and only posted new articles sporadically.

In all of year 2010, I only published three hubs. In 2011 I published one! In 2012 – three again.

I now have about 80 articles but the writers who are successful here have hundreds, even thousands of hubs. This isn't so much about the quantity as it is about the consistency. Theoretically, posting 1-2 hubs weekly keeps you in good graces with flaky Google, and your readers - engaged.

2. Not interacting more.

As an introvert, I'm generally antisocial, and as a writer, I'm pretty self-centered. In fact, that was one of the things that initially attracted me to HP - that the site isn't interaction-based like some other writing platforms where your income is directly correlated with how much interaction you can take.

HubPages is different, I thought. Technically, all you have to do is write, and if you're good, the traffic will come, and eventually, the money will follow. This is how naïve I was 6 years ago.

It's still true that on HubPages interaction with other members is optional and, strictly speaking, not linked to your earnings, but it's a lot more important than I assumed in the beginning. In fact, it's pretty damn essential. Not so much in terms of traffic, but in terms of feeling connected and appreciated for the hard work that you put into your articles. Without it you're just a soon-to-be burnout who writes in a vacuum.

3. Not writing better articles.

In all honesty, most of my early work is either generic, pretentious, or only relevant to a small number of people.

When I started writing online, my goal was to make my articles look and sound like other people's articles, as if I could imitate my way into writing.

Bad idea. Devoid of original thought, these "masterpieces" were destined to fall flat on their comically serious faces. I've eventually deleted all of them out of sheer embarrassment.

Learning to write quality blog posts early on could have made all the difference. There are rules to writing for an online audience, and they are fairly simple and logical.

4. Not finding a niche.

As my friend Mel Carriere noted reflecting on his experience writing on HubPages and blogging, finding your writing niche can make all the difference. Part of it has to do with search engines favoring specific keywords, but it's also the fact that there's so much content out there...Almost any topic I come up with yields about 200,000 search results, and even if I do write a unique article with my own take on it, it won't be anywhere near the first couple of pages of Google search.

The closest I got to my "niche" was writing spiritual personal experience pieces, like "Inside the Inipi: Sweat Lodge of the Lakota People."

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Then there are unexpected successes, like "How to Write an Engaging First Sentence" that inspired an immediate surge of traffic and praise (including Editor's Choice and Hub Of The Day) that soon died down never to be resurrected.

And then there's my "golden child" - "14 Signs You Have a Toxic Mother-in-Law". For some reason, that one struck a cord with so many women! No other article made that kind of impact. I’ve tried to understand why…what was different about it? How did I write it?

Well…it all came from experience. I did almost zero research on it. It was something I went through myself and was still going through. It’s concise and biting. It makes an effort to connect with the reader. It covers a universal theme – bad mothers-in-law.

So maybe that's a secret to writing a good (popular) article - make it personal to you, write about what disturbs you, hurts you, inspires you.

I still write about whatever I find interesting or personal at the moment, completely irreverent to the SEO gods.

For the sins committed against the SEO gods, I banish obscurity!

For the sins committed against the SEO gods, I banish obscurity!

5. Not promoting my articles more.

Like many writers, I suck at marketing and promoting my own work. That's because I still live in the past when writing was all that was required of writers.

Now it seems like if you're not promoting your articles (books, blogs, reviews, what have you) you might as well be writing and throwing it directly into a cosmic wastebasket.

Sad as it is, in some ways writing skills are becoming secondary to marketing skills. So get yourself an Article Wizard that will take care of that tedious writing business, and get straight to the marketing phase! Sooner or later, if you're aggressive enough or annoying enough, you'll get the exposure you need.

If only I followed my own advice! The most I did was post a link on Facebook, watch it get a few likes, and move on to the next thing.

6. Not setting specific goals.

It's important to set goals for yourself, not just in writing but in life. I've never done that. I've had hopes and dreams, but never goals. I can come up with ideas - easily - but meticulously executing them, having a structure, a schedule, a routine - that's the hard part.

Now I understand that you need goals to keep you motivated when you're ready to throw in a towel, to keep yourself disciplined, and to track your progress. Because another big problem with not having goals is: you can't tell if you're moving up, or moving at all.

7. Not branching out beyond HubPages.

This is perhaps my biggest and most regrettable deadly sin.

As frustrating and unrewarding as it was, HubPages still managed to become my writing "comfort zone". No pitching ideas and getting rejected, no responsibility of having your own website, no waiting, no drama, minimal maintenance, and usually only positive reinforcement from the HP community.

Also - no money, no readership, no growth (other than the natural writing skill development that comes from keeping at it), and no pride after publishing something new. It was easy. I just pushed a button.

I guess the deeper reason behind this "failure to launch" was the fear of failure. What I've realized is that I've had a lot of mental blocks or limiting beliefs about blogging that were holding me back from starting my own blog.

Take it from me - success begins in your mind. If you feel stuck, start addressing what you truly believe deep inside: your fears, assumptions, and mental blocks.

2021 Update: In 2017 I finally took a leap of faith and started my own website. Yes, there was a learning curve, but it is the most rewarding experience of my life. I only wish I've done it sooner!

I still giggle when I think about my career dreams 6 years ago - lounging on the beaches of Southern Europe while writing and earning passive income from HP.

I still giggle when I think about my career dreams 6 years ago - lounging on the beaches of Southern Europe while writing and earning passive income from HP.

What about you?

Why I'm Still Here

I'm stubborn. Once I start something, I need to see it to some kind of conclusion, so I'm still here.

Don't get me wrong - my time on HP wasn't entirely bleak and unproductive. I've met some talented people who inspire me and remind me to keep going. I enjoy the freedom to write about anything I want. And I did learn a lot as far as writing online goes.

I've also managed to land a few writing projects outside my HubPages "efforts," in some small part due to the fact that I continued writing through my frustration and disillusionment. Even though I published sporadically and impractically, I never really got out of habit of writing. In part, I have to thank HP for that.

But for god's sake, pay your writers more! I don't care what Google comes up with next to weed out weak content - Panda, Giraffe or some other innocent animal stick figure, but there's got to be a better reward system in place. As of now, there's barely any incentives for me to keep writing and publishing on HubPages.

And I wonder sometimes: What could have been if I wasn't pouring all my writing juices into HubPages? If once in a while I took a leap and tried a different route? If I wasn't scared of being rejected or criticized or worse...ignored? What if...I worked harder, risked more, expected less?

Someone once said: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." It's time for me to spread my wings and stop being so damn comfortable. I'm a published author, for god's sake.

What's next - books, magazines, journals, blogosphere, travel writing? I don't know yet. But it's time to leave my writing "nest." I'll still be around - and I'll still publish hubs once in a while. I just won't be comfortable.

© 2015 Lana Adler


Lana Adler (author) from California on December 16, 2017:

Thank you Verlie. Although HubPages turned out to be more lucrative :o

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on December 15, 2017:

Lana, nice that you co-authored a book in your down time. Congratulations, looks interesting.

Lana Adler (author) from California on November 15, 2017:

Thanks Stephen! I wanted to be maximum honest. And to that end, once I started taking my own advice (goal setting, for example), my results improved dramatically. Not enough to make a living, but considerably more than it used to be (which was nothing :0) Good luck!

Stephen Barnes from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on November 12, 2017:

Great read Lana, and a real eye opener, thanks.

Lana Adler (author) from California on January 20, 2016:

Lol this is comforting to me :)

Jennifer Mugrage from Columbus, Ohio on January 20, 2016:

Ah ... we have a lot in common.

Lana Adler (author) from California on January 08, 2016:

Thank you Aesta! Since writing this article, I've had some progress, too. Traffic seems to be better (as are earnings, although still abysmal) but I'm still not even close to where I want to be vis-a-vis HubPages. But numbers-wise, everything almost doubled, so that's an improvement. My goal now is 100 hubs, which should take me about 10 months if I write 3 hubs a month. We'll see how I stick to that plan.

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you're starting to see your efforts finally paying off!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 08, 2016:

Well said and well written. I can relate to everything you said here. I am not consistent at all and I never promoted before. I am starting now and getting encourage with the results.

Lana Adler (author) from California on November 27, 2015:

livingelysian, I'm so glad you found this information useful. When I was writing it, it's almost as if I was addressing myself 6 years ago. As you can see, sure, I could have done some things differently.

As for the niche, it definitely helps to have one. Then people associate you with a particular topic, and the more you write about it, the more you are seen as an expert. I know some successful writers here who only write about one thing: travel, recipes, wicca or DIY stuff...But one of the things I like about HP is that you can write about whatever you want. And I enjoy that freedom. As a result, I'm very "all over the place," but I think it helps me as a writer.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to you!

Lana Adler (author) from California on November 27, 2015:

Jean, I agree, the community on HP is very supportive in general. I do run into an occasional troll, but only when I dare to write about politics or religion. Figures!

Lana Adler (author) from California on November 27, 2015:

cheaptrick, such kind words...English is indeed my second language, and I moved here at a rather mature age of 20. It's very flattering for me to hear that ESL-ness is not obvious from my writing, but I must confess I'm always learning and never quite comfortable enough to feel like my English is as good as my Russian. Although my Russian deteriorated quite a bit in the last 15 years... Thank you so much for your comment, I'm glad that this hub was of interest to you.

Elysia Valdivia from Loveland, Colorado on November 25, 2015:

Thank you for passing this invaluable information on to us new hubbers! I am still trying to find my niche!

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on November 24, 2015:

This site is somewhat addicting. I've tried others, but the people here really are nicer. I hope the money gets better too. Lately, I find changing titles helps a bit.

cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on November 24, 2015:

Nicely written piece of work.Never would have guessed English was your second language.Many Americans have not developed the flow of written English as well as you have.You're an inspiration to struggling writers in more ways than you might think.Best wishes

Lana Adler (author) from California on November 24, 2015:

Jean, my first hubs were pretty bad, too. I eventually deleted most of them.

And unlike you, I haven't branched out much beyond HP. All my 70 eggs are here so lets hope this basket stays put, not that I'm making any money here LOL. I just got used to it, maybe even addicted. But I'm trying to branch out, and it's exciting. Thanks for dropping by!

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on November 24, 2015:

I couldn't pass up this title! My niche of Astrology is completely saturated, but I take a lot of metaphysical courses, and do readings out of a business, so it keeps me in material. My worst mistake was just posting my first hub without reading the rules. I was barely computer literate, and just happy to see something I wrote up there. Oh, and I used to write all my hubs in one text capsule. That took ages to fix.

I don't think it hurts if you don't socialize much, but it brings newer readers to your articles, and in turn, they pass them on to others, so don't forget to get on the forum now and them. (Pass on religion or politics). You want new hubbers to notice you.

At one time we were told "not to put our eggs in one basket"so I wrote the obligatory amount of articles everywhere. But I never had enough in any one place except HP to make money. So now I am moving everything here, and deciding what to do with my blog. I had a metaphysical blog, and it was somewhat popular, but I never made money. I made a new one but I don't like it, and am figuring out where to go with that.

It's never too late to find a niche. I have been contacted by people about writing for some of their sites, but usually it was an article a week and at the times I was always busy. Now I'm sorry I didn't take them up on it, next time I will.

It's bad to have too many hubs, because of the frequency they make changes here. I have carpal tunnel syndrome to prove it. Now as I move articles here, I am deleting one for each new one I post. Eventually I have to delete more, but I get sentimental about them. Take care.

Lana Adler (author) from California on October 13, 2015:

Oh yeah...I still resent the idea of a niche, even though I've been able to narrow it down to 3-4 topics I write about somewhat consistently. I also haven't gotten around to building my own website/blog. That would mean choosing a niche so...I'm also glad to have discovered you. Can't believe it took me so long!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2015:

This is a very honest appraisal of Hub Pages Svetlana, and I thank you for that. I can relate to everything you say. My major problem is I can't..and don't want to.. corner myself into a niche.

I do love it here despite the very meagre payout system. I have set myself a goal of making a certain amount each month (sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes not). Maybe it pays for my coffee consumption.

I too am hopeless at marketing my work. When I do share my hubs and my eBook on Facebook etc I always feel guilty.

You do have some interesting hubs and now I just have to go read more of them. Glad you decided to stick around.

Lana Adler (author) from California on August 28, 2015:

Thank you Niecey! I think you've got the right attitude. If you keep your expectations in check and just look at it as a writing practice, you'll be just fine. And who knows, you might even make some money here. It's not impossible!

Niecey Docherty from Firth, Nebraska on August 28, 2015:

This is very helpful, thank you. I'm just getting started and there are plenty hubs about how to hub, but this one was actually helpful. I'm definitely looking at this as more of a portfolio building experience, practice writing and then hopefully can step out to other things. I like your suggestion of setting goals too.

Lana Adler (author) from California on August 24, 2015:

Thank you Bill. I love your travel articles, I think it's a great niche to have. Although I have a few topics that I write on consistently, I think it would be very hard for me to narrow it down to one. And I am still hopeful too, against all reason :) And I'm working on publishing my pieces elsewhere. Though it's always so tempting to just press that "Publish" button! Instant gratification.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 24, 2015:

Very interesting Svetlana. I discovered HP about three and a half years ago and also had grand visions. Google managed to take care of that. But like you and so many others I am still here. You mentioned finding a niche and while initially I would write about a variety of topics now I concentrate on travel. I will never be able to quit my day job but I do hope that some day the passive income from HP amounts to something. I also need to venture out beyond my comfort zone. Time to make a plan!

Lana Adler (author) from California on August 12, 2015:

Thank you Molly! Speaking of of my most-read hubs is a collection of quotes, which hurts my writer's ego a bit lol, but in general I have NO CLUE which hubs will get popular, and which ones will be living out their days in obscurity...Thanks for stopping by!

Molly Layton from Alberta on August 08, 2015:

This was a cool read. I have found that some of my articles are getting traffic from the web at random, but consistency is the best way to keep up your numbers.

Lana Adler (author) from California on August 03, 2015:

Thank you. I do like HP as a writing platform. I just think there are limitations to it, like to any content mill, and sometimes it pays (literally and figuratively) to take your writing somewhere else. Thanks for stopping by Nadine!

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on July 31, 2015:

That was a nice read. When someone suggested Hub pages to me almost two years ago as a marketing tool for my novels I went for it. At first I never realized that it could earn me money! I discovered that weeks later and it took me 4 months to get Google to agree linking me to its earning program. Yesterday for the first time I received an email that Hubpages would pay me by the end of this month! That is real bonus for me because I still feel that it is the best writing platform out there.

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 30, 2015:

Thank you JM. I suppose it applies to any kind of writing online. The marketing for me is the hardest part for some reason. Thanks for stopping by!

Jon Mark on July 29, 2015:

Good read because each of these observations is exactly what I've experienced over the time I've been writing online. It took me about three years to realize what I needed to do to market myself. Now I'm a little more than pumped to see what I can do with this platform.

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 15, 2015:

Thank you Bill! That's sweet :) I will not only quote you on that, I will live by it, chipping away at the walls of my comfort and security day by day. Woo-hoo!!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 15, 2015:

And I do love your last paragraph. Comfort is for sissies, and you can quote me on that. I love the fact that you recognize there are greater things just beyond the HP wall. Best wishes as you spread your talented wings and fly.

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 14, 2015:

Thank you. Well, after 6 years I can't really claim to be a beginner :) I've learnt what I could here, it's time to look for greener pastures. Thank you for stopping by!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 13, 2015:

Honest! And helpful. I think HubPages is a great way to begin, so don't beat yourself up too much!

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 09, 2015:

Thank you David! The brutal honesty was intentional :) I've got nothing more to hide. I'm basically admitting my defeat - you won, HubPages! It's my own fault for not promoting and engaging more, so be it. But damn it, you let me down too! The passive income for me here is so miniscule, I can't even call it income without laughing (and crying at the same time). But yes, you do keep the rights to your stuff :) Thanks for commenting and voting!

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 09, 2015:

I'm with you, Don - I don't like the word "hub," I prefer "article". Sounds more respectable. But for the purposes of I use "hubs" to refer to what I'm doing here on HP.

I've been plodding along too. For a while. A looooooong while. And I'm still here, aren't I? I agree that it takes time to establish your audience on other sites, and there's nothing wrong with staying with HP but...sometimes you gotta try new things...scary things. It may lead you somewhere you could have never imagined :) Thanks for stopping by!

David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 09, 2015:

You have a lot of interesting points and you aren't afraid to be honest. A few years ago I spent a lot of time writing for content mills (MTurk, etc). One thing I really like about HubPages is that the articles are mine and, even though my traffic has slowly dropped, I still earn passive income on what I wrote 2-3 years ago. Voted up and interesting.

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on July 09, 2015:

kalinin1148- Good article. (Notice I didn't use the word HUB?) I call waht I write on HP articles, myself. This helps me keep my perspective on just exactly :\"who and what" I am.

You see, I AM A WRITER! And damn those who say otherwise.

AS you mentioned, this constantly changing field of requirements by HP (mostly for their own survival, sic) is a nuisance, and a time consuming one, for me.

But. having been here, plodding along on HP, for almost 6 years, I can say that it is the best of the sites that provide this service for writers, especially struggling ones.

Oh, there are a lot of writers sites out there, but they are there for a subtly different audience, in my opinion, and that's for the already applauded authors and the readers.

So, think of me when you see another one of the HP gang's criticisms or changes to your established articles status, or whatever. I'll be plodding along, cursing HP but begrudgingly continuing to write here for the foreseeable future. LOL!


Lana Adler (author) from California on July 08, 2015:

Goddamn it I miss those days!! I am so dumbfounded by all this marketing business. I don't want to be like those annoying people always shoving their product down people's throats. And I hate social media with its popularity contests. But I'm too poor to hire an agent...Lol. Thanks for stopping by Larry!

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 08, 2015:

Thank you Mel! I will always be a bit of a foreigner so the language is a continuous learning effort, you're right. Although I will probably never have the same vocabulary as I do in Russian. Btw, if you notice any mistakes I might have missed, feel free to tell me, I would appreciate it. Thank you for the encouragement. And I know you're working on a novel, right? I'm sure it won't be long before you have a book with your name on it :-)

Lana Adler (author) from California on July 08, 2015:

Of course you love it here Bill! You're one of the HP success stories with a huge following and a thousand articles to your name. Whatever it is you are making here, I'm sure it can't be compared to what I'm making. But this isn't even about the money. I appreciate the community here too, I just don't think it's enough anymore...Thanks for stopping by!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 08, 2015:

Interesting hub. Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in olden times of a decade ago and writers could focus mainly on writing and not all this other junk:-)

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 08, 2015:

You write wonderfully, and I admire your efforts to master this language, not just learn it but to make it your voice. And I envy you for being published. You will always have that book with your name on it you can point to on the shelf. Please persevere. Thanks for the nice mention. Great heartfelt hub.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2015:

It's always interesting to read other perspectives. I love it here despite the fact that the money is ridiculous. I love the community, and I love this honest appraisal of your time here.

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