Online Writing Tips from HubPages Contest Judge Robin Edmondson

With the launch of the HubPages So You Think You Can Write Online contest this afternoon, many Hubbers are scrambling for insider tips on how to write winning entries.  Thankfully, official contest judge and HubPages Director of Education Robin Edmondson is happy to share her advice!  Check out the interview below to give your contest entries a leg up 😀

First, for those who are unfamiliar with you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! I’m Robin Edmondson. I’m an educator at HubPages and married to Paul Edmondson, HubPages’ CEO. I have been on HubPages since its first day and have been Hubbing for over 4 years! I’ve been officially working at HubPages since August developing curriculum and leading seminars, or HubCamps, on HubPages. Obviously, I’m very committed to the success and growth of HubPages and its community. One of my favorite things is seeing a Hubbers growth over time. I love watching Hubbers learn the best and most effective ways of delivering their message on HubPages.

You’ve written quite a few Hubs- what are your favorite things to Hub about?

My favorite topics to Hub about are parenting and education; probably because these are the things I know the most about and am passionate about. This is one of the keys to success on HubPages: write about your areas of expertise and the things that you love!

What makes you an expert in use of Hub capsules and general Hub formatting?

The biggest reason why I’m an expert in this category is I have been using the HubTool for a LONG time. I’ve seen many iterations of the capsules and have been privy to a lot of the inside changes and the reasons for the changes. I’ve tested and re-tested different formats to find the best formats for different topics, and I’ve been successful.

What would you say are the essential elements of a good Hub?

The first and most important element of a good Hub is its title. You can have an amazing piece of content, but if your Hub has a poor title, you won’t see any traffic from search. Creating a title that is specific and could be a query on Google, is a great idea. I always recommend spending a little bit of time doing some research on your title. Going to the Google Keyword Tool and checking out the search results for your title should be your first move. Check out our Learning Center entry on how to do this. Next, search for your topic in Google and see what other websites show up in the results. If you feel like you could beat out the competition with your outstanding Hub, then go for it. If the results are large sites that could never be beat out, you should either rethink your title or make it more specific and long tail.

After you choose your specific, niche title, follow it up with great content. Obviously, a great title with poor content won’t stand the test of time. It is incredibly important to create content that is original, useful and evergreen.

How do you think that good use of various Hub capsules has changed over time?

It’s a real eye opener when I look back at my old Hubs that I created over four years ago. I’ve learned so much over the years and the capsules have undergone many makeovers as well. Fawntia Fowler, a HubPages engineer, recently updated the photo capsule and it is amazing. I love that you can upload photos from your iphone camera and they will be there when you’re ready to create your Hub on your desktop or laptop! Plus, HubPages stores all of your photos from older Hubs. Also, when I started Hubbing we didn’t have the map, table, or quiz capsules. I love all three of them! (Hint, hint, I’ll be looking for them in your contest Hubs!)

What will you be looking for most in contest entries?

There are three areas that I’m going to focus on for the contest:

Useful, original, evergreen topics – evergreen topics are topics that will be searched for over time. Plus, your Hub has to be useful and original or it won’t ever gain readership.
Specific, long-tail titles – long tail titles are highly specific. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find specific keywords to incorporate in your Hub’s title and throughout your Hub. (Be careful to not keyword stuff though, nobody wants to read a Hub that is all keywords and no real content. Incorporating a few keywords in your title and Hub is a great idea but shouldn’t be the bulk of your content!)

A great use of the capsules – our engineers at HubPages have done an amazing job creating the HubPages capsules. Use capsules that enhance your Hub and help your reader better understand your topic. The table capsule is my favorite and really makes a Hub look professional!

Do you have any pet peeves regarding Hubs?

Ha! Great question! Yes, my biggest pet peeve is a great Hub with a horrible title. When a Hub has a lot of potential but it won’t see search traffic because the author didn’t create a search friendly title, I just feel horrible! I have sent quite a few personal emails to Hubbers that need to tweak their titles because I see such potential and I can’t stand to see it going to waste.

This contest is pretty broad – usually we’re bound by categories, but this time, Hubbers can write about whatever they like. Perhaps some will find this a bit overwhelming – what would you recommend Hubbers start with, if they don’t know what to write about?

I would recommend Hubbers using this contest as a way to build out a niche. Choose a general topic you are passionate about and break it down into many highly-specific Hubs. This is advantageous for two reasons: the judges will recognize your Hubs making you more memorable, and you have the capability of owning a topic and its subtopics. Plus, owning a niche can be very valuable to your readers as well as help you gain trust in search results. (Don’t forget to group them all together using the groups tab to the right of your Hub in edit mode.)

Finally, what tips do you have for those planning to participate in the contest?

The best advice that I have is to write about the things that you love and write about them with passion. If you are passionate about your topic it will come through in your writing and your readers will leave wanting more.

Good luck, Hubbers! I look forward to reading your amazing Hubs!

For more information on HubPages’ April contest, be sure to visit the official So You Think You Can Write Online contest page.

New Hubber Akanga1 Breaks the Barrier Between Expert and Layman in his Hubs on Female Reproductive Health

Having just joined HubPages six days ago, akanga1 (also known as Joe) is already on a roll, having published seven Hubs!

Joe (aka akanga1) on HubPages

Joe is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Macclesfield Hospital in Cheshire, Northern England as well as a clinical lecturer at the Liverpool University School of Medicine and published author.  Quite the expert, Joe shares his medical expertise in several of the Hubs he has published thus far.

We are always excited to see promising new Hubbers join the community and are quite looking forward to reading the Hubs that akanga1 publishes next. You can learn more about Joe, his work, and his future HubPages plans in the interview below:

HubPages: First, could you tell us more about yourself?

Hello, thank you! My name is Joe. I live with the love of my life Debbie and our children in Wirral on the outskirts of the city of Liverpool in North West England. For those struggling to place it on the map, it is the birthplace of the Beatles. I have been an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist since 1996. I worked at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, which is the biggest maternity hospital in Western Europe, for eight years until 2009. I am now working at Macclesfield Hospital in Cheshire. Apart from this, I am an honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Liverpool School of Medicine. I have authored a book titled ‘The Complete Pregnancy and Childbirth Answers’ first published in the year 2000. Writing (and reading) is a passion. Since 2007, I have run the female reproductive health website http://www.pregnancy-bliss.co.uk which is aimed at putting as much objective and up to date information out there as possible. According to alexa.com, it is the most popular pregnancy and childbirth site in the UK and Ireland. It is satisfying to know people are getting correct and reliable information. This inspires me to try to do more.

How did you find HubPages?

I was searching online for answers on a non-health related subject and an answer from HubPages popped up. I followed the trail and stayed at the site for a lot longer than I had anticipated. It was a revelation.

You have been on HubPages for less than a week and already you have published some stellar Hubs. Most of them are on health-related topics such as pregnancy, cancer, and eye care, however you also have a lovely Hub on reading and your favorite books – what has inspired the Hubs you have written so far?

As you can see, the majority of the Hubs I have published are on my bread-and-butter subject – health. This is what I do. I love the internet and the democracy at its heart. However, that’s also its Achilles heel. There is a lot of chaff about. We can’t just moan about this. If you know what you know, put it out there. As for that Hub on reading; yes, that is an absolute passion of mine and I seized the opportunity to share that with the wider world.

What do you plan to write in the future?

If the Hubpages community would have me, I would like to be here for the long haul. The majority of my Hubs are, predictably, going to be in the area of my expertise. That is Female Reproductive Health. A lot of medical work remains opaque to the general public but I have long believed it doesn’t have to be so. Now we have the means to break that artificial barrier of ‘expert and layman’. I, for one, intend to do my bit.

[Thanks, akanga1!]

An Interview with Contest Judge Brittany of Pretty Handy Girl

Usefulness is one major element the judges in our upcoming So You Think You Can Write Online contest will be looking for in contest entries.  For this reason, we wanted to have some real experts from the realm of useful online writing, and so we turned to Brittany of Pretty Handy Girl – an expert on DIY articles.

To give you some insider tips on writing winning Hubs this April, we’ve done a short interview with Brittany to talk more about her work, her writing, and what she will be looking for in contest entries.  Read carefully – her advice just might win you $50, $100, and even $250 in prizes!

HubPages: Thanks so much for being a part of the So You Think You Can Write Online contest! Could you tell us more about yourself?

Brittany: Well, my name is Brittany, but most of my readers know me as Pretty Handy Girl. I write a blog called Pretty Handy Girl. It is filled with tutorials for DIY projects, crafts, sewing, home improvement, home repairs and more. My goal is to empower my readers to take on their own DIY project.

I am one of three daughters, my father didn’t have any sons so he taught us how to use his power tools, change the oil on our cars and wire an outlet (among other things).

My childhood memories are of my Mom and Dad adding a second floor onto our house. They did most of the work themselves, so I grew up knowing that home improvement is something an average human being can take on. My mantra is that if someone can do it, then there is a 95% chance that I can do it too!

I have always enjoyed beautifying things, especially my home. My idea of a relaxing day is working in my garage (aka workshop) and building something. The smell of freshly cut wood tends to ease away the tension of the week. Also being able to have the gratification of completing something tangible really makes my day! (Maybe this is because it is so hard to complete a task when you have children un-doing your work behind you.)

The other days of my week are spent entertaining my two little charges (two little energizer boys); housekeeping; and trying to read all my favorite blogs (and there are a lot of them.)

When did you begin creating your own DIY projects?

My parents added on to our house when I was young. There were always scrap pieces of lumber lying around. I dreamed of building my own playhouse in the back yard with that wood. I used to paint and color on those scraps (and still have two of them today!)

When my husband and I moved to Philadephia, we bought some unfinished furniture from IKEA, I successfully stained them (although we kept smelling gas and finally ended up calling the gas company only to find out that using an oil based stain in an unventilated area is not a good idea! After that I recovered a hand-me-down couch by taking it apart and seeing how it was pieced together.

Did you have any formal training?

Definitely not, but I wish!

If no, how did you learn how to create your own projects?

My father had 3 daughters and no sons, so he taught us how to use his power tools, change the oil on our cars and wire an outlet (among other things.) My mom was always finding yard sale and curbside treasures. I remember her painting a bed, nightstand and dresser so they would coordinate for my bedroom. And she also re-upholstered a curbside chair for my college apartment. I always pay attention when someone is fixing, building or creating something.

What was the most elaborate or difficult DIY project you’ve ever taken on?

At this point the most elaborate project I have completed was laying antique heart pine flooring in our living room. We bought the wood off of Craigslist. It was salvaged from a 100 year old farmhouse in North Carolina and it looked pretty bad. We started the day after Christmas (emptied the room, including the Christmas tree) and completed the floor 10 days later. The resulting wood floor is stunning and my favorite room in the house. If you are interested you can read more about the project on my blog.

What inspired you to start a DIY blog?

I have several friends that wanted me to teach them how to use power tools, build things and basic home repairs. I toyed with the idea of holding classes in our garage until my husband suggested that I start a blog to reach more people. He was definitely the spark that started Pretty Handy Girl.

Do you ever turn to any other DIY people or bloggers for inspiration? Where does the Pretty Handy Girl go when she learns something new?

Definitely! I love Magazines, Flea Markets, Boutiques for inspirations. And definitely all the other wonderful blogs out there that share their ideas.

If I need to learn a new skill, I will either ask a professional or look up information online via Google or YouTube. I actually learned how to finish our wood floors myself by watching YouTube.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good DIY article- or any other super useful guide?

Honestly the best DIY articles (or useful guide) have good pictures. Photos that help the reader see each step that needs to be taken. Today’s tech-saavy audience has a short attention span and wants instant information. Twitter and texting have created readers that want the written word to be short and sweet. Sadly we are moving away from an audience that sits down to savor each word.

Do you have any tips for those planning to enter the So You Think You Can Write Online contest?

Hmmm, that is a good question. I think my biggest pet peeve is when I read a blog post that is filled with typos and grammatical errors. I guess I’m old fashioned in that respect. Seeing as the contest title is “So You Think You Can Write Online” I expect to read posts that are polished and clean. Other than that, I would say that hopefully the writing style is engaging and keeps me reading (Short attention span. I know).  One final note, I am a graphic designer too, so I can’t help noticing if a post is hard to read because of the font color or background color.

Finally, have you any advice you have for new DIYers?

Look at how things are made. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I find Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace employees to be super helpful! The next time you have a handyman come fix something, watch how he or she fixes it and ask questions. Google how to instructions or videos. Most of all, just try it!

 

[Thanks, Brittany!]

We hope this interview inspires you to write some super useful contest entries.  Heck, writing some great DIY-style Hubs for this contest might even kick-start a fun home project you’ve been wanting to do!

From Bigfoot Sightings to the Best Beef Chili

One of the things I love most about HubPages is the fascinating and varied expertise of everyone in our community.  North Carolina Hubber crazyhorsesghost serves as a great example – he is both an excellent cook and an expert in the paranormal.

Yesterday crazyhorsesghost published a Hub about a Big Foot sighting he had on March 22nd that has since gone viral.  The Hub is quite well done – it includes both crazyhorsesghost’s original photos and video – and it has already been picked up by the NY Daily News, msnbc.com, Huffpost Green, and Fox News, and liked over 2,000 times on Facebook!  Clearly crazyhorsesghost has proven himself to be an expert by going out there and documenting his paranormal experiences.

In true HubPages fashion, crazyhorsesghost publishes all sorts of useful articles, and even shares his award-winning beef chili recipe as well as directions for making the World’s Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in a mere three minutes.  Like many, crazyhorsesghost has several interests and does a great job writing about all of them on HubPages.com.

HubPages is full of everyday experts like crazyhorsesghost who publish truly interesting and useful Hubs every day.  We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do!

The Second Wave of HubPages Ad Program Invites!

We are quite happy to announce that a second wave of invites to the HubPages Ad Program has been sent out to the community. The first half of invites was sent yesterday and the second half will be sent today.

More waves of invites will be going out soon.  When you get your email notification and wish to opt in to the program, simply follow the instructions provided. If you wish to continue on HubPages with no affiliate programs, or just with AdSense, Amazon, and/or eBay, you can just leave things as they are 😀

To the uninitiated, the HubPages Ad Program brings to your Hubs a mix of premium ads from various ad partners which run in concert with AdSense ads and any other Amazon or eBay capsules in Hubs. The program first rolled out at the beginning of this month and will be available to everyone on HubPages by June of this year, if not sooner.

To learn more, read over the details of the HubPages Ad Program, and stop by the forum thread about the second wave of invites.

Congrats to those who can now opt in!

Answers with Ari

Though it is the fastest growing portion of HubPages.com, the Answers section on HubPages is overlooked by many Hubbers.  That, my friends, is a terrible shame, because HubPages software engineer Ari Lamstein has been making some major improvements to it!

In the interview above, Ari shares some of these changess, namely spam reduction, improved answering time, and a recommendation system, however Ari has done much more than that!

Below are some other significant changes (in his words) that Ari has brought about:

  • If a question was asked on a Hub (or of a Hubber), we now link to the Hub (or Hubber) in the question.  Previously, without this information, it was difficult to understand many of these questions.  This feature was often requested by the community, for example in this thread.
  • Questions also “stay with” a Hub, like comments do.
  • Users now have the ability to “follow” questions.  So if you see a question that you like, you can “follow” it and get a notification when new answers to the question come in.  Many users like this feature because it allows them to “bookmark” questions so they can answer them at a later date.  One piece of feedback which we got from users who like to use Q&A for Hub ideas is that they would see a good question, but couldn’t “find” it later to answer it.  Many Hubbers like to think for a while before answering a question or writing a Hub.  You can see all the questions that you are following in the My Account page.
  • Lastly, to improve question quality we now have a clear, written set of Q&A rules.  The first time that a user asks a question, or if a user’s last question was moderated, we display the rules and make the user agree to them.

Props to Ari for making HubPages Answers better than ever!  If you’d like to thank him personally, check out his profile, and also have a look at his awesome classical guitar Hubs. 😀

Enelle Lamb on Writing, Publishing, Multi-Tasking, and ADHD

Enelle Lamb is a very active Hubber and online writer.  Between her involvement with the HubNuggets program, Hubbing, blogging, book writing, it is a wonder that she has time to also be a successful mother and advocate for children with ADHD – and yet she is.

Enelle Lamb

As many in the HubPages community are also outspoken writers of printed books, bloggers, and champions of various causes, we thought it would be fun to have a short interview with Enelle Lamb to discuss her life as a writer and activist.  We hope you enjoy it – and that Enelle Lamb’s involvement inspires you to follow your own writing ambitions!

HubPages: First, could you tell us a bit about your writing on HubPages? How did you first come across the site, and why did you join?

Enelle Lamb: When I originally found HubPages, through an online search, I was looking for a site where I could build an online presence in order to promote my jewellery and my children’s adventure series. I thought HubPages would be a great place to get started and inspire me to keep up my writing, but I found so much more. I have been a member here for almost three years. I have had a lot of fun, and made some good friends.

In addition to writing on HubPages, you also have several blogs, websites, and even published books. How do you manage so many things at once?

Funny you should ask, because my last Hub, Juggling – A Lost Art? talks about how difficult it can be to budget your time. So many of us face the same challenges in our everyday lives, and sometimes we need to be very creative with time management. I think if someone had handed me this entire list of jobs and activities a few years ago and said, “Here do this,” I would have laughed at them and said, “You want this when?” When I look at that list now, I wonder how I manage to get it all done. I think the key is that I am passionate about every one of these jobs and activities.

You share on your profile that you are a major advocate for children with ADHD. What inspired your involvement with ADHD?

A lot of people have heard about ADHD but they don’t understand how it affects the child and the child’s development. My son was finally diagnosed with this disability at age seven, and through his early school years I was already advocating for him with teachers and counsellors. Then I wrote my first Hub, which was about my son’s ADHD, and when I saw how many people were commenting, sharing their struggles, and seeking information, I realized there was a need for someone to advocate for other parents as well.

You recently revised and republished a book on ADHD – could you tell us a bit about it?

Absolutely – This book is a personal account of my struggles to parent a child with ADHD/ODD, and the challenges I faced along the way, both in finding comprehensive information about my son’s disability, and in overcoming the feelings of isolation and hopelessness that I and so many parents of these special children feel. When my son and I first began our journey, I had no idea I would have to become a top notch researcher and an uncertified authority on the subject. I had no idea that I would become an advocate for ADHD children and their parents. What I did know was that critical information was fragmented and hard to find, and not being put in the hands of parents who desperately needed it. The book was my response to that need for information and support.

As someone who is both writing online and creating books for print publication, could you give any advice to other Hubbers who want to publish physical books?

Certainly! The first thing an author needs is a good editor. Then they need to decide whether to self-publish or try one of the traditional publishing houses. Both methods have their own hurdles to overcome. If you decide on a traditional publishing house, then you must do your research. Research…research… and more research! First find a publisher who accepts your style of writing.  Find out exactly what they require for a submission, and then go for it! Don’t be discouraged if your initial submission is rejected. Successful authors hear the word “No” a lot at first.

Has your experience on HubPages helped at all with writing actual books, and if it has, how so?

Oh my, yes. HubPages is a great platform – easy to use, easy to learn and produces a polished, professional looking article. Writing on HubPages helped me to hone my writing skills, and it has been a great confidence booster. From the comments I received on my Hubs, I learned that I had something of value that I could share with others. As well, I have connected with a wonderful, caring community of fellow writers.

Do you have any other advice to Hubbers out there – perhaps people who are new to the community?

HubPages is a great place to write and a great place to connect with other writers. As a new Hubber, the amount of information available can seem overwhelming, but keep at it. Writing for HubPages isn’t the same as blogging. Blogs tend to be much shorter, and more personal, like snippets of how your day is going – “Hubs” are much longer, stand alone articles. You will find everything here from “poetry”, “where to buy the best new camera” and “how to market your Hubs.” Read lots, write about what you love, and have fun!

 

[Thanks, Enelle Lamb!]

Helpful Hubbers’ HubCamp Hubs

It has now been a good week since HubCamp Houston and Dallas, and Jason and Robin are still talking about the great Hubbers who made it out to each event.

Peggy W

Two of the Hubbers who attended these latest HubCamps – Peggy W and Sophia Angelique – have even written Hubs sharing their HubCamp notes.  If you were not able to make it to these HubCamps, you can still get some of the insider tips that were shared by checking those overviews out.

Peggy W specifically shares a really great introduction to the entire HubPages process – from joining to being published-  and also posted some great photos of the Magnolia Hotel in Houston where the HubCamp was held.

And Sophia Angelique broke down a lot of the helpful tips regarding important things to include in a Hub and reworking Hubs that are already published.

Other Hubbers have written cool guides and overviews based on previous HubCamps – since every HubCamp is different, you might want to check out their HubCamp reflections as well!

Edweirdo

Edweirdo, for example, incorporates some HubCamp NYC tips into his amazing Hub on how he wrote 100 Hubs, got 700 followers, and made $800 in his first year with HubPages.

TinaAtHome shares an easy-to-follow list of tips from the first ever HubCamp in San Francisco, and Urban Farm Girl gave a great overview of the same event – even offering a photo with special labels pointing out HubPages team members!

Let’s also not forget fastfreta, who wrote a Hub explaining why you HubCamp is something you don’t want to miss 😀

One of the things that makes HubCamps so special is that each Hubber who comes brings his or her own experiences and insider tips with them.  The dialogue that takes place at each event and the social mixers that follow is just as valuable as the seminar itself!

Thanks to everyone who made it to HubCamp Houston and Dallas last week.  And thanks Sophia Angelique and Peggy W for sharing your notes with the community!

To learn more about HubCamps, check out the HubCamp section of our site.

Improving HubPages…

As we continue to adjust our way through the most recent Google algorithm changes, we are actively reviewing how we can improve the HubPages experience and make adjustments to improve the site and experience.  As mentioned in previous posts, we have already made some changes, primarily focused at weeding out lower quality content that adds little to no value to the site and community and to optimize the advertising layouts.  In the upcoming weeks, I expect to announce further changes we will implement aimed at improving sitewide experience and quality of Hubs.  We have various methods for measuring “quality” including HubScore, community ratings and feedback, link quality, etc.

I appreciate everyone’s patience as we devise and implement our next course of action. The most important effect of the next wave of changes will be to our writers who will benefit from a rise in the overall quality of content published on HubPages and the removal of lower quality content that tends to decrease  traffic and visitors’ experience to the site.  I see a lot of great discussions in the forums and am encouraged to see so many active members of the community that are just as concerned and motivated to improve the site as we are.

I will keep you guys updated – so stay tuned!  And in the meantime, PLEASE continue to help out by flagging Hubs that you come across that violate our existing editorial policy.

It’s Contest Time Again!

Perhaps you have noticed the small contest link in the top right navigation bar on HubPages.  You know what that means – another contest is on the way!

Coming up this April is the So You Think You Can Write Online contest – the theme of which is excellent online writing.  You can submit entries on any topic you choose – all you have to do is add a “WritingContest” tag before you publish.

Our contest judges, experts on the HubTool, writing, useful online guides, and viral online articles, will be looking for interesting topics, search-friendly titles, ship-shape grammar, unique, useful information, and tasteful use of varying HubTool capsules.

There is a limit of five entries per day, but each entry will have a chance to win $50 in a random daily drawing, $50 for being the Staff Pick of the day, $100 for being a People’s Choice of the week (based on popular vote), $100 for winning the Best Hub prize for a week (based on contest judge ranking), and $250 for being a Grand Prize winner.

You can first start submitting entries for the contest on March 31st at 12:00pm (PT) and can continue submitting entries until 12:00pm on April 28th.

Before the contest starts, we’ll be interviewing some of the contest judges, so check back here to get helpful pointers on writing winning entries.

I hope you decide to enter in the contest – it will be great fun, plus it is an excellent way to hone and prove your online writing skills!