Daring Female Pirates

ARRR you a fan of pirates?  ARRR you a bonnie lass or in favor of rambunctious women? If ye answer’d AYE to these questions, ye’ll love this podcast.

For this week’s Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts podcast (Daring Female Pirates), we discuss four of history’s most famous female pirates: Mary Read, Anne Bonne, Ching Shih, and Grace O’Malley.  The inspiration for this podcast is a fabulous Hub titled Fierce Pirate Women: Women Pirates of the Caribbean and Elsewhere by kittythedreamer.

If you have a suggestion for a future Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts podcast, send it your way! Our email address is podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com and we are always pleased to get comments, suggestions, and feedback.

On Writing Well: Writing the Ending

For a lot of people, crafting conclusions is the hardest part of writing. Writers from all genres find endings harder to write than any other part of the work, and the dread is entirely understandable. After all, the conclusion is our last point of contact with the reader, and as writers, we strive to make that especially engaging and memorable.

Beyond the emotional implication of the endings, in the final section writers wish to leave a lasting impression on the reader. A good ending should also tie up the loose plot threads in a work of fiction, and evoke a sense of completeness in a non-fiction piece.

Here are some basic tips on writing the conclusive piece:

 

For fiction:

One of my favorite endings in fiction is from Gone with the Wind, where Scarlett O’Hara says: “Tara. Home. I’ll go home…. After all, tomorrow is another day.” In one short sentence, the author manages to say so much. In your fiction, don’t be afraid to end in a similar note, where you:

  • Evoke a larger image: Scarlett’s quote is larger than Scarlett herself. It brings up a sense of nostalgia, courage, optimism, and grace, all at once. It is an apt ending to a gorgeous novel.
  • End with dialogue or description: Using a quote or a description as an ending is extraordinarily satisfactory. Endings of these sorts are almost always charming and graceful, and leaves the reader feeling very fulfilled.

For non-fiction:

  • Point to larger implications: In a work of non-fiction, the conclusion is a great place to talk about the abiding influence of the thesis you present in your earlier text. This kind of ending is especially pertinent for academic writing.
  • Ask a question of the reader: Asking a provoking question of your reader is an engaging and memorable way to finish a piece.  It involves the reader in a non-threatening way, and often gets more response than other sorts of conclusions.  This form of ending is especially helpful for blogs, essays or online writings, where you’d like to get reader response by way of comments.

Image by shutterhacks on flickr

How to Write SEO-Friendly (but AUTHENTIC!) Online Titles

The line between search-engine friendliness and authenticity is fraught with peril.

Many writers write witty, fun, humorous, and interesting titles that have no shot at being found by searchers. Others write titles that are so SEO-optimized that they look as though they have been written by over caffeinated robots (or, at the very least, spammers).  Is it possible to balance SEO-friendliness with authenticity?  Yes, actually!

Listen in to this week’s episode of the Online Writing Insider (How to Write SEO-Friendly (but AUTHENTIC!) Titles) to hear about our very simple approach to creating optimized, but human-sounding, titles.  You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have an idea for a future Online Writing Insider podcast? We would love to hear about it! Send your questions, comments, suggestions, and feedback to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

Introducing the HubPatron of the Arts Contest

HubPages is a vast site, full of many, many different subcommunities of writers and enthusiasts.  Some of the strongest communities on our site are comprised of the artistically-inclined: poets, fiction writers, and photographers.  To celebrate these amazing artists, we decided to make our next contest all about prose, poetry and photos!

Enter the HubPatron of the Arts Contest– HubPages’ first ever contest dedicated entirely to the Poems and Poetry, Creative Writing, and Photo Galleries categories.  Where in previous contests, judges looked for utility, how-to guides, and oodles of didactic information, judges in this contest will focus exclusively on artistry, quality, and the emotions that entries evoke.

Another novel aspect of this contest involves the way in which judging will take place. Instead of having staff do all the judging, or outsourcing judging to outside experts, we assembled three panels to the top poetry, prose, and photos experts on HubPages.com.

We will be giving away over $3,000 in prizes, including a special Smashwords-sponsored prize given to one of the First Place winners in the contest. The Smashwords winner will have the opportunity to have a collection of his or her work formatted, published, and distributed as an ebook, which is pretty exciting!

The full details are below. Also, be sure visit our official contest page, where you can review submission requirements and rules in their entirety.  We look forward to reading your entries!

 

Prizes ($3,000 total): 

  • $1050 in $50 Daily Drawing Prizes (One Daily Drawing winner is selected at random from each day’s entries)
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Poem
    • $100 for Second Place Poem
    • $50 for Third Place Poem
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Fictional Creative Writing
    • $100 for Second Place Creative Writing
    • $50 for Third Place Creative Writing
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Image Gallery
    • $100 for Second Place Photo Gallery
    • $50 for Third Place Photo Gallery
  • Smashwords Prize
    • The opportunity to have a collection of the author’s work published as an ebook
    • Awarded to one of the three Grand Prize winners (chosen by HubPages staff judges)
    • Includes free formatting, a free ebook cover, free publishing, and free distribution as an ebook to major ebook retailers including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.

How to enter:

  1. Join HubPages
  2. Create an entry (keeping in mind the qualifying requirements and judging criteria) within the Poems and Poetry, Creative Writing, or Photo Galleries category.
  3. Add the tag: contest
  4. Publish your Hub!

Qualifying Requirements:

  • Contain a minimum of 500 words (if the entry is a photo gallery or poem, an explanation of the poem or description of the photos is required)
  • Be properly categorized within the fictional story, poem, or image gallery category on HubPages
  • Have at least one image, and all images must be legally used (see our Learning Center guide on legal image use)
  • Be published for the first time on that given contest day
  • Be entirely original to HubPages

Judging Criteria:
Each panel of judges will be evaluating the entries in its section based on…

  • The quality of writing or photos
  • The originality of writing or photos
  • The emotional/aesthetic impact of writing or photos
  • Good, attractive formatting

HubPages Judges:

Timing:

  • Entries may first be submitted Tuesday, November 1st at 12:00pm (PT)
  • The final deadline for entries is Tuesday, November 22nd at 12:00pm (PT)
  • Daily Drawing prize winners will be announced every weekday around 4:00pm (PT)
  • Smashwords, First, Second, and Third Place prizes will be announced Friday, December 2nd at 4:00pm (PT)

Update: eBay Earnings Directly Through HubPages

As you may have read in Paul Edmondson’s previous forum post on the topic, eBay is going to be available to many of you shortly. We have always cared deeply about the ability for Hubbers to earn and are looking forward to seeing how this enhanced earning privilege will allow Hubbers to earn more. We greatly appreciate the feedback you shared. The FAQ answers most of the questions that were asked in the initial thread, from reporting questions, to what happens if you already have an eBay Partner Network account. Many more Hubbers will now have access to the program which we think is a great opportunity for lots of you!

The process will be simple. Sign-up for the HubPages Earnings Program (if you have not done so already) and select the “eBay Program”. HubPages will process your program application with eBay and confirm once you are approved. Then you can add relevant eBay capsules to your Hubs. The program will track referrals from your Hubs that lead to transactions on eBay. You will accrue into your HubPages Earnings Program balance from this activity, based on the amount and quality of clicks from your Hubs .

You will hear from us next week to announce that the program is open.

Please note that we’ve renamed the HubPages Ad Program to accommodate the eBay Program and possibly other affiliate programs down the road. The overall mechanism by which you earn and are paid by HubPages is called the HubPages Earning Program. Under the HubPages Earning Program, there are 2 programs currently: the Ad Program (HubPages Ad Program), and the eBay Program. We broke it out this way so you can see your earnings by program.

Revenge of the Glowing Green Cats

What happens when electron-genetic-construct experiments go terribly, terribly wrong? Paradigmsearch explored this very potentiality in Revenge of the Glowing Green Cats, a short but highly amusing Hub.

It was pretty fun to record the podcast version of this short story.  Listen in if you’re on the go!

Big props to paradigmsearch for turning a somewhat newsy topic into a fun fictional vignette.

If there’s a short fictional story on HubPages that you think would do well in the Fascinating Fiction podcast, tell us about it! We’re always looking for new authors and stories to feature in this series.  Send your suggestions and feedback to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

Creative Halloween Costume Ideas

Who doesn’t like talking about Halloween costumes? With the spooky holiday rolling around, we could not help but take a podcast to share some of our favorite creative Halloween costume ideas. Hundreds of Hubs on HubPages offer tips on costumes, so we narrowed our focus to three guides written by staff members: one with costume ideas for groups, another with costume ideas for sisters, and another with trendy costume ideas.

For more great costume ideas, be sure to poke around HubPages.com (just type “Halloween costume” into the search bar and you’ll find hundreds of results). Here are some recently published Halloween costume Hubs that were made during a recent Weekly Topic Inspiration session:

They’re fabulous- and very creative indeed!

Have fun planning your costume! And don’t forget- if there is a Hub or topic that you think would be good for us to discuss in a future Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts podcast, tell us about it by sending an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

On Writing Well: An Interview with Melanie Gideon

Melanie Gideon, Author of The Slippery Year

Melanie Gideon’s A Slippery Year is one of my personal favorite memoirs. It also stayed on the New York Times’ top ten best-seller list for many weeks, and received rave reviews from NPR, NY Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker’s Book Bench, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Magazine, Elle, Kirkus, Booklist, BookPage and others.

I asked Melanie what advice she’d give aspiring writers on HubPages, and here are her answers. Thanks Melanie!

1. Expect rejection. A good rule of thumb is 33% of people will love your work, 33% will hate it (unfortunately these people tend to be the most vocal and always on the internet) and 34% won’t care.

2. Don’t give up. If an idea doesn’t work, toss it and dream up a new one.

3. Get feedback and get it early on. I like to work with an editor as I’m writing.

4. Ask yourself if you’re an outliner or a find-the-story-as-you-go-along kind of writer. I outline quite extensively. Many writers don’t, but outlining works for me, for both my non-fiction and fiction. The point is you either have to do the heavy structural lifting on the front end or the back. I like the security of having a roadmap.

5. When your book is published you must separate from it. It will have its own fate out there in the world, and most of that fate is out of your control: how people respond to it; what kinds of reviews you get, if you are reviewed at all, etc. The best advice I was given was imagine your book is a boat. Carry it to the shoreline, launch it, then wave goodbye. The worst thing you can is jump in the water and dog paddle after it. As tempting as it may be to do just that (because who knows if it will sink or swim, find a stiff wind, or founder in dead calm) you must. Your sanity depends on it.

6. One more. Stop Googling yourself. It can only lead to heartbreak.

 

All About Evergreen Content

What is evergreen content? Here’s a hint- it doesn’t actually have anything to do with trees.

Listen in to this Online Writing Insider podcast (All About Evergreen Content) as Robin Edmondson and Yours, Truly offer the lowdown on evergreen content.  We cover a simple explanation, examples of evergreen content- as well as examples of non-evergreen content- and also talk about various types of evergreen content.

After listening, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to create good evergreen content of your own. You’ll also have some helpful insights on how to write evergreen content that is more likely to succeed and gain more readership as weeks, months, and even years go by!

If there is an online writing issue or subject you would like to see us cover in a future podcast, tell us about it! Send your ideas, comments, and feedback in an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

Hub quality trends – working our way up

HubPages is an open publishing platform, meaning that we allow Hubs on a wide range of topics to be published. People new to the site can also enjoy the gratification of being able to share their Hubs with others and receive feedback almost immediately after publishing.

For the past few years, the HubPages staff (yep, all of us) has been rating a sampling of Hubs every month in order to get a sense of quality changes over time. Using a specially-designed admin-only Hopper that’s similar to the one available to Hubbers, we rate Hubs on a scale of 1-10 (from abysmal to mind-blowing; I’ve shared some of our internal guidelines at the bottom of this post). The Hubs are a mixture of old and new Hubs, to weed out any rating drift (i.e. any tendency to rate Hubs more critically or more generously over time). The rating systems gives us the opportunity to benchmark our efforts to raise the quality bar and see how Hubs and traffic respond.

The graph below is a trendline showing the ratings of Hubs that received traffic during the months on the x-axis, weights them with the traffic they receive, and averages them (i.e. rated Hubs with more traffic the month will influence the average more than those with less traffic during that month):

 

Quality was relatively high during the first two months, when HubPages was in private beta and only open to family and friends of the founders and a select group of first users. Quality then dipped when HubPages was open to the public, and when we got a lot of adult content and adult traffic. When we took down adult content in July 2007, it accounted for 10% of our Hubs but about a third of our traffic!

We also really didn’t begin to moderate until 2007, and didn’t have a scalable way of doing so until later in that year. A lot of Hubs that were lower in quality than we wanted were published, and got traffic, until we started enforcing higher standards. Standards have continued to rise, and traffic to higher-quality Hubs has also risen remarkably: the traffic-weighted average rating is almost double that of the trough in 2006-2007, and even 30% more than when we were in private beta.

Another interesting graph looks at the quality ratings of Hubs published by month of publication. The trendline in green shows the rating of Hubs that were ever published in the month on the x-axis; the blue trendline shows only the rating of Hubs that are still published. The difference is attributed to Hubs that were unpublished, primarily by our moderation team:

We can glean some interesting insights from this:

  • Average Hub quality has never been higher, even better than when HubPages was in private beta, limited to people we trusted.
  • The moderation team has really improved the quality of Hubs still published. Maddie Ruud came on as our first full-time moderator in early 2008, and has been “kicking ass and taking usernames” ever since. Norah Casey joined us in early 2010 with moderation experience from working at Justin.tv. She has recently been managing our team of moderators, which tripled in size as we enforced tougher standards this year in response to Panda.
  • The gap between what’s ever been published and what’s still published has narrowed, primarily due to the fact that increasingly sophisticated publishing technology can prevent publishing of some types of Hubs that don’t meet our standards. Our engineering team continues to work on things that prevent Hubs that don’t meet our minimum quality standards from even being published.

As HubPages recovers from Panda, this is the first time that we’ve seen a significant shift in traffic patterns towards higher-quality. August 2011 was the first month where the average weighted Hub rating for those rated Hubs receiving traffic was above 7. We think that in the future, effort, authenticity and quality will continue to be rewarded when it comes to useful, interesting content on HubPages.

———————–

Sample of ratings guidelines:

  • 3 – Mediocre article; cursory treatment of the topic or “low quality” topic (obviously commercial, etc.)
  • 5 – Average article, with stilted language, grammatically-poor or misspelled words; has potential, with a serious rewrite and/or edit by the author
  • 7 – Great article, although additional subject treatment and media could have been added to make it superb
  • 9 – A perfectly-written, comprehensive article, but could use more links or media (images, videos, maps, etc)