Five Common Mistakes Made by Online Writers: A Guest Post by WryLilt

A few weeks ago, WryLilt, one of our top Hubbers, made an incredibly generous gesture by opening up a Forum thread in which she would give a critique to anyone who asked for help with a Hub. Last week, she published a Hub guiding people through the most common mistakes she encountered when reviewing others’ work.

WryLilt kindly summarized some of the most common mistakes she covers in that guide in this guest post. Should you find her tips to be useful, be sure to read the entire Hub!

 

The Top Five Mistakes Made by Bloggers

 

I have plenty of my own projects now, but I love coming back to the HubPages community because it feels like home. Recently I started hanging out in the Forums again and saw a huge number of questions relating to why people were seeing issues with their traffic or earnings. Taking a look at many of these Hubbers’ Hubs, I saw some really obvious issues that could easily be fixed. I figured that it would be a lot easier to help all these Hubbers in one place, instead of going through all the Forum posts I kept finding, and then collate the information.

I started a Forum Discussion asking people to post if they wanted feedback on two things they could change to improve their Hubs. I was amazed at how many responses I got – and also by how many people were making the very same basic mistakes.

Five of the biggest mistakes I saw people making included:

  1. Titles – Both Hub titles and subtitles play important roles in getting Google traffic as well as helping people navigate your Hub. Make sure your title tells readers exactly what your Hub is about (leave out words you found in the thesaurus or “pretty titles”), and break your Hub up into subtopics so visitors can easily skim your content to find the information they want.
  2. Writing For Yourself – Sorry, but if you’re “writing for yourself” on the internet, you’re probably not going to make money. Unlike published writing, you don’t have editors to add red crosses throughout your content and cut out the purple prose, so you need to get it right to get the traffic. Online, you’re writing firstly for the reader and secondly for Google. Yes, that includes poems and stories – which may get you a following but are notoriously low earners if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can write on topics you love, but don’t fall too in love with your own voice!
  3. BOOOO-RING – Titles and content are just one step in creating an attractive and readable Hub. You need to keep the reader’s attention, especially if it’s a long Hub – having pictures, videos, and highlighted text boxes with interesting information will help keep your reader interested and scrolling. Don’t go off on tangents either – if your reader came to your Hub for information, give them that information instead of telling them about something else.
  4. Traffic Leak!!! – I’ve visited many Hubs where there are literally dozens of links. Links to other people’s Hubs, Wikipedia, random sites, even links to their own profile. I feel like I’m rolling my mouse through a minefield. If you do want to start throwing in some links, choose only a few so readers notice them – link to your own Hubs if possible, so you can redirect your reader to your own lower traffic Hubs in particular. If you really have to add links to other people’s Hubs or outside sites, add them at the very bottom of the Hub so people have to read all you have to say, first!
  5. Don’t Stress If You Don’t Get Traffic – Many new Hubbers see a dive in traffic and assume their work is done for. Wrong! It generally takes 6-9 months for quality content to start seeing regular search traffic, and with time that search traffic will begin to share your Hub with their own social circles, increasing your traffic even more. Stop stressing about traffic and go write more content (or do a Hub Challenge). By the time you’re done, you’ll have learnt a lot, and your first Hubs will either be seeing more traffic or you’ll go back and edit them when you realise how bad they really were (yes, I’ve been there!)

 

If you want to read more about everything from white spaces through to using teasers to grab readers, you can check out the full Hub I wrote on common new online writer mistakes.

Topics and the Importance of Proper Hub Categorization

With our ongoing Topic Expansion Initiative, new Topics are constantly being created to address specific niche subjects in overcrowded categories. With the creation of new Topics, it’s more important than ever that Hubs be correctly categorized. Here’s why:

Topic pages are visible to search engines and show up in search results just like individual featured Hubs. Basically, Topic pages are a second opportunity to boost your Hub traffic. By ensuring that your Hubs are published in the most appropriate Topic, you are:

  • Providing a user-friendly experience
  • Making your Hubs easier to find
  • Boosting engagement with your content
  • More accurately addressing the needs of niche searches
  • Ensuring that related Hubs that show up on that Hub are more likely to actually be related

What’s more, if you publish a Hub in a very specific leaf-level page that does not have many other Hubs, you will also have better odds of getting your Hub featured on the first ‘page’ of that Topic Page, which leads to more exposure and readers.

How can I categorize my Hubs as accurately as possible?

You can easily ensure that your Hubs are under the best possible Topic by taking a few moments to review the Hub Topic suggestions in the Hub Tool when you create a new Hub. If none of the Topic suggestions make sense, you can manually select the Topic you think is the better fit or run some searches using related keywords to see if the best-fitting Topic uses a different set of words than those used in your Hub’s title.

Why are the suggestions sometimes wrong?

Our Hub Topic suggestions are created using keywords, which means the suggestions are sometimes inaccurate (occasionally wildly so). For example, if I want to create a skateboarding Hub entitled “How to Do a San Francisco Flip,” our “Search” function for Topic suggestions has no way of knowing that “San Francisco Flip” is the title of a skateboarding move. None of the suggested Topics that show up involve skateboarding.

If I publish my Hub under the suggested Travel and Restaurant Topics, people searching for and viewing those Topic pages are unlikely to read my Hub, since they want to read about San Francisco restaurants and attractions, not skateboarding. But by taking a moment to manually categorize my Hub under the Skateboarding Topic or typing “skateboard” or “skateboarding” into the search box to look for better matches, I am ensuring that users who are looking for skateboarding Hubs will find mine easily:

Does categorization really matter that much?

Yes. You may have written the best carburetor installation Hub of all time, but if it’s categorized under Wire Wrap Jewelry, you’re losing all the readers who land on the Fuel System Topic page looking for Hubs just like yours. Don’t miss out on that audience!

Using Illustrations to Augment Your Hubs

We put a huge emphasis on using original (or at least super high quality and legally used and properly attributed) photos in your Hubs, and with good reason. We live in an age where some of the most successful online content is very visual. Attractive images encourage people to pin their sources on Pinterest or click through when they see alluring thumbnails on Facebook or Google+, hence those looking to build an audience should make a point of including as many alluring visuals in one’s work as possible.

While photos are a great option, they are by no means the only option. Many Hubbers also augment their Hubs with custom illustrations, and in many ways, these have an even more meaningful impact.

Original, author-created sketches, drawings, images, and graphics:

  • Stand out, as they are different from photos (which are still the most popular form of visual media on HubPages)
  • Show that the author was willing to go the extra mile to create a special graphic to support his or her content
  • More effectively illustrate complex situations or make it possible process statistics (via the use of diagrams, graphs, and charts)

As original illustrations can be so effective, we hope you’ll consider working more into your Hubs in the days and weeks to come. To help you do so effectively, we’ll be sharing tips and tricks on including custom made graphics throughout the month of October.

Tips on Making Your Hubs Attractive

Attractive Hubs are more likely to keep readers on the page, so why not work on making your Hubs as pretty as possible?

Here are some simple things you can do to spruce up your online publications:

Do your Hubs need a touch up?

  • Break your text into multiple Text Capsules: By separating your Hub into multiple sections, you can float more attractive images (and other useful capsules) to the right. Having your information organized under multiple sub-headers also makes it easier for readers to skip around your Hub, making it a more reader-friendly resource.
  • Break your text into bullets: Just as multiple Text Capsules help to distinguish and separate different themes in a Hub, making it easier to skip around and find exactly what one is looking for, bullets and lists within a Text Capsule make information even easier to access (and to be sure, access is a thing of beauty).
  • Keep text clean: Hubs that avoid over-use of ALL CAPS, italicization, bolding, and underlining, as well as Hubs that have text broken down into bite-sized paragraphs, are much easier for readers to approach.
  • Use original photos: Nothing beats original photos. Even if they’re taken with a camera phone, we recommend using images that you’ve taken or created yourself. They may not be the most beautiful shots in the world, they are the most relevant and authentic images you could include in a guide or recipe, and when it comes to online articles, relevant + authentic = GORGEOUS!
  • Avoid stock images: A couple years back, stock images (known for having white backgrounds and being somewhat staged) were seen as a sign of professional polish. Today, they have more of a negative connotation and are associated with advertisements and low-quality websites. We recommend going with your own images or something with a more ‘authentic’ feel.
  • Use high-resolution images: Pixelated images go against our publishing standards and should never be included in a Hub, but we encourage you to go above and beyond by including high quality, high resolution images in your Hubs. When you add these lovely images, be sure to check the “View original size on click?” box in the Photo Capsule so that visitors may view these images in their entirety.

Making Hubs look good is quite easy- it’s all a matter of developing some good habits. Next time you draft a Hub, just make point of presenting simple, straightforward text and using original, genuine, high-quality images.

Image by Hamner_Fotos, CC-BY, via Flickr