A Hubber’s Guide to Facebook

Last week we published a new Learning Center guide sharing tips on using Twitter in a way that can benefit one’s Hubs and general online brand. This week, our focus turns to Facebook.

This second installment in a series of four guides to using social media as Hubber (which cover Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest) touches on:

  • Using the “Like” button on Hubs
  • Finding a good balance of posts and shared links so that your shares actually show up in people’s feeds
  • Monitoring the response to things you share to see what sort of content your friends are interested in
  • Boosting interaction with others to increase engagement with your own posts
  • Utilizing lists to share niche-style posts with specific groups
  • Friending other Hubbers on Facebook
  • Whether or not to create a Facebook page for your Hubs
  • Interacting with HubPages’ Facebook page and posts

Be sure to stop by the full Learning Center entry to explore all of these topics in detail!

We hope you find our advice to be useful, and that you take some time to sharpen your Facebook sharing and diplomacy skills! Savvy behavior on Facebook reflects well upon all facets of your online identity, both on HubPages and elsewhere.

[Image by Sean MacEntee, CC-BY, via flickr]

 

How to Regularly Publish When You’re Crazy Busy

Chances are you’re incredibly busy. So are we! That said, just because we have a lot of responsibilities does not mean that we have to sideline our writing careers. There are plenty of ways in which one can regularly publish online articles while still managing a rigorous work and home life. In this week’s podcast (Creating Hubs while Crazy Busy), we outline three ways in which this can be easily done:

  1. Make use of your old work by converting essays and research papers into rich online articles: We outlined this process in last week’s podcast. It’s quite easy, and is a great way to make the most of great work you’ve already done!
  2. As you explain something to a friend, colleague, or family member, record your explanation for use in a Hub: You can do this by copying the text that you wrote in a letter or email, or turning on a dictation app when you’re explaining something to a friend verbally. Doing so kills two birds with one stone, and also makes it easier for your friend to find your advice should they forget it! Besides, if your tips are useful for one person, they’re more than likely useful to many people, which means that Hubs you create in this manner may get a decent amount of search traffic.
  3. Write your articles while you wait: Make the most of your commute, time spent queueing, and hours wiled away in waiting rooms and airport lounges by pulling out a notebook, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and writing drafts for Hubs. You’ll be staving off boredom AND getting in some much-anticipated writing.

 

Here’s one more bonus tip in regard to getting great videos and images for your Hubs: ask friends and family members to do the photography and videography for you! If you’re making dinner for your family, ask one of your kids to film you in the kitchen. If you’re teaching your child how to ride a bike, ask a neighbor to snap a photo for you. Usually, people appreciate being involved in your writing process, and as an added bonus, they may be more likely to share your article once it’s published because they have a stake in its success.

On a somewhat unrelated note, we have decided to put the Online Writing Insider podcast on hiatus. We have had a blast creating these podcasts, but we’re running out of online writing issues to cover. What would you like us to focus on in future blog posts? Let us know in the comments below!

Giving a New Life to Old Papers, Articles, and Reports

While most of the Hubs people publish are shiny and new, we still encourage you to draw on older bodies of work when creating online articles. Many of us are sitting on a sizable body of old newsletters, guides, articles, essays, and college research papers that are filled with useful information. Why not give these dinosaurs a new lease on life by updating them and publishing them in Hub form? In this week’s podcast (Converting Papers to Hubs), we offer tips on doing just that.

Here is the basic process we recommend:

  1. Go through your computer’s archive and find old research, newsletters, letters, and college papers that you think contain information that people might find to be interesting and useful.
  2. Edit your papers to make sure that the information they share is up to date.
  3. Create search-friendly titles for these compositions (something that reflects what people would type into Google when conducting searches on the subject).
  4. Break the papers into multiple sub-sections with descriptive, search-friendly subheaders (to make it easy for readers to skip around and find exactly what they’re looking for)
  5. Add images, videos, tables, maps, polls, quizzes, and more to convert what was once a simple paper into a rich, multimedia online resource

By doing these things, you are:

  • Sharing useful information
  • Making the most of work that you’ve already done
  • Giving yourself an excuse to review your old work
  • Making it easier to find, share, and reference your old work
  • Giving yourself the opportunity to get more credit from your old wrok
  • Giving yourself the opportunity to earn money from your old work

As you can see, the process of converting your old work into great online articles is quite simple, and there are quite a few benefits! We hope we’ve inspired you to dig through your own personal archives and pull out a few jewels.

Creative Hubbing: What to Expect

This week’s Online Writing Insider is inspired by Anish Patel, who sent in the following question:

What does HubPages think about fictional Hubs or other creative Hubs? (spoofs, funny hubs, short stories, poetry, comic strips etc.) Is it a good idea?

Of course publishing creative writing and art on HubPages is a great idea! We hosted the HubPatron of the Arts Contest last November just to highlight these types of Hubs, and we absolutely love the fiction, photos, art, and poetry people regularly share in our community.

That said, publishing creative content on HubPages is a very different experience from publishing informative Hubs. We cover these differences in this week’s podcast (The Gist of Creative Writing Online), though the gist is this:

  • HubPages is a great place to develop your skills and get feedback on your work
  • HubPages is a wonderful place to showcase your work and host an online portfolio
  • HubPages is a splendid place to build a following

BUT…

  • Creative Hubs don’t typically earn significant ad revenue
  • Creative Hubs won’t be found on their own- you have to share them and promote them if you want them to be read

With reasonable expectations, we think any creative type could have a blast on HubPages- plus make a bunch of meaningful connections! Thanks for the great question, Anish. 😀

How to Create a Deliciously Good Online Recipe

Recipes are extremely popular on HubPages and the new Special Layout Options we offer can make these mouthwatering guides better than ever! As you give the new Recipe Capsules a try, we would like to share some best practices with you when it comes to crafting and sharing online recipes. Listen in to this week’s podcast (How to Write Great Recipes) for our expert advice on creating successful recipe Hubs.

Our top tips:

  • Only make a Recipe Hub if you have made that particular dish. The more you can convey the fact that you’ve actually made a dish, the better.
  • Make your instructions as original and detailed as possible. It is very difficult to defend the copyright of things like ingredients lists, however you can easily defend original, detailed instructions.
  • When you prepare a dish at home, photograph it! Original photos make a big difference, and it is much easier to get them before you start your Recipe Hub.
  • When taking photos for recipe Hubs, opt for natural light, avoid flash, and take photos of the preparation process as well as the finished dish.
  • Make sure that the first photo you display in a recipe Hub shows the finished dish.
  • When using the Recipe Capsules on HubPages, be sure to use the Ratings Capsule (set to a Recipe Rating). That part is mandatory if you want your Hub to enjoy special treatment in search engine results.
  • If you are writing a complicated recipe, use the Recipe Capsules to summarize ingredients and basic instructions at the top of your Hub, then go into detail below using Text Capsules (Special Layout Options capsules are best for short summaries).
  • Only use the Nutrition Capsule on HubPages if you can create an accurate calculation.

To learn more about using our dedicated tools for recipe Hubs, check out our Learning Center guides on Special Layout Options, the Recipe Capsules, and writing successful recipe Hubs. If you’re interested in writing recipe Hubs with a more social, kid-friendly skew to them, you might be interested in Kids Cook Monday. To join in on the fun, have a look at Maddie’s blog post with guidelines on participation.

Is there another specific type of other online article that you would like some tips on writing? Tell us about it! Send questions, suggestions, and comments to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.

How to Write Successful Online Reviews

Online Writing InsiderBecause we offer a special new capsule in the HubTool that augments reviews on HubPages with star ratings (which can feature either an author’s rating or readers’ ratings), you may be thinking about publishing some review Hubs. Before you proceed, keep in mind that it is not necessarily easy for online reviews to succeed. Reviews are a very competitive type of online content. Many sites have established clear dominance over specific review types and it can be very difficult to outrank these established experts. That said, there are quite a few simple things you can do to work around these barriers and create better, smarter, more successful resources. In this week’s Online Writing Insider (How to Write a Successful Online Review), we share some tips on doing just that. We hope you find them to be helpful!

General Review Tips:

  • Write reviews on products, places, and services that are not already extensively reviewed online.
  • Only write reviews on products, places, and services that you have experienced firsthand- be genuine!
  • Make sure the words you use in your review reflect the words people would search for when looking for information on this product, place, or service.
  • Make it on a collection of things and write a more thorough review on the best product.
  • Write the review from the perspective of an audience that is potentially interested (e.g. mothers, students, whoever you are).
  • Do competitive research before: see what reviews already exist.

Product Review Tips:

  • Include as many original photos as possible.
  • Add a specific slant to your review (e.g. Can the X Phone Survive a Mother of 3? An Honest Review).

Place Review Tip:

  • Instead of making your review just about a place (high competition) address the type of place (e.g. dog friendly restaurants).

Service Review Tip:

  • Make your review for the service as specific as possible – if it is part of a chain, be sure to specify which local area in you received this service.

Are there any other article types you would like some tips on writing? Tell us about them! Send us suggestions, questions, and feedback in an email to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com. We hope to hear from you!

Why do Microformats Matter?

Microformats are, simply put, open data formats built upon widely accepted standards. Microformats are somewhat like MLA bibliographies in that MLA-style bibliographies share different specific pieces of information (such as citations to movies, books, radio shows, talks, etc.), while following a common, standardized format.

In the case of microformats, the common standards involve specific tags that are added to particular types of information, such as thumbnails in videos, star ratings in reviews, ingredients, instructions, nutrition, and cook time information in recipes, dates and times in calendar events, and names and employers resumes. These tags make it easier for search engines to recognize and present (not to mention filter) this format-specific information.

Online videos, recipes, reviews, and other articles and posts that incorporate microformat tags enjoy several benefits, especially when it comes to the attractiveness of your work in search results. Listen in to this week’s podcast (Why Microformats Matter) to learn more about these perks.

We hope this podcast gets you excited about microformats, and that you take advantage of the easy-to-use special layout options we’ll soon be offering that make it easy to add review and recipe microformat tags to recipe and review Hubs!

Is there another online-related vocabulary word or standard that you’re unfamiliar with? Tell us about it in an email to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com! We may very well discuss it in a future podcast.

An Interview with Marcy Goodfleisch

Many Hubbers come to HubPages at the very beginning of their writing careers, using the publising platform as a place to experiment, and leveraging our supportive community as a sounding board.

Marcy Goodfleisch, on the other hand, has come to HubPages after working as a professional writer for years! She brings a unique perspective to our community that many Hubbers can learn from.

In the following interview, Marcy Goodfleisch shares some of the fascinating insights she has gained from being a long time professional writer, as well as some resources she has created for Hubbers and other amateur writers seeking to develop writing careers. Enjoy!

In addition to being a professional writer, you’re a mother of two, have worked as a Communications Consultant, and have held several senior management positions at places like the State Bar of Texas and the University of Texas at Austin, plus you enjoy travel, music, and volunteering. You’ve only been on HubPages for around two months, and already you’ve published 51 Hubs. What’s the secret to your amazing productivity?

The more you write, the faster you become at putting facts, thoughts, quotes and other things into words. I had several demanding writing positions (the newspaper and TxDOT, for example) that required productivity and the ability to meet short deadlines. It was excellent training, and I am thankful for that experience. Eventually, you can predict exactly how long it will take you to write a given piece, which helps in budgeting your time for family and other activities.

Many of our Hubbers hope to someday have their work published in magazines or books. As someone who has had over 600 articles published in newspapers and magazines, what advice can you give to those looking to get started?

It would be great to see every writer on HubPages realize their highest dreams! Because fellow Hubbers asked about this early on, I wrote several hubs about it. Here are a few that answer this question:

What first sparked your interest in writing?

Writing was important to me even as a child; I used to weave fiction stories for my younger brothers and for friends. Later I wrote for my college paper, which helped me become a fast keyboarder. Eventually, I knew I wanted a career in writing. I brazenly contacted the local paper one day, and it turned out they were actually looking for someone to write a small column.  Writing has been the backbone of my career ever since.

You share on your profile that you have been writing for over 30 years. Has your writing style changed much over that time?

Oh, gosh – I certainly hope my skills have improved over the years!  Most new writers need to learn to take themselves out of their writing and focus on the topic. That lesson greatly helped write with a viewpoint or a position without resorting to words such as  “I got upset about . . .” or  “It makes me mad that . . .”  However, when you write an editorial (by nature, an opinion piece), you can get blasted for it.  Many readers took a Hub I wrote about Rush Limbaugh personally, and some comments were fairly biting.

Many Hubbers struggle when considering writing as a purely fun pastime versus a source of income. As a professional writer, would you say it’s possible to walk the line?

Yes, but writers need to distinguish between practicing their craft as a business and writing for pleasure or as an artistic outlet.  When writing commercially, give the editor  of the publication what they want, which is a literate, well-written piece about a specific topic, often of a specific length. If you pay a landscaper to plant a few trees, you don’t expect to get roses just because the landscaper thinks those are prettier. Sometimes, writers are lucky enough to get paid for writing that is also a fun pastime  – HubPages somewhat offers that opportunity, if the ‘for fun’ writing also follows site guidelines. Otherwise, writing is like any other job; it’s work, but it can also be fulfilling and enjoyable.

On HubPages, you cover all sorts of topics- from advice on selecting digital cameras to tips on fighting germs during flu season and an exploration of the meanings associated with various flowers. What inspires all this varied coverage? How do you decide what to write about?

For years, I had to write about a wide variety of subjects (cat shows, zoning laws, belly dancers, bridge design, legal issues – you name it). That helped me see stories in just about anything, and to notice unique and interesting things in every situation.  I’ve actually written a Hub on finding inspiration in everything around you.

What inspired you to join HubPages? What are your future HubPages plans?

For the past few years, I’ve wanted to write about topics that appeal to me rather than whatever editors currently need. I also wanted to begin writing online as well as in other venues.  I saw an ad about HubPages in my local paper, and immediately signed up. I’m very glad I did; this site has allowed me to accomplish both goals and to meet other writers, whom I already consider good friends.  My goal is to build a solid inventory of hubs, and of course to make HubPages a significant player in my income stream.

How to Choose Topics to Write About

Online Writing InsiderWe often hear from Hubbers that the hardest aspect of online writing is finding topics to write about. When in doubt, we recommend writing on…

  • Your areas of expertise (specifically skills, hobbies, and activities in which there is significant interest online)
  • Day-to-day tasks and activities in your life (such as fixing healthy meals for teens, improving your swimming skills, and learning how to housetrain new pets)
  • A subject of which you have many photos and images (chances are you already have great photos- why not create Hubs that put them to good use?)
  • A subject on which you have already done research (for example, a major purchase you made, the subject of a recent college paper, or the focus of a lot of inquisitive Googling)
  • A subject that you have searched for online that is not well-addressed by existing online articles

For a more detailed explanation of these areas, listen in to this week’s podcast (Choosing Topics to Write About). Here’s hoping your writer’s block is short and fleeting.

Is there some other online writing issue that is keeping you from happily writing new Hubs? Tell us about it! Email questions, comments, and suggestions for future podcasts to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.

How to Ask Good Questions

Because you now have the opportunity to earn ad revenue from Questions you ask on HubPages, you might be wondering what sorts of Questions are most likely to find success (and make money) over time.

After all, some online questions see a lot of traffic and evolve into very useful resources while others flounder in obscurity. What differentiates good questions from bad ones?

As it happens, just a few small details separate the majority of great and dismal Questions (on HubPages and elsewhere online). To make sure the Questions you ask fall into the former category, we recommend:

  • Asking Questions in complete, grammatically correct sentences (that begin with capital letters end end with question marks)
  • Avoiding discussion Questions
  • Avoiding personal Questions
  • Avoiding Questions that can be answered with one word or sentence
  • Asking specific Questions
  • Asking information-based Questions
  • Asking Questions for which there are not good answers online (if you Google something and don’t find a sufficient article or website addressing your query, this is a great time to ask a Question!)

For more details on these points, listen in to this week’s Online Writing Insider (Asking Good Questions). We hope you find our question-asking advice to be helpful. If there are any other details of the online writing world that you’d like us to cover, tell us about them! Email your comments, requests, and questions to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.