We’re Adding a Fresh Twist to Weekly Topic Inspiration!

As you may have read in an earlier blog post, the lovely Christy Kirwan is expanding our Topic Page ecosystem, adding fun new Topics every day.

To raise awareness about the cool opportunities these new Topic Pages provide (they’re not nearly as crowded as older Topics, in which your chances of being Featured on the first page are pretty low) and to encourage people to publish Hubs on niche subjects (that are not already extensively covered online), we are shifting our focus of the Weekly Topic Inspiration program so that each week’s theme revolves around one of Christy’s newly-created Topics.

Aside from the weekly release date moving to Tuesdays (it has historically been on Mondays) and removing suggested titles from the forum threads (they were seldom used and it’s best to practice creating your own high-potential titles), nothing has changed.

For more information on participating in the Weekly Topic Inspiration challenge each week, stop by our Official Learning Center guide on the program and consider joining in on this week’s new challenge (with a super fun focus on beards, mustaches, and facial hair)!

Topic Pages, HubNuggets, About Us, and Forum Styling Get a Makeover

After redesigning the Hub and Profile pages, the hard working team at HubPages Headquarters has turned their focus to Topics and special programs, hence today we are excited to roll out new designs for Topic Pages and HubNuggets Program, as well as an updated About page and some improved Forum styling.

Topic Pages

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 11.06.52 AMTopic pages have been given a sleek fresh styling by Derek Gulbranson that has been expertly implemented by Edward Zhang. Though most of the elements present on the pages remain the same, the page now has a greater emphasis on images, as well as a more tangible feel (see, for example, the shading that makes these pages look like open books).

As Gulbranson puts it, “I wanted to bring richer browse experience for articles, full titles and descriptions and larger photos, more of a magazine feel. Less focus on the navigation and topic hierarchy and more of a place to explore and find something you’re interested in. We also wanted to highlight the community more and give the sense that stuff is happening here.”

In short, our main objectives with this update were to:

  1. Create a great browsing experience for Hubbers and casual visitors alike
  2. Better showcase our community and make it easier to both discover great content and connect with the authors who created it
  3. Create pages that are better designed to drive traffic from search engines to your Hubs

HubNuggets: Now Rising Stars

Because HubNuggets voting takes place on Topic Pages, we took the Topic Page redesign as an opportunity to update the HubNuggets program as well so that it can be easier to interact with and more clear to those who are not yet familiar with the more esoteric ins and outs of the high power HubPages community.

This design update includes a new voting interface on Topic Pages (also designed by the Venerable Gulbranson), as well as some logistical changes (voting will no longer also take place in a roundup Hub).

Finally, to make the program more clear, we are changing its name from HubNuggets (which, while meant to evoke the sense of discovering nuggets of gold on HubPages, often evoked mental images of chicken nuggets) to the Rising Star program. Hence “HubNuggets Wannabes” will henceforth be known as “Rising Star Candidates” and HubNuggets winners will be known as Rising Stars. You can learn more about the new program in the Learning Center.

About Page & Forum Styling

In addition to significant stylistic changes with Topic Pages and the HubNuggets Program, you’ll also see that our About page now offers more of an explanation of what HubPages actually is (before, it focused primarily on staff bios) and also has a much more visually-oriented presentation.

Derek has also applied some more polished styling to forum posts by giving them a gradient and a drop shadow as well as making them a bit easier to expand and collapse.

 

We hope you’re pleased with these changes! Let us know what you think. ūüôā

An Autos Expert Turns Over a New Professional Leaf on HubPages

Three months ago, the Autos Topic on HubPages began to see a surge of fantastic guides and articles. Behind each Hub was the same man: Mkjearn.

Over the next days and weeks, Mkjearn wowed the HubPages community with his swift success (he is both a HubNugget and Hub of the Day winner) and enthusiastic involvement in special programs such as Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Who is this passionate car expert and what brought him here? In the following interview, you will discover that this Hubber discovered HubPages after contending with a series of career setbacks- and turned over an exciting new leaf!

How did you first discover HubPages?

I was made redundant like so many others in recent times and was unable to regain employment, even after 300+ applications and many of these were for overseas positions. I had been self-employed before, with my own garage but had no funds for another start up, so I decided to look online for opportunities.

I should perhaps say that I have spent the last six or so years online buying parts for my cars and motorcycles from all over the world, mainly through Ebay, so I was aware that there were online businesses in my particular field. That said, I certainly didn’t think at that time that I could earn money writing, nor did I think I could write. The jury is still out on this I think, but I am very encouraged by the comments I’ve had already and firmly believe that in time I could become a writer.

I “stumbled upon”, (my apologies, it’s very hard to ignore this phrase when it’s the truth) freelance writing sites and sites that paid for articles and thought, well I have a lot of particular knowledge but can I actually explain what I know in print and in a way that others would understand and enjoy?

After many days and weeks of reading reviews on this topic and so many out bursts of “oh you have got to be joking,” mainly with regard to being paid, I found HubPages, and oh, what a good day that was.

So, as perhaps with many others here, I found HubPages by chance and my overall positive outlook on life has been restored and the pressures of being unemployed and lacking basic finances have all but slipped into the background.

What inspired you to join?

As with everything I contemplate becoming a part of, I do research, more research, and then even more research. I have been doing this all my life and believe it has stood me in very good stead.

In this particular case as I had never written anything before I was looking for a site that would welcome wannabe or complete novice writers. This is an industry that I know precious little about and the terminology was and still is a whole new language. I like to learn the rules and protocols of all new things I try for two main reasons. I want to become good at whatever it is I try and I especially do not wish to disrespect those experienced in whatever field it is through my lack of knowledge or mistakes.

Having read many impressive independent reviews of HubPages in which it is regarded as the best online article writing site and community, along with the fact that “Mr. Google” loves and respects it highly, only a fool would go elsewhere to begin their writing career, in my humble opinion of course.

From early on in your HubPages career, you’ve been involved with the community and special programs like Weekly Topic Inspiration. What tips on getting engaged can you offer to other new Hubbers?

HubPages is not only the best writing site on the internet, it is a world wide happy family or amazingly friendly community. If you genuinely get involved and show that you are trying, other Hubbers will bend over backwards to help you. Be polite, sincere and respectful as you would as a newbie in any situation. Ask good questions, give good answers, leave meaningful comments, follow Hubbers you are genuinely interested in, and always leave Fan Mail.

As a newbie I roamed around, hopped Hubs, read many other Hubs, perused Questions and Answers, popped into the Forums and then, what a find, what a godsend, what an absolutely amazing tool, I found The Learning Center.

The Learning Center, a one stop shop for everything any wannabe writer or serious Hubber wants to or should know. In life I am like a dog with a bone when I get the bit between my teeth to learn something new. In most cases I am relentless and stay with something until I am very good at it. My partner says that I am the most stubborn so-and-so. She uses many different endings and most are probably true. I prefer to think I am determined, driven, resilient, and resolute. That said I’m sure my partner is right; I’m just a stubborn little man.

This bit is true and many might say “You’re mad” but I spent 3 days reading every entry in the Learning Center, making notes and rereading several topics before I published my first Hub. Like any apprentice you have to serve your time and I can’t recommend the Learning Center enough. I get very frustrated when other new Hubbers ask the most basic questions that are comprehensively answered in the Learning Centre, so I can only assume that this must really irk those HubPages staff who spent so much time and effort in producing this essential fabulous feature and I sympathise greatly.

So my inspiration to join HubPages came from many respected independent reviews, HubPages’ easy navigation and features, and most importantly HubPages’ sincere invitation and assistance to become a great online writer. The Learning Center is the most amazing teacher and free invaluable source of all you need to know to become an online writer.

Put simply and sincerely, HubPages rocks.

Most of your Hubs are about cars and car maintenance. How did you become such an expert?

I was born and raised in Belfast Northern Ireland about 5 years before the troubles or war started. From no age I was taking things apart in the home, the kettle, the toaster, the vacuum etc. I was the type of kid who didn’t try to put the square peg in the round hole. Oh no, I was the type of kid who reshaped the square peg to make it fit the round hole, problem solved. I moved on to petrol gardening tools and motorbikes. I worked on anything for anybody just to get knowledge and experience. I then went to training centres and learned machining and welding techniques.

Some time after this I decided I wanted to become a fully qualified mechanic. Employment opportunities for Catholics at that time were difficult to say the least, so I took a work experience position in a Saab Dealership, six days per week for 9.00 pounds per week. Things were tough and there was no money to speak of, but I was happy, as I was were I wanted to be. I didn’t get day release to college for study so I did that at night. I worked at night anywhere I could and anywhere that was relatively safe and on weekends I worked in boat yards. When I felt I was ready I attended and passed the practical mechanical skills tests having previously passed the theory tests.

Having passed both of these I was issued my Official National Craftsman Certificate and was now a fully qualified vehicle mechanic. Within six months I was contacted at work by the Official Motor Industry Department for the United Kingdom and Ireland. During this call I was told that I had obtained the highest results in both countries for the Mechanics Exams and that a special award was on its way. That was incredibly unexpected and naturally I had a very big head for a very long time!

In some respects I was lucky that I got to work on so many different vehicles and this experience and knowledge has stood me in very good stead. I arrived at work one morning to find that the garage had been petrol bombed during the night as suddenly I was out of a job. I sold a car that I had bought cheap and repaired and used the money to rent a small premises. Within a month I had opened my own garage and was earning my own money. I was extremely happy for a while until one morning I was visited by some large unsavoury characters who said that it was in my best interests to contribute to the Prisoners wives, widows and orphans fund. I took some persuading and thumps and so it was settled. Along with this came an unofficial employee or watcher and unpaid, ask no questions, car work.

This went on for several years until one day I closed shop and left Northern Ireland. I have no desire to go back but I am grateful that I became a damn good mechanic and I’m very proud of that.

Which of your Hubs are most popular?

My Hubs that seem most popular are: What is a Beach Buggya Kit Car– and a Trike. These are mainly fun quirky vehicles and not that practical for everyday use, but are something to wish to have or can serve as a hobby to take up when the funds are there. General car care and maintenance also seems to be popular, which is very good as I feel that I am helping people learn and care for their vehicles and maybe reduce unexpected breakdowns.

Do you think they address a common car issue many people have?

These vehicles are for the enthusiasts and home mechanics mainly. Many owners are members of car and bike clubs and love to show their vehicles at various public events. These vehicles capture most people’s imagination as they tend to be very different and not available in any showroom. The truth is a lot are very affordable and not very difficult to build as they come in kit form much like flat pack furniture.

A lot of people seem to be genuinely interested in general car care and maintenance. I feel that in this area alone I can really help people and offer valued information.

What can we learn from that?

A lot of people would like to know how to care for their vehicles better so as to avoid large garage bills and also to get a good price when it comes time to change.

With regard to Kit Cars, I think these vehicles fall into that life bracket of “I want” before our sensible practical heads take over. Perhaps maybe 1 in 100 will actually build or buy one or know someone who has one. At first glance most will want one and enquire about price and on hearing it the cogs will start to whirl and whizz and for hours maybe days it will hold a genuine interest but then the reality of daily life kicks in and the thought will be lost until the next car or bike show. This is so normal for many things in life. Some like art, some antiques, some markets and some of us cause conversations to stop and people to yawn when we say our interests are cars and bikes.

You’re very good at including original images in your work. What tips can you provide to Hubbers looking to improve on that front?

I’m not sure that it’s a case of being very good with images as apposed to luck. From an early age I was taking before and after photos of my work never thinking that I’d one day be publishing them on the internet. When digital cameras came on the scene I was in my element as I bought many car and bike parts from all over the world and it was so easy to send images to ensure like for like parts.

First piece of advice that I can offer to other Hubbers is to search their photo albums and consider scanning them into their pics folders. You never know when an early photo of yourself is exactly what you will want for a particular hub. If they don’t yet have a digital camera then they really must acquire one as it is an essential tool for online writing. One of the other tricks I would suggest is to get into the habit of carrying it with you at all times. After all most are about the same size as a mobile phone. Once the habit of carrying a camera is mastered the next step is to master the habit of taking pics. To start just take pics of anything every time you go out and as time passes you will get better at taking shots you want or think that you will use in future Hubs.

I mentioned at the start that for me it was a case of luck and in the image department this is so true since all of my work is right in front of me and the camera has its own place in the top drawer of the tool box. I can appreciate the difficulties for others when their Hub is on a topic that is not in front of them.

What do you plan on Hubbing about in the future?

Oh I think I’ll start to Hub on my other interests, knitting, washing and ironing. Oh yes I do. Well, I have to, as I live alone, though that’s not entirely true as Coco the black Labrador who adopted me about 3 weeks ago is now a permanent feature. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t iron, though.

No seriously, I’m pretty sure it’ll be cars and bikes for a while and then probably boats after which I think I’ll move onto building. I think by then it will be time to retire or start Hubs on my other jobs some of which were rebuilding jet engines, green keeper, and making micro processors in a very large clean room for a very large American chip manufacturer.

What are your more general HubPages and online writing ambitions?

Lets see, general HubPages ambitions. Being modest, I would like to hit 1 million views in my first year. Achieve every possible accolade. Smash as many HubPages records as possible. Be the go to car and bike guru on HubPages, after which I’ll be the car and bike guru for Mr. Google Become such a valuable HubPages community member that HubPages offers me a real job.

I would also like my own ludicrously successful car and bike website second only to Top Gear, although if Top Gear were to offer me a job, I’d give up on this idea.

As you’ve probably guessed I’m a modest little man with modest little ambitions or I’ve just got a great sense of humour or I’ve forgotten to take my medication again!

Are there any particular messages that you would like to bring across with your work?

On a serious note, I would like to help people with their transport needs. Whether it’s choosing the right vehicle or getting the right advice on maintenance. For too long the Motor Trade has had a bad rep which is self inflicted and I have no sympathy for the dealerships. Most people fear going to a garage and this shouldn’t be the case. There are honest, genuine mechanics in the world who take pride in their work and their trade.

Regular maintenance plays such a huge part and helps to avoid those situations were the transport breaks down and the owner is under pressure to have it fixed and is therefore vulnerable to being ripped off.

Introducing the HubPages Apprenticeship Program

Many Hubbers have trouble making the jump from online obscurity to significant earnings and a strong online presence. We are happy to announce the public release of a special program that can help you bridge that gap. The HubPages Apprenticeship Program is a rigorous six month course in which Hubbers are taught basic and more advanced aspects of Hubbing, online writing, and building a strong, multi-platform, online brand and portfolio.

In addition to working closely within a team of 30 peers, getting access to exclusive online lessons, and receiving personalized feedback from HubPages staff, Apprentices are given a bonus of over six dollars for every Hub they publish while participating in the program. This bonus is, of course, just an up-front perk given in addition to the long-term ad revenue Apprentices will earn from each Hub, so we’re¬†essentially¬†paying Hubbers to learn and thrive online.

Apprenticeship Lessons

Apprenticeship lessons cover subjects ranging from basic keyword research and SEO to making money, working photos and video into your work, analyzing your traffic, getting established on multiple social networks, and developing a following.

The lessons come in the form of written guides, video tutorials, and mp3s that you can download and listen to on the go. We also hold semi-regular Hangouts on Google+ in which Apprentices can speak to a live Mentor (a HubPages staffmember leading the program) face-to-face.

Program Requirements

HubPages Apprentices enjoy quite a few privileges, but are also expected to adhere to strict standards. Each Apprentice is expected to publish a minimum of eight Hubs per month and those Hubs must be entirely original to HubPages, contain at least one image, only use legally used¬†images, be at least 500 words long, and include any additional requirements that might pertain to a particular month’s focus. Apprentices who fail to meet minimum requirements are kicked out of the program.

Applying for the Program

Everyone is welcome to apply for the Apprenticeship Program. You can do so by visiting the Apprenticeship  section of My Account.  Before applying, make sure that you have some quick links to any online writing samples that might exist off of HubPages, as well as a list of subject areas you would like to cover in future Hubs.

Keep in mind that each month we can only accept 30 new entrants into the Apprenticeship Program. Preference will be given to the applicants who show the most promise (specifically, a demonstrated ability to regularly publish high quality online articles, a willingness to learn, and an eagerness to provide team feedback and develop new skills). Only Hubbers with at least one published Hub, a Google AdSense account, and enrollment in the HubPages Earnings Program can be accepted into the program.

Testimonials

The Apprenticeship Program has already been running for one month, which means that one team has just finished their first month of the program and another team has just begun. Are you curious to know who has been participating? A couple Apprentices from the first month of the program have this to say about their first month in the program:

My first month in the Apprenticeship Program was not only a ton of fun, but it improved my writing in so many ways!

Shanna11

The HubPages Apprenticeship has sharpened my online writing acumen. It has taught me that good writing is only the threshold in the online writing process. There are search engine fundamentals that must also be applied to generate traffic and make money. The Apprenticeship is invaluable in helping the serious student learn to make writing both enjoyable and lucrative.

ithabise

Since joining the Apprenticeship Program, I discovered that there are niche categories in which my writing and expertise excel. The quality of my writing has improved tremendously and my Hub traffic has increased. In my first month in the program, my page views increased by more than 29% and the number of comments in my Hubs increased by more than 46%.

Daisy Mariposa

My experience in the Apprenticeship Program has been beyond words. I have learned so much about what makes a Hub successful, met a wonderful group of writers, and was in constant awe over the helpfulness and support of the HubPages staff. In the last month alone, I have seen a major increase in both page views and earnings so that to me is proof that this program works!
I will forever be grateful to the staff for allowing me to be a part of this program and want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Alissa Roberts

Only one month in and my perspective on writing has already changed dramatically. Google’s perspective on my writing has also changed dramatically. ūüėČ

mattforte

The Apprenticeship Program has been an incredible journey filled with lessons, videos and mentorship. I have learned an enormous amount of valuable information in the one short month of my participation. The mentor team and my colleagues have been instrumental in my growth and development as a successful online writer. I look forward to building my skills and brand as I continue to learn and evolve with the Apprenticeship Program. I strongly recommend it to any HubPages writer that has the opportunity to participate in this challenging, but rewarding experience.

MissOlive

When I was invited to participate in the apprentice program, I knew that this was a fantastic opportunity for me. Even though I enjoy writing and have definitely improved my craft since joining HubPages a little over a year ago, I am definitely keyword and SEO challenged. I knew that this would be a chance to learn more about these skills that have continued to elude me. With one month down in the program, not only have I already learned so much about creating an effective Hub, but I have learned a great deal about how to create great titles and subtitles to generate search engine traffic. I have started to go back and apply these new skills to old Hubs and I am already seeing results. I can only imagine the wonderful things that I will learn in the months to come and am very excited about the journey ahead.

Cardelean

For more information on the HubPages Apprenticeship Program, stop by our Learning Center guide. If you’re passionate about online writing and want to improve your skills, we hope you consider applying!

 

Introducing the Hub of the Day Feature

This Monday, we will be introducing a feature that I am particularly excited about: the Hub of the Day.  One Hub of the Day will be chosen by HubPages staff every day based on its interesting subject matter, good writing, and beautiful formatting.  The Hub of the Day will be showcased before the HubPages community and casual site visitors alike, and its author will receive a special Accolade (designed, of course, by James Edmondson, who also created the excellent logo for the Share and Share a Like contest).

Fawntia Fowler (of new signed-in homepage, Map Capsule, and improved photo capsule fame) built this fantastic feature, and shares its basic details below:

Where does the Hub of the Day show up?

The Hub of the Day appears in two places: for signed out users, it appears in the large-format carousel at the top of the homepage. For signed in users, it appears in the sidebar of your homepage next to your feed. That means that everyone – signed in or not – will see today’s Hub of the Day on their homepage.

How long will the Hub of the Day continue to appear on the signed-out homepage?

We will display the ten most recent Hubs of the Day on the signed-out home page. So if your Hub is chosen as Hub of the Day, it will be on the signed-out homepage for ten days.

Is there an archive where people will be able to see all of the previous Hub of the Day Hubs?

Yes! Here is the archive (but it is empty now, of course).

The Hub of the Day Accolade is rather unique in that it shows up in more places than just a Hubber’s profile. ¬†Could you tell us more about that?

The Hub of the Day Accolade will also appear on the winning Hub next to the title as a permanent testament to the quality of the Hub.

An example of what the Hub of the Day Accolade looks like when displayed on a Hub

Is there anything else about the feature that you’d like to add?

I had fun building this feature and I hope that the community has fun with it, too!

.    .    .

Big thanks to Fawntia for creating this feature, and to James for designing the super cool Accolade.  We hope that you find the Hubs of the Day both inspiring and interesting.

Weekly Topic Inspiration: The Next Generation HubMob

For a couple of years, HubPages has offered a special program called HubMob, which offers a new search-friendly topic each week that Hubbers can write on as a group. ¬†HubMob has been an excellent help to those looking for an extra challenge, a cure for writer’s block, or simply the opportunity to write in a more social setting.

Last Monday, Princessa announced that she and the HubMob team will be retiring.  On behalf of HubPages staff and the entire community, I want to thank team HubMob for everything they have done!

If you enjoyed participting in the weekly HubMob, don’t worry- we’re rolling out its next generation this coming Monday: Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Weekly Topic Inspiration will be very similar to HubMob. ¬†Each week, we’ll post a sticky thread in the forums sharing a new topic and pointing to a question. ¬†All you have to do to participate is write a Hub on the week’s topic by answering that question.

In addition to forum posts, we shall also be sharing the new topics each week as events on our Facebook page to make them more convenient. ¬†We encourage you to recommend new topics for future weeks by leaving suggestions in the forum thread or as comments on a Weekly Topic Inspiration Facebook event. ¬†If we choose your topic, you’ll be the Hubber to ask the question for the week!

We will also occasionally offer additional guides and tips on how to cover a particular subject successfully in the online world, since we have found (and you may well have discovered) that some approaches work better than others.

For more information on the Weekly Topic Inspiration, visit our Learning Center guide. ¬†Thanks again to the HubMob team, we’ll miss you, but look forward to seeing you around the site ūüėČ

HubPages Marks the Spot – HubPages’ Contest Featuring the (Treasure)Map Capsule

HubPages Marks the Spot

This September, HubPages is setting sail on its most boisterous contest yet: HubPages Marks the Spot!

HubPages Marks the Spot, sponsored by Outside.in, is all about mapping out local treasures using the HubPages Map Capsule – and sharing lots of loot with those HubBuccaneers who care to join us. ¬†This contest has not four but five kinds of prizes, ranging in rewards from $50 (awarded to two winners daily) to $500 (awarded to the swashbuckling author of the contest’s best hub).

Topics rotate weekly and include local attractions, resources, and places to unwind, as well as more distant vacation destinations.

The value of participating in this contest is fourfold:

  1. Entrants get a chance to win awesome prizes
  2. Hubbers are able to write on subjects with which they are already familiar – we all utilize local shops and resources and are therefore de facto experts, plus the list of potential hubs one can write on each week’s theme are endless
  3. Writers learn how to create optimized, attractive, and useful hubs using the map capsule and adhering to our helpful judging criteria
  4. Hubbers writing hubs on contest topics are creating excellent articles that will continue to bring them revenue long after the contest is over

I hope you can join in on the fun – and I hope you win something too! ¬†To be honest, there’s no losing here… unless ONE OF YE SCURVY DOGS THINKS YEH CAN GET THE BEST OF OL’ SWASHBUCKLING SIMONE! ¬†Keep that in mind. ¬†Because dead men write no hubs.

HubPages’ Special Programs

As I am settling into the HubPages community, I find myself floored by its amazing special programs!

First I became acquainted with HubNuggets, which not only involves insanely hilarious weekly hubs but also fun voting and a chance for new Hubbers to step up and strut their stuff. ¬†Then I discovered HubMob, helping Hubbers bust through writer’s block with new and exciting themes every week. ¬†Next I came to meet the site’s wonderful HubGreeters, who make HubPages feel like a real, neighborly community, doing the online equivalent of bringing warm apple pie to new families on the block.

HubTrails blew my mind with the extent to which it has already mapped the world, and the HubChallengers out there inspire me in my own efforts to write and publish regularly. Continue reading