Sidewalk Chalk Art for Hub Graphics

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 3.59.22 PMEarlier this month, aethelthryth wrote in to share a deliciously playful method of creating custom Hub graphics.

This method requires very little: just some chalk, smooth sidewalk, and a camera!

Aethelthryth came upon this solution when trying to find an alternate source of custom illustrations. Her explanation:

Though I have access to an artist for Hubs of some types, since he is trying to get noticed in aviation circles, a Hub about Finding Mr. Right: Waiting and Dating just wasn’t going to do much for his professional image. So I borrowed (actually, used up) my childrens’ sidewalk chalk to draw some images on the sidewalk that were simple and iconic enough for even me to draw, and took pictures of them.
It took longer than I expected, and I decided afterwards I should have found smoother sidewalk, and I had to explain to guests what these images (and the mistakes I made, first) were doing on our sidewalk, until I got around to washing them off with the hose. But it was fun, and they are my favorite non-artist images on my Hubs.

I love how creative aethelthryth was with finding a new way to add custom graphics to her work (I also appreciate having another excuse to play with sidewalk chalk).

Now we all know to indulge in some outdoor doodling next time we are in need of some simple, colorful Hub images!

Getting Collaborative with Custom Hub Graphics

We love it when Hubbers collaborate with their friends and family when creating Hubs and have been delighted to see how many Hubbers collaborate when creating custom graphics for their Hubs as well.

MobyWho, for example, collaborated with her husband on her Hub Your imagination – it can kill you. Here is her backstory on the image’s creation:

In an effort to engage my 92-year-old husband, I asked him to draw me some cartoons for a recent post. Not only did he appreciate being included in my work, but he buckled right down and came up with two or three oeuvres.

Aren’t the resulting images fun?

Littlemirror also occasionally collaborates with family when creeating custom images for his Hubs, such as his health-oriented Hub No Smoking Please: Tobacco kills more than alcohol, drugs, traffic accidents, and AIDS.

Says littlemirror:

I asked my son-in-law to pose as a “model” like a smoker (though he is not smoking) and after we took some photos, my daughter Din-Din added a warning sign of skull that cigarettes kill.

I say these helpful images littlemirror created with his family definitely improve the polish, earnestness, and effectiveness of his Hub.

Hopefully these two examples will inspire you to tap into the talents of your own friends and family when creating custom graphics for your Hubs. When Hubbers team up with their loved ones, amazing things happen!

More Image-Creation Tips from lobobrandon

After our image-centric series kicked off earlier this month, lobobrandon wrote in to share his personal approach to creating custom images, which he wanted to share with the community.

Lobobrandon utilizes pixaby to find public domain images, which he can use and alter without having to worry about attributions or special conditions, and edits them using paint.NET, which is a free graphics editor program.

He sent over a couple of examples in which he has altered pixaby images with paint.NET. In every case, he altered baseline images to add a personal touch and to make them more relevant to the specific theme of a Hub. At right is an image from his Hub on the health benefits of green apples in which he showcases this basic approach.

Says lobobrandon:

This one was created using a green apple, a star and the Roman wreath (don’t remember what it’s called exactly :D). Basically, I removed the background from them and merged them after creating the custom background (started with green color, pixelated it, then added a bit of blur). The borders are crated by using a single thick rectangle that I distorted. I did all this using the software paint.NET.

What lobobrandon does is very simple and straightforward, and strikes me as a great way for folks who would like to customize their own images to start out.

Thanks for sharing your tips, lobobrandon!

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!

Video vs. Online Articles

For about one week now, all Hubbers have had the ability to publish Videos in addition to regular online articles. We have already seen a litany of great Videos published on HubPages addressing everything from travel to recipes, but many writing-centric Hubbers are still a bit dubious about the new format.

What advantages does online video have over traditional multimedia articles? We cover the top perks in this special bonus edition of the Online Writing Insider (Video vs Online Articles). The gist is this: in addition to being an additional source of revenue, online videos are often more attractive to searchers, they are highly engaging formats, and they can help you as an author cater to different learning styles.

We hope you enjoy the new feature on our site, and have a go at branching out into one of the Internet’s most popular and quickly growing formats!

Do you have any online writing or video issues that you would like some help with? Tell us about it! Our email address is podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com, and we’re always looking for new subjects to address in these podcasts, so send suggestions our way!

Meet a Greeter: Advice from Emichael

As welcomers of new Hubbers, our fabulous volunteer HubGreeters meet a lot of writers who are nervous about their new Hubbing endeavors. Thankfully, HubGreeters are happy to offer support to those with the online writing jitters. In a short series of blog posts, some of our HubGreeters will share their top tips for new Hubbers.

Our first set of newcomer-friendly tips comes from emichael, who, in addition to being a HubGreeter, is a fabulous photographer (and second place prize winner in our HubPatron of the Arts contest for his Hub Music of The Street).

Here’s his advice:

1. Don’t worry, just write!

It can be easy to get bogged down in the details of writing on HubPages. Questions like:

  • “Why is my Hub Score so low?”
  • “How can I get more followers?”
  • “What are all these accolades about, and why don’t I have any?!”
  • “What the sweet glory is a HubNugget?!?!”

Relax.

Take a breath.

It’s really not that complicated. All you need to worry about is finding a topic that interests you, which you are knowledgeable on. Do your research and start putting your Hubs together. As you publish quality work, the followers will come, the score will rise, the Accolades will be bestowed, and your addiction to HubPages will be complete.

2. If you won’t read, don’t follow!

It can be tempting to follow lots and lots of Hubbers all at once. It’s understandable. You want to get connected. You want people to read what you have written. I mean, come on, that’s why you joined, right?

But trust me. You have to let that process happen organically. Write good stuff, and the readership will follow. You have to be patient.

Following lots and lots of people you don’t necessarily care to read will result in a few unpleasant things for you. Your HubScore will inevitable plummet and you will be overrun with notifications about new Hubs published by people you follow that you care nothing about!

So be deliberate with your following and wait for people who are interested in your writing find you.

And, if over time you are not getting the followers you hoped for, take it as a sign that maybe you need to spruce up your writing or beef up your Hubs!

3. Write. Wait. Read. Rewrite. Publish.

It is important to not be too hasty and haphazard with your Hub construction. This will result in poor writing, bad grammar, misspellings, sloppy layouts, and just plain amateur Hubs. Trust me, as someone who does a lot of perusing of Hubs, if a Hub only has one heading followed by a block of unbroken paragraph and a pixelated, watermarked image, I don’t even bother.

So take time.

Break up your Hubs into sections. Use original images. Then let it sit. Come back to re-read and rewrite, and THEN publish your Hub.

4. Go forth and explore!

There are so many good things on HubPages. From awesome recipes, to how-tos, to craft ideas, to short stories, photography collections, even whole novels! Take time to explore, and you will find a great network of writers who will provide you with honest feedback, criticism, support, and encouragement unlike any other writing site.

[Thanks, emichael!]

New Feature: The Tips Box

Tip and Warning

Happy Tuesday! We decided to celebrate this beautiful second day of the working week by rolling out a new feature.

When you create and edit Hubs, you will now see the occasional tip to the right of your screen – right below the Add a Capsule box and right above the box where you reorder capsules and change settings.

The tips in this box are shown to you based on your HubPages experience level, the sorts of capsules you are using, and topics on which you are writing.  To get more information from each tip, simply click on the question mark to the right and a lightbox filled with helpful information will pop up over your capsules.

Also rolling out with the tip box are occasional warnings, which, if triggered, will appear below the tip box as you are editing things in the HubTool.  These warnings exist to help you steer clear of any problems with publication (e.g. they’

 

ll help to point out banned links and pixelated images).  Think of them as a rather advanced evolution of spell-check 😀

With occasional help from Paul Deeds, Edward Zhang built this awesome new feature, and has generously agreed to take some time to chat with us about the work he has done:

HubPages: Where did the idea for adding a tips box come from?

Edward Zhang: The original plan was to create some sort of message about the Summary box in edit mode. We wanted to bring attention to the summary box so that Hubbers know to write their own original summaries to better promote their Hubs (as opposed to relying on the auto summary option that we used to have).

From that idea, Paul Deeds then suggested that we can turn this idea into a more broad tips box, which we could potentially use to provide some neat tips and advice for Hubbers, as well as show the current warnings in the Hubs. As a result, we ended up building the two boxes, Tips and Warning.

What is your favorite feature of the tips box?

Personally I think that (and hope that) the Warnings box will a tremendous help for Hubbers, as it aims to provide real-time warnings as they edit their Hubs. I hope that it would be much easier for Hubbers to see their Warnings before they finish editing, rather than having to go back into their Hub to re-edit after they finish making all their changes.

What was the hardest detail to build?

It’s funny how this project started out as such a simple idea, and expanded to be such a huge project. The hardest part of the Tips design would probably be the coordination that was needed in order to refine the details of the design. In order to brainstorm tips, we needed to plan out a meeting with Jason, Ren, and our dear Simone. For the design of the tips box, I had to seek advice James (our genius Graphics Designer) and Paul Deeds, where our design of the box(es) evolved over the course of 2 weeks. All in all, although I was the one who coded the Tips, this project turned out to be a collaborative effort of a huge part of the HP team.

Can people hide tips?

Hubbers can choose to minimize their tips box by clicking on the little arrow next to the heading Tips.

Warnings however, cannot be removed, as we believe that it’s important to let our Hubbers know what kind of warnings they are receiving. We hope this will save hubbers the time and effort having to go back and re-edit their hubs after they have finished making their changes.

What sorts of warnings might people see?

The warnings that show up are the exact same warnings that the Hubbers will see in the black box sitting on top of their Hubs. We basically took those warning messages and made them more real-time during edit mode.

screen-shot-2011-05-03-at-11-18-39-am1What are some cool things about the tip boxes that people might not notice?

A lot of Hubbers may neglect to click on the ? next to each tip, as it can be easily ignored. I strongly encourage Hubbers to click on these ? because it provides more in-depth details about each tip, and can be very helpful to know.

.     .    .

A big thanks to Edward and Paul for this feature.  Now it is easier than ever to write really great Hubs from the get-go!

Summaries for Hubs

Custom SummaryYou may have noticed recently that some Hubs on HubPages are showing up without summaries.  As a part of our overall effort to improve the reader experience on HubPages, we are encouraging everyone to create their own, custom summaries.

The summary you enter (under the summary tab of the control box at the right side of the HubTool) will be used as a hidden “meta description” tag- something many search engines and web services use as summary/preview text for your Hub.

A well written summary could be the deciding factor between a potential reader clicking through to your Hub or moving on, so interesting, well-written, original summaries are worth the little bit of time they take to write.

I recommend you make a habit of writing up a quick summary for each Hub before you publish.  It adds some extra polish to the Hub and encourages other people to have a closer look at your work!

Google’s Thomas Tran: Optimization for HubPages and AdSense

Hello Hubbers,

I’m Thomas, and I work for the AdSense team in Dublin, Ireland and today I’d like to talk to you guys about how to drive quality traffic to your Hubs so you can increase your AdSense ads click-through-rate (CTR), and earn more money. From your emails, there were a lot of questions related to getting more traffic to your Hubs as well as improving the search ranking of your posts. We’ll go over four different topics today that can help you tackle both those issues. If you’re not an AdSense user already click here to sign up! Now, lets go ahead and dive in!

1. Write authentic, non-scripted, easy-to-read and structured content.

The most important piece of advice I can give you about driving quality traffic is to write authentic, non-scripted, easy-to-read and structured content such as a guide to road tripping across America, tips on raising Nigerian drawf goats, or directions on conducting cool ice experiments with kids! Interesting content will gain recognition on its own. People want to read interesting, unique and original content, so according to the law of supply and demand, if you write that type of content, the readers will come! Hubbers, please remember this! This is GOLDEN!

The best way to apply this advice is surprisingly simple! All you need to do is write about topics that you enjoy, that you love, that you are passionate about. It could be your favorite hobby, your job, your travel, your favorite music style, how you learn to dance, cooking tips that your mom taught you.

Important: please check, double-check, even triple-check that the content of your Hubs comply with the Google AdSense Content Policies.

2. Get inspiration from Google AdWords Keyword tool and the Top Search Queries from the Google Webmaster Tools.

Try to think like a user. What kind of words or expressions will they use to look for your Hubs in Google? We have a couple of tools that can help you find topics that 1) are a bit lacking in inventory, and 2) have the highest search volumes. These tools are the Google AdWords Keyword tool and the top search queries from the Google Webmaster Tools. A lot of successful Hubbers and AdSense users have used these tools to find niche topics to write about. Go ahead and give these tools a try!

[Simone’s Note: We should clarify that only site owners have access to Webmaster Tools, but we do make some of that information available to the community from time to time in the Answers section on HubPages.com]

3. Use unique and accurate titles.

The best is to give each Hub a unique title so that Google can differentiate them from each other.

Titles should also be accurate and descriptive so that interested users know what your Hubs are about and click on them. But they should also be brief because Google will only show a portion of it in the search result if the title is longer than 60 characters including spaces.

4. Promote your Hubs internally and externally.

The web is made of countless hyperlinks. So linking your Hubs will help Google to evaluate how important your Hubs are which results in a better ranking in the search results.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you link to your Hubs as much as possible within your own Hubs, other hubs, your sites, and other sites. 

Back to the first tip, a good Hub with authentic, non-scripted, easy-to-read and structured content be naturally promoted by other Hubs and sites!

Tip: you can see which are the sites that link to your Hubs by using the Google Webmaster Tools. For more information, please visit this page.

I hope that these tips help you write great Hubs and will bring you more AdSense revenue. I know I’ve repeated this quite a few times but I can’t stress it enough – Focus on the quality of your content first and foremost! Afterwards the revenue will follow!

 

It was a great pleasure for me to come here on this blog and tell you about how AdSense can help you earn more money. To end this post, I’d like to thank you all from the AdSense Team in Dublin, Ireland, for using AdSense!

-Thomas

 

Thomas Tran has been working at Google since fall 2008. He works mainly in AdSense newbies education, social media metrics and personalized help in the interface. He is also supporting French speaking publishers. He has been playing volleyball for years and has studied in 3 different countries (France, Canada and China).