Host a Hubbing Retreat!

They say that some of our most productive work happens when we’re relaxed and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many people have “ah-hah” moments on their front porch, in the shower, at the kitchen table, and in many other seemingly un-productive places.

With this in mind, why should we always sit down to write Hubs in the same place? Would it not be fun to work on one’s Hubs in a different sort of environment every now and then?

I first got the idea of holding a Hubbing retreat from an awesome Hub by Brainy Bunny. She and her sister theclevercat took two days to focus on writing and improving Hubs. On the first day, they focused exclusively on generating new ideas and writing Hubs. On the second day, they worked on polishing and promoting their work. For this retreat, they set up a comfortable space at Brainy Bunny’s home, spent some time working from a coffee shop, and took lots of breaks. In addition to focusing on their own work, the sisters traded ideas and helped each other out.

Brainy Bunny’s Hubbing retreat sounds absolutely lovely to me! I love how collaborative it was, that they regularly changed locations, and that they worked in relaxed, comfortable, stress-free environments. I strongly believe that we could all benefit from a Hubbing retreat every now and then, and in addition to sharing Brainy Bunny’s ideas with you, I would like to add some additional ideas to the mix.

More Hubbing Retreat Ideas

  • Make use of your vacations: Traveling and camping is fun, but sometimes it can get boring- on long train rides or in remote, sparsely-populated and internet-free wilderness areas, for example. One can turn these opportunities into Hubbing retreats by bringing along a small notebook and jotting down ideas and outlines. Being on vacation can help you slip into a more creative, relaxed mindset, plus being in a new place can help you approach problems and writing ideas with a fresh perspective.
  • Take advantage of sick days: Sometimes we get sick because our bodies are exhausted and our minds are begging for something new to focus on. If you’re stressed out at work and find yourself home sick and constantly churning over the same problems at work, consider giving yourself that much needed break by holding a short one-person Hubbing retreat and focusing on creative, outside-of-everyday-life things for a bit. You can completey revitalize your HubPages portfolio, plus physically recover and return to work ready to take on those looming challenges with fresh energy and a bit of grounded perspective to back you up.
  • Join your kids: Kids regularly retreat to various places to work on schoolwork- why not join them? When I was a kid and busy studying, my parents would occasionally join me in what we all called “parallel play.” Essentially, they’d just sit down next to me and work on their own projects as I worked on mine. This can be a great way to regularly work on your Hubs, and additionally helps you connect with your kids (or other young friends and family members). What’s more, younger generations might contribute some fresh ideas to your Hubs!
  • Book Hubbing retreat flights: Many airlines offer wireless internet on certain flights. If you can manage to snag those on your next cross-country journey, you can turn each flight into a distraction-free, outside-the-normal-environment Hubbing retreat. Even if you can’t get a flight that has wireless internet, you can still bring along a laptop, phone, notebook, or tablet, and work on Hubs offline.
  • Create designated, reoccurring Hub retreat time slots: Many of the world’s must successful and famous writers say they’re successful in part because they’ve set up a regular schedule for writing- one which they will not let anyone else compromise. Even if it is just fifteen minutes each morning, or two hours every Sunday evening, consider setting aside a designated Hubbing retreat time that you never miss. This time might also be a great way to forget about everything else that’s going on in your life and unwind!
  • Mix pamper time with Hubbing time: While I frequently encounter Hubbers working like professionals- that is, Hubbing from home offices, sitting at desks, and treating the entire process very seriously, I rarely hear about Hubbers Hubbing while they are totally relaxed and in a stress-free state. Why not tap into the extra creativity and focus one enjoys when feeling blissed out by combining pleasant things like sitting in your backyard, passively watching a Nascar race, painting your toenails, or doing whatever else it is that helps you relax, with Hubbing? You don’t have to be super engaged in the Hubbing process at these times, but by working on outlines and new ideas while doing something very relaxing, you might think up some marvelous new things.
  • Turn workouts into Hubbing retreats: Once you get warmed up and are in a nice state of flow, great ideas emerge from their hiding places! If you work out on a treadmill, recumbent bike, or elliptical, consider bringing a laptop with you and jotting down ideas while working out.  You might even lose track of time and end up working out longer.
  • Host a Hubbing retreat with your friends: Whether or not your friends already have HubPages accounts, consider hosting a Hubbing retreat with them. It doesn’t have to be HubPages-specific; it can be about writing and being more creative in general. Everyone can bring a project they’re working on, and in a common, comfortable, and fun environment, everyone can share ideas and offer group support. One benefit of bringing together a bunch of friends that are working on a variety of creative projects (e.g. poetry, Hubbing, painting, and novel writing) is that each individual offers a fresh perspective that might give you some useful ideas.

These are only a couple of ideas for Hubbing retreats. Have you ever held a Hubbing retreat before, or are you planning one for the future? What does your ideal Hubbing retreat entail? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!


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.

How to Deal with Online Drama

As HubPages staff, we get a lot of questions, and a surprising number of them have to do with online drama. Unfortunately, if you write online or are active on one or more social networks, it is likely that at some point you will become caught up in some sort of drama. In this week’s podcast (How to Deal with Online Drama), we share some advice on dealing with it in the most classy and effective manner possible.

Here are our basic tips:

  • In general, be careful how you word things online. If you are not very kind and courteous, people may misinterpret your behavior as hostile and lash back with a full out attack.
  • If someone insults, attacks, or criticizes you online in a way that bothers you, do not respond.
  • If someone leaves a comment on your writing that you find to be insulting or hurtful, feel free to delete it.
  • If you feel as though you MUST respond to someone who attacks or insults you online, kill them with kindness. Only say nice and mature things. That said, in the vast majority of cases (especially personal cases) any response at all is a very bad idea.
  • If someone insults, attacks, or criticizes someone very close to you, do not engage, and encourage that person to not respond, either.
  • Keep in mind that unkind words that someone says only have as much power as you give them.
  • The vast, vast majority of people (even very active ones) within a given online community will not give any credence to mean things someone else says about you. Try to remember that nobody cares.
  • When you feel yourself getting emotional, walk away from your computer, go for a walk, finish some chores, or do something nice for a friend. This will help you put everything into perspective.

Just remember this, Hubbers: Don’t feed the trolls!

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.

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.

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.

The Benefits of Professional Polish

While HubPages is a place to be creative, have fun, make friends, and explore, it is also a platform on which online brands, strong portfolios, and even careers are built. For this reason, it pays to present your Hubs- and other online photos, posts, and work you share- with professional polish. VendettaVixen suggested we discuss the importance of appearing professional online in the Online Writing Insider, so listen in to this week’s podcast (The Importance of Appearing Professional) for some tips on giving your online persona a career-friendly makeover.

In the podcast, we touch on the benefits of…

  • Maintaining a presence on major online social networks
  • Behaving professionally on online social networks
  • Establishing a persona (and possibly a profile photo) that is consistent across platforms
  • Using high quality images as profile photos
  • Presenting a succinct, polished, and typo-free bio
  • Carefully editing Hubs before publishing them
  • Avoiding personal rants in Hubs and other online posts

…and more!

Big thanks to VendettaVixen for suggesting the excellent topic. If you have some suggestions for future Online Writing Insider podcasts, send them to us in an email. Our address is podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.


Using Real Examples in Your Work

Are you looking for a quick way to improve the utility, quality, and allure of your online articles? Consider adding some real examples in your work! While it is common sense to include facts and figures in a strong body of writing, any online writers forget to add these all-important elements to their Hubs, posts, and tweets.

In this week’s Online Writing Insider podcast (Tips on Using Concrete Examples), we discuss various ways in which you should consider adding concrete examples and information into your writing. These include:

  • Generally backing up arguments
  • Adding in historical dates and names
  • Referring to actual past events and figures
  • Including statistics and numbers
  • Including charts and graphs
  • Including visual evidence (e.g. photos of an actual product, place, event, etc.)
  • Including examples of a letter or conversation
  • Augmenting personal opinion with personal experiences and external sources
  • Referring to reliable, reputable sources

Adding hard evidence to your work is rarely difficult- often we are referencing it or thinking of it when composing guides and arguments and we just forget to put it in. So next time you write a Hub (or anything else online), make a point of minding your examples, facts, and figures. Your readers will be glad you did!

Is there some other element of a successful Hub that you think we should explain? Tell us about it it! All you have to do is pop an email over to podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.