Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on eHow UK Compensation

I'll be honest. I haven't closely followed the eHow UK debacle over the past few months. I'm just now getting caught up on other eHow members' thoughts and research on the topic, conveyed through blogs and forum posts and discussions.

For those who haven't followed or participated in the discussions, here's the 30-second version as I understand it. In about August of 2009, eHow created a "sister site,", which basically mirrored the US-version except for a unique front page -- the featured articles differ from those on the regular site.

However, Demand Media used US-member-submitted eHow articles on the eHow UK site. According to the TOS, they do have the rights to do so.  But writers were unhappy that they basically copied everyone's content and published it on another site without discussion or permission from the writers first. Personally, I don't think this was done with malicious forethought; I don't think they really gave it much thought at all. But either way, some members felt it was not right.

In the face of uproar from its members, eHow administration decided to redirect visitors on the UK site to the original US-based articles, but eventually just pulled the plug and removed all US-member content from the UK side (some articles remain and flaws are being worked out).

Because of the persistence of eHow member-writers who asked whether articles re-posted to the UK site would receive reimbursement through the WCP, and who felt their overall revenue from eHow suffered due to their articles on the UK site appearing higher in searches than their US articles, eHow announced that it would give "generous compensation" to all WCP participants whose articles has been temporarily published on the UK site without permission.

This compensation arrived with the February payment of January earnings. For those who wondered, and in the interest of full disclosure, I received $140.

Personally, I feel that this compensation is more than fair -- simply because I never noticed any decline in my eHow earnings and any traffic that was taken from my US articles was likely minuscule, in my opinion. For one thing, the UK site has a fraction the traffic that the US one does. This is a comparison of traffic for the two sites from January 2010; traffic in the late months of 2009 was even more disparate:

I also did Google searches in December of my top-earning eHow articles and didn't see any UK-based results, just the ones on the US site. So I'm not really sure how much compensation, if any, the UK site took from my articles.

I do know that there is chatter among Google Adsense users that advertising revenue across the web is down, likely because of economic factors worldwide.

Is eHow committed to its WCP, or Writers Compensation Program? I believe they are, or it would not still be inexistence. When it first launched, in 2007, it was their big focus, and things have changed since then. Perhaps there is not as much enthusiasm within Demand Media as they had previously for the WCP writers. In 2008, eHow held a member event, weHow, in Santa Monica CA, to which I was invited and attended.The whole focus was on the WCP and participation on the website. They even gave recognition to the top eHow earner in attendance, so earnings were being promoted and encouraged.

In 2009, the event was focused instead on the new "I did It" feature that pays no compensation to those who submit I did It stories. So the focus has shifted a bit, perhaps to encourage people to join eHow for the user experience and not just the earnings potential.

Demand Studios writers, who provide content for, seem to receive more attention, benefits and support than the "users" in the WCP. This is simply a statement of fact; it doesn't bother me. When you consider that DS writers are paid a flat $15 fee for most article, while I've had dozens of articles earn $100 or more, including several thousand-dollar eHow articles, they can keep their better forum and monthly grant contests and I'll keep my revenue sharing.

But even if eHow in general doesn't particularly love us WCP writers anymore (who can blame them?), the sheer quantity of user-submitted content, and the fact that we retain rights to our work, indicates to me that they would have a very hard time just nixing the program altogether. And I contend that they don't want to end it. For all we know, the eHow UK beta site may have included a long-term plan for extending the WCP and eventually increasing compensation based on UK revenue on WCP articles. I truly don't think anyone at Demand wanted to "steal" from the eHow writers.

And I believe that eHow remains one of the very best sites for building residual income today.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Makes a $1,000+ eHow Article?

At some point last month, another eHow article moved into the $1,000+ slot among my top earners. Now that I have four articles that have each earned over $1k, maybe I can shed some light on what it takes to make that much from one simple how-to article.

But first of all, can I just say, how cool is that?! When I first started writing eHow articles almost two and a half years ago, I had only an inkling of the potential for good earnings and certainly didn't expect to see articles do that well. Neither did anyone else -- except maybe a few folks at Demand Media.

Now, about those articles. What goes into a thousand-dollar eHow article? And more importantly, how can we all write more of them?

Some things are fairly consistent with top earning articles. The main traits these four have in common are good SEO, uniqueness and worthwhile content. Three have all those aspects; one admittedly possesses just the first two. Three are personal finance or career-related topics, the other is a home and garden article. Here's what I've learned about their similarities:
  • SEO, Search Engine Optimization: Researching good keywords and properly placing them in your article is the best strategy for earning with online content, especially on eHow. I use free tools such as Wordtracker and Google Adwords to help with this aspect. When you link to your article from other sites, use the main keywords as anchor text.
  • Uniqueness: Are the keywords you want to use already the main topic of another eHow article? Or are they so competitive that a Google search returns pages of quality, relative results all with good SEO-titles? If either or both these are in the affirmative, you'll do better looking for another aspect of that niche and switching to different keywords. To earn well, your keywords need to be unique on eHow and in a somewhat unsaturated niche online.
  • Content: Make sure the introduction and body of your eHow article provide the information your reader is searching for. Your article should be in-depth enough to provide a good reader experience and convey the knowledge you're sharing. Fluff pieces won't make it to the top (with rare exception).
  • A little luck: One of my articles, the one that's garnered $1,900+ so far, is based on keywords that showed very few searches at the time of the writing. However, I wrote the article on a bit of a hunch and it played out. There were no other eHow articles using those keywords when I wrote it, and when the topic became popular it was one of the top results in the search engines.
Each of my top four articles is about two years old -- they were written at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. While time is important to see full earnings potential, high earners will often show their value early on. One of these articles earned $400 in a single month only six months after it was published.

For more on maximizing earnings, check out my ebook: How to Earn Passive Income on eHow

Do you have some high earners on eHow? Share your tips with other readers in the comments section.