Friday, 2 June 2017

The Bubblews Effect

This is an update of a post I first published on my old BlogJob domain in December 2015:

I don't know too much about the world of online writing between 2001 and 2012. Clearly there must have been some good sites out there, but I was unaware of their existence. After the failure of sites like Themestream in 2001, I moved away from online writing into the world of photography, and it was only in 2012 that I decided to give writing another try when I discovered WebAnswers, HubPages and finally Bubblews.

I started out with great enthusiasm at both WebAnswers and HubPages, but Bubblews proved to be a game-changer. It was so easy to write a 400 character post and then watch the pennies flow in while I interacted with my new friends, much less work than writing proper articles for HubPages or researching answers for WebAnswers, so why bother when I was earning so much more at Bubblews?

Unlike some members I didn't write about what I'd had for breakfast or other routine daily occurrences. However I loved to write about the sports I watched, especially the successes of the South African cricket team. It was a report about one of their matches which proved to be the highlight of my Bubblews "career". Somehow that post caught the attention of the cricket-loving world and within hours it had received over 2000 views. That's $20 for 10 minutes work! I was ecstatic and hoped for a recurrence of that success. Sadly it never came.

By mid-2013 the cracks were starting to show. I'd already heard rumours of honest members not getting paid, but I refused to believe they were blameless... until it happened to me. But this post isn't about that. If you want to read my story in all its gory details, you can read an article I wrote in January 2015 at HubPages.

Once the cracks were clearly visible, similar sites started popping up all over the web, hoping to attract the writers who had issues with Bubblews, and they came in droves. I confess that I tried a lot of those sites before I realised that I was wasting my time.

Babblelife, Teckler, Post Any Article (PAA), Persona Paper and CGP Gallery were among the sites I tried. I even got paid a couple of times by PAA and Teckler, but what I earned there wasn't enough to make it worth the effort and I gave up on both sites long before they closed down. Of the rest, only Persona Paper is still running, though they no longer offer payment for their members' activities.  

By mid-2015 I'd become much more cautious and was trying to stay away from sites that were brand new, preferring to watch them until I could establish that they were reliable. As a result, the only similar site I joined at that time was myLot, a site with a good reputation. My new approach served me well as I watched a few new sites fail fairly quickly. But nothing prepared me for the shock of seeing Beer Money Nation announce it was closing after only being online for about two weeks.

Clearly the greed for Bubblews type success was pushing site owners into starting new projects without knowing just how tough it is to succeed in that type of business.

Update 2 June 2017:

Not much has changed since I first published this post. New sites have come and gone, but I've resisted the temptation to join most of them. One exception was Niume, a site which looked more professional than most.

When I signed up for Niume I believed their payment model would be more sustainable than most if only because the rates they offered were a lot lower than what most of the failed sites had paid. However I soon became disillusioned when I realised that a post which received 500 views was only worth $0.50 to me. Although I only had to write a few lines, the need to include a photo made the creation of a new post a time consuming business. And when there was a sudden massive drop in views I stopped posting altogether.

Sadly I've been proved wrong about their model being sustainable too. Niume recently announced that their reward system has been discontinued. However the site will remain open and, according to their announcement:
In the coming months we will work on offering alternative sources of revenue to creators who join the platform.
I'm keeping my account open for now while I wait to see what the future holds for the site. Maybe they can create a model that will work better. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, for many the search for the next Bubblews continues. A few days ago I heard of a new site running along similar lines. I have yet to have a proper look at the site but hope to do so soon. Perhaps I'll even sign up, if only so that I'm able to write an honest review in the days to come.

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