Why I don’t like Helium.com

I joined Helium based on the many lists online suggesting that writers try their skill at publishing (and earning money) through the site. I soon discovered how much I really hated the site.

My biggest complaint is they own the copyrights once you publish. You can’t move, remove, delete, or do anything with your own articles once you’ve pressed that publish button. If, and only if, you get rated by readers above other similar articles, can you earn money. I soon found my articles falling down the list, bumped by off-topic articles that even have spelling errors! How do they get bumped up the list? Marketing, mostly.

In the two years of joining, I earned a whopping .33 cents. I admit that I don’t market the articles there, and I certainly didn’t write prolifically there either. Too often writers for these type of web sites short change themselves, when they could earn a better income through periodicals and magazines.

A few writers claim they make money via Helium.com. I don’t see how unless they’re prolific and throw themselves out there on the social sites. Too often the very authors that say to write for Helium.com and other sites do not provide how you earn money or that for a serious writer, its more of a waste of time.

Anyone who debates this opinion, by all means, leave comments and let me know your own experiences. I’d like to know.

Update: Found this article pretty interesting. If you Google “Helium reviews” you find many writers not particularly happy with Helium’s practices. http://www.writersreviews.com/2007/06/heliumcom-is-it-worth-it.html

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Why I don’t like Helium.com

  1. Rex Trulove

    I’m sorry you had a poor experience. Most don’t.

    The fact is that there are many ways to make money on Helium, and it isn’t just a few people who are making money. Well over a million dollars have already been paid out to writers there.

    I’m one of the ‘prolific’ ones, as I have about 1200 articles on the site after a little more than 2 years, though being a senior steward and helping others takes a lot of time so I don’t write as much anymore, as I once did.

    However, I personally know of several people with fewer than 50 articles that are making money and cashing out virtually every month.

    It is true that on Helium just as anywhere else, the more you write, the more your potential to earn is. However, this is bolstered with the contests and Helium’s Marketplace, where a writer can make up to $200 on a single article. That isn’t chicken feed!

    There are also the first time payments that pay $1 if you are the first to write to a title, and Upfront payments that pay up to $2.50 if you are one of the first 5 contributors to a title, both contingent on having writing stars, which aren’t difficult to come by.

    Of course, you need a rating star to collect daily revenue on your articles, but that is also not difficult to get and maintain. Many writers have one within a week of joining Helium, and the rating is what has helped Helium become the largest writing site in the world. It is also what has brought in so many publishers, partners, newspapers, and such.

    In fact, it is part of the reason Writer’s Digest lists Helium as one of the top sites to write for.

    There is also stock purchases, where publishers buy non-exclusive rights to use the article. The article still stays on Helium making money, so it is pretty much a bonus. I’ve had at least one stock purchase every month for the last 8 months or more. That adds up in a hurry, especially when an article can be purchased over and over.

    I personally had an off month last month and collected only about 6 times more than needed for payout for the month from my writing. That is pretty rare. Earlier this year, I got nearly $1000 for the month off of daily revenue, upfronts, and first time payments.

    Note that I don’t spend a lot of time in self promotion as I don’t have time. It helps, but a person has to have time to do it.

    What else does Helium offer, though? For one thing, a great community of writers willing to help people become better, stewards who are willing to help other writers, and a staff that is responsive to the needs of the whole community. The community boards or forums are almost always quite active, and a lot of that is by people who want to become better. They usually succeed.

    Again, I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but it doesn’t at all surprise me when people say they are making money on Helium. It is right there, waiting to be made. Many make substantially more than I do.

    Rex Trulove
    Senior Steward
    Helium.com

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    • Thanks for the offer, but I’m finding more and more the experience of online writing offers little in the way of serious money. I’m not alone in that experience.
      I’d rather pour my efforts into something more rewarding in both money as well as experience.
      Like any writing venue, I’m sure there must be an understanding of what the ‘audience’ requires, and so far, online writing strikes me as too much effort for very little return.

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  2. Let’s take a look at what you have found and try to help you to understand how it all works. I don’t know what your user name is because you posted anonymously, but I have posted who I am and if you need help, then by all means contact me.

    You say you soon discovered how much you hated the site. This is speculative and will vary from member to member. If you find you don’t like a website, is that reason to slate its existance? The solution here is very simple. Leave and find a website which suits you better.

    You say that your articles fell down the line when they were rated by others. This gives writers a measurement of their success. Many prefer not to compete because it bruises the ego. Some look at their articles and realise that something they did within the text is the reason for the article hitting the pits. When you can step back from the rejection misery and look into why your articles dropped, you develop as a writer. I am a five star writer, but I am still developing and honing my skill. If one of my articles hits the pits, I don’t pack up my bags and head home for mommy. I look at why and usually it’s something I did which was fundamentally wrong. We are all humans and make mistakes.

    You say about not being able to remove content. You actually agree to the user agreement when you submit an article. That’s normal for any website of this nature. If you want to change that content, you can also do this by using the leapfrog and replacing it with better work. Editing your work is part and parcel of being a writer.

    You also state that articles get bumped up the list by marketing. I don’t market my articles and get wonderful results a lot of the time. Other times, I make a mess of it and have to rethink my approach. It isn’t a question of marketing and this has no influence on ratings or how highly rated you are.

    The fact is, the better your article is rated, the more likely it is to be read. Would you read the last article in a bunch of ten articles? I think not.

    You say that you only earned .33 cents in two years. Goodness me, I would question my own work if this was to happen to me. Let’s see if another approach won’t work better for you. Perhaps your articles are all on subjects which people don’t search for very much. If you diversify and write to many topics, this doesn’t happen. When I first started, I thought the same thing, but when you continue to post articles, what happens is that even those old articles earn money on an ongoing basis. You may have written during the time when you had to have a rating star to earn, which would have stemmed your earnings, but each individual case is different so I can’t say why your earnings were so little. My own are extraordinary and compared with any writing website I work on, and there are 9, Helium pays much more.

    You say people won’t say how much they earn. I earn over $500 every month of the year. If you wish to come back and learn how to make money, by all means email me, as I shall be glad to show any member how this is done.

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    • I think you missed the point of my entry here. I’m not the only one who had bad experiences with Helium and so I shared my experience. My biggest peeve is not that better writers pushed me down to a lower rung of the ladder, but that worse writers did. This indicates a popularity contest having nothing to do with quality.
      Kudos you do so well. I wonder how much better you might do if you published along the lines of magazines and publications- which is my point.
      Online writing is fine for some, but the overall criticism of such sites has to do with the incredibly low pay offered for the efforts of the writers.

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  3. There are A LOT of scams out there – a whole industry dedicated to making money off aspiring writers, who can no longer get trade published regardless of the quality of their work without a “marketing platform.” This has been true of nonfiction for many years now; from what I hear, it’s also become the norm with fiction.

    A huge array of online and POD “publishers” know about this situation and stand ready to give writers the impression that they help them become widely read – usually for a price. And that’s where they make their money – not by selling the works of their authors but by getting their authors to pay them for bogus marketing services and such.

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  4. I’m on staff at Helium.com, and I spend a lot of time helping writers target their writing time efficiently so they can tap the earning potential on the web. Common mistakes writers make that undermine their earning potential:

    * They focus on topics that interest them, rather than also spend time writing to content that earns more. In Helium’s Marketplace we have thousands of publishing partners (magazine, newspaper and web-based) who offer specific price points per assignment. Writers compete for selection, but there is no limit to how many you compete for, except many are restricted to professionals or writers who have demonstrated success on the site. Topics in Marketplace must be original and are sold exclusively to the publisher.

    * But Helium also has a vast non-exclusive content site. Writers retain copyright but grant Helium non-exclusive rights; you can republish your pieces on other non-exclusive venues, and you always hold copyright to those non-exclusive pieces.

    * Writers can target their non-exclusive articles to higher-earning channels (business, finance, health, science, technology, computers). And they can get more savvy about how to write effectively for high search results in the web (by focusing on a keyword phrase in the title that repeat judiciously throughout their article — that creates keyword density and ensures more reads). Writers can expand this exponentially by linking to their articles from other high-value sites. Social networking sites are not the most valuable, but can help; best to hit content-related sites.

    * Writers can also target their writing time developing an expansive collection of articles in a niche area of expertise. This has high value for getting recognized as an expert and getting higher traffic to your articles.

    Writers who just write to random titles without learning techniques to use their online writing time smartly miss opportunities. I’m happy to give follow up advice on this if you are interested: bwhitlock@helium.com.

    Writing online is a different kettle of fish for a writer-craftsman. It also takes an enterprising spirit, combined with smart strategies. And you can also write to any subject you want on top of that. But for earning success it takes added effort.

    Again, my inbox is always open. I’m sorry for your frustrations and wish you the best in all your writing success — whether at Helium or beyond.

    Barbara Whitlock
    New Member Outreach Manager
    Helium.com

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  5. I fully understand frustrations, and wish you the best in your chosen writing pursuits always, but I wanted to add one more point:

    The language, patterns and expectations shift from traditional freelance to online writing. Each piece is a smaller pay out than traditional models, but you can always do the extra online writing between traditional assignments. If you decide to pursue that with gusto, you can add steady monthly income flow.

    In a shrinking print market, I see a both/and approach as the best path forward for writers. And I don’t just say that with self-interest. I too would prioritize highest-pay opportunities, but a site like Helium can provide you with gap and moonlighting income — especially focusing on assignments in our Marketplace, which is more unique on the web. You do not just have to write for micropayments and ad revenue share, like you do for non-exclusive content. Instead you can compete with advantage for more traditional, but quicker-return, assignments. There are scores to choose from too.

    It’s a shifting market that requires some flexibility in approach. It takes new skills to make the most of online writing, but it is within reach.

    I fully respect your choice with your writing time, but the door remains open to the additive (not exclusive) value of online earning.

    Best wishes, and thank you for the opportunity for this open exchange,

    Barbara Whitlock
    Helium.com
    bwhitlock@helium.com.

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  6. Frances Schneider

    I write for Helium.com because I love writing. I think that when people are writing for the only purpose of making money then they are in the wrong business. People actually enjoy the writing process if they really enjoy what they do. Writing for helium.com not only pays a couple of cents everyday, but, many people actually enjoy writing articles for the experiance and the practice of improving writing skills.

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    • What concerns me with fresh writers to the Web is that they give up so much of their copyright by posting at some of these sites. I’m not fond of Helium’s lack of comments and the rating systems seems more of a popularity contest, not having much to do with quality. Some argue that any web writing (blogs included) are ruining the language, but I see it just another genre to write for.
      thanks for the comment

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  7. I joined helium because of the excellent reviews all over the web. I was so excited to be paid handsomely the first month itself. it has given me honor and recognition[from my family hee hee] and as for magazines, are they really as consistent as helium? touch wood to helium.

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    • I appreciate the comment, however, I find way more reviews on Helium being just another incremental earnings site based on popularity. I’m glad you had a wonderful experience.

      Like

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