When writers are considering writing sites, it is often helpful for them to compare Helium to other online content sites. Some writers prefer to submit content to content sites that pay upfront payments, others prefer to submit to sites that pay residual income while others prefer a blended approach.
There are two separate models that must be compared when you are comparing Helium and other content sites. The first model has to do with upfront payments. When searching for sites that are comparable to Helium for upfront payments, it is challenging to find them, especially since Helium changed their model in 2010.
Prior to December of 2010, writers could submit an unlimited number of titles for small upfront payments ranging from $1.00 to $2.50 per article. In this case, that meant that writers who needed to earn a specific amount of income per month could determine how many items they had to submit over the month.
Revenue share, contests and marketplace income were “bonus” earnings that didn’t necessarily need to be counted as part of needed income. This meant that writers could depend on not only a base income but also an additional “bonus” income on a monthly basis. After the changes were made, writers could depend only on revenue share income which while steady become rather erratic. Upfront payments were no longer guaranteed, but instead were part of a contest system where up to five writers would compete for earnings from a single title. As many as five writers in some cases were competing to earn between $1.00 and $5.00 per title.
Comparison to other sites
Few other sites offer a combination of upfront and revenue sharing. However, there are a few. For example, Associated Content does have some titles that pay both, and Bright Hub also offers both. Since I am unfamiliar with Associated Content (which is part of Yahoo!), I’ll focus on Bright Hub.
Bright Hub offers writers both an upfront and revenue share model. Prior to the Panda update by Google, Bright Hub paid writers $10 in up front payment plus a share of monthly revenue share. Revenue share varied from $2.35 to $3.15 per article (depending on the quarter). Writers claimed a title (based on channels they were eligible to write) and once they submitted the title and it was approved, they were paid $10. The revenue share was based on page views and paid monthly. The earnings are guaranteed to be paid for each article that was accepted; acceptance relied on adhering to the terms of service.
Then came Panda
While many writers will complain that they do not write for content farms, sites like Helium and similar sites are all considered content farms, Google slapped the “Panda” update on websites all across the Internet in February of 2011. Writer’s from one end of the web to the other were complaining that they do not write for content farms. The problem with this theory is that nearly all content sites are content farms whether writers wish to admit it or not.
Nonetheless, the Panda update forced writers and writing sites to rethink their processes. Since Helium had a process in place for vetting new articles, there was no change to the assignment system outside of fewer and lower paying titles. More revenue share titles appeared in the assignment system. When compared to Bright Hub in many cases the changes did not seem to be as dramatic as those made at Bright Hub.
Bright Hub continued their upfront and revenue share model. Revenue share did decrease slightly but not dramatically. However, guaranteed up front payments increased as did word count and article content requirements became more stringent. Upfront payments increased to $10 (which are now up to $15) and word count increased from 450 to 750. The primary impetus for freelance writers (e.g., earning a living) meant that writers who were depending on a set level of income had fewer opportunities for earning at Bright Hub but, the number of claims were fewer.
When a writer compares Helium and Bright Hub, there are three primary differences. These differences are (a) guaranteed up fronts versus up fronts based on a “competition”, (b) unlimited options for writing for revenue share only versus revenue share on articles that have earned up fronts and (b) actual revenue share is higher on Helium than on Bright Hub based on monthly totals.
Writers who are willing to base their monthly earnings on “chance” are likely to prefer Helium over Bright Hub as the models are completely different in terms of what may be submitted. Writers who are more interested in maintaining a reasonable monthly income are likely to be more attracted to Bright Hub.
Important note: Since this was originally written, BrightHub has limited opportunities available and only for those writers who were part of the site prior to December of 2011.