I have a bit of a soft spot for Bright Hub, so much so that until today I have never mentioned or written about them for fear of sending too much competition that way.
When I was first starting out as a freelance writer a few years ago, Bright Hub was one of my first recurring paying gigs. Running a successful freelance writing business requires having at least some source of income that is dependable and recurring. Without such freelance writing clients, it can be difficult to smooth out the variations in income that make freelancing so difficult.
With a place to write for like Bright Hub, a freelance writer can always replace projects that have ended with additional article submissions. Just as important, a writer can always cut back how much they are writing for that website in order to devote additional hours to a newer, bigger or better paying freelance writing project that comes along.
How Does Bright Hub Work?
When I first started writing for Bright Hub, it was the anti-Demand Studios.
Unlike writing for Demand Studios, Bright Hub was a community of writers and editors who grew closer the more they worked together. Writers applied directly to the editors of each “channel,” or topic, for approval. Once admitted to the channel, writers were encouraged to submit articles on virtually any topic within that channel. Almost any number of submissions was allowed at any time. The channel editors ensured that articles were both high-quality and worthwhile. And, constant communication with editors meant that there were no undeserved rejections or dubious edits required like how it works at Demand Studios.
Unlike Demand Studios, open communication between writers and editors was encouraged and as a professional writer, one could get to know each editor and generate useful articles based upon what each editor preferred.
Unfortunately, over the years, Bright Hub has slowly but steadily grown to be much more like Demand Studios, right into the teeth of the second wave of Google’s Panda Update that hit ehow.com so hard.
After a base of articles had been published, writers were no longer permitted to write about any useful topic. Instead, editors became focused on SEO and finding “high-value” keywords. At first, writers simply chose a keyword topic and created an article around it. Then, came requirements that writers use an exact keyword phrase. Finally, came requirements that the exact keywords be used in the article title, the SEO title, the keywords, and of course, within the text.
An assignment system was put into place where writers claim articles. It’s a lot like Demand Studio’s article claiming system except it has the extra step. Demand Studios automatically assigns the writer the article, while Bright Hub requires the editor to approve your claim first. It slows down the process and makes it difficult to shift into high-gear to backfill a drop in freelance writing volume. Now, a writer must sift through “opportunities,” choose an article, wait for an editor to approve it, and only then can you begin writing. You can only claim 10 articles at a time, including those waiting for editor OK.
Next came requirements that each article have a minimum number of links to other articles published on Bright Hub. Then, every article required an image (at least in some channels). And finally, Bright Hub bowed all the way down to the Demand Studios model by requiring a “reference” or “source” for every article.
Each extra step lowers the rate per hour a freelancer can make writing for Bright Hub.
Ironically, each of these moves made Bright Hub more like Demand Studios, all in the name of search engine optimization. While these tactics may have worked, they also had the effect of standing Bright Hub right next to Demand Studios and when Google fired shots at one, they hit both.
How Much Does Bright Hub Pay?
Originally, another key distinction between Bright Hub and Demand Studios was how much they paid. Demand Studios paid a flat rate of $15 per article. Bright Hub paid a flat rate of $20 per article plus revenue sharing.
Like all new websites, in the beginning the revenue share wasn’t worth the paper is wasn’t printed on. Over the years, however, Bright Hub grew into one of the top traffic website online, and a portfolio of nearly 300 articles ended up generating enough page views to make monthly revenue sharing payments of over $200. A handful of articles account for most of those page views, but as with all revenue sharing, there is no way to know in advance which articles will perform the best regardless of how much keyword research you do.
Ironically, for me at least, the vast majority of the articles that generated the highest page views were those that I had developed on my own without any editor keyword research and published before all of the newer SEO rules went into effect. Perhaps more telling, the articles that I had built my own web links to seemed to fare better than those without suggesting that all of that internal keyword research and repetition was worth less than a few links to an otherwise quality article.
Whatever the case may be, in my case, I’m willing to say that each Bright Hub article published eventually earned approximately $1 per month in revenue sharing on average. That made the pay rate $20 + $12 per year for each article, which was respectable given the flexibility and effort for publishing there.
Recently, the pay per article at Bright Hub was lowered to just $10, however. As one of the early writers I was grandfathered at the $20 per article rate for a while, which kept the site as one of my favorites to write for. Unfortunately, the grandfathering came to an end recently as well. Demand Studios, by contrast, continues to pay $15 for most articles, and has recently begun paying $18.50 for certain categories of articles. Even if you include revenue sharing, that means that, on average, Bright Hub articles now pay approximately the same, or less, as the higher paying Demand Studios articles.
Bright Hub pays monthly, usually by the first week after month end, while Demand Studios pays twice per week. For a freelance writer with a solid income stream this is a slight distinction, however, it does mean that trying to pick up and publish more than a handful of articles during the last week of the month is almost impossible at Bright Hub.
Bright Hub Revenue Sharing Pay
The Panda Update II hit Bright Hub hard. Public information from companies like Systrix claimed Bright Hub lost as much as 91 percent of its Google SERPs. The traffic from my own Bright Hub published articles shows a much smaller decline, something closer to a 30 or 40 percent decline, although my small number of articles is hardly indicative of the brighthub.com website as a whole.
Like Demand Studios, Bright Hub escaped the first round of the Panda update pretty much unharmed. Messages from the company at that time took that as an indication of the high-quality and savvy SEO practices at Bright Hub. When Panda II hit, the company bought hook, line, and sinker, into the concept that they lost traffic because lower-quality posts were dragging down higher quality posts.
Ironically, new writer guidelines now say to avoid the keyword stuffing into titles, tags, and descriptions, requirements that were implemented during the last year.
Now Bright Hub’s attempt to regain its traffic involves removing articles that were previously published but now have low or no traffic. The idea is that by removing the “low-quality” articles on the website that what remains will recover to its previous glory. That means that writers can’t ever get revenue sharing on those articles again. Assuming the company is right and traffic does return to other content, then that is not a big deal. However, it is very likely that there is more going on here than just “bad” content dragging “good” content down, in which case, each writer simply has fewer articles to use to earn that revenue sharing that was supposed to be paid “forever” on published article.
The lower overall traffic translates into a cut in revenue sharing payments. While this is not Bright Hub’s fault, per se, it does highlight the fact that revenue sharing, no matter how generous, is transitory and speculative. Bright Hub editors have often touted that the pay per article is not “only $10″ because of revenue sharing.
That claim becomes a little more difficult to buy into now. Not just because of the current traffic cut, but because such a traffic decline is in no way impossible for the future. Articles that get 3,000 page views per month today may only get 1,000 page views next month not only if there is a Google update, but also if someone publishes something new that Google ranks higher. In other words, a professional writer must consider revenue sharing (at any website) to be temporary.
I still write for Bright Hub, although the number of articles I submit each month is a fraction of what I used to feel comfortable with. We’ll see how things play out after the latest round of changes. If traffic returns and finding and writing articles doesn’t get any more time consuming then I’ll probably keep going. Otherwise, I’ll submit onesie, twosie, each month or two to keep from having my articles taken over by someone else. (Oh, I didn’t mention that part did I? Maybe next time.)