NOTE: On December 6, 2010, Helium changed it’s payment policies.
Writing for Helium is a bit of a gamble. Although up-front payments offset some of the risk, there still is the chance that any article you sweat blood over will be met with an underwhelming response from the Internet community. This lack of page views translates to lack of money. More traffic to your article means more money for your revenue share earnings and good buzz which can help your freelance writing career.
Although there are some gems in the Creative Writing channel on Helium, the non-fiction articles rake in far more money and readers. This is probably because people are tight for time. When they go on the Internet, they are looking for specific information, usually of a “how to” nature. They just don’t have time for short stories, poetry or creative non-fiction – or think they don’t have time for it.
Lean and Evergreen
Ever get stuck in a check-out line and read all of the headlines of the magazines? Ever notice that the same topics come up again and again? People will always have questions and seek information on sex, money and health (especially dieting). These are “evergreen” article topics, no matter what the reader’s background. These are also articles that people will want to read year ’round, as opposed to “150 Ways to Hang Lights On a Christmas Tree.” (No offense to anyone who has actually written that article.)
Articles that get passed on from one reader to another tend to be short articles of 500 words or less because many hurried people are intimidated by seeing a long article and assuming they will needs scads of time to read it.
Some Helium articles get a lot of page views simply because they offend someone or some group. The offended reader gets so upset that he/she/it circulates a link to your article with their friends, who get offended and tell their friends, and so on. I once did an article called The Temperament of the Hackney Pony. This did not go down well with the Hackney pony online community. Not only did I receive several incendiary e-mails, but I also earned another few dollars for that title.
Don’t write a Helium article that breaks the user agreement and write erotica or hate-filled racist rants. Also, don’t intentionally try to insult any one person or one group. Just be as honest as you can be. Some people do not like honesty or another person’s opinion.
Sheer Dumb Luck
My most consistent money-making Helium article is Quick Energy Boost Foods. I have no idea why that article has done so well – although it is lean and evergreen. Perhaps a reader put it on a social networking site, which can give a quick jump in readership. Perhaps it offended gluttonous sloths. Who knows? Sometimes you just write the best you can, hit that “Submit” button and let fate take its course.
The Adventerous Writer. “What is an Evergreen Article? Examples of Evergreen Content.” http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/what-is-evergreen-article-examples-of-evergreen-content/
Wikipedia. “Helium.com.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium.com
Author has been a member of Helium since 2007.