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A Squidooer's First Impression of Info Barrel

By Edited May 10, 2016 0 0

Awoken - ArtRage painting by Flynn the Cat

Pros

Articles can be short or long, and still look complete
A range of choices for earnings (Ad Sense, Chitika, Amazon) which pay out directly to you.
Pre-approval process and quality limits raises the overall site quality, and assures your article is probably worth reading. It's also very open and easy to adjust to.
Pays out to non-US writers, due to the way the ad revenue is set up.
Easy, straight forward.
High revenue share and potential to increase that.
Can become a pre-approved writer, so bypass the quality control ^_^
No bugs! Everything seems to work quite smoothly.

Cons

Pre-approval process can be aggravating.
Need to set up three separate ad accounts (Chitika, Adsense and Amazon) and reach payout on all of them (which is $100 on Adsense!). Also, leaves you at the mercy of these companies - Chitika, for example, isn't even accepting new applications right now, and Amazon is hardly worth joining for me as most of the pay would be taken back in Cheque fees to overseas.
The link limits are very annoying - although this will be mitigated when you write enough Info Barrel articles (which aren't limited) - that you have enough links and further resources to refer to, without resorting to other sites. This also significantly affects potential for affiliate referrals from Zazzle or AllPosters or Amazon, outside of the IB earning structure, and makes it much harder to credit images (or use more than a couple).
Being used to the very varied (and more demanding) Squidoo set-up, I miss a lot of the options and flexibility. Squidoo can be anything from an article, to a link list, a shop or a video tour, right up to what is effectively a complete web page.
The title is the URL and the words are underscored, not hyphenated, which annoys me.
Fewer options for SEO (less control over elements of articles)
Only five tags!
The objection to 'call to follow up on other sites' - while I can see why they'd do this, it also seems overly strictly enforced, as I assumed it would be common-sense enforcement (that links to further resources BE further resources and useful extras, not the entire point of the article) rather than strict 'letter of the law' enforcement.
The charity settings are either/or - either all your income for an article goes to charity, or none does.
No fun modules.
I've just discovered that I can't edit the format of the pre-set article types! I wanted to add another picture for you.
No word count when writing (has to be over 400 words)
Hard to work out what 'self serving links' always are

Full Review

This is an introduction and an overview of my first impression of Info Barrel. Doubtless my opinions will change over time (and very likely, will reflect the amount of money I am getting!). Currently, I have been on IB less than a week, have read a great deal, have one published article, one draft, and two pending (that I had to fix up for various reasons such as word limits and the 'call to visit other sites' limit). This is my initial impression. The short version? It's streamlined, straightforward, fairly professional looking and has a lot of potential.. However, I already miss not having the control over my choices, design and content, and the flexibility and fun of Squidoo.

Awoken - painting by Flynn the Cat
I have come from Squidoo - I recently published my hundred and something-th lens (103? 104? I lose track!) and have been there nearly two years. In that time, I have gone from an average of $10 a month, to $80 or more and climbing, as well as an additional $40 of Zazzle sales and referrals. Having established a stable income from there, and learnt how to write for the internets, do basic HTML (and some fancy stuff), stalk things on Google and the correct sacrifices to make to the great Search Engine in the Sky to be completely ignored, I started looking around for another site to write on, as people recommend trying more than one! I looked at HubPages, stayed far away from eHow, and recently stumbled across Info Barrel. I'm not based in the US, my blog has been neglected for over a year, and I wanted to trial without getting too committed - IB was easy to jump into, is relatively new, but growing (and so still has gaping empty holes in a lot of my areas of interest), and if nothing else, provided a good backlink opportunity, and a chance to expand a little on subjects. My first article was a quick, personal piece of descriptive writing about Dermographism, sharing what it meant to me - I felt able to stop there, rather than trying to cover everything about the topic, as I did on my Squidoo lens. This meant it was both unique, and offered value to visitors travelling in either direction, and was relevant and something I'd been wanting to write but hadn't quite fitted on the lens.

...and I wrote a couple of articles, then suddenly found Squidoo more interesting again! I would strongly recommend having both Squidoo and IB (or a similar site) in your portfolio, if only to give you abreak when boredom or writer's block hits.

IB is medium to high quality, climbing in influence and power and numbers, and offers good earning potential. It also looks like it is a lot less work! The ability to just write a straight-out article, and not hunt up complementing links and re-title modules, makes everything much simpler and less... likely to cause me to wander off in boredom, because I still have to write the introduction. Articles go through an approval process initially, but are easy to fix if denied. The link limits are incredibly aggravating though, as are the limited article structures (although the consistency is probably good for the site). As both an artist, and someone who's felt their way around site design and SEO a bit, the ability to design a page is very important to me, and is something I enjoy. Not being able to change my title, or pick the URL (rather than have it BE the title) is irritating.

Images - while adding an image to your article is fairly easy, how they're handled after that (crediting, linking, editing after uploading, and so forth) is unclear and could be improved. This is probably more important to me than others, because I upload my own images and don't want to have to be utterly paranoid, in case I make a mistake and upload the print quality image (which can then be easily accessed). Or for that matter, not to be able to credit the source (which is usually me, but I still want people to know that!)

Topics - a browse through IB turns up a lot of articles on topics that would have me dashing for the report link on Squidoo. How to lose weight fast, make losts of money on this get rich quick scheme (although the ban on affiliate links and link spam within articles helps a bit there) and endless repetitive articles from the same person... And because payment is view (and clickthrough) based , some of the spam is probably doing very well. Obviously IB is new and may fix some of this, but I'd probably have avoided the site if I'd seen some of this stuff beforehand.

But I would never give up my Squidoo lenses - even if they end up earning less, they are still far more fun and flexible. And they are probably the best SEO-learning site on the web. Furthermore, my oldest lenses are now doing consistently well, as they gain in gravitas. While a lot of people have complained about the lack of clarity of the payments, what they seem to miss is that while what each lens gets varies, a fixed percentage always goes to the lenses, it's just which lenses that is in question. Furthermore, there are opportunites to donate various percentages to various charities, and you can 'optimise' your lens through different avenues (social, traffic...) which is a benefit as it offers more options (and some pages will always do better than others in different areas). Further, as you don't need to set up your own individual ad sense (or other) accounts, when Squidoo trials new ones (such as Infolinks and Skimlinks) you don't have to open yet another account. And when they don't work well, or even get closed down (as Skimlinks was), they aren't destroying people's income, because you don't have an individual account. And finally, that the big earners of Squidoo pull in far more from 'off site' payments - affiliate accounts from Amazon, and Commission Junction and Clickbank and others. It is a platform to leap off from, and it helps you to fly higher unencumbered, while IB is more of an actual glider, which can flop or soar.


In Closing

Generally, I like Info Barrel. It's straightforward, easy to understand, and simple to write for. I do miss a lot of the options Squidoo provides, but it's a nice complement to real lenses. It's far too early to tell how well I'll do, money-wise! The site itself, as well as what I can do with it, look like they have a lot of potential.

Some issues, such as the pre-approval process and the time limit on drafts (how long you can sit on a URL for - about a week, I think) are two-way swords. Both annoyances, and both are positives. I think they would have a very good effect on overall site quality, and act as minor aggravations to individual writers. If you are interested in an article site, I do recommend signing up to Info Barrel but I also strongly believe that having fun making a Squidoo lens is just as important. Both can drive traffic to the other - and other different outlets for research and creativity.
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