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Can You Still Make Money Online in 2015? Updated for 2016

By Edited Jul 14, 2016 25 18

Has the Ship Sailed for Earning Money Online as a Writer?

With a 2016 Update

Since the spring of 2014, the landscape of the internet has changed drastically for those who earn money online writing articles on various platforms. Here is a timeline of the events:

May 14, 2014

Helium Network emailed it’s authors that is will be shutting down the Helium 360 sites. Authors have to move their content by December 15th. 

Can You Still Make Money Online in 2015?

Photo from freedigitalphotos.net/stockimages

July 2, 2014

Yahoo Voices announces that it will shut down on July 31st, followed by the closing of the Yahoo Contributor Network in August.

August 15, 2014

It was announced that Hubpages had acquired Squidoo’s content and many feathers were ruffled about the content transfer. 

Squidoo authors who chose to transfer had four months to get their articles aligned with Hubpages Terms of Service or else they would be unfeatured. What many authors found is that their traffic dropped like a rock and so did their earnings. Others had their accounts closed after the four month grace period had ended.

October 9, 2014

While Bubblews can hardly be considered a writing site, many people, including myself, wrote there because it was fun, interactive, and easy to make payout. Once the payment threshold changed from $25 to $50, payout became harder to achieve in a timely manner. Many writers became discouraged because it was one thing not to receive a $25 payout, but $50? That is a lot of money.

In October, international users were told that they would have to wait 60-90 days before they would be paid. This population of authors is one that really needs the money, as the fifty dollars goes a lot farther in their countries than in ours.

The site was buggy, had lots of spam and internal issues with users abusing the system, and honest writers were not receiving their deserved payout. I received all of mine, but not without a fight. I closed my account in November 2014.

February 22, 2015

Tyler, the administrator of Seekyt, shared with writers that due to the illnesses of both of his parents, he was selling the site.  While it sold quickly and is still viable, the sale shook up writers because they had no control over who owns a site that houses their content.

April 29, 2015

Bill Nihill, the owner of Zujava, informed both readers and writers in a blog post that the site will be shutting down on July 1, 2015. There are numerous reasons cited for the site’s demise (including the loss of their Amazon account), and none came as a surprise to those who wrote there. 

One year earlier, in the spring of 2014, many of Zujava’s most prolific authors and supporters started moving their content elsewhere, myself included. Bill had seemingly disappeared and rarely made contact with the site. This, to me, was a red flag.

UPDATE: August 2015

In July 2015, Seekyt was sold again and the new owners have made writers upset with new rules that they did not sign up for.

Overwhelmed and Depressed

Should I just give up and leave?

If all of this news sounds very depressing, it was. I have always preached about the need to diversify your online portfolio, and even though I followed this advice, these changes had an effect on my bottom line. I know of many online writers whose work appeared on all of the above mentioned sites and have literally hundreds and hundreds of articles to save and repurpose for new homes. I know of others who left writing altogether and found jobs in the real world.

I spent the vast majority of the past year moving content again and again to new sites. Some articles have been on three sites in one year! Cutting, pasting, saving and moving content was pretty much all I did for the past twelve months.

In fact, I became so discouraged that I seriously contemplated giving up this line of work.  Never before had it bothered me to be at home all day and write. But this was not writing…this was busywork! I was bored out of my mind and frustrated that all of the time and effort I put into my work was now moot.

Can You Still Make Money Online in 2015?

In March I was offered a job with “full time plus” hours at my synagogue. I was being wooed by all of the Senior Staff and high level volunteers to take the position. The interview would just be a formality…the job was pretty much mine for the taking if I wanted it.

For days, my husband and I sat down and had serious discussions about taking the job. The pros and cons were listed and talked about at length. We came to the conclusion that while it was flattering to be a first round draft pick and so highly sought after, the job and the hours were not a good fit for our family at this time in our lives.

The silver lining from this situation was that the desire to write again was relit. While I do work outside the home, substitute teaching is on my terms. My Hebrew School teaching job has hours that do not interfere with my family life. I work at home so I can be available to everyone that needs me.  Somehow I had to still make this work.

I took a break from moving and editing content and created a new Girl Scout website. Writing, researching and helping other leaders brought back a joy that had been lost in the non-stop editing process.

What Can You Do Now to Protect Your Online Income?

What Can You Do to Protect Your Online Income?

This timeline of events should have online writers looking long and hard at what they do-especially if you need this income to pay your bills. Content sites shut down or lost traffic for many reasons, among them all of Google's changes and updates that were supposedly for the benefit of the reader. 

The truth is if you write for others, you have no control over the site and what others place on it. 

Does that mean you should stop writing for sites like InfoBarrel?


It means you should not only have your work on sites like this. You need to have your own websites and blogs that you control so your income is never at the mercy of others. In the new world of Google, diversifying your income no longer means having your work scattered on other sites that are not yours. It means, in my opinion, that your diversification plan has most of your work on your own sites, not those of others.

What is the Future of Online Writing?

I have not lost hope that writing online will continue to be a legitimate way to earn money. After over five years of doing this, I believe that the strong will survive and thrive-think Infobarrel 4.0. Quality controls have to be put in place from the beginning so that spam and badly written articles does not overtake the site. 

One thing I have done to create more online income is to write at smaller, multi-author sites like Goody Guides and Spatial-Anamoly. These sites are run by administrators who carefully vet who is allowed to write there. The writers who own the sites have been through all of the changes I have been through, and they want to continue to do what they love. There are rules that, if broken, will cause your content to be removed.  

Ebooks are truly a form of passive income to look into. While I have two, I want to add more. A third has been in the back of my mind for some time, but there are only so many hours in a day. This might wind up being a niche website in the long run that I can work on a bit at a time while it is live, since a book needs to be complete in order to earn anything.

Time is always a factor and I have to remember to write one page at a time in order to accomplish this goal. It just seems overwhelming at time to sit down and just do it! 

I have two niche blogs in the works, one related to Girl Scouts (big surprise!) and one related to working at home. I have moved a few deleted Hubs to Wizzley and will see how that pans out. I am not going to invest a lot of time there, but I do want to test the waters more. 

Of course, IB will continue to be a place where I put articles as well.

As you can see, most of my future plans involve writing that I control. 

There is an expression that when a door closes, another is opened. Many doors have been shut down this past year, but I will be walking cautiously through the doors that are now open before me.

One Year Later May 2016

It has been a year since I wrote this article and when I reread it, I realize how much life has changed for me in real life and with my online work. Here is an update.

November 2015

IBme Facebook page is launched. A series of webinars are offered in December to help those who belong to the group with branding, marketing, sales, productivity and more. 

February 2016

Hubpages tells its writers that they are creating new niche sites, which is clearly what Google has been favoring for at the past few years. Only certain articles will be moved to these new domains. Writers have mixed feelings about the whole process.

February 2016

Persona Paper, created during the Bubblews era of writing sites, announces that it is shutting down. Only a handful of writing sites remain online.

May 2016

Responding to writers' concerns about the future of InfoBarrel, the admins start the IB State of the Union forum thread. IB 4.0 is still being worked on, but the site is here to stay.

My Online Writing and Working in the Real World Again

Can the two mix?

In July 2015, I received a phone call from the soon to be retiring preschool director. The new director and she were wondering if I would be interested in teaching the four year old preschool class five mornings a week. After years of turning down job opportunities in the preschool, I went in to speak to them both, and after discussing it with my family, I decided to take the job. The hours fit my life, it is a family friendly atmosphere, and I would now have a steady paycheck to replace my declining online earnings.

Can You Still Earn Money Online in 2016?

Photo from Pixabay

In addition to my new preschool job, the Religious School principal offered me a job teaching in Hebrew High School one night a week, which I accepted.

That same month I also decided to take care of an ongoing health issue I had suffered with for eleven years. My carpal tunnel had progressively become worse, and with all of the cutting and pasting I had done moving articles around, the proverbial straw had broken the camel’s back. Pain and discomfort had become a way of life for me. My first surgery was scheduled for November, with the second one being done a month later in December.

I spent the rest of the summer creating posts for my two Girl Scout blogs so they could be on autopilot until the holiday season. I wrote as many articles on various sites as I could squeeze into my soon to be limited writing time. With a new job and two disabled hands, writing was going to be put on the back burner.

What Have I Learned? Have I Given Up on Writing Online?

The past year has been quite eye opening for me. I love my preschool job-seriously love it. After spending six years at home, I was ready to get back out in the world on a daily basis. Being greeted every day with hugs, smiles, and “I love you, Miss Hannah!” and looking forward to going to work each day tells me that I made the right decision. I also never thought I would enjoy teaching young teens, and while it has it’s moments, I do it with a smile on my face (and next year I get to teach my twins for the third time!). I work six days week, which can be draining. I am looking forward to my much needed and deserved summer break!

While I do love my multiple teaching jobs, I still enjoy writing. I have only had time to write a few pieces since January. Most of my time online has been spent updating older articles and my blogs. I recently finished my newest Girl Scout blog and started a second niche one, which will be finished by the summer. 

Despite having my earnings decline, I have not given up on this line of income. There is still money to be made online in 2016. While it is no longer my primary way to earn a living, it remains a source of revenue that my family and I depend on. 



May 21, 2015 5:47pm
Thank you so much for writing this. This is the conclusion I've come to as well, after spending the past several months evaluating the various places I write for.
May 22, 2015 3:06am
This has been a very challenging year for those of us who write online. While writing on various platforms used to be the way to go, it is no longer the case. These kinds of sites are great for writing about topics that may not fit your particular niche or for expanding upon your niche. But they are no longer a place to put all of your work.

Thanks for reading!
May 23, 2015 10:07am
This was great! Also, encouraging as I have been toying with the idea of righting an ebook or kindle book.
May 25, 2015 10:43am
This was very well detailed and impressive account of what so far happened and still happening.

The Author is a true writer. I enjoyed the flow of the page and the account it self is overwhelming and I am moved.

A lot of folks out their today has this problem of choices and been left hanging on half way after so many hour of work has gone through blowing contents up.

I see such daily on my niche website and do help much as I can.

Like she said. the only way is keep moving forward and I hope all ears are listening after reading this powerful article.

Jun 4, 2015 6:30am
Thank you for reading! It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to earn anything online.
Jun 4, 2015 12:31pm
I have not signed into IB in about 8 months and this was the first article I read. I loved it! Yes, I do believe the strong writers will thrive and yes, it is possible to make a good income online from writing articles and blogs.

I too was considered for a FULL-TIME job. However, if I accepted I would had no time to write, build on my websites or YouTube channel. I still believe I will become a huge Internet success and independently employed.

As of now I got a part-time job that I like to earn modest steady income and at the same time work continue to work it online to reach my goals. I will not cave into to settle for less than I deserve. I'm willing to suck it up, stick it out to produce daily residual income faster.
Jun 4, 2015 1:28pm
Thank you, HBI. The choice to not take the job did not come easy, but I do what I do because of my family. Just today I took my mom to a doctor appointment in the morning and later in the day I had to take my daughter. This just could not happen as a newbie on a job-even one that I was asked to take on.

Right now I am building and restructuring...a year spent doing this and I am just about done.

I love how you have such faith in yourself towards your online success. I wish you the best because it is your Attitude that will take you to your Altitude!
Jun 14, 2015 4:37am
This is great. eBooks are a great way to suplement the loss of some of these sites, but you do need good content.
Jun 14, 2015 1:07pm
Good content is important, yet it is not enough. You also need a narrow enough niche to break through and get noticed.
Jun 26, 2015 9:09am
Very nice article and good conclusion for it. You are right, there has to be something of our own- Its both revenue and security
Aug 25, 2015 3:50pm
This past year is proof that you need to own your own sites.
Aug 25, 2015 10:22am
My highly specialized web sites were hacked. Since revenue from them had dropped significantly over the years, I'm now questioning whether to bother with them anymore. Maybe just submitting on Infobarrel is the way to go.
Aug 25, 2015 3:49pm
I am sorry to hear that. Is there any way to get them back? I cannot wait for IB 4.0 to launch and see what the future holds.
Sep 25, 2015 10:54am
After five years of online content writing/blogging the only significant money I’ve received is from three of IBs monthly contests (two second place, one third place). I just don’t see how anyone makes anything worth the effort.

Diversifying was my goal up until yesterday. I was with Yahoo Voices (Associated Content) for years before it sank. Tried Squidoo, HubPages and Bubblews for a year -- Bubblews paid only once from my over 200 posts. Tried Tumblr for 3-years using my Amazon and Chitika AdSense accounts – still nothing gained. Set up my own WordPress page and linked all my content from InfoBarrel, Squidoo and Bubblews, as well as unique stuff plastered, added my Amazon AdSense account – sync’d it all with my Facebook account, Google+ page, and Tumblr page – and after nine months, I’ve made a whopping 60 cents on Amazon. My 159 articles on InfoBarrel are doing no better than anything else I have.

Yesterday, I found myself on Google+ in a pissing contest with one of those internet trolls that bashes folks that don’t believe as he does. I ran into a similar situation on Bubblews in the past and eventually dropped them for that reason as well as the poor earnings. After trading verbal jabs with the evil troll, I re-evaluated the reason I’ve been writing for pennies. My monatized YoutTube account is also an earnings bust.

Yesterday, I deleted my Google+, Tumblr and WordPress pages/accounts. All three sites were providing zero benefit to my purpose and, unfortunately, only providing a path for that evil troll to find me. Facebook has only benefitted me through finding old classmates, Army buddies, and my grandkids; other than that, its value is diminishing daily. The only thing working consistently for me is paid surveys.

From what I've read here about IB 4.0, it's going to make things even harder for those of us that are never featured. I wish my experience was better and I could give some positive feedback but the odds are against earning more than the occasional pocket change for coffee.
Sep 25, 2015 5:49pm
I am sorry that your experience has not been a positive one. While I am not earning what I used to as a writer, this line of work is still worth my time. Since I now have a new real world part-time job that is so perfect for my life and for my family, my time to write has decreased. I have decided to focus on fewer niches and to devote time to updating older content.

I have made a point of never getting into online arguments with people, since there is no point in feeding the trolls. My opinion is that you will never change the mind of this kind of person, and negative energy spent is a waste of my personal time. I try to focus on positive things!

I am looking forward to the new IB 4.0 as it focus is even more on quality than before. Featuring does not bring in the big bucks long-term-you just get some more traffic for being on the front page.

There are still many old timers here on IB and we are here because it is still worth our time and effort. It may not be like the old SEO driven days, but money can still be made. You might want to hang around and see what is in store!

I appreciate the comments and wish you the best of luck!
Nov 14, 2015 1:44pm
Thanks mommymommymommy for the great article. I have been lucky enough to have done little on content sites outside of this one. However I also identified that I need to create my own content sites in order to allow greater control. Great article. Completely agree and glade that you are continuing on InfoBarrel
Nov 20, 2015 5:23am
Thank you for reading! The online world has changed drastically over the years, that is for sure. Earning is possible, but it is harder now that you cannot simply earn money writing SEO garbage. Advertisers are paying less as well. I have a few sites in the works that will have to be completed in the summer when school is out since I went back to a PT teaching job. Article writing is still part of what I do and I cannot wait until IB 4.0 rolls out.
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  1. Ryan Duber "Helium Publishing Closing Doors: Back Up Your Data Now." www.makeuseof.com. 22/05/2014. 16/05/2015 <Web >
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