I signed up for Infobarrel on May 7 this year, exactly six months ago, so I think it's time for a progress report. Why a progress report and not an earnings report? Well, I'm not here solely to make money. The challenge of producing well-received articles which educate me while I write them is the main thing; I've reached the age where regular mental exercise is as important as eating right and the occasional physical work-out. But I do hope to earn a bit of money, because I haven't been in full-time employment since early 2013.

US dollarsCredit: Public DomainI can't remember where I first read about this website, but I didn't wait long before looking into the nitty-gritty and then getting started. My first article was published within 24 hours of joining (thanks reviewers - you've never kept me waiting for very long), but over the next few weeks I had several rejected for various reasons. My tenth article appeared on May 28, precisely three weeks after joining, and number 20 hit the World Wide Web on June 20. 

As of today, I have 54 live articles (including this one), with another half dozen in my draft folder. A while back, I had a notion I'd get 100 published by the end of this year, but I soon realized that wasn't realistic, especially as my articles now tend to be longer. Just two of the first 16 exceeded 1,000 words, while two more recent efforts have posted over 2,100 words. None of my articles has been featured, perhaps because it took me about three months to realize I need to submit them for consideration. And seldom do the feature topics match what I've been writing about, I've discovered.

Inspiration

Finding subjects to write about hasn't been a problem. I've been on this Earth for over half a century, and seen a few things. I've been fortunate in that I've met lots of interesting people, traveled a fair bit, and always had enough money and free time to indulge my passion for reading, especially history. Moreover, every job I've held since the age of 27 has required continuous learning. Since 1996, when I left Canada for Japan (I've since worked in South Korea and Hong Kong), I've notched up a more than a dozen years teaching in colleges or working on educational projects of one kind or another. That period of my life has provided the backbone of half a dozen articles, one of which is currently my third most-popular in terms of views (but not earnings). 

Promotion

Facebook is responsible for 90% or more of my views. I've joined various geographical, interest and professional groups, and posted my articles in them. Often times I've put a short teaser ahead of the image preview and title. For instance, to go with this article, I've tried: "Mummified monks, the breast shrine and a gay rabbit god!" Sensationalism seems to work - that piece is now my no. 4 IB publication in terms of views. When people have commented on my article within Facebook, I respond. If they make constructive criticisms, I do a bit more research and often amend the article. Then I post a comment thanking them and saying I've made some changes. I don't do this merely to be polite - it helps my article bubble up and stay near the front of the group, which obviously increases the chance people will read it.

I've also tried a handful of specialized forums, with very limited success. Reddit hasn't done anything for me, and I haven't tried Google+.

Earnings

As of November 2, I'd earned US$22.54 from my articles, which all told have got about 8,500 views. So while I'm not rolling in cash, the US$50-payout threshold looks very attainable. My best month's total was US$7.04. The worst was the first month, just 11 cents!

What's been interesting is how the number of views needed to generate a given amount of money varies so much from article to article. I'm going to share this because it may be useful for other writers choosing topics; I plan to continue to write about what interests me, and that's all. My most profitable article so far, about South Korea, needed 327 views per dollar (and has earned just under US$10 to date). My no. 2 publication, about Taiwan, has notched up 585 views per dollar. What I think of as my "beautiful women" series has done noticeably better, averaging 197 views per dollar.

Like some other IB writers, I haven't earned a cent from Amazon Affiliate sales.

I welcome questions and comments!