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How Good are How to Articles?

This article has been generously donated to InfoBarrel for Charities.
By Edited Jun 1, 2014 6 10

Are how to articles really the bomb?  Why do they pay so well?  What’s with all the hype about how to articles being the best money makers?  Does this make sense?  What makes a how to article perform well compared to others? 

I’d like to take just a few minutes to give out my rather boring opinion on them and why all the rage is pure garbage.  I’m really writing this in reference to a growing number of posts on various forums, not so much the one on InfoBarrel, about how they are the greatest thing ever for making cash and have been for years.

Does it Make Sense?

I don’t think it makes any sense at all, in most cases, but not all.  If you are looking up something like how to tie your shoes, there’s no commercial appeal to speak of.  Now, with something like how to change oil in a car there is a little bit of commercial appeal.  With something like how to donate cord blood, there is a lot of it.  The final example I gave is the only one which is likely to gain any real revenue at all.  If you could get traffic to this incredibly tough to crack niche article, you could do very well.  People looking for a local cord blood bank could find one on my article, through the ads. 

I don’t think how to articles are the cat’s arse, I just think certain how to articles have great potential.  There is, in my opinion, this false thought of them being the way to go for big money.  I just don’t see it.

It Was eHow

There were few places out there where you could earn really big money like you could, back in the day, with eHow.  It was where my online journey began and I assume it was the beginning for a lot of people. 

Many people made a lot of money with eHow.  Many people put out some really terrible articles on the site and made a lot of money with them, including myself.  Many self-professed gurus found out the hard way that there was a lot more to SEO than they thought.  Many of them weren’t the masters of the SEO universe, they just happened to write on a site that was seemingly in bed with the Big G.

It’s a Bait and Switch Tactic

I had a few articles make huge money each month on eHow and some other non-how to sites.  Of the three major money makers, all over $200 per month, none of them were anything worthwhile (not proud of it, but willing to admit it).  One article in particular was how to find a NADA Blue Book Value Free.  Nobody was typing the how to part, or any variation of it, into the search engine. 

I ranked high.  Really high.  I ranked above the NADA site.  It ranked way above the Kelley Blue Book site.  Did anyone typing NADA blue book value into a search engine want a how to article?  Of course not.  They wanted the NADA site and they got there by clicking to it from my eHow page, from the advertising.  You could, at one time, find a zillion examples of this.  How to find cheap plasma television sets was another big earner for me.  Did they really need advice to search sales fliers, search online, and search the clearance?  Heck no.  It was the equivalent to the bait and switch trick.  The quickest way off the page was to click on what you really wanted.  Nobody typed how to into the search engines to find my articles there.   I was a classic example of falsely gaining traffic.  I figured out anything could be turned into how to form and people would click on to get there and click again to leave, hopefully clicking where I wanted them to click.

Okay.  It’s not fair to blame it on eHow, but they definitely contributed to the thought of how to articles being the holy grail of earnings. 

When do People Search for these Articles?

When you do most of your how to searches, are you looking for the future, or are you looking for something right here, right now?  Certainly, there are times when you’ll search in advance to figure out what purchases you might need to make to complete the task.  It’s those how to articles which will make some money for you. 

If you are going to do how to articles and the goal is money, not just having your article viewed a lot, you’ll need to concentrate on the right kinds of how to articles.  Somewhere along the lines, I think people were duped into the thought of the how to article making money because it’s a how to article, not because it catches people at specific times when earnings are more likely.  Now, don’t get me wrong, even an article like how to tie your shoes can earn money, but it’s not very likely.  Anything can earn money for that matter.  It just so happens the bulk of the money earners earn money for specific reasons other than being how to articles.

The Future of How to Articles

I think they’re going to get spanked again.  Not the legitimate how to article, which actually target people looking at how to do something, but for the ones which are just targeting killer keywords, but have no reason to be written in how to form, like the ones I wrote at eHow.  If you are writing real how to articles, I suspect you’ll do very well monetarily, assuming you target the right ones.

Those garbage articles I wrote no longer rate high at all, thankfully.  I actually am very glad eHow removed my name from them.  I don’t want to be associated with those articles anymore, but I am willing to admit I wrote them, no matter how bad they were.  I think how to articles have their place and can be a great way to earn and have lots of people view them, but they aren’t all that and then some.

 
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Comments

Apr 15, 2012 4:39pm
aidenofthetower
I have to agree with you. I never thought that how to articles could really be a huge money maker. However, they are often nicer to write than product articles. :-P I also think they are very important for niche and authority sites. After all, they give your site more purpose than "just here to make the person who threw it up money".
Apr 18, 2012 9:25am
davwrite
A nice perspective.
Apr 20, 2012 8:41am
tkmcdonald
I enjoyed reading the article. It gave me a lot of insight about why How to articles seemed to do so well. I think I may still write a few, but make sure that give something to the readers.
Apr 23, 2012 9:54am
southerngirl09
I like to write 'how to articles' that actually share a 'how to experience'. Hopefully, a reader will appreciate the knowledge and read other articles.
Apr 24, 2012 5:36pm
formidexo
I learned a lot, thanks!
Apr 25, 2012 4:13pm
jpwriter
The format of the article's title doesn't matter too much as long as the keywords are there (although you do want an appealing title so readers choose it from the search engine results).

The take away message here is that earnings rely on the commercial appeal of the article. I think the "how to tie your shoes, how to change oil in a car, how to donate cord blood" example demonstrates the subtleties of how to topics commercial appeal. Once people understand the commercial component better they can tweak their articles.

Good info!
Jun 5, 2012 4:15am
whitleyd84
It'll be interesting to see the next big thinning in the junk "how to"s, whether it's via the almighty G or folks just ditching the platform/s. Interesting how you capitalized on them when you did though.
Jun 7, 2012 4:15pm
Freesamples
Good points. Many of these how to phrases have high search volumes but without that commercial intent you're just wasting your time . . .
Jun 28, 2012 4:58pm
Danielpj512
Very Interesting, Thanks. The difference is so subtle.
Oct 22, 2012 11:39am
Scaparici
hmmmm....I appreciate your perspective. :)
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