If you are new to writing online as I am, you probably do not understand how a lot of this works. In the last several months, I have learned a lot more about online writing and the mechanics of search engines than I did in the last five years.
When I got to my 100th article, I decided that when I crossed the 200 threshold, I was going to write something about my experience here on InfoBarrel from a new person’s point of view.
However, I delayed it until I published my 300th article because I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about. There is a lot of information out there from a lot of people, so this is not the only source or guide to give you some advice. But I accomplished a lot on IB in a short amount of time, so now I will let you know what has worked and not worked for me.
Why should you bother reading this?
Yes, it is long, over 11,000 words and growing, but many of the questions you might have and will probably ask in the forum are addressed within this article. There are people that have been on the site for four or five years that answer the same questions over and over again in the forums and honestly, I don't know how they keep it up. So rather than doing that, this is my attempt at trying to pass along a little knowledge.
However, it is not a specific guide for navigating the Infobarrel website. There are plenty of articles on the site to show you how to add a photo or create your ad profile. I do not want to repeat what they have already said in their own articles similar to this, or in the forums. Although there is a little bit of "how to" in the beginning, that is not my goal in writing this.
What follows is a narrative of my experience during my first six months on the site.
Before you write anything, you need to understand that you will not make thousands of dollars a month writing for Infobarrel. In fact, you probably will never see a hundred dollars in any given month unless you come in first place in the contest. I haven't been shown any site member financial stats, but I would guess that the average monthly payout to all of the members of the site is somewhere around $5. I base that on my own personal experience, through the earning reports that random members post and from other forum posts on the general subject. In fact, $5 a month may be an optimistic guess.
But remember, that is an average and this is my opinion. The site owners are probably reading that and cringing, but I believe people need to know what they are getting into so they aren't disappointed later and lash out at the site and the owners in the forums later.
So with that being said, whether you have come across the site from listening to advice from the smart passive income podcast with Pat Flynn as I did, or you are pumped up from reading the testimonials on the front page of IB, understand again, it is not possible to make that kind of money writing online with ad sales anymore. Well, theoretically it is possible. So is traveling at the speed of light, however, it would take thousands of highly SEO, relevant, evergreen articles each earning a few cents to a dollar a month to do so.
So what happened? What changed? Google mostly and the way it ranks sites like IB.
There was a time when you could write a 400 word, keyword stuffed piece of junk, put it on a site like this, and it would take off, earning $ every month. Quality wasn't an issue, the name of the game was creating click bait just to be able to show ads on the garbage. With hundreds of articles online like that, and very little time needed to create them, you can see how it would add up each month.
However, over the years the search algorithms tightened up and the ad payouts decreased.
You need to remove the idea that you are going to make hundreds of dollars a month passively with a hundred articles online. It might happen if you are really good at search engine writing and choosing the right topics, however, for most people that join this site, they will stop writing before they ever make it to five articles because they see they only have three cents in earnings after a few weeks.
That is the reality of what you are getting into. I am not trying to discourage anyone, only resetting expectations that are distorted by the dated testimonials on the front page.
About six months ago, I went in the forum and asked if anyone was still making a thousand dollars a month. There was nothing but crickets in response.
To be fair, not everyone visits the site often, nor goes in the forum. And some members are very secretive about how much they have earned, guarding the information like it is their tax return. So I am not saying that they aren't still out there, but you might find a unicorn before you locate an Infobarrel member still making $2000 to $3000 a month.
Forget About Earnings
I see people in the forums asking about earnings and other irrelevant things all the time, and they only have ten articles published. This is not a get rich quick scheme. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time to build and more than likely when your article portfolio is built, you will probably only make enough to fill your tank with gas once a month.
If you get caught up in thinking about earnings too soon, you are going to be disappointed. Earnings come from volume and time online, and to get both, you have to write many articles on many different subjects, not just the ones that you have passion for.
You should not be looking at the InfoBarrel earnings page until at least six months and 100 articles published. I know, it is only natural to be curious as to how it all works and it may give you an initial bit of encouragement to sneak a peek early on, but you are likely to be disappointed.
Furthermore, you are not going to get paid anything until you reach $50 worth of earnings, and even that runs 60 days behind, so you are better off just plugging away by writing and publishing every single day.
However, there is a big difference in sneaking a peak and going into the InfoBarrel forum and asking about earnings and when and how you will get paid. If you really want to annoy some of the elders, post a question about earnings when you have only been writing online for a month or so with just a handful of articles.
If you follow the rules and write quality content, in time you should see results, but it will likely disappoint you unless you temper your expectations.
How much money can you make a month on InfoBarrel?
That depends on you. You can make anywhere from $5-10, or hundreds of dollars a month, but it will take time and a lot articles to get to the higher numbers, perhaps even winning a monthly contest. It depends on the type of writer you are too.
Some writing styles lend themselves better to Amazon sales. That is more of an art, the idea being to peak their interest, but not give them everything they need to know about a product so they are curious enough to link off to Amazon from your article. Sounds easy enough right? Good luck with that. I think it works better on personal blogs and web pages.
If you try to come in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the monthly contests, they can give you a great boost starting off. It takes time for your SEO work to get indexed in Google and while you are waiting on that to occur, you can be making money by promoting images on Pinterest and places like that.
But your income will always be subject to things beyond your control. Sometimes your earnings will unexpectedly be cut almost in half from the month before for no apparent reason. Why? Well, your stuff just didn't get clicked on as much that month and there is nothing you can do about it but wait and promote. This recently happened to me in July. I expected that to be a blip, not a trend. However, August and September continued the downward trend.
How much have I made overall?
None of your business. Seriously, I'll give you a hint if you need some encouragement.
As I write this, in the seven months I have been here, I am very, very close to breaking the $1000 level. Depending on your point of view, that may encourage or discourage some of you. Writing online for money isn't a lottery ticket.
While that's not going to get me into retirement just yet, it is sort of cool to think that the work I have already done is going to continue to sit out there earning over the years. No, it's not a lot of money when you break it down to a per article level, but they will continue to sit out there and earn and that ratio will improve.
If I can ever get the amazon sales going, I think I can double my monthly earnings but I'm not holding my breath.
I should mention that earning total above includes only $1 commission in Amazon sales at the time of this writing, and the fact that some or most of my articles have not had enough time to be indexed in Google. I've basically been earning from contest winnings and image earnings. I was talking with Ryan one day about a hiccup in my earnings updates and he looked at them and said it was odd because most of my earnings are coming from images. That was by design. I knew it would take time for Google to find my articles so I focused on images so I could promote the article heavily on various sites which I will talk about later.
Having said that, it is not as easy as it used to be to make thousands of dollars a month on sites like these. When you read the profiles on the front page of IB, those were the good old days. In theory, it is still possible to make $2000 - $3000 a month on just one site like IB, but it's going to take tens of thousands of really good, SEO friendly, topical evergreen articles and a really effective and constant promotion strategy.
Now that I have potentially destroyed the expectations of many of you, I will tell you how you can make $10 - $50 a month for as long as you want. Your success depends on you. I will delve a little deeper into earnings a little later in this article.
So with that in mind, how should you begin writing online?
First, you have to know a little bit about the Google updates that have changed the way articles are written over the years.
It is estimated that roughly 5 million websites launch every month, or about 140,000 a day.
Google and others have been tweaking their search algorithms over the years to adjust for the increased volume and to sift through a lot of the junk on the web.
For writers and internet marketers, the rules that helped them stay visible in the past, changed, sometimes overnight, leading to a lot of frustration and loss of income.
Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird
A lot of your success on InfoBarrel will be based on how you interact with Google so there are a few things you need to know about to be successful.
Over the last three years, there have been three major updates to Google’s search algorithm. All of the dates listed below are for major updates, but there have been monthly updates to tweak each one since they were released. This is not meant to be a comprehensive history on Google, just a brief tutorial and by the time I publish this, it will probably already be out of date.
- Panda Update (Feb 2011) – updated results based on the data Google gathered from its human quality raters that reviewed actual sites that would show up in results, then rate them based on the best content available for a particular search.
- Penguin Update (April 2012)– targeted web spam from sites that used strategies to game their way to the top of search results through techniques like repeating keywords or buying links that pass PageRank. Penguin penalized websites that had weak backlinks and complicated SEO in general.
- Hummingbird Update (August 2013) – used all of the previous updates, just tweaked them to apply “conversational search”. The update geared results more toward the meaning behind the words that are searched for rather than simply matching search results from the keywords entered. The intent is to look for high-quality, in-depth content. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) played a role in this also.
Once again, that is just a summary. The environment is always changing and they are about to release a new version of Penguin as I write this.
Set Up Your InfoBarrel Profile
One thing I read in multiple articles on the site is that you should introduce yourself when you first join. I didn’t do that. I didn’t even look at the forums until a few weeks after I joined and had published about 20 articles, so at that point it was a little late for an introduction.
I have gone back and forth over whether you should introduce yourself right away. I think it is best for you to start writing and get some stuff published first so people can see you are serious about writing for the site. There are a lot of people that go into the forum, say hi, then disappear. Introduce yourself with your writing first. However, don't go in and ask everyone to go read it and beg for hits. That is annoying.
Once you have some articles published, introduce yourself in the forum. It will also help you develop a relationship with some elders who may help you along the way.
If you need to ask a question, go and check the FAQs first because it has probably been asked many times before.
It is important to put all of your vital data into your IB profile early on. One of the first things you need to do is go set up your advertising profile. This will include your Paypal account, your Amazon Affiliate ID and your Google Tracking ID. There are articles that discuss how to do all of that specifically, so I won’t go into any more detail than that.
Next, write something about yourself and create a basic signature to add to your articles. There is no need to obsess over what to write in your profile at this point, just add something basic to get you started. Once you get some articles under your belt, you can go back later and put links to your favorite ones.
Again, these are all sections under Account Settings, so go there and look around.
Regarding Paypal, make sure you have the setting in it turned on to receive international payments since your IB earnings will be coming from Canada when you are ready for a payout.
How to Make Money Writing Quality Articles on Infobarrel
After that, go back and create a relevant title using SEO research tools. If you ever see a title of an article on IB that you think sounds weird, just know that person did some SEO research before they wrote it. Make it interesting because this is the first thing that will grab the reader's attention.
You can also use keyword planners for topics on articles, for tag suggestions or to get ideas to write about online, just do not go overboard. There will be time to improve your published articles later.
Use proven techniques as you write, but concentrate on developing a portfolio of articles in the beginning. Write for humans not search engines. Tell a story, whether it is a product review or an article about your favorite television shows.
Forget about stuffing it with your main keywords or bolding them. That just makes the article look annoying. There is a reason why the InfoBarrel software scans your article before you post it and red flags it for keyword density issues. It actually negatively impacts your search ranking if you are perceived to be using your keywords too much, something that was commonplace years ago.
But things have changed and if you want to see an example of this, go back and look at some of the articles on IB from 2008 – 2010. Honestly, I am amazed that some of them are still allowed to be on the site. What you will see is a lot of short articles, maybe 300 – 500 words long, written with computers in mind, using terms or saying things in a way you would never say it naturally in conversation. To be fair, that was how the game was played then.
Back in 2007, I was part of a team of writers redoing some Motorola product line descriptions. They had recently bought a company called Symbol which had a huge product line of bar code scanners. Our job was to rewrite those product descriptions, category headlines and landing pages to better fit with the existing Motorola website. I never would have guessed there were so many types of bar code scanners. Exciting stuff.
We were instructed to write terms or say things in different ways that really made no sense to me at the time which became part of the headline, product descriptions or meta data. Based on Google updates, that work would seem to be outdated, but then again, Google bought Motorola several years ago so I am sure there is some favoritism going on there.
Since the Hummingbird update, what matters most is quality, in-depth content that uses a variety of online writing techniques. Forget about keywords and focus on LSI content. Then you can promote your work through various methods.
So what is LSI?
What is LSI or LSA Content?
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), sometimes referred to as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), is a way of using language that compels search engines to consider your content authoritative and relevant. When writing copy employing LSI, think of your main keyword or long tail keywords, and then think of all of the other words that could be associated with those keywords. These words can be synonyms or words that would be typically included in any description or topic that would include that main keyword.
For example, if your main topic is about donuts, think of any words that might be associated with donuts in some way or another. Your list could include coffee, pastries, breakfast, snacks, cream-filled and so on. Then use those LSI terms in a natural way throughout your article. Do not force them though.
If your copy contains enough synonyms, search engines like Google will place greater importance on the pages and rank it higher, sometimes as an authoritative site if you have your own website.
What Can I Write About?
Yes, that is all great, but what can I write about you ask. Well, before you get started writing, take a look around the site, especially on a mobile device like a big Samsung or iPhone 6 screen. The site makes the articles look amazing on mobile, and you can see how you can design the layout to maximize visual appeal.
When deciding what to write about, there are a couple of strategies you can employ. You can write about current events or current products, or you can write about topics that will endure for years, so-called evergreen articles. I have used both strategies.
For example, I wrote an article about the new F-150 all aluminum body Ford truck due out in late 2014. Obviously that type of article has a limited shelf life.
I also wrote evergreen articles that have become some of my more popular articles such as ways to achieve authentic happiness. That type of article never goes out of style.
Which is better? I recommend both. Even if the article will only be relevant for a short period of time, it is worth writing because it might stir ideas in other directions.
Where do I get Ideas?
You are probably thinking that at some point you will run out of ideas to write about and then you will give up in frustration. I think that is the experience of most people that join sites like InfoBarrel. You have to decide if are you going to be a player or a pretender.
You will be surprised by where and when inspiration arrives. I think of things to write about all the time while I am doing other stuff away from my computer.
Here are three examples:
- I was cooking dinner once using coconut oil, and I decided to write about the healthiest oils to use for cooking.
- One of the first articles I wrote on IB originated out of my struggle with eliminating sugar from my diet. That article led to another about how skipping breakfast can jump start your weightloss. Both became two of my more popular articles.
- I was listening to a local morning radio show one morning and they were talking about an inappropriate song, so I came up with the idea of writing about five of the creepiest songs I could remember.
All of those random ideas ended up being feature articles too and are all in the top 100 on the site.
Ideas will also morph in your head as you start writing. Take this article for instance. It originally started out as an article about the difference between white, black and gray hat SEO but I decided that was boring and it had already been written about ad nauseam on here. But that is an example of how you generate ideas and how your articles will evolve over time.
Seriously, ideas will just pop into your head, and you have to jot them down somewhere so you do not lose the thought.
Typically when I have an idea, I will open up an empty Word document, name it that topic, then stick it in a folder I call “Potential Articles.”
If I am wandering around on the web and I come across a link that reminds me of an idea, I will copy the link and post it in an Excel spreadsheet for future writing ideas.
If I am away from home, I’ll write it down in a spiral notebook I keep in my car.
I write articles sometimes that I know will probably never make a dime, and as expected, they have not. But they are not wasted efforts. There is a process involved in creative writing and sometimes doodling or writing off-topic stimulates ideas about other things that will make you money.
Still, there are other articles that I write that completely surprise me when they take off. You never really know. Think of your brain as a muscle. If you do not use a muscle often, it will atrophy so think of everything you write as a mental exercise to keep your mind active.
The most important thing you need to understand about the article ratings is that if it is green, you are good. Don’t obsess over the number. The green article ratings start in the 50s and 60s depending on a lot of things like content, images, links, videos and article length.
Don’t be discouraged if you publish an article and you get a green 62 rating. This isn’t pass or fail grades so you didn’t get an ‘F’ for your work. It’s just a rating system that allows for the article to migrate upwards over time toward 100 as you get more views, comments and traffic. I have had articles that started in the low-to-mid-60s that slowly went up to the mid-to-high-80s in about a month.
The best thing you can do to bump up your article score is to get more views and one way to do that is to apply to have it featured (more about that next). You will get an immediate bump in the rating from that.
The only time you should be concerned with an article rating is if you publish an article and you have a yellow or red rating. An article with a red rating will not be indexed by Google.
Yellow or red means you need to work on that article. It could be content, formatting errors or no formatting at all, no images, no amazon modules or any type of module. I will give you an example.
When the Heartbleed issue came out, I wanted to get an article published on it immediately, so I wrote about 600 words, created it in IB and snagged the URL I wanted, and then published it on April 10 without any photos or any amazon modules. The initial rating on it was a yellow 49. I always planned on updating it, so it became an interesting test case for me.
I bumped the words up over 1000, added three photos and several amazon modules and a video from the CNET site on Youtube about the issue over the next day. After those changes were accepted, the rating jumped to a green 62. Then because of its immediate relevancy, IB grabbed it and featured it the next day. By April 25th, the rating was a green 75. By the end of the year, it was an 81.
However, do not obsess over article ratings or the views in my opinion. What matters more in the beginning is how you promote the work. It will take a while for the SEO indexing to kick in.
How do you get an article in the Top 100 on the site?
In order to get an article in the top 100 rated articles on the site, you must have a score of at least 94. However, even that may not be enough to get you in the club. I say that because once I had two articles with a 94 rating. One was in, the other wasn't. So the lowest rated top 100 article starts around a mid-94 rating, but you have no way of knowing how far up that 94 scale you are until it actually appears in the list.
So how do you get a 94 plus rating?
Patience mostly. You could get lucky and it shoots up the rankings within a month or two. It happens, most recently with WinterWolf's article about Nepal.
Rosewrites published one about Hubpages in August and it was in there within a month.
But those types of articles are the exception, not the rule. If you want proof of that, look at how many of the top 100 were published this year, as opposed to two or three years ago.
No matter how good your article is, it is not going to get into the 100 unless it has several comments from IB members and at least 400 or so reads. Likes, shares and thumbs up help too, all things beyond your control.
To be honest, a lot of it is a site popularity issue too. If you are a known quantity on the site, then more people are likely to follow you and read, comment and share what you write.
I have several in the Top 100, but it took months to get there. I do not consider several of those articles my best work by any means though. They just caught on. Again, shares, comments, and likes get you there and that is out of your control. Those 100 articles are not necessarily the best ones on the site. They are interesting and got passed around a lot. That is all.
However, don't obsess over it. Traffic for the most part is beyond your control, but occasionally you will have an article or two spike for no apparent reason.
The graph below shows what a traffic bump looks like in Google Analytics. I went from an average of around 3000 page views a month, to over 55000 page views in the 30 days in November 2014.
Add your Google ID to IB so you can monitor your traffic on Google Analytics. You can either view it on your computer in a normal browswer, or download the free app from iTunes or Google Play. The mobile app works very well and when you are bored or sitting in a meeting, you can check it out and see if anyone is reading your stuff at that moment. It gives a very thourough breakdown of traffic.
During that month, I had two articles experience what I call a traffic event. I consider viral to be millions of hits. Tens of thousands of hits, well that is mini-viral I suppose.
How did it happen? Luck.
It was nothing I did, they just happen to show up in the "Stuff You Should Read" of Ryan's 22 Habits of Unhappy People article, which happened to go viral at that time for whatever reason.
While his article was getting millions of hits, my two articles were getting tens of thousands of hits as link-offs. That's the way it started. Then the Facebook shares and pins on Pinterest started on their own and they kind of took off from there.
The result of all of that was both of those articles entering the top 100, increased Amazon referrals from link-offs and earnings of $100.17 and $97.95 respectively in ad sales just for November for those two.
Therefore, you might get lucky with one or more of your articles, but don't be discouraged if you can't get one there. It is mostly out of your control. You can write good, interesting stuff, but that is no guarantee that it will get there.
While I currently have eight in the Top 100 at last count, I am much more impressed and proud of my seven contest wins in a row. I did that on my own and didn't rely on gimmicky rating formulas and actions of others out of my control.
But if your goal is to be one of the top 100 crowd, take a look at my highest rated article, currently at number eight, and make a note of the common denominators that other articles in the list contain.
And speaking frankly, that is not my best work by any means. It is one of those goofy lists of things that are so prevalent on the internet. I wrote that thing as a lark after being on the site for only two weeks. I never dreamed it would take off, but there are shareaholics out there that eat that kind of stuff up. Things like, "10 Absolute Magnificient Things You Have to See or You are a Complete Loser".
Not that it is a bad article. It is sound advice, but again, I have better work on the site that is not anywhere close to that rating.
Get Featured on IB
If you want your page views and article rating to pop, always apply to get featured for the next month whenever you can. All of my most viewed articles are ones that have been featured on IB.
If you tend to write things that do not really fit in the topics for each day of the month, step outside your comfort zone and pick a feature topic and write about it. The topics tend to stay the same for each month, so pick one and even if it takes you a couple of months to write it, do it.
But you have to make the effort to submit your articles every month. Typically, right after I publish an article, I look for an area to submit it to, but it is tough sometimes. There are only 30/31 dates and topics and many of those repeat. If you are a pet writer, you should have no problem getting 13 features a month.
If I could give any advice to the Admins of IB, I would suggest creating a couple of wild card days where any topic goes.
Link Your Articles
You can put internal links to other related articles in IB if they are related, but I tend to avoid that unless it is part of a series of articles on a related subject. This is a bit tricky because IB has cracked down on a lot of the self-promotion that went on in the early years. Also, related to the previous section, external links within your article will bring down your score. The site does not want you redirecting traffic off the site. If you don't believe me on that, try it.
When linking to another article on IB, the trick is to make it a natural part of the sentence as I have already done multiple times in this article to show as examples of how to do it.
Do not say “Go here for more info” and add a link over the word "here", especially if you are linking off Infobarrel. That is considered a call to action away from the site, and the owners do not want you sending people off Infobarrel for obvious reasons.
However, if you are writing an article about mental health and happiness, you could work another article topic into the natural flow of the narrative.
You can also create signatures within your IB profile with two additional links, either externally or internal to IB. Create multiple signatures and include those in random articles with related links.
Yes, using this strategy will mean that you have to create dozens and dozens of signatures, however, it only takes a few minutes every week. Once several articles in a genre are published, go into your account settings, copy an old signature, click the create button, paste it, then change the links to related articles. Then name it something like Home 1, and save it. If someone is reading one of your articles and another article on a similar subject in your signature catches their eye, they are likely to link off to it.
Recently I have altered my signature strategy to focus on my most popular articles to drive traffic to them. So even if the article is about poisonous garden plants, I will still link to my most popular articles in my signature rather than other related articles about gardening or the outdoors.
This one believe it or not is largely beyond your control. Honestly, I don't really give it a second
Believe or not, if your article is relevant, other sites will pick it up on their own and place it in the "Around the Web" or "Related Articles" on their websites.
In the example above, the article about blackheads is mine. It is now linked to from a blog about skin and hair care.
Here is another example. My article about surviving a 10 hour flight in coach was picked up by a site called Cheap Hotel Tours.
I'm not exactly sure how it works but I have many in places like this, and I didn't do anything to get them there. Those are positive backlinks. Those are the ones you want, not spammy ones in comments sections and things like that.
Linking to Other Articles on InfoBarrel
Here is a word of caution.
If at all possible, only link to your articles so you can promote your own work but most importantly, you know the article score you are linking.
Why does that matter?
Well, if you link to an article on the site with a very low score, it will bring your article score down a point or two. It's true. Try it sometime.
Edit Your Articles Frequently
When you first start writing for IB, your articles have to pass through the site editors before they are published live. However, that does not mean you should not edit them thoroughly before submission. The less mistakes you make, the faster the site will grant you self-publishing rights, and once you get that, it is truly a blessing. You can then edit your writings as much as you like without feeling like you are constantly bothering someone.
Once published, don't forget about articles. Check them out periodically to make sure the Amazon modules are still showing items and update the SEO in the titles if the article isn't generating the traffic you would like.
Also, you may find typos in them after they have been published, ones that were either missed by you originally or the editors. And it is usually not typos that I have issues with, it is skipped words or writing one word went I meant to say another. It happens, despite your best efforts.
A lot of my early errors were caused by the sheer volume of content I was producing. I think I published 65 articles in May which was my monthly high. If you are putting out that much stuff, it is understandable that you will have a typo or missed word or two.
I have recently gone back and edited a lot of the early articles and it is a time consuming process. I didn't really know how the game was played back then, so there is a lot of rearranging that is required in each one.
I recently edited one that I published back in April or May about installing a garbage disposal and I was mortified to find that in parts of the article, I kept referring to it as a "garbage disposer", even in the title.
Speaking of the title, yes you can change the title after it is published. The original title will remain in the URL, but that is not such a bad thing.
Once you get hundreds of articles, the continuous editing process will become more tedious, however, stick with it and try to improve at least one article a day. I like to go to my content section, sort my articles by article score, then work on the ones with the lowest score.
Dealing with the IB Software
Having said that, the IB software can be very frustrating sometimes when editing large articles like this one. I usually unclick the automatic save option because it is very annoying.
I wish there was a better way to move modules around an article because once you get a large one with ten or more modules, it is very frustrating to keep arrowing them up or down. Also, this article has crashed Firefox on more than one occasion when attempting to republish it. I finally had to switch to Chrome for this particular article because it had so many moving parts.
I hope that IB 4.0 will provide a better mechanism to move things around, maybe similar to what Netflix does in their queues. They have similar arrows for movement, but they also allow you to type in a position number to move it into place.
When Will I be Able to Publish My Own Work?
I mentioned self-publishing rights before, so let me back up. You have to prove yourself on the site before the owners will let you have this privilege.
How long does that take? Well, it depends. Some have mentioned that it took them 15 to 20 articles before they got it. For others, it is much longer and that depends on your writing and how many errors you tend to make in the initial submissions. So going back to the title of this section, if you really want to rid yourself of editors on the site, be thorough with your initial submissions and you will probably get it sooner.
As for me, it took me a long time to get it and I could not figure out why. I had at least a 150 articles published, had won three or four monthly contests in a row, and still was having to send my stuff through editors.
Then one day out of the blue, I was given my freedom with a short note from the Administrators saying "Sorry about that, I thought we already approved you."
Once you get the right to publish your own stuff, it will improve your IB experience greatly. No more waiting for articles in queues to get approved, it goes live immediately. Then you can edit them all you want without feeling like you are bugging someone.
However, don't abuse it or it will be revoked, and the most likely reason is the next topic.
How to Import Images in Infobarrel
It seems obvious right, but you would be surprised at how many people do not understand that copying stuff word for word off the net is not exactly a smart thing to do. You will get caught and shamed, either by the owner of the material, or InfoBarrel staff. And if you have self-publishing rights, they are gone, probably forever.
If you find it on the net, it is searchable by others, and that includes descriptions in Youtube videos and Amazon products. Don't try to word stuff your article to get it over a 1000 words by copying paragraphs from Amazon descriptions and inserting it in the "Unique" write-up box in your Amazon modules.
It's true that it's all been said and done when talking about certain subjects like tasks or processes. No matter what subject you decide to write on, there are probably hundreds of things on the internet that talk about the same thing. After all, there are so many ways you can describe how to build an outdoor shed, right?
But that is where your own experiences and personal stories come into play and you can work those into your articles. There are thousands of articles about visiting NYC, but do not let that discourage you from approaching the same subject, just talk about the places you visited and add personal stories. Make it unique. Personal photos help a lot.
Add Images to Your Articles
This is one of the many articles I found on WikiCommons. They are free to use as long as you attribute the photo to cover yourself.
If you see something online about anything, what is more likely to draw your attention to that article? Chances are it is a photo.
It’s been proven that people are attracted to photos online so you need to include at least one relevant photo in all of your articles. Images bring your article to life. They add interest and draw the reader's attention deeper into the article.
I will not publish an article without at least one photo. Normally, I try to have at least three.
And certain types of articles demand photos so that you can make your point, as I did when describing six of the craziest inventions in the last century. That article would not have been as successful without photos.
Images also come up in image searches so you need to name and tag them accordingly. Some of my best earners so far on IB are single images I put in articles. I am not exactly sure how the earnings break down for specific images, I just know that they are making money.
Where Do You Find Photos?
When looking for photos to add to articles, sometimes you have to get creative. I wrote an article about wireless IP cameras so I went out and took a photo of my backyard to show a hypothetical view from an outdoor IP cam for security.
Do not pull images randomly off Google. This was a mistake I made early on. I thought that if I credited the photo that it was ok, just like you would reference a fact and credit a source. However, that is not good enough.
I developed my own “Copyright Free Photos” folder on my desktop. I use my own photos whenever possible. You have to be creative, but at least you will have peace of mind.
If I do not have anything to use in my personal inventory, I go to a site like Morguefile or Wiki Commons and look for photos for certain topics. Most are free for use as long as you attribute the publisher. Check the photo details first on Wiki Commons.
If using a historical photo that has been in the public domain for decades, attribution is generally not required, particularly if it was from a period before 1922.
I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to develop your own photo resource. In fact, I looked back through a lot of my own photo archives to pull out interesting ones that eventually became articles. Many of my best article ideas started from a photo that I took years ago.
I would estimate that 80% of the photos in my articles belong to me. I got the rest of the photos off either Morguefile or WikiCommons. Go and browse through both of those sites, particularly Morguefile. Do a search for random keywords and save the ones you think you might need or use in the future. Create your own copyright free photo file on your desktop for peace of mind.
What is the Amazon Affiliate Program?
Amazon allows you to refer potential shoppers to their site by placing ads online, whether within your own blog or niche site, or through the Amazon Modules here on Infobarrel.
Amazon offers 4% commission on your first seven referral sales, then bumps it up to 6% on your 8th sale.That is not a lot of money, so volume is the key to success. To put that in perspective, other affiliate programs from Affiliate by Conversant and Clickbank offer commission up to 30% on some products.
They allow anyone to register for an Amazon ID. You will need to give a website address that will be sending traffic their way and once you make a sale, they will evaluate your application, a fact that is a little irritating to me.
When signing up for the Amazon Affiliate Program, it is best to put multiple sites in your Amazon Profile that will be sending traffic their way. Yes, you should include Infobarrel as one of the sites.
You have 90 days to make your first sale before they cancel your ID. I don't know why they do that, but it makes sense to them and they are the boss. If you started an online book store out of your garage that turned into an giant selling everything in less than a decade, you could make the rules too.
How to Set Up an Amazon Affiliate Account
Forget about affiliate sales at least when you are first getting started writing online or developing your own blog. Amazon requires that you make a sale within the first 90 days, or they cancel your ID. Unless you are doing a certain type of sales writing that targets niche audiences, chances are, you are not going to make a sale during that time because your content does not have enough exposure online.
I know the temptation will be to sign up immediately like I did when I joined Infobarrel in February so you can insert the Amazon ads within your article to make them look better. You might get lucky and record a sale, but it is hit or miss.
I have been told that my articles are not sale or referral friendly, and that you have to write to a specific niche in order to attract buyers. Fair enough. But that is yet another reason why you should wait before signing up. You have to learn how to sale through your writing.
What Happens if They Cancel My Amazon ID for Lack of Sales?
Nothing really. You just can’t use that ID anymore. They make you apply for another one which you can do right away, then begin linking to it from Infobarrel or your own website.
As for all of the links on IB with your cancelled ID, don’t panic. All you have to do is go into the Account Settings on IB and update your new Amazon ID there. All of the links will be changed to the new id.
Once you make a sale, then Amazon reviews your application and decides if you are worthy or not to be in their program. If they decide that your blog or site isn’t up to speed, they will disallow the referral.
Strategies for Affiliate Sales
There are many strategies to use when trying to earn money online. One is to focus on research and write fewer articles every month geared to targeted niche groups, while another is to create a lot of volume and get yourself out there and generate momentum.
Writing a Limited Number of SEO Optimized Highly Targeted Articles
Some people like to focus on highly targeted articles or reviews and only write 10 -15 a month. This can be done on a site like IB or on their niche site that is optimized for a certain type of buyer. There is no question that this approach can work if you do the research. I have listened to podcasts where people have made $5000 a month just on Amazon referrals, however, that takes work in the beginning. You have to develop a niche site geared toward a genre or topic and eventually it may go on auto-pilot for you with minimal work.
However, if you are writing on IB, it is more difficult to earn consistent Amazon sales that way. You have a worldwide audience viewing your work, and none of them ended up on your article with the intent of buying anything.
If you are concentrating on IB right now, the best way to target a specific audience is to write product reviews or articles within a specific genre. I currently have 15 - 20 product reviews on IB and none of them are even close to being my most popular articles. And as of this writing, none have earned me an affiliate sale yet. I even reviewed a very popular book called Sugar, Salt and Fat by Michael Moss but I haven't gotten one sale from it in the seven months it has been online.
Infobarrel might not be the best site for those types of articles, however, I decided early on that I was not going to spread myself out over multiple sites. I have been advised by others to concentrate on Infobarrel. Writing on one site has a way of generating momentum and you need that early on to keep you interested and motivated to continue.
Here is the main issue I have with writing product review and referral articles.
Unless you can convince companies to send you sample products, that model of writing becomes unsustainable unless you start making stuff up about how you have tried it out and how great it is. I'm not comfortable with doing that on a site like IB. I don't want to go on Amazon picking out things that I don't own and write a review of it. That's not a review, that's writing fiction and that isn't allowed on IB. If I can't see it, taste it, smell it and touch it, I'm not writing a review on it.
If you have a blog or niche site that you own personally where there are no rules and you can write to highly specialized audiences for products, go for it. I understand that it can lead to lots of Amazon sales that way, but I don't think the owners of IB want that kind of creative writing or advertisements.
Writing Hundreds of Articles Online to Create Volume
Another strategy for making affiliate sales is to write a lot of articles about a wide range of subjects, including some product reviews of items you have actually bought and used. This is the strategy I focused on when I joined the site. I saw that $100 contest prize money as mine and I grabbed it for seven months in a row. The only reason someone else won the eight month was because I took a break in late August and went to Brazil for a few months. Since then, I've just been updating and improving what I have.
But back to the math of my strategy.
Say you write 20 articles your first month on IB. These are highly targeted, audience specific articles geared to buyers for vacation packages, products or whatever. Again, I’m not sure how you do that without writing fiction about something you don’t own or have never seen, but let’s move on.
And let’s be generous and say all 20 get at least one referral sale for the month. That is virtually impossible on IB in my opinion, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt. Let’s round it up and give you a 5% commission on each sale. Let’s say each sale is an order total of $50.
That means you earned $2.50 on all 20 referrals. You made $50 for the month for Amazon Affiliate sales.
Or you could write 50 articles and win first or second place in the writer’s contest. Second place gets you $50.
As for me, whatever money I’m not making in affiliate sales at a whopping 4% commission, I’m more than making up for in contest winnings every month. I would have to make 40 referral sales a month on orders of at least $50 just to match my contest winnings.
Do you see what I mean when I say forget about amazon affiliate sales when you are just starting out?
Not everyone can win the monthly contests, true, however, even if you fall short with only 30 to 40 articles, you are still creating a large portfolio of potential ad revenue and volume is what is needed to make any real money from Adsense sales online. And with Inforbarrel, the majority of your earnings will come from Adsense. If you think that is just dimes and quarters, yes, you are right, but writing online is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build a portfolio of articles that sit out there and go on autopilot.
And Adsense sales do add up. Regarding that $2.50 commission example, one day out of the blue, I made $3.89 on a photo of a bathtub in one of my articles. Another day, I made $1.37 on a photo of a piece of key lime pie I was about to eat, so it adds up. My Adsense earnings have been doubling every month I have been on Infobarrel so the trend is encouraging.
Eventually I expect the Amazon sales to come through, whether on IB or on some other products I may develop in the future. Right now they are just ideas in my head, but I will pivot to that area one day once I get to a certain number of articles on IB.
I had two articles go mini-viral in November and with those increased views came increased Amazon affiliate sales. As I update this, I've had $19.57 in referrals sales, mostly from links from those two articles, so far this month. So the key to Amazon sales is sheer volume, but I don't expect to repeat this in December.
Just as I expected, after the surge of traffic in November, my Amazon sales have returned to normal, which means zero sales this month. I knew that would happen based on my lack of success during most of 2014 with these type of referrals.
What you should take from that is Amazon referrals sales are based on two things. High traffic or extremely targeted articles to a certain subject where you can then point to it on Amazon. If you are good at that type of writing, then you will probably be successful with Amazon sales. As for me, I'd rather go out and cut grass or sit and watch it grow rather than do that type of writing exclusively.
How to Setup an Amazon Affiliate Account
Promote Your Work
After you publish your article on InfoBarrel, your work is not complete. You have to go out and promote it and there are many ways to do this. However, skip the Blackhat SEO tactics of the past. Buying links and all of that junk is just going to hurt the site. It is really annoying when someone tries to take short-cuts without regard to how it affects others. If you want to practice banned SEO methods, take your stuff to your own blog and do it there. Get a free one from Wordpress or Blogger and black hat all you want.
But on a more practical level, you should not engage in dubious tactics to promote your work or even write or link your articles for one important reason. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. IB is filled with ex-writers who used to make money on this site, but because of the various updates mentioned earlier, their writing style or tactics went out of favor and their earning dropped dramatically.
So just as you wouldn’t want to go for the latest fad in your kitchen redesign if you are planning on selling it eventually, you should not stray too far from center in writing good content and promoting it using recommended means.
So what are some of the methods to use?
Images for one as mentioned above. Do not neglect photos in your articles. Attractive photos help you promote your article on Pinterest.
So if you do not already have accounts on Twitter, Pinterest and StumbleUpon, get those started.
For Twitter, get to know hashtags and how to use them when you post a link. There are sites that help you view trending hashtags.
If you have a Facebook account, use it within reason to promote some of your work on IB. I don’t use that very often however because I don’t want to annoy any of my friends. Then again, they don’t seem to mind when they annoy me by posting everything about their kids. Let’s just say I selectively promote certain articles on there.
Seek advice from others on InfoBarrel about the methods they use, but don’t be annoying. People are willing to help, but make sure you do not make some of the mistakes I have listed in this article. Try to friend some of the other writers so you can send them a private message.
How to Use Twitter
Dealing With Copyright Violations
Once you publish your articles, you will inevitably find at least one, probably dozens, that have been stolen and put on another site, usually word for word. It is amazing that there are these types out there that do nothing but load their own personal webpages with other people’s work, stealing ad revenue on search, but I guess nothing should surprise me on the internet.
The one effective tool you have is to set up Google Alerts. Simply copy a couple of sentences and put them in quotes, in an alert and you will be notified when by email when another article is published with that phrase.
Once you have a violation, you need to file a DMCA complaint with that website owner. Again, you can find the website information by using the procedures outlined in the guide above.
99% of the time, that will work. The article will be taken down by the website host and all will be well.
However, you will get occasions where no matter how many emails you send, the stolen article remains.
In that case, you have fewer options. You can hire a lawyer and all of that, but obviously, that is not cost-effective.
The other option is to report the site to Google and they will remove it from the search results with their scaper report.
I recently had to do this with one of my articles about streaming content. While the article remains online at the other site, it has been removed from Google’s results. In fact, I checked it out recently and this is what it shows.
Notice the DMCA complaint that was filed. Guess who filed it. Yep. So it works.
Be Patient After Submitting Your Articles
This applies to everything about online writing including getting your work approved and published. I know that you worked hard on your article (in most cases) and you want to see it up and running, however, you are not splitting the atom here and a couple of days is reasonable for it to be approved by the site. There are a lot of new writers coming to IB as the other sites falter.
Here is a hint.
Many of those people in the forum answering your questions are also editors for the site on a part-time basis, so be nice. Being snarky to people there is not going to win you any friends. It’s sort of like being rude to your waiter. You will pay for it.
You are not the only one submitting articles on any given day so sometimes there is a backlog or technical issues with the site that they must address. Be patient with getting your articles submitted, with accumulating views and most importantly, getting earnings. You are not going to make money doing this overnight. Once you take that notion out of your head, you can focus on writing, then you can start to relax about the whole thing.
Sometimes it takes more than a week to finalize the previous month. Therefore, contest results, finalized earnings and feature submissions for the next month will be delayed until that is finished.
However, that does not need to impact you. Just keep writing. The feature categories stay the same from month-to-month so print out a copy for any given month and use it going forward if you want to write articles for features.
So how do you succeed on InfoBarrel?
Mainly through managing your expectations and realizing that you are not going to make a lot of money doing this type of writing. Once you understand the new reality, perhaps you can write and have fun doing so without constantly focusing on earnings because doing so will likely leave you disappointed.
I am not the best writer on InfoBarrel nor do I know more than some of the people that have been doing this for five years or more.
If you were wondering why I stopped publishing article here, it is mainly because I got burned out and moved on to something else. Frankly speaking, the time I was spending doing it wasn't justified by the money I was making each month.
However, despite some bad attitudes and agitators that occasionally show up in the forum, I am happy with my work here on IB. What I tried to do in this article is give the new person some advice from the point of view of another new person. I sat down and wrote this article over a number of months and then added to it as needed. I did not decide to post it until I had at least 300 articles on the site. It is still a work in progress and I will continue to make updates to it.
I tried to offer a few tips that have worked for me on getting images, promoting your work and linking your articles naturally as I have done many times in this article.
In the next few months, I will be shifting my strategy a bit to writing less articles and promoting and upgrading what I have already published. The process of editing and improving my work is a never ending process for me.
I have also been combining certain articles. I have gone from a high of 325 down to 310.
Going forward, I am going to try to focus on more niche products and subject content to see if I can finally get my Amazon sales going. I am still skeptical of that entire program though.
Have fun with all of this. Write about what you have passion for at first, then evolve into areas as you become more comfortable and learn more about what really makes money online. But understand, success is not something that is going to happen overnight and this is not a get rich quick scheme. You will earn pennies, then dollars before you earn any significant amount. I think I published about 35 articles my first month and they made about $3.60 total during that time. I kept plugging away and my earnings for the second month jumped to $14.47 and it continued upward.
For most, the passive income earned each month will eventually only be gas money, but that should not discourage you. Allowing your work to passively collect $20, $30 or $50 a month, month after month is nothing to scoff at. It will add up over time and you may get lucky and have a $200 or $300 month like I've had several times. Just be patient and keep plugging away.