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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How One Writer Made $1246 in 24 Hours on Helium

A while ago in this post I wrote about Helium (then called Helium Knowledge), a website that pays writers a portion of the advertising revenue generated by the articles they post there.

In my article I wrote that Helium was open to any writer, though with payment by advertising revenue share only, you were unlikely to make a fortune from it. However, this article by Peter Johns suggests that I may have been wrong on the latter score.

As you will see from his article, Johns really did make $1246 in 24 hours, from an article about credit cards. This happened after the article 'went viral', with people urging their friends and colleagues to read it in an ever-widening circle.

It wasn't just luck, though. As he explains in his article, Johns spent some time crafting a title that he hoped would pique people's curiosity and impel them to read more. He also posted a link to the article on the social bookmarking website Reddit, where others viewed it, liked it, and voted it up to the front page.

Johns' experience is food for thought for anyone who thinks sites such as Helium are a waste of time. He admits that not all his articles have earned anything like the amount made by this one (and remember, that $1246 was just on the first day - it's still presumably making money for him now). However, he lists five other short articles that have made him from $10 to $30 to date, so he is obviously doing something right.

One thing Johns' article does indicate is the importance of promoting your articles on Helium and similar sites such as Qassia, rather than simply posting them and waiting for visitors to come. As well as Reddit, other social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and StumbleUpon are well worth trying for this purpose as well.

As far me, I'm planning to dust down my old Helium account I've never done much with, and start posting on it again!

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Anonymous Ghostwriter said...


I use Helium. Joined back in 2007 but forgot all about it until someone mentioned it on twitter in December. Since then I have posted about 8 articles and earned over $35. They have changed things, you need 1 rating star to start earning which is easy to get. Once you get 1 writing star however you can start getting a small payment for each article you submit on top of the revenue shares. 1 star = $0.50 per article, 2 = $1, 3 = $1.50, 4 = $2, and 5 = $2.50. It doesn't seem like much but these articles can earn you money forever. One of my articles is already nearing the $10 mark and still rising each day.

I for one think Helium is an excellent source for additional income and for raising your writing profile too.


6:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Amanda. I will definitely, definitely, start writing for Helium soon!

Nick :)

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent bit of information. Thank You.

Clayrn Darrow

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Peter Johns said...

Hey there Nick,

I do searches from time to time to see if my name is out there, and I have to say I was surprised to find my story featured on your blog here. Thanks!

I'm still flying, and amazed by the success of that article back in December 08. Do you realize that by some estimates, over 600,000 people viewed it and felt the need to pass it on! I haven't touched it since - why fix it if it ain't broken, right? It's opened my eyes to the power of the viral phenomenon, and I read through it at least once or twice a week in the hopes that it'll suddenly "click" as to why it went viral (because then perhaps I might be able to replicate the phenomenon.)

The thing that really gets me, Nick, is that it's not one of these "sensation-maker" articles. It's not a slasher, or a porn or severed-head article, it's just a simple article about a credit card story. There are probably millions out there, but for some reason this one went viral.

Regarding writing at Helium, they would love to have you write for them.

It's tricky at times. A couple of days ago I went from 2 writing stars to 1. It was a wake up call, so I re-wrote one or two articles, they rose a bit in the ratings, and now I have 2 stars again - but I could be back to 1 tomorrow (You need to read some of the rules of Helium to understand what I'm talking about).

It's a testament to the quality of writers at Helium though. They keep getting better and better all the time. As for my writing abilities, I have some writing books I refer to, and I go and re-edit articles all the time to keep my writing stars in place. It's an incredible model in that sense, because you have a constant incentive to continue improving yourself (If you look at my "Can you really make money online?" article, for example, you'll notice I left out the word "be" towards the end. I gotta get on that :) But that's my point; I never owned a book on writing before Helium!

As for how much my credit card article has made to date; $1,359.23 is the exact figure as of 2/19/2009. My "Can you really make money online?" article has made $45.73.Those are my two top earners. I'm really blessed in that the $1,359.23 completely paid for a surprise root canal recently - my first.

Anyhow, I'm still trying to figure out exactly why the credit card article went viral. Perhaps it's because it's a story about something financial during a global economic crisis. Who knows. I've been doing a lot of research as to the why though, and I'm going to completely revise an article I wrote: "Viral marketing: A beginner's guide." I wrote that kind of hastily so it's only 3 out of 5 in the ratings. Do you mind if I link to your blog here - when I do finally get around to writing it, that is?

I do have several number 1 articles, but what really excites me about having gone viral is that I'm just an average writer. I don't have a degree in writing, before Helium I never really wrote more than the average email, and that means it COULD happen again. I don't have to be Shakespeare to go viral, I just have to write.

Btw, I joined Facebook recently. Do you have a Facebook page? If so, here's my link:

Add me!

Thanks again for the feature, Nick.


6:42 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Wow - thanks for a great comment, Peter. I think you get the prize for the longest ever posted on this blog!

I was very interested to read your update. With your permission, I may include parts of this in a new blog post about Helium - it seems a shame to waste what in effect is a guest post from you.

Of course, you are very welcome to link to my blog and any individual posts on it.

Thanks again for taking the trouble to write, and good luck with all your writing projects.


9:47 AM  
Anonymous Ruth Belena said...

Peter's success was very encouraging for all article writers and I agree his comment deserves a wider readership.

A word of warning, though. After news got out that someone made $1246 in 24 Hours on Helium, Reddit was swamped with Helium members posting links to their own articles. Of course that only created bad feeling and Reddit members became abusive to all Helium members.

Don't risk being banned, or getting Helium banned, from social sites by spamming your articles there. If you do use social bookmarking and media sites, stick to the rules and use them properly.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Ruth - good point! As I noted in my original post, there are plenty of other social bookmarking sites apart from Reddit. And really, while they are well worth using to help attract traffic, the key thing is to come up with an article idea (and title) that other people find compelling and want to share.

11:13 AM  

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