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Hubpages helps you publish and make money; raises $2 million

Hubpages, a start-up based in Berkeley, has created a site that lets you publish your content -- and seeks to help you make money with it by cross-tagging your content with other authors on the platform.

These days, it is easy to fall into the mode: "Omygod, not another Web 2.0 blog-like company."

But this company brings to the table yet another twist, and merits a look. If you are a non-technical person who doesn't want to worry about running a Web site, and don't know the latest tricks about how to drive traffic to your site, Hubpages may be the place for you.

It takes care of all the tech bells and whistles that propel your pages as high as possible on search engine results, say when someone searches Google for the topic you are writing about. In part, Hubpages is betting on the power of the masses. By collecting hundreds or thousands of writers on its platform, and creating links between them, the whole site grows in significance in the eyes of Google and other search engines.

It was quick and easy to use, when we tried it out a week ago. It has AJAX "capsule" boxes for comments and photos that you can move around.

Once you have written something, called a "hub," Hubpages runs Google Adsense advertising on it. Here is a snippet of someone's hub. (click below to enlarge)

You will see the page looks quite nice. You are confined in color schema and photo resizing options, etc, but the company is young, and CEO Paul Edmondson says it will build a more sophisticated design and more options over time. It also has room, in our view, to make the hub creation process even more intutiive than it is now.

In this example, the person writes about Jazz, and you'll see ads about jazz. She gets a 50 percent cut of the revenue that comes from the ads; Hubpages takes the rest. Hubpages may change this soon, though, and provide a bigger cut to more popular authors (more below). Keep an eye on point #4 here, for latest policy.

Hubpages also has partnerships with sites like Amazon, where links to relevant products are embedded in your site, and you again get half the referral revenue from the deal (when someone buys something through your page). Upon creating an account, it helps you create an Adsense account with Google. There's also no download, so this is all online.

Hubpages asks you to tag your pages of content, according to its topic. It creates unique URLs for each tag, and also for each person's profile and the hubs they have written. People can subscribe to your writings via RSS.

Hubpages then creates a way for people to elect whether your hub is interesting or not. Each hub is awarded a "hubscore" and it can float to the top of the overall site if it is ranked highly enough -- sort of like Digg. Click on the picture below to see a snippet of the homepage.

Paul first told us about Hubpages several months back. It has just launched. The $2 million in backing comes from Hummer Winblad, and partner Mitchell Kerztman is on the board.

For a similar site, with similar business model, see Gather.com. There is also Squidoo, however that site more radically focused on being a search engine destination. It encourages people to create snippets of writing about specific topics that can be found by search engines. It then shares the profits with you (see FAQ #9/10), not the revenues.

Hubpages is a good idea. Our fear is that it is late to the game. Most people who want to be online have already found a way to do so. If these guys execute, and keep making refinements so it becomes a gee-whiz site, they have a chance.

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Are you guys serious buying into YET ANOTHER business where the model is to survive on half of the commissions they earn from other companies? Aside from the total lack of understanding about the concept of margin, don't you think adsense and amazon affiliate fees are pretty played out at this point, even if you're going to keep ALL of them?

Product, not business. NEXT!

larry on August 11, 2006 11:39 AM
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Larry: Given the low startup costs through bootstrapping, their break-even will come closer. And it IS a product, with features of easy design-making developed by the team. The revenue source I am convinced will be extended over time with more business partners joining. Fon? Skype? You name it. It fits in the instant-web-and-communicate-with-the-world sphere, with its easy-to-go web publishing features.

And the premier value is the authors. If the authors are valued, it will bring enough value in financial terms to the company for further development - that is my conviction.


Anders Abrahamsson | RE:LOVE THE WORLD
Sustainopreneurship* Facilitator

*Sustainopreneurship = Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainability
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Anders Abrahamsson on August 11, 2006 2:16 PM
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Should have mentioned this company only has three people -- so yes, low burn rate.

Larry, not sure what you mean by not understanding margin.

Matt Marshall on August 11, 2006 2:54 PM
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I'm curious how long it will take the spammers/sploggers to ruin this. If it truly creates traffic for sites, I'd give it about two months.

Good luck to them though!

Todd Allen on August 11, 2006 4:40 PM
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