Oh course I’ve been following the Helium debate on Word Count. It started yesterday when Tim Beyers posted an article against freelancers using content aggregators to post their work. Then Barbara Whitlock, a member outreach manager, refuted his points and lauded the benefits of Helium. All the discussion has got me thinking about Helium and my use of the site.
When I was first starting out as a freelancer, I started writing articles for Helium. I posted about 16 articles over a couple months. But once I lined up real freelancing gigs I stopped visiting the site and posting articles to it. I can’t imagine utilizing the site now, but at its time it was great. Starting freelancers might want to consider this as a training ground - but be careful not to spend too much time ‘training’ instead of seeking out paying gigs. Because even if Helium tells you it pays, the amount you’ll make is less than one well-lined up article.
What I got out of Helium:
Writing practice. I’d been out of the ‘official’ writing arena for nearly two years when I decided freelancing was the way to go. While I never stopped writing short stories and an occasional article, I hadn’t been writing in the journalistic style in a while.
Writing confidence. You do get feedback from your posts. Some times people write you after reading an article with comments, suggestions, etc... Plus to watch your article rise in the rankings is exciting.
Marketing tips. To see any income from Helium you need to be a huge self-promoter of your work. Write and article and seconds late you should be jumping on digg, del.i.cious, reddit, etc... and posting the article. The more you do that, the more pennies you’ll see. While the money is low, it does teach you how to promote your work - a helpful skill when it comes to keeping your blog, freelancing articles and working to get your name out there.
Pride in your work. With sites like Helium you are forced to rate other articles. As an editor first and a writer second, I was appalled at the number of poorly written articles. Even more shocking was the number of articles written under a specific topic that do not deal specifically with the subject matter.
Realization of a passion. At the time I wrote for Helium the majority of my articles were penned in the fashion section. This is an area that I had never delved into before, but had always loved. I used a clip from Helium to land a guest blogging position at SparkleShelf and have since started my own humble attempt at a fashion blog.