Helium announced the launch of their article marketplace. Arbitrage giant Geosign is on the client list, scooping up automotive articles. Some of the article descriptions show that the goal is to get just enough content to wrap ads around it, in true arbitrage style:
Collect the latest news about Honda (or another car manufacturer of your choosing). Summarize the news. How does this news affect the average Honda owner? Before you write, make sure that you do some research. Take a look at the latest articles on Google News, the latest automotive blogs on Technorati, and any other online sources you feel are relevant. Max 350 word count.
Some of the other publishers are looking for a bit more meat, but all are likely sharing their marketing strategies with anyone willing to take a look.
How They Should Have Launched
If they were trying to make a big splash at launch time they sent the wrong message. They should have done some co-branded marketing allowing writers to publish for traditional media sites, and/or partnered with trusted charities on important issues.
Why You Should Try Helium
The pitch at Helium is:
Real advice from real people-more than 300,000 articles. Why should you waste your time wading through search results when what you really want is the knowledge that comes with first-hand experience?
Do a bunch of underpaid freelance writers on a generalist site about writing filter through the world's information better than Google or other sites that crawl and index the web? Not likely. For example, I just went to Technorati, and discovered this video is currently popular, with 44 people linking to it
How can a closed off network compete with the web as a whole? It is slower and of lower quality, and will always be that way. Plus it has a spamming incentive baked into the pay structure.
Will the marketplace be a vibrant one, or will the site be a noise filled AdSense honeypot that results in watered down content clogging up the search results? With about a half million pages already indexed in Google you would think Hellium should have more than 14 advertisers signed up. Once writers start tracking their AdSense profit-share results and the site starts ranking for more competitive phrases how many erectile dysfunction articles do you think will get published? The same thing will happen to it that happened to Squidoo.
Human Focused Near Markov Chain Content Websites
Content for everyone about everything by everyone websites are going to make search engines more aggressive in filtering how deep they are willing to crawl these types of sites. If they are not, it won't be long until AssociatedContent, Helium, eHow, WeHow, WikiHow, Yahoo! Answers, UK.Answers.Yahoo.com, Wordpress.com (I have seen PR6 automated splogs on Wordpress based on aggressive tagging) and a few other similar sites join Wikipedia, YouTube, eBay, subdomain.ebay.com, and Amazon as Google's top 10 results for everything. And then the newspapers will respond by getting more aggressive with pumping out garbage content. Some deep pocketed domainers may also look at the success or failure of sites like WeHow to help determine their longterm strategy.
What signal does Google want to send? Will Google ever try to regulate how you acquire content? Will any of the content sources eventually be deemed bad in a similar light to how Google tries to manipulate public perception about buying link based advertisements?
Hiring Great Writers
With more people trying to solve the content problem it is getting easier to scale and look large even if you are solo. If you have an arbitrage website or authoritative website and just need backfill content then sites like Helium might fit your needs, but if you are looking for higher quality writers search around for stories about how Gawker got built, search for thought topical leaders in the blogosphere and offer them similar salaries, and perhaps post an ad on Craigslist or the Problogger Job Boards.
If you value your time in the longrun it is cheaper to hire a great employee rather than filter through the noise hoping to find a star.
Discovering the Hellium Experience
I am off to go read about contacting aliens, the truth about Kennedy, debt consolidation mortgage loan, what you need to know to apply for a credit card, how to get an instant approval credit card, uses of Viagra, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, and best places to bet online. All the best bits of the web in one spot. They even have what is spam, but it's not comprehensive enough. There is no mention of Helium. ;)
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