There has been quite a bit of talk about FireHow on the various WAH forums I frequent. Some say it's a rip-off of eHow, some say it's too new to generate significant earnings, and some say...What the heck is FireHow?
Well, it's a new revenue sharing site with a similar pay structure to eHow. In fact, if you do any writing for eHow, you might find FireHow to be a scaled-down and much less attractive version of the popular how-to site.
I decided to join and submit one article to get a feel for the site, so I could better explain it's ups and downs. Here's what I found.....
Awkward Layout and General Unattractiveness
The first thing I noticed about FireHow is that the site is....well, ugly. The color scheme is unattractive, and the articles are not well formated. You must format the articles yourself, and there are no little boxes in which to paste steps, tips, and warnings. There is an example article from which to base your formating, but not much else in the way of guidelines.
You submit your articles in a rich text editor that doesn't seem to work very well. I tried to bold the subheadings (Intro, Step 1, Tips, etc) but this was removed from the published version. Personally, I think the articles look atrocious. But, this doesn't mean they won't make money.
The ads really stick out like a sore thumb - big white boxes on the site's horrible gray background. They just don't seem to flow well with the rest of the content, and this makes me worry that even casual internet users will be able to see they are ads and take their clicks elsewhere.
Strange Days in the Land of Navigation
The site's navigation leaves much to be desired. In addition to the bad color scheme, navigating the site could almost be called painful. There is a lack of sub-categories that I don't care for. I write mostly natural health articles, but these are all lumped under an umbrella "health" category. I feel this might make it more difficult on readers who are unfamilar with the site. Just click on any one of the categories, and you'll see what I mean.
No Regular Earnings Updates
You won't know how an article is doing until the beginning of the month when you are sent your monthly earnings update. Many of us who write for eHow, Bukisa, Suite101, and similar revenue share sites are spoiled on being able to see how our articles are doing in close to real time.
With FireHow, you have to wait an entire month to get a feel for your performance, and even then, it's unclear as to whether you'll receive a breakdown of earnings per-article, or if it will be a general update. Here's an excerpt from the FireHow FAQ:
At the end of every month, if your balance reaches 10 dollars, you will be paid directly to your PayPal account. You will receive an email from PayPal when your payment has arrived.
If you do not reach 10 dollars, you will be emailed an earnings update at the beginning of the following month, to let you know what you have accrued for the month. As of now, your earnings are not displayed in your profile.
However, there is an "earnings" tab in the profile, which suggests that regular updates might be a feature we'll see in the future.
New Site = Not Much Google Love
FireHow is painfully new. In fact, there are only 75 registered users at the time of this writing, and a quick Google search for indexed pages garners only 1,250 hits. For a comparison, eHow has 3,250,000 indexed pages according to Google. That's a huge difference!
However, you have to keep in mind that all sites must start somewhere. Do you want to get in on the action before the site has a chance to really ramp up? That's up to you, but your income potential is much less on a new site than on an established site such as eHow.
FireHow has a page rank of 3/10 compared to eHow's 7/10. This may or may not be relevant, depending on who you believe. But, one thing is for sure. Your pages won't be ranked as highly in the search engines on FireHow as they would be with older publishing sites. Does this mean you can't make any money here? Absolutely not!
Micro-Niche Keywords Might be Key
It seems to me that because the site is so new and has such a low page rank, that you could still make money if you targeted micro-niche keywords. This means keywords that have very little (less than 1,000) competing pages. These keywords won't have as many searches, either, and can sometimes be difficult to find.
You might also be able to make more money using the same keywords on other more established sites. But, if you're determined to start a new income stream with FireHow, this might be the only way to go until the site gains more prominence on the web at large.
How Much Does FireHow Pay?
I'm sure the first thing you'll want to know is how much FireHow pays. The answer is, we don't know. (Aren't you used to that yet?) Again, in similar eHow fashion, FireHow pays a portion of ad revenue based on the performance of your article. According to the site, "You will earn money based on many factors, such as, but not limited to, how many views, comments, and ratings your articles receive."
Now, we all know you aren't being paid via page view here, so don't get too excited yet. What this means, in revenue-share terms, is that you'll be paid a portion of what each of your articles earns the site. Saying that your earnings are based on views, comments, ratings, and "other factors" is just another way to say that the specific algorithm they use to determine earnings is not being divulged.
I think the reasoning behind statements like these are that articles with more views (traffic), comments, and ratings are more likely to earn higher income than those no one visits. This is why that handy "not limited to" and "many factors" has been included in the spiel. The site specifically says that one of the primary factors by which you'll be paid is "views." To me, this means traffic, which means ad clicks.
You aren't likely to be paid much for highly viewed articles that don't get clicks, particularly on a site that uses Google ads as it's main income source.
NOTE: I ran across this post on I-Newswire stating that anyone who signs up in 2009 will earn 110 percent of the revenue from their articles for six months. I could find nothing about this on the actual site, and I have no idea if it's true or not. Believe at your own risk. :)
Other Important Notes
The pay is monthly via PayPal if your earnings are more than $10. If not, they'll be carried over to the next month until you've accrued $10. Payment via PayPal is always a good thing, in my book.
The articles are not reviewed prior to publication, but are published immediately. However, they can be removed for failure to conform to the formatting guidelines.
You must give your SSN to be paid for your articles. I know some people are uncomfortable about this, but it's a requirement, so don't sign up if you don't want to give out this info.
What's the Verdict?
FireHow has potential. Whether or not it will live up to it is another story. Overall, the site is still in its infancy, and I can't make a decision about it one way or the other. I have submitted one article, which you can view here if you want to check out a published article on the site.
I'll post an update as soon as I get my monthly earnings email to see how the article is doing. I'm not expecting much from one article, but I think it will give me an idea of how my preferred topics will earn on the site overall. I might even submit a few more articles using some micro-niche keywords, and we'll see how those do.
I would recommend giving the site some time to earn a good reputation with the search engines and internet users before giving it too much attention. However, it won't hurt to submit a few articles and see how they do. If people don't write, the site will never gain the momentum it needs to succeed, and it might be the end of something that could turn out to be very rewarding.
Do you have any experiences with or opinons about the site? I'd love to hear your point of view!