Mahalo was once very different than what it's become today. When I first joined the site in 2008, how-to articles were written for a flat-fee of at least $20, sometimes considerably more. Certain articles, such as video game walk-throughs, paid as much as $250. Search engine results pages (SERPS) paid the least, but they were easy to complete and I felt the compensation was fair, particularly since anyone could write them. Things have definitely changed, (the addition of residuals and a reduction in upfront pay) but you can still earn a significant amount of money with Mahalo if you're willing to devote time to the site.
How Does Mahalo Pay?
Mahalo pays its contributors with Mahalo dollars, a form of currency used on the site. When converted to cash, each Mahalo dollar is worth $0.75. There are four different ways to earn money on the site: Mahalo Answers, Pages, Tasks and How-To's. Here's how it works:
Mahalo AnswersSimilar to Yahoo Answers, the Mahalo version features user-submitted questions on a variety of topics. To earn, you must answer a question with a monetary "tip" attached to it (typically anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars, though occasionally more), and your answer must be chosen as "Best Answer." NOTE: I tried this for a while, but it was very difficult to find a valuable question that didn't already have a kick-ass answer. Some of the questions were very technical and would take experience in a particular niche to answer properly. The easy ones were usually taken, though I only stuck around for a few days.
Pages and Page Management
Mahalo pages are the SERPS of the old Mahalo. If you're new to the site, you'll need to understand a bit more about what Mahalo is before you can understand pages. According to their website, Mahalo is a human-powered search engine and knowledge sharing service...where users can find the most accurate possible information on any topic. Each "page" is a collection of information from around the internet on a certain topic. One example is this Mahalo page about freelance writing. When I searched for Freelance Writing from the Mahalo search bar, this is where I landed. When you create your own pages for Mahalo, you will earn 50 percent of the ad revenue they generate, but you must also keep them current and updated.
The tasks available on Mahalo are usually portions of normal pages that need to be completed, such as writing an Intro for a page, writing a few fast facts or compiling a link list. Pay is usually 3 to 4 Mahalo dollars per completed and approved task.
While technically pages in themselves, I decided to cover the how-to articles separately, as their requirements are a bit different. You must be accepted as a member of the How-to team in order to write these pages, which feature step-by-step instructions on completing certain tasks. To be considered for the team, you'll participate in a Rush Week, which begins and ends every Wednesday.
During Rush Week, you'll claim a single how-to and complete it before the week ends. These titles are available in the "tasks" section of the site. If they like your work, you'll be invited to join and then you can begin writing as many how-to articles as you like. For more information, see How to Build a How To Page on Mahalo. You'll earn a small upfront payment for your submission and 50 percent of ad revenue the page generates, which makes this the most lucrative activity on the site. I've written one how-to, How to Make a Paradise Cocktail, which gained my acceptance to the How-to team, but I've made zero ad revenue. I did receive the 10 Mahalo dollars for the article, though I'll likely never make pay-out unless I spend more time on the site.
You must reach 150 Mahalo dollars to reach the Payment threshold. You'll have to request your payment through your profile and you'll be paid on the 15th of the following month via PayPal. This is rather high, but if you plan to put real work into the site, you could easily make this much or more per month.
Mahalo Belts and Points
In addition to earning Mahalo dollars for your submissions to the site, you'll also earn points for everything you do. As you earn points, you'll level up to different "belts." New users begin with white belts, 100 points earns a yellow belt, 500 earns a green belt and 2,000 earns a purple belt. Brown and black belts are reserved for the most active members. You'll need 8,000 points to earn a brown belt and 13,000 points to earn a black belt, and you must be evaluated by the staff for quality before you're given the honor. The higher your belt, the more questions you'll be able to ask and answer in Mahalo answers.
My Thoughts on Mahalo as an Income Source
Mahalo is a well-known site that receives a large amount of traffic from search engines every day. I'm not impressed with the pay scale these days, but I can see how it may be profitable for writers willing to do the work. It takes a while to get the hang of using the site and to learn the numerous guidelines for pages, but once you do this, you could probably create many profitable pages each day. As with any residual income site, you'll have to put in your fair share of work before you see results, something I just haven't been able to bring myself to do with Mahalo. Perhaps if it were a bit simpler, I may have given it more of a chance, and I still may in the future. For now, however, I'm going to sit this one out.
What are your thoughts on Mahalo? Do you enjoy writing for the site and how does your income compare to other residual opportunities?