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Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007 at 10:14 am

Would You Play with Helium?

By Bryan Eisenberg
August 21st, 2007

helium.jpgMy friend Anne Kennedy sat with me yesterday in the speakers’ room at Search Engine Strategies and told me about a company she’s involved with called Helium; a directory of about a half-million user-generated articles (so far).

But it’s much more than a directory. Helium allows articles its community considers more valuable to get better visibility — and a bigger chunk of its ad revenue. They also have an area for debate and have included a marketplace for publishers and authors to connect. Today, they have publishers willing to pay from $16 to $100 per article to some 69,000 writers, who’ve already generated 400,000 articles on 60,000 topics.

As a Publisher, you can list a bounty for any articles you want written. Authors then submit stories following your guidelines and compete for the bounty. Publishers can select any article as the winner, while Helium’s peer review ratings help rank submissions.

Would you use articles written by anonymous freelancers? Have you already? Could you see yourself using Helium to bolster your content offerings and, possibly, your search engine rankings?

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Comments (9)

  1. Interesting. Can anyone explain the difference between Helium and say, e-lance.com? At first glance, both seem to be providing a similar service.

  2. Bryan,

    Thanks for the info on Helium. I have been a registered user for nearly a year but am yet to utilize the system in the ways you identified. I also and am in need of retrieving content at a low rate for my blog marketing product so I might have poke my head around more.

    John – I am not familiar with e-lance. What I know about Helium from using it is that you can submit articles and rate articles. Writers can even produce income from ad revenue their articles generate. A lot of the writings I came across were sub-standard in my opinion but like most things you have to know how to dig in order to find the gold nuggets.

  3. Bryan:

    Thank you for the write-up on Helium. Anne Kennedy has been on our Board of Directors since the beginning, and is a wonderful person. Our Marketplace product is a new feature and is really starting to take off. As for the difference between Helium’s Marketplace and eLance (and others like them), Helium’s Marketplace is a Web 2.0 approach to Freelance content. The other models try to connect a publisher with a freelancer via a request and bid model, whereas Helium’s Marketplace creates an open competition between writers based on the quality of their articles. So, in the old model, a publisher posts a job, and 50 people respond with a desire to do the work (send in resumes, portfolio’s, etc) and someone is picked. At Helium, the writers actually compete by writing the article and then the articles are ranked via Helium’s peer review process. The best articles rise to the top, and the publisher picks the best work. This process provides better content for the publisher, it removes all of the barriers for the writer to get a chance for the job, and opens far more doors for the writer.

    Thanks again for writing about us.

    Mark Ranalli
    President & CEO
    Helium Inc.

  4. John: essentially, you get better quality with Elance. Needless to say, you pay $250 for an article rather than $20.
    Quality of content on Helium needs a lot to be desired- grammar and spelling errors are plentiful.

  5. Thanks for the vote of confidence Elena. The feedback we’re getting from our Marketplace clients would suggest otherwise….

  6. Ha, too funny. I will say that while the idea behind Helium is novel, and overall it is an excellent site and resource, I have found a substantial number of low-quality writings with poor grammar and thought structure. Fortunately, the user community can determine the quality levels.

  7. Negative feedback is the most valuable feedback an entrepreneur can receive, Mark. I did your homework for you and shared it with you: the articles need a little more QA.
    Your response did not increase my level of confidence in the quality of content at all.

    I will go back to Helium, however, as the idea of paying way less than $250 per article is very appealing to me. I will do that when I have time to devote to editing the article(s).

    Cheers.

  8. I wrote an article for Helium to test the waters, and I got paid a penny. Very odd. Nothing, I can understand. But one cent???

    So I requested information about how the dollars are divied up (not in an agressive way, I’m just trying to understand so that I can do beter!)…and again, got a vague answer. Doesn’t reassure me as a writer, trust me. I even wrote another e-mail to Helium folks, outlining what I suspected was the formula, i.e., “look guys, I’m guessing that you are sharing your adsense revenue with me, that’s cool, I pay about .13 per click in my other life and I understand…but is that the case? Or is it something else??? Help so I can write better and make more!”

    And again, a vague blah blah blah response about how valuable the site is, and how I should just write more and I’ll make more money.

    Otherwise, I enjoy the site. I don’t appreciate being treated like a mushroom though. Being an educated, somewhat intelligent (’cause the two don’t always coincide!) web user, I expected more.

    Oh well!

  9. I just tried to fix the spelling errors in the post above and couldn’t figure out how to do it! Sorry!!!!

    Goes to show you how education and web-savviness do not mean you can forget to use spell check

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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