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Why would anyone write.... Answered

I am just wondering why anyone would write an instructable here, when you can actually get paid to do it at other websites such as eHow?


This isn't particularly a site for freelance writers.

The people on this site actually aren't professional writers and are more interested in sharing how to make and do things that are meaningful to them. In my opinion, that makes the content on this site more valuable, as the people care about what they are publishing about and the pictures attest that someone has actually done these things at least once. Albeit they may not be experts, they have some additional value to add to the instructions they post.

On sites where people get "paid," the only way for them to make any money is to write thousands of articles. This benefits the site in terms of SEO, but lowers the quality of the content being offered once there, as it is unlikely that the people writing the article have done, or even versed, on thousands of things.

In fact, I would venture to say that the people posting 1000's of articles on E-how are being exploited. The amount of money they are making off of their content and the amount of revenue being generated by ehow from these thousands of articles are not in fair proportion (for actual freelance writing rates - assuming that is their objective).

Here is an interesting article about a business that generates content for sites like ehow by unfairly compensating their employees:

All of the said, Instructables is not adverse to exploring models that compensate top authors once the site becomes profitable. Although, Instructables does not see paying users a minuscule amount of money to generate tons of mediocre content a good road towards profitability, nor in the spirit of the site.

This is fundamentally a site the enables people who make/do things to share how they made/do them. It is centered around enabling this community to connect. This is fundamentally different from sites like ehow that are centered around drawing in tons of transient visitors from search looking to do one very specific thing and be on their way.

"Instructables is not adverse to exploring models that compensate top authors"

Some people occasionally put me in that group.  Whilst the prospect of "compensation" is, naturally, tempting, I would like to register my disapproval in advance regarding any model that includes a "pay-per-view" or "pay-per-click" criterion.

Admittedly, I can't think of an alternative system off-hand, but an eHow or Metacafe type model would seriously harm the nature of the site.

I kinda looked into the business models after reading this persons posts, and I have to say that i wasn't impressed.  First, most ehows seem to be stock images with some three sentence descriptions that look like they were churned out in a sweatshop.  Secondly I checked a couple of author's forums and people were saying things like "I make $18 per year per article, that's good money"(!?).  It seems like the actual pay, even with residuals, would never exceed pennies per hour.

eHow and Instructables have two entirely different platforms.  On eHow, pictures aren't really a necessity for a well written article, but here, the pictures are one of the most important aspects of the step-by-step instructions. 

Teaching someone how to build a CNC 3-Axis Cutting Machine would be fairly tough on eHow.  Instructables provides the perfect interface for this.  eHow has lots of articles that are related to solving every day problems.  Here at Instructables, we have the ability to teach someone how to solve an everyday problem, but we also have the ability to teach someone how to utilize everday materials to make something awesome.

Instructables inspires the Do-It-Yourself spirit, and provides the perfect platform to do so.

True at eHow the pictures aren't necessary, but the interface still has the ability to ADD a picture to each and every step. Come to think of it so does a Squidoo lens. So, again I ask, if you can post your picture rich content elsewhere and get paid for it... why do it here for free?

Some of us aren't in it for the money, though.

I'd question just how much you get paid for it, anyway.  Pennies?

The amount that users get paid is very nominal.  I had a friend who wrote a couple articles and gets about $1.50 a year.  Very nominal.

Actually, I get about $12.00 per year per published piece. I've been there two years, so they are still earning. $24 each over the past two years beats 0 over the past two years.

But, thanks for the note about the prizes. At least that is something.

Going by industry standard magazinepublishing rates, you are being ripped off.

Publishing in a print magazine often requires a lot of work in the submission process, which drives up the time invested, as well as the overall compensation expected.

If earning $24 over a two year period for an article published online is being "ripped off" then what is publishing here for free?

I liken it to a professional painter that comes across a website where people are giving away their art for free and asking why they do it. I mean the people here no harm. I was simply trying to educate them that their quality work is valuable and that they don't have to give it away for free. If they wish to continue to do so, then so be it. It don't mind at all.

Blessings to all. <><

"Publishing in a print magazine often requires a lot of work in the submission process"

Not in my experience.  In fact, I have found magazine articles to be much easier to write than Instructables, since the layout and illustration etc are somebody else's problem.

But, you misunderstand our motivation here.  I can't comment on your specific articles, but the majority of articles published on eHow (and other similar sites, like Metacafe) are designed to be nothing more than traffic-generators.  The author gets paid every time the page appears on somebody's screen.  They do not get paid more if the visitor reads past the title, they do not get paid more if the reader actually does what is described in the article.

Here, the motivator is Making As Art.  We post for posting's sake, much as many bloggers post simply to place their thoughts in the wider world.  Many of the projects here cannot be recreated exactly, or at all, but they are documented with as much care as others that can.

.  "Why would anyone..." doesn't sound exactly educational or an offer to help to me.

Nope, it sounds like a question, which is what it was. After I got the answer, I offered the my insight and learned it was very unwanted here.

Nobody here is trying to pick a fight.  Yours points have really started an interesting discussion.  It may seem like we are being rude in the way we are responding, but really we are just defending what we believe to be one of the best websites to spread the DIY spirit.

I hope you can see where we are coming from, and we definitely see where you are coming from. 

Average out the value of the prizes I have won, and it will be far more than that!

Ditto.  Like you said in the other post,"why do people visit eHow instead of Instructables?"

Instructables just kicks butt all around.

.  I haven't the foggiest idea why (some ppl are actually paying for the privilege, for Pete's sake!), but thank goodness it's that way.

I've never used eHow.

I just had a look, and I can see why I don't - it's appalling!  That text-only format is utterly useless - I mean, an article on how to design t-shirts, with no images in the article at all!

eHow may be big, but they need Instructables - do a search for instructables, and there are twenty-three pages of hits.  So much of this site is "referred to", or down-right ripped off (including images), it's just not funny.

A better question would be; given how bad the eHow format is, why do people visit it instead of Instructables?

Just so you know, there are normally pictures on eHow. But there is some glitch or something going on that is making so the pictures aren't showing on many articles.

Randomly searching through eHow, and perusing some stuff on ASL sign language, there may be only be a thumbnail picture for the topic and the author's picture, not any for individual steps of the instructions.  In addition to clarity of the explanation, images do lend some credibility to the creator of the project, especially if they are not stock photos of something.  I saw some eHow topics on how to plan theme parties or weddings.  It seems the author did not even execute the event nor really knew anything about the theme subject. 


Here we can be reasonably certain that all the projects have been at least tried, and any that aren't are soon highlighted by the readers.

Maybe. I've seen some instructables that, like eHow, are poorly done, have problems, won't work, some that could even be a little dangerous, because the author didn't know enough or didn't care, but still have only positive comments from readers.
On eHow there are also readers who will comment and point out problems with articles, or when needed actually flagged to be taken down.
There is not much difference between eHow and instructables in many ways. They are both are really great sites, but they both aren't perfect either.

I would hope this not denegrate into a site-bashing thread since there is no need for that.  Each has it's place and it is up to the reader to choose freely and make their own judgment.

In trying to answer the question of why post here and not get paid for it I hope we conveyed the sense most things are very unique creations and were not created with a commercial motive.  Starving artists will post here for Art's sake. Inventors/hackers will post here for self-worth and accomplishment.  The community here is more appreciative.  The promise of a royalty on our product or gearing it toward SEO for more viewers is not what we're about.  When something you enjoy doing turns into a routine job, you lose that spark.  So for those that want to delve into the tutorial-mill business, that is fine, but there comes a point where that creative spark is lost.  I think we recognize that here and bucking convention like everything else, we can, so we do.

Caitlinsdad, it seems to me that  with comments like, "for those that want to delve into the tutorial-mill business, that is fine, but there comes a point where that creative spark is lost," that you are doing the site bashing.
My only negative comments pertained equally to both sites...that the instructions on both sites are not as good as they could be. That is just the way all information sites will always be.
Although I have not posted any instructables I have been visiting it for a long time and thoroughly enjoy it and think it's fabulous.
I equally enjoy eHow. I do not think one is better than the other. I see both their pros and cons equally. I think they both have good layouts even though they are different. Simply because they are different does not make one bad and the other good.

I'll apologize for my wording but my opening comment was not personally directed at you.  I have been here long enough to see when a topic like this is put up, there will be some ferocious discussion. 

That said, different sites exist and a personal preference for all.

What I was trying to get across is, to the person with the mindset of  "you should be paid for putting up a tutorial/instructable or don't do it" is wondering why we do put up an instructable with no monetary reimbursement.  I am saying we are compensated in higher worth than actual money.  And from personal opinion and viewpoint, I will use the term "hack" in a derogatory way, if you are just trying to publish more just to fill a quota or get another buck, you've sold your artistic soul.  I do not know the person well enough to say if that is the situation but that is my counterpoint.  It's a tough concept to get across in a materialistic society. 

Could you point some of those ibles out to us?

Ofcourse if the perfect site excisted everybody would be on that all the time!
I'm still in favor of an option to delete bad instructables by the staff to get those bad ibles away because frankly it's just clutter that you need to go through.

We really don't need the ible "how to eat" for an example.

But on a completely objective scale (I don't have anything to do with instructables in anyway) I would chose instructables any day over Ehow.com

I mean sure you get paid, but their pagelayout sucks, the large mayority of their ibles don't have pictures and I'm not seeing any cool contests anywhere!

While instructables has a good and easy layout, nice friendly people, contests, an active community, you see the admins and the people who run instructables and they're very friendly towards everybody. And there are many other reasons. Not in the least the addiction factor this site has on me and alot of other people :p

Sorry, Michel, but since most of the instructables I've seen like that are one's I've run across over a period of two or more years I don't think I could possibly go through the hundreds (probably thousands) of instructables to find them again, even if I did remember what the projects were. Just as I would not be able to find all the bad eHow articles I've seen. When I find articles I love on any how to/instruction site I usually take note of those through bookmarks or whatever. But the ones I thought were not clear or just wrong etc I tend to forget it. If it is actually dangerous I'd let the website moderators know about it...and then move on.
I personally like the eHow layout (although lately they've put in more ads which is a bit too much). Just as I like the instructibles.com layout. They're just different.
Have a great day.

You can click on the thumbnails to make them larger.
Anyway, I agree with you on a lot of what you said. Even though some articles that are on eHow don't need pics there are unfortunately many that should have pics that don't.
Some are poorly written and some are written by people who don't know what they are talking about.
But there are also a lot of good and also really great articles with useful pics. But it's a great place to write. Especially if you want to earn money (there can be a learning curve there though, since you earn based mostly on ad revenue).
I love Instructables for the creativity though. I never know what interesting things I am going to run across when I come here. And there's obviously a strong community.

People don't use it so much as refer to it once through internet searches and then move on, or write articles just to get hits. 

Instructables just doesn't have the same kinds of information - we're not a hand-holdy sort of site. We're for people who want to learn new things, not people who can't be bothered to actually think about a problem before typing "how to blah blah blah" into google. :P

I think instructables needs to do more to teach users how to generate traffic for their ibles. This page on ehow for example is rather interesting! Click the "Drive more traffic" tab.


I might try optimising a few of my ibles to see if I notice a difference.

Right! I think I'm going to take this ible:

Read some SEO (search engine optimisation) guides and that article on eHow and rewrite some bits to boost it up the google rankings. It's currently 10th in google. I'll find out its rankings in some other search engines, record it, make changes then report back in a forum post or ible. :)

 eHow has contacted me about making videos of my projects a few times, but I just don't like their format. I feel like most of the articles there are borderline spam and they don't really cater to true DIYers. The site is mostly for pulling in search engine users and writing articles about things people are searching for so you can get hits. There is little to no community there from what I can see, and certainly no passion!

Instructables really breaks the information down in the right way, and gives the author many more choices regarding formatting and media types. I love that I can add a video as a step or upload a ton of pictures for something particularly tricky. And I just don't know that there is another DIY site out there that compares when it comes to ease of use and understanding. 

Plus, there are a ton of very talented people here, just doing what they love and sharing it with others. It's fantastic.

1. There is nothing stopping you from posting in two places.  There are a lot of people who do a video for metacafe or similar and then post an instructable here.

2.  I consider the amount of money received at something like eHow to be miniscule compared to the other benefits I receive here - I'll describe that below.  And the pay-for-views thing does seem to tinge of internet-work-at-home-make-millions-proposals.  I saw one discussion that says $1.50US for every 1K views, good for a few cups of coffee.

3. The other sites seem too serious.  With a wikiHow, another discussion somewhere, you are subject to pure academic review.  That is also done here to some extent but that does not deter a person from publishing what they have already accomplished by any means.  A lot of projects are creative accomplishments that cannot be easily described in words.  I like Instructables as a place for "offbeat" things.

4. Instructables is rich as a community.
With other sites, you end up with random hits of random people just looking for something specific at the moment.  This site is also filled with random people but there also seems a common thread that all are interested in a DIY mindset.  Whatever the motive for DIY, you might also think of it as an "open-source" movement too.  Feedback on a project is the greatest thing here.  Since this site may be more of a niche, you have a better chance of receiving great ideas to help you out or seeing what others have done.

5. And here, there is a real sense of passion for the things we do.  Do a search on "burning questions" in instructables.  Similar to choosing from the list of things to write up on eHow, you'll see members will post an instructable more for personal pride and accomplishment. 

Welcome to Instructables.

1. Ok, so there isn't anything stopping me from posting both places, but again, why post here when I can earn there?

2. eHow, Squidoo, Suite101 and the other many sites I write for don't pay per view, but ok. I earn about $1 per month per published work and because I've written hundreds, I earn hundreds a month. I don't call that minuscule or coffee.

3. Point taken instructables is "laid back" and "off beat."

4. Point taken instructables is a DIY website with great feedback. 

5. There is no list of things to write up at eHow. There was a requested article library over a year ago, but the opportunity to submit tutorials on something you love has always been available.

I see the final answer is "a sense of pride and accomplishment." Ok, I get that at many other websites. My published work averages 3,000 views per day. I am very proud of the things I have written and some day hope to be up to 10,000 views a day for writing tutorials I love. I never write about something I am not passionate about. The difference is, I expect to be earning $1000 a month for sharing my passions in the next few years, while Instructable writers will be earning well...nothing. Or worse, paying a fee. OUCH.


If the pay-per-click sites are so good, why are you here?

I'm always looking for new places to write. In fact, I maintain a Squidoo lens called, "101 Best Website for the Freelance Writer." I saw Instructables.com showing up in the search engines along-side my articles frequently and thought I'd check to see if they pay to write here. I'm sort of choking on the idea that they actually want you to pay them.

Also, that whole, "We do it for the warm fuzzy glow it brings us," is great. Most online content isn't worth reading if the writer doesn't love it. But, you can get the warm fuzzy glow elsewhere AND get paid for your work.

I'm just saying in case you didn't know.

I won't be sticking around instructables.com. Just stopped by to ask in the forums if I was missing something about the compensation here. Thought maybe there was a secret place to sign up. LOL

Damn, that is sad.  Still thanks for bringing ehow and squidoo to my attention, I have some project sthat would suck in the instructables format that i can toss up there for beer money.

Hey, I have some stuff just to crappy to post here, you better be sure I'll be hiding my ID.

Very well, most of us are not in it to become career tutorial writers.  Getting money is nice but not the only reward or satisfaction that we need from writing an instructable.   Profit is a major motivation but I'm sure you can argue that turns the truly inspired and creative types into a typical hack.  I have 54 instructables, many could have been on eHow or I could go now and port them over.  I will not because that would have taken the fun out of creating them in the first place.  It might be hard for you to understand but I think I share the sentiments of many.  Money is not everything.

I think you misunderstand about the site.  It looks like you have signed up for a "free account".  Anyone that signs up like you did can post an instructable, comment, and participate in contests for free.  PRO paid membership just gives you a few more features to better utilize the format of instructables like being able to print a PDF.  You are still able to read in entirety and view images from the instructables.

Good luck to your continued success in your endeavours.

Well a small list of reasons

Instructables is a wonderfull site full of people who post instructables just because their passionete about what they made and enjoy the comments of others

About 90 procents of the ibles here are posted because the author truly worked hard for it, is proud of it and thinks other people can use it. While I imagine that on Ehow many people just post for the money...

I really don't like getting paid over the internet. And especially not if it involves some scraps like a dollar per instructable. You say in some comments below you are hoping to make around a 1000 dollars a month. That means you'll have to make around 1000 'ibles. But how many of those are you truly proud off? I'm not here for the money, I'm here for the wonderfull community and the instant help you get when you are in trouble

Nobody is forcing you to pay for this site. You can perfectly do without, pro status are just some extra features that make it easier to work here. Besides in every contest every price consists of pro membership. And you can give it away if you already have it.

If you really want to gain something from it, enter contests! There contests every month or so and they offer great prices!

And perhaps the most important reason:


I'm a future teacher and I'll tell you the first thing you learn for every subject be it history, geography, math or technique you will need pictures to make the children understand. Ever tried to explain how you build a guitar for children without pictures. It's hard.. And I have been browsing Ehow and most of these ibles don't even have pictures! So I'll happily stay on instructables thank you very much :)

Money isn't everything you know :) (and this comes from a 19 year old who is always short on cash)