releases


Helium is announcing a change to our writing process that will over the long run benefit both writers and readers.

As a writer, when you accept an assignment, we will now be requiring an “article headline”.  This headline should be different from the title being written to, and should be descriptive and unique enough to make it easy for a searcher to find your article through a search engine. This will provide an additional level of clarity to what your article is about, as well as a way of better distinguishing  one article under a title from another in that same title. We anticipate that over the long run, this will help Helium articles appear higher in search results making it easier for readers to find your articles, and raising the number of views.

This is a long-term proposition. These article headlines will be stored in our database, but they will not appear on the site until the Helium redesign is launched before the end of the year. We are starting this now so that new articles will benefit  from this change, but are also allowing writers who have existing articles to go back through “My Articles” and add these “article headlines” as well.

Now, for the details: these are the areas where you may see this new “article headline” entry field. The first is when you accept an assignment, or choose to Write Now from an article already on the site, you will now see this in Write Now:

And, under My Articles, when you choose Show Article Options, you will have the ability to add a headline to an existing article. The headlines will need to be in proper Helium format, with the first word capitalized, as well as any proper nouns such as a person’s name:

Since we are requiring that all new articles also have a headline, writers will see an error message reminding them to add a headline if they forget:

At Helium, we want to recognize, reward, and retain our best writers. Our plans for increasing the number of assignments from our publishing partners and clients means that we need to be able to identify those writers who write to their expertise, as publishers most often request writers who can demonstrate a specialization in a topic area. And, readers recognize when a writer writes with expertise, too.

We’ve heard from you, and we’ve listened. On Thursday, as part of Helium’s ongoing upgrades, we will be converting the current Senior Writer groups to Premium Writer status. As previously announced, the Premium Writer status will be at the leaf channel where your writing scores rank above a 95. Those scores take into account your NARs editorial rating and peer rankings. To be a Premium Writer, your score must be 95 or above.

For every leaf in which you are a Premium Writer, you will receive a premium of 25% on top of the current Revenue Share (RS) rate for that leaf. Writers will see where they are gaining a 25% premium in their revenue share on their Earnings & Payments page, as on the screenshot. You will also see your writing score for each of the leafs where you have contributed any article. In order to gain Premium Writer status, you must have at least three articles in a leaf, and those articles must be in titles that have five or more articles.

Premium writer with scores

Because we’re introducing the Premium Writer status, we are eliminating the Senior Writer Groups you currently see on your About Me page. We’ll be introducing new Writers Groups in January, as Part Two of this upgrade.

We believe the Premium Writer status and the premium that comes with it rewards our best writers, and encourages others to continue to strive to achieve that status.

 UPDATE 12/15/11 : Here’s the latest — while the site update is still in process (as of 9 am Eastern time), and you won’t yet be able to see your scores or earnings, we decided the change the score threshold level to 90, rather than the previously announced 95, so that more writers will be included.

UPDATE 1/6/2012:  On December 20th, 2011, we announced that we were going to back out all of the elements of Premium Writer status. 

It’s been a busy and interesting year at Helium. In the past few months alone, we’ve redesigned the Earnings and Payments system, added the ability for writers to upload photos to their articles, and increased transparency by showing writers the number of pageviews per individual article. These are parts of our process of continuous improvement.

And there’s more coming:
In December:
1. The current “Senior Writer” groups will be converted to “Premium Writers“. The qualification to be in that group remains the same.
2. For every leaf in which you are a Premium Writer, you will be earning a bonus on top of the standard Revenue Share rate. You will be able to distinguish those articles earning the bonus in Content Earnings and Charity Donations – they will be bold and will have a small hover box to tell you when they started earning premiums.
3. We will be creating NEW Senior Writer groups at the Sub-channel level (one level below the root). Qualification to be in the Senior Writer group will be that you must be a Premium Writer in at least two of the leaf channels under that branch.
For example, if the channel is Autos, there will be a Senior Writer Autos group. If you are a Premium Writer in Auto Repair and Antique Autos and they are both under Autos, you will be a Senior Writer-Autos. If you are a Premium Writer only in Auto Repair, you will not be a Senior Writer-Autos.

In January:
1. We will be adding a process that will remove people from Premium Writer status if their quality score drops below the threshold.
2. We will also be adding a process to remove people from Senior Writer groups if they no longer meet the requirement of two Premium Writer leaf channels under the sub-channel.
3. Notifications will be sent to the writer via the Announcement system when they are added or dropped from a Senior Writer group.

There are other features targeted for January but these are the ones that pertain to the Senior Writer group functionality.
Premium Writer has been designed to take into account your editorial rating and peer reviews and rankings. Only a small number of Helium writers will achieve Premium Writer status in each channel. As always, we encourage our writers to write about what they know best, and to write well and promote their work on social media sites and elsewhere.

When we introduced the new earnings and payments application, the hard-working Helium tech team was also working on updating the mobile versions too.

If you are currently using Helium on a mobile device, here are two screenshots so you can see how this will look on your device, beginning Tuesday, October 25:

This is how the menu will look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the Earnings & Payments screen.

The mobile version now closely mirrors the online version. We hope you enjoy this new mobile version.

For the last two days, we’ve been letting the Helium community know about the new earnings and payments application. On Tuesday, we pointed out the changes you will see on the earnings screens. Yesterday, we showed you some of the enhancements that you’ll be seeing on the payments screens.

Today, based on community feedback, we’re showing you something many have been clamoring for:

On the screenshot above, you’ll notice that there’s now a “Views” listing, showing you the number of views individual titles have garnered. We’ve promised that we’re going to be more transparent, and this is one giant step toward that ideal.

There are a number of things to note with this new addition to the earnings and payments application.

First, we’re showing views beginning with the release date of the new earnings and payments application. The “Views” column will only display the current month to date and will not show anything prior to October 2011.

In addition to providing detailed article views information, Helium is also changing how it calculates earnings for each article. In the past, Helium’s earnings calculations used a proprietary algorithm that included views for a title (all articles included), quality of each article (as determined by peer review) and revenue from each channel (as determined by how much advertisers pay for different types of content).

Starting next week, we are moving away from our proprietary earnings calculation system and launching an earnings calculation that is 100-percent transparent. Each article view will now be multiplied by a clearly published earnings factor. For example, articles in the Health and Wellness section of the site will earn one rate for every 1,000 views, and articles in the Politics, News and Issues section of the site will earn at a slightly lower rate per 1,000 views. The different earnings rate per channel is a direct reflection of the ad rates available based on subject matter. Advertisers pay more to place their ads in some sections and less in others. We expect that these earnings factors will change over time. As Helium continues to grow, we expect that we will be able to generate higher ad revenue per view. If this is the case, Helium will continue to increase the earnings factor. As a co-op model, Helium is committed to sharing its earnings with its members. The more we are able to earn, the more the site will share with its members.

What you might see:

Given our transition from our previous earnings calculation to this new system, we are certain that you will experience a difference in earnings on an article-by-article analysis, but we expect that the vast majority of our members will earn a similar amount across their entire portfolio of articles on the site. Some articles will be earning more each month, and others will be earning less than they did before. But the total amount of ad revenue share with the community is identical under the new system.

Quick UPDATE 10/17/2011

Last week, we announced Helium’s new earnings and payments application, including that the number of views per article would be visible.

We wanted to get this new application into your hands as quickly as possible, and we are rolling this out as planned on Oct. 18, 2011. But, in order to avoid any potential confusion, rather than open the new earnings and payments application with a partial month’s worth of data, views calculations will not be available and viewable until Nov. 1, 2011. Thanks for your understanding.

 

Yesterday, we announced to the Helium community that next week, we will be introducing some changes to the earnings and payments application. We pointed out the changes you will see on the earnings screens.

Today, we’ll show you some of the enhancements that you’ll be seeing on the payments screens.

 

First, on the screenshot above, you’ll notice that there’s now a separate payments listing, enabling you to more easily track your pending and paid payments. You’ll be able to see the status of your payments and the date you requested the payment.

 

We’ll also be including PayPal transaction IDs, so that you’ll be able to track additions to your PayPal account. This information will only be available for payments made following next week’s release; past transaction data will not be available.

 

You’ll also be able to download all of your transactions to a spreadsheet, allowing you to track all of your transactions on your desktop.

Come back again tomorrow. We’ll show you more of the new features of Helium’s earnings and payments application.

We’ve been listening to your feedback and suggestions! Helium is excited to announce our new earnings and payments application. Thanks to Helium’s developers and tech team who have been developing, coding and testing this upgrade, we’re now ready for the unveiling. Beginning next week, Helium writers will notice an easier, more efficient way to view earnings and request payments. Watch this space over the next few days as we roll out introductions to specific sections of these new features.

The first feature and change you will notice is where you’ll find earnings information. Rather than clicking on ‘My Account’ and then ‘Earnings and Payments,’ you will see your earnings directly in your ‘My Helium’ dashboard. (See the sample screenshot above.)

You’ll notice that this screen includes both lifetime and current monthly earnings.

 

It’s now easier to request a payment, too. We’ve put the ‘request payment’ button directly below where your earnings information is listed on your ‘My Helium’ dashboard, giving you quick access to any earnings you’ve accrued (see the sample screenshot above.)

There are more changes coming to the payments views, and we’ll be posting those here tomorrow.

As many in the Helium community already know, we’ve just introduced a new feature:  We’re now giving you the ability to add photos to your new or existing articles.  We’re confident that photos will enhance the reader and writer experience.

As an incentive to add photos, today we’re announcing a raffle.  For each photo a writer adds to their articles, we’ll award a ticket. Those tickets will be entered into the raffle, and we’ll draw names at random from the pool of writers who have uploaded photos. The more photos you upload, the more chances you’ll have to win!

To make this raffle even more interesting, we’re offering two ways to win. The first is that any writer who uploads a photo will be entered into the random drawing. The prizes are terrific:

First prize: A brand new Apple iPod Touch

Second prize: A $100 iTunes gift card

Third prize: A $50 iTunes gift card

Fourth and fifth prizes: Helium merchandise grab bag

The second way to win is that the top five photo uploaders, by total number of photos, will be invited to participate in a Helium focus group with Helium’s managers and staff, to discuss ways to make Helium even better.

So, start uploading photos today!

Here’s the fine print:

  1. Only one  image per article is allowed. Using the same image on multiple articles is not allowed.
  2. Writers are allowed to add photos to existing articles
  3. Writers are allowed to add photos to new articles
  4. Raffle closes September 30, 2011, at Noon Eastern Time
  5. Winners will be announced on or before October 10th, 2011

As part of today’s release Helium has made some upgrades to the assignment system. Members can now quickly accept or withdraw from multiple assignments by clicking the check boxes next to titles and then clicking “Accept,” or conversely “Withdraw.”

One thing to note, if you click the check box on some assignments on say page 1 of 10 but don’t click the “accept” box and move on to page 2 to claim some more titles before clicking “accept” those titles will not be added to your My Assignments. You have to click “accept” before moving on to the next page of titles.

We’ve also added question marks for members who have questions about what each section — Announcements, My Assignments, and Available Assignments — of the My Helium page means. Clicking on the question mark image will show text explaining everything in detail.

Another helpful feature is the numbers next to Open, Restricted and Personal assignments. This number reflects the number of available titles for each section.

We’ve also added some new details associated with each title. You can now see the title, article type, number of submissions (meaning how many other writers have claimed this title), payment, when it was posted and when it closes. The number of submissions area, for example 1/5,  is a new feature and one members really wanted.

Sorting assignments also got an overhaul. Now simply click once on “Payment,” “Posted On” or “Closes” and it will sort titles from, for example, highest paying to lowest paying, or lowest paying to highest paying title.

In Open Assignments you can filter titles by channel. In Restricted Assignments you can filter by any writing group you are a member of, for example, Marketplace Approved, Marketplace Premier or Home & Garden – Home Interior Senior Writer. If there are no titles available for that group it will not appear in the list. You can also search for a title in the “Title Search” bar.

Changes to the My Helium page 

Members’ My Helium page also got a fresh look. Writers’ stats and photo are now at the top of the page so you can easily see your writing score and rating score.

The Announcements section on the My Helium page has changed as well. Now there’s only only section of announcements at the very top of the page, under your writer stats.

To read all new announcements simply click on “Announcements” in the left navigation bar. This will show all active announcements for members. Helium can now share news, promotions and updates to not only the entire community, but to specific writing groups, or to individual writers. We hope you enjoy the new Announcements page and visit it often. The number next to the “Announcements” in the left navigation is the number of active announcements for you. It is not the number of unread messages.

Check out the changes as part of the Aug. 17 release and share your thoughts and opinions here!

As part of our upcoming release on Monday, Helium will get more social! We’ve cleaned up the social media sharing icons at the top of each article page and included the Google +1 button.

We’ve also created an action bar that moves as you scroll down the page. This bar includes social buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google +1. You can even click “hide” if you want the toolbar to be hidden. When logged in as Helium writer, you will also have additional tools in the action bar. They include “Article Tools,” “Print article” and the “Write now” button.

It’s important to note that the “Write now” button will no longer be at the top of the article. It will now be housed in this action bar.

If you’re not logged in to Helium, the action bar will look a little different. It will not include the “Write now” button, and it will not include “Article Tools.” This creates a cleaner and more user-friendly presentation for readers of the site.

Earnings & Payments changes

We’re also adding a new feature to Earnings & Payments for all writers. Writers will be able to download an Excel spreadsheet listing their earnings on every article they’ve written on Helium (up to 1,500 articles). Now you can clearly see how much each article has earned, making it easier to see which articles have been more successful and which ones need some editing, or some promotion.

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