In response to reader questions during the past few weeks about the viability of InfoBarrel as a long-term online money-making opportunity, I posed your questions–and mine–to one of InfoBarrel’s owners, Ryan McKenzie. Here are the questions I asked Ryan, and his responses:

Savage Sites: The primary reason that my friends and readers ask about InfoBarrel is that it’s one of the more similar models to eHow and as you know, eHow has broken trust with its members in a big way. Writers are wary of investing months of their time in yet another online bait-and-switch scheme.

With that in mind, the most common questions that I see people ask about InfoBarrel are these, Ryan:

Will you reduce the revenue share for writers when your site becomes more profitable?

Ryan: We have no plans on changing our revenue share model. We feel the current model works and has allowed us the ability to grow at a comfortable rate. Our goal is to be one of the top places for writers to create content online; in order to accomplish this I think it is imperative we have a very competitive, transparent revenue share model.

Savage Sites: Will you ever use writers’ profiles and articles without permission and/or without compensating with at least the same revenue share that all writers earn, for anything other than advertising InfoBarrel? (like eHow did with the non-earning site mirror.)

Ryan: I was actually pretty baffled from both an SEO and moral standpoint when eHow created a mirrored site. First of all, it creates tons of duplicate content across their two sites, and second of all it is essentially hurting the people who helped create your brand in the first place.

If you take away the thousands of writers who built your site, you more or less have nothing. With that said, we love our contributors and will not be publishing their content in any malicious manner.

Savage Sites: Can IB members add Statcounter’s HTML code to their articles as an additional way to track views?

Ryan: No, a lot of code is stripped when users publish on Infobarrel. We offer users the ability to use Google Analytics once they’ve published ten articles*. As far as I am aware Google Analytics is an industry leader that provides very accurate statistics.

Savage Sites: Do you have any documented earnings to show that IB writers can earn, on average, between $2 and $5 or more per article, per month? Can you give us any examples of high-earning members or articles?

Ryan: A number of users are vocal about their earnings, others are more private to prevent people trying to hijack their keywords. One member who is pretty vocal about his earnings is JCMayer777. He was earning over $700 per month when we did this interview. Howie also makes a few hundred a month, and I know of someone else who makes roughly $50 a month.

The earnings per thousand are really dependent on what topics you write about. Somebody who writes recipes is going to earn substantially less per thousand visitors than somebody who is writing about lawyers and lawsuits. On the flip side, the recipes articles will probably be easier to rank for due to the fact that there is less money in the niche.

From my experience, and the accounts I’ve looked at, I’m seeing people’s eCPM range from $5-$20 depending on the topics they write about and how much keyword research they apply. Promoting your articles can also impact your earnings, probably more than most people realize.

Savage Sites: What can you tell people to reassure them that InfoBarrel is going to be around for several years to come?

Ryan: While I’ve been working in the online space for over a decade, I can tell you that I’ve never had a project that I held so closely to my heart as InfoBarrel. I struggle to fall asleep every night because I have ideas bouncing around in my head for the site.

Our team has big goals for InfoBarrel, and we take baby steps every day pushing it towards becoming a large player in the space. I spend more time thinking about this web site than is probably healthy, and have some pretty big long term goals for it.

Our passion for this site flows into our customer service, and I think quality customer service is the basis for all successful businesses. I’m a very ambitious person, and will not settle for anything less than success with InfoBarrel.

Savage Sites: What is your best advice for people who want to earn a long-term, residual income on InfoBarrel?

Set goals, and do something every day, even if it is small, it will help you get closer to reaching them. Generating income online isn’t as simple as posting an article and forgetting about it. If you can learn to be proficient with the following things, your earnings potential are limitless.

  1. Learn how to do keyword research properly
  2. Learn to format your content for the web (for viral purposes)
  3. Interlink your content
  4. Create at LEAST 1 back link for every article you publish

If you go after low hanging fruit (low competition, high value long tail keywords) and build at least one to two quality backlinks per article it should be a breeze to make at least $1 per article per month. I’ve tested this strategy time and time again and as a result have created at least a couple Infobarrel test articles that generate over $50/month. It is just a matter of honing your craft.

Savage Sites: Would you ever use inside information (i.e. Google Analytics) about which articles do well, to write your own competing articles, or to help other members write articles that compete against general members’ articles?

Ryan: Morally, I think this is pretty low.  Trying to compete with your members more or less defeats the purpose of crowdsourcing.  Without success people become discouraged, and if somebody has hit the jackpot on a series of articles, creating competing articles is going to reduce their success and potentially stop them from creating future content.  If people stop creating content, then the site is a failure.  This business is built on people, and we would never do anything to hurt our members.

Savage Sites: One eHow member/insider recently claimed to have obtained another member’s IP address, which would be impossible without that person having been granted some level of admin access. Who sees users’ private information on InfoBarrel, and how do you protect personally identifying information?

Ryan: The only people who have access to information like that is myself and Kevin.  We don’t even have a control panel available where people can access that information.  If we need to compare IPs, we do manual database calls.  Outside of the two of us there is NOBODY with access to the InfoBarrel databases.

Savage Sites: Any plans for member-moderators on your forum, and if you ever go in that direction, would you be transparent about their roles?

Ryan: We will most likely eventually have member moderators.  With the amount of people currently contributing on the forums, we don’t think we need additional moderators.  When things get a bit busier, we will definitely be considering member moderators and like just about every other aspect of the site, we will definitely employ full transparency.

If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know!

Savage Sites: Thank you, Ryan!

InfoBarrel is one of the sites that I have examined closely, and based on its traffic trends, transparent communications, generous revenue-sharing with writers, and quality control policies, I believe that InfoBarrel is one of but a small handful of sites that writers can invest in with confidence.

Writers, you are not likely to make thousands on InfoBarrel overnight, or even in three months. But based on what I have seen, and on Ryan McKenzie’s answers to our questions, I believe it is possible to slowly and steadily build a passive residual income stream on InfoBarrel that will reap consistent dividends for the next three to five years or more.

InfoBarrel has not inflated initial earnings to lure writers in, as at least one site seems to have done in the past. The InfoBarrel site and its management are as candid and transparent as they appear to be. This is how InfoBarrel works, and it’s good news for writers in the long run, which is what writing online for residual income is all about.

*Note: IB members no longer need to be pre-approved to have access to Google Analytics. Once you have published ten articles, you will be able to use this feature to learn more about traffic to your articles. Ten bonus stars for InfoBarrel!

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