Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helium Writing Community is Closing Its Doors

by M. J. Joachim

Helium is finally shutting down. I wondered when that would happen. It’s where I first started writing online, immersing myself in a strange new world of Internet writing, promotion and making pen pals, if only by visiting and commenting on their work. Later it became a source of writing income for me, as a couple of clients recruited me to be among their freelance writers, and Helium itself recruited me to write for their assignment desk. It was a good gig while it lasted, until I moved onto blogging, eliminating the middle-man between me and my writing.

I made a lot of cool online friends through Helium, many I still keep in touch with today. A few years ago, I pretty much walked away and didn’t look back - no regrets, and the site still has hundreds of my articles on display. From what the email said, these will be converted to read only in the next few weeks, before everything completely goes offline at the end of the year. I haven’t checked in for a while. I suppose I should see if my pennies for page views added up to the minimum payout of $25. (Of course, I haven't done any rating, so probably not.) It was so hard to get to that payout, as their percentages for doing so were always in the favor of big business, and rarely in favor of the independent writer trying to compete against all the other independent writers, busting his butt to crank out consistent work as rapidly as possible. 

Helium taught me a lot, so I will gladly tip my hat in its direction. I’m not sorry to see it go, as I think it should have gone a long time ago. Their business model never was about the little guy struggling to collect and cash out those too few pennies. It was always about big business bottom line, imo. I guess big business discovered Helium wasn’t going to the be cash cow they had hoped for, and finally cut their losses. Or maybe they got busted for changing the rules too many times. I don’t know. All I know is there’s a reason I walked away without apology, but I will always be grateful for discovering online writing and meeting some of the most amazing writing friends a girl could have. 

Farewell, Helium. I’m glad to see online writing will continue to move in new directions. 

Did you start writing in an online writing community? How do you feel about them? Do you miss them when they go away? How have online writing communities helped or hindered your writing goals?
M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Jurii, Helium-glow, CCA 3.0 unported license


  1. The only writing community I've joined online is various blog hops. I've found lots of friends and connections through those.
    The biggest one is the A-Z Blogging Challenge we hold every April. Through that community, I've made some real friends (like you, my dear MJ!) and been given the opportunity to provide leadership. It's been a great self-esteem builder to be able to contribute to such a large undertaking, and it's been neat to see friends like MJ join me there in leadership.
    Though the A-Z Challenge takes place in April, it's a year round community which is growing quickly, and it's exciting to be a part of it.
    I highly encourage you, especially if you're a new blogger, to join hops, meet people, and make connections. You never know where they might lead, or to whom they might lead you.
    For me, blogging hasn't ever been about the money, it's been about having a platform to practice my writing. However, through being a blogger, I've gotten the opportunities to publish stories and those connections have led to further connections...and my writing path is on the uphill swing, although slowly.
    I think it's important to set goals for why you're writing, or blogging, or for anything you do in life. Without a goal, where will you end up?
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

  2. I haven't heard of Helium, but it sounds like it was a good experience for you while it lasted. Writing was never about making megabucks anyway, eh? :) Before I started blogging, I posted stories on a site called ABC Tales where you could garner feedback from the site members, and critique theirs. I'll always be grateful for what I learnt there, and I ended up getting four of the stories published. Don't have time for anything but blogging these days, but I'm fine with that.

  3. I was writing for a website that had great potential, but the creator never took the time to properly promote it. I felt like she got it off the ground, set up a great design and then bowed out. It was frustrating. When I pushed a little (after all, her writing "staff" was all volunteer) about her lack of promotion, she just up and quit the site. No, I wasn't sorry to see it go. On to other opportunities.

  4. I am also grateful to Helium for the opportunity to start writing online. I enjoyed my time as a local writer, doing the neighborhood gigs. It was a wonderful learning experience and I made enough to take a trip. I am grateful for the people I met. I consider it serendipity to have met you as part of the journey.

    I also stopped writing there a few years ago. It changed into something that no longer interested me. I found other places to write, including the ever famous A to Z.

    Someone suggested a while back we backup our articles. I did that and found I have enough on camping to actually write a book. I may just do that. The others (that are worth retaining) will be transferred to my blogs.

    I miss the fun I had as part of a remarkable group of writers who offered encouragement and support. I can honestly say that in the glory days, nothing was more fun.

    Thanks MJ for being part of the group. A lot of my confidence comes from you and that means so much to me.

  5. I started my writing in an online text based roleplaying game. It was the best time I had. I then discovered community forums as a great way to communicate with others, not necessarily writers.

    Finally, when I decided to get serious about my writing, I rolled up my sleeves and began my solitary quest to write my novel. I lost my audience, a much needed cut of the umbilical.

    I now use blogging as a means to reach out between bouts of work. I love to communicate, I'm not anti-social, but if I don't close myself off to write, I'll forget that I'm supposed to be writing that novel!

  6. I didn't know about Helium. But my first online writing experience were those online diary websites. Do those still exist? They were pretty much like private blogs. I didn't stick with it actually.

    Blogging now is really fun and I enjoy it very much. I've been interesting people along the way. =D

    LittleCely's Blog

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  9. I remember Helium as well! Like you I am not going to mourn its passing. Unlike you, I never got much out of it. Those "pennies" were like the carrot on a stick always out of reach and never worth the time and effort put into crafting an article.