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. 

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Photo credit: Jurii, Helium-glow, CCA 3.0 unported license