Although I have plans to move this post to one of my "notebook blogs", I thought I'd get it started here mainly because the angle from which I may eventually make some points may be different.
As I often do (particularly on Friday nights), I went looking on HubPages to see if there's any "community stuff" (forums) worth reading/participating in. There didn't happen to be anything much that applies to/interested me at the moment. I did, however, run into a forum post on which someone asked about payment from HubPages.
I'm going to add a link to it, although clicking on the link to that forum thread really isn't necessary because I'll sum up what it is. Anyway, however, here's the link:
HubPages Forum Post That Asks About Payment This Month (August, 2016)
In a nutshell, someone says it's well into August, and he hasn't received payment. Someone else goes on and tells him if he hasn't reached the $100 minimum for Ad Sense by x-date he wouldn't see a payment. Then yet another someone-else says essentially the same thing about the $50 minimum for people who participate in the HubPages ad program (known as the "HP Ad program" to users in that forum/on that site).
A third person goes on and points out why it is some earnings may not appear accurate on the person's HP account and how his Amazon earnings may not show up there at the moment.
I know that the person who posted the forum thread has been on that site for quite awhile. Also, I know that at least one who (No, I just went back and looked.... I know that all three who replied have been on that site for a few years at least.) Also, I'd like to point out here that around October of this year I'll have been using that site for nine years (even if under two different names). Never, in the whole time that I've been on that site, has there been a time when I have not received pay I had coming.
Things have gotten more complicated on that site, however. I won't go into the whole thing about my overhauling (essentially emptying out) my accounts. The point is there have been many changes. For example, they did a thing where people who had been picking up earnings through Amazon "referral fees" were given the choice of having their Amazon accounts "kind of lumped into an overall-HP thing" versus retaining their individual/independent Amazon accounts. Because, by the time this "lumping together thing" happened (I won't go into the difference between "lumped together" and "individual"), I had deleted Hubs that had occasionally picked up referral fees; so I just left my account "as is".
It's worth mentioning, too, that people on there have the option of either opting in to Ad Sense Only" or "HP Ad Program plus, maybe, a little from Ad Sense". What earns on a per-view basis, what earns on a per-click basis, and what earns on a per-purchase basis (in the case of something like Amazon capsules) is different.
HubPages happens to do a good job of presenting everyone's earning information in their account. And, of course, people can then check their individual Ad Sense accounts and/or Amazon Associates accounts which may/may not then include any other Internet-related earnings the person has that are separate from whatever he earns from, say, HubPages.
Of course, HubPages is not the only site/company where people who write earn/may earn with writing. While many "writing sites" (like HubPages) have closed down or drastically changed (which means changes in how/whether some people earn from writing). This post is not about earning, or earning from HubPages, however. It's about how tricky it can be to keep track of "a zillion" little clumps of earnings from one Internet place or another.
As the HubPages example shows, one site can have earnings coming from different sources. For example, the person who earns from Ad Sense is paid directly by Google when that person reaches Google's minimum amount to receive a payment (these days it's $100). The person who earns from Amazon on a site like HubPages is paid directly by Amazon (minimum in the US is $10). The person who earns from the HP Ad program is paid directly by HubPages. While HubPages only pays people through PayPal, the others offer different options for setting up direct deposits (or, I guess in some cases, paper checks).
There can be (but may not always be) a difference between the person who, say, has something like a YouTube account and whatever other accounts he may have, and may be primarily aiming to earn from ads, rather than writing. Things are probably simple for the person who is only picking up extra earnings from one source, like Ad Sense.
For the person whose focus on earning through writing things can be more complicated. "Revenue-sharing" sites (like HubPages) aren't the only place writers may earn. This post isn't about how writers can/may earn on the Internet either, though. There are companies (like, for example, Textbroker) that pay writers to write assigned articles for other people. They aren't "anyone-can-write" situations. They expect writers to be able to write. The pay level starts low, but writers can work up to a better rate over time. Again, this isn't about how to earn through writing. The point is that the person who writes may earn his/her income (regardless of how small or substantial) from a range of different sources with a wide variety of schedules with regard to who pays when.
In the old days of "Associated Content" (bought by Yahoo before it closed down completely), a writer could earn "upfront money" (which would be different, depending on terms like "exclusive/non-exclusive") if something was accepted on those terms. Something that was could also earn through the "revenue-sharing thing". Something not accepted, or offered, for upfront payment could only earn through revenue-sharing.
Why explain all this about a long-gone writing site? My ultimate aim (not necessarily in this post) is to point out (as the title of this post suggests) how tricky is can be to keep track of earnings for the person who is earning a little here, a little there, and maybe not quite so little somewhere else.
I think of yet another defunct site, Helium. It started out as revenue-sharing only. Then they got more into offering writers the opportunity to find assignments and/or to sell material (or just a license to use it) they'd already written on that site. Defunct "writing sites" aside, there are still, and in fact more, places/ways that writers may earn whatever they may earn. Some may involve small earnings per month that add up (or don't). Some may involve waiting to see what, if anything, something earns. (I'm thinking of things like writing for Kindle, self-publishing, etc. as an example.)
The, too, I'm thinking of those times when I had something on some site somewhere but hadn't stayed very active on that site. I had stuff out there (still do, although at this point much of it is gone) that I'd forgotten about. Everyone once in awhile some little pay would show up from somewhere. Sometimes it was a kind of laughable amount (like six dollars), but if enough of them showed up they'd add up, at least, to a slightly less laughable amount.
Depending on what k ind of stuff people write, who earns what is obviously different; but for people who earn through writing online (and/or through online companies that match people with assignments), the evolution of the online-writing picture has moved so quickly it might be hard for someone who has never earned through writing to even imagine. Just (again) using HubPages as an example, in only three years since, say, Spring of 2013, there have been about three major shifts (or kind of "sort-of-shifts-back") in what is being emphasized/aimed for on that site.
This post isn't about writing platforms finding a way to stay in business either, though. I think of a less stable example of the site, "Bubblews". It survived only a couple or so years, with one major "overhaul-type" change and yet another even more major "overhaul-type change" before closing down. I, personally, didn't take my own participation on that site all that seriously, but I didn't mind the occasional, spare, $25 here or there for "fooling around" when I didn't want to take what I wrote all that seriously.
Keep in mind that, depending on who takes what writing more seriously, there can be all kinds of things to keep track of. Companies like Google and Amazon offer "whoever" (writers, often called "publishers" or "webmasters", although not all of any of those things is necessarily any of those things) all kinds of "advanced" ways to keep track of things like earnings, traffic, source of traffic. And they offer all kinds of options for how things like ads are presented/designed, as well as which ads tend to do better. Depending on who is earning how much, some people get more involved with some of those things than others do.
Added to all the "keeping-track" stuff is whether or not someone/something sends out and/or makes available earnings reports for tax records. Since taxes are only a once-a-year thing, however, they're not the real concern or point here.
More to the point may be something like waiting to see if someone/something has accepted a piece of writing/article (with or without requests for edits/changes) in order that it be approved for payment. Of course, "approved for payment" can be one thing from one company/person. Having the actual payment go through (even when the company is reliable) can be a different thing or on a different schedule between one person/company and another.
Depending on what kind of writing it is, who it's for, and how someone pays; keeping "immediate track" can be tricky for the person who is involved in a lot of different types of writing activities. Some people pay when something is completed and approved. Some pay on the "x-th day" of the month. Some pay every couple of weeks. Some pay if/when x-amount is reached (at least with the "revenue-sharing type" sites).
I don't know.... I think when one is earning more through writing (at least with the online stuff; I'm not talking about work done on a professional basis) it's almost easier to keep track because one gets into a system and doesn't have so much left up in the air. If one barely does anything in terms of writing that, too, is easier to keep track of (obviously). Where it can be a little more likely to have trouble keeping track can be when one earns enough that it's worth it, not enough to make it a full-time income (or close to it), but earns either with different types of material or else from different places.
Maybe "Keeping Track" Was The Wrong Phrase To Use Here
Although the point(s) I'm aiming to eventually lead up to (not on this post, but in other posts on other pages) have been kind of served by what I've already said here; it occurs to me that "keeping track" probably ought to be clarified.
What's kind of tricky for me, as I try to address the "keeping track" thing, is that I'm looking at (now) about eleven years' worth of a big mix of side-efforts combined with not-so-side efforts; and I've either moved on from or am in the process of either moving on from, or at least changing my approach to, some of them.
It's never been difficult to keep track of what I've already earned with either something on the Internet or through the Internet. Things are most often simple with what someone has earned. With the example of HubPages (I still have no problem seeing what, if anything, I've earned on there), if someone on there has any trouble keeping track of his earnings it's as likely the result of a writer's changing how he does things on that site as it is the result of a new way something the site, itself, is doing some things.
When I refer to keeping track above, it's more about keeping track of different amounts of earnings coming in on or from different sources. When someone works, say, outside the home in a regular full- or part- time job it's pretty standard that the people set things up so that they're pay goes directly into the bank account.
With anything Internet-related I don't think too many people want to get their "regular" bank account involved, which is why there things like PayPal and other "Internet cards" that people can use. There's also, of course, setting up a separate little bank account offline (or that type of thing). Needless to say, there's also some accounts one has as "business" and others as "personal". Just keeping track of, and on top of, some expiration dates on some of these cards/accounts can kind of be a "Thing", but that's not what I'm talking about when I see "keeping track" either.
Neither am I talking about keeping track of stuff I've already written, am in the process of writing, am in the process of moving, and/or am in the process of re-writing. I'm not even going to get into the whole thing about keeping track of my own stuff in my own fairly complicated filing system that's related just to the online stuff. Organized and efficient as I generally am as a person, I have to say that I've gotten a little too willy-nilly with some of an increasing number of files I've accumulated in the most recent, say, years. Even with that, however, all of those are within my control - so how difficult, really, is it ever going to be to keep track of those....
The unpredictability of things like traffic patterns and earnings on something like a revenue-sharing site (particularly in view of changes beyond the control of the writer) are more something a writer needs to bring under control (at least to some extent) by allowing a certain amount of time for patterns to be established once something new is written. In any case, predicting or having a "reading on" such things are not really "keeping track of" what already is.
My aim here has been to try to put together a little bit of a foundation on the "keeping-track thing" in general because future posts I plan to make won't make "full sense" (they may make some, but not "full") to anyone without this "foundation" (unfascinating as it may be).