Tickles.co.uk review - Is it a scam?

In the UK there is now a website called tickles.co.uk.  It is like many other sites such as Groupon, in that it is a group buying/coupon site.  However, unlike Groupon and other companies it is based in the UK, in the East of England.  At the time of writing it is only in Norwich, Ipswich and Cambridge and since I don't live in any of these areas I am unable to give a first hand review - however I will collate information from elsewhere to explain the concept of the site and welcome you to add your own personal thoughts below.

First a bit of history - Tickles.co.uk was set up in 2010 in the city of Norwich and has since expanded to Ipswich and Cambridge, with plans to launch in London.  In January 2011 half of the company was sold to a regional newspaper publisher and so it is expected that there will be a degree of advertising for tickles on local newspaper websites, particularly those in the east of England.

Tickles is like many other similar websites - it is a group buying service.  Basically Tickles establishes links with companies in the cities/towns in which they operate.  The company agrees to give discounted services to Tickles (which Tickles pass on to the customers) as long as enough people purchase the service.  These discounts are often well over 50% and potentially up to 90% and on a range of items as diverse as spa treatments to discounted smoothies to driving lessons.  The company works by offering each deal for a specific length of time - normally this is a day but it can be a weekend or even a week.

Tickles is currently advertising that it will be launching in London, where there are already many different such websites including Groupon, Keynoir, Living Social and KGB Deals.  Once this happens I should be able to give a first hand review.  Until then though all I can say is I think the company is reputable.  It has been going for almost a year and is part owned by a large regional newspaper company.  Furthermore, many people think that such website must be scams, but Groupon etc have proven that this isn't the case.

Have you used Tickles.co.uk?  How would you rate it?  Would you consider it to be a scam?  I welcome your comments as I am sure other visitors to this site will.

Hubpages Ad Program - My initial thoughts and earnings

As I mentioned in my February 2011 earnings update, Hubpages have recently launched their own personal ad program.  For a long time Hubpages have been showing their own banner adverts on their share of page impressions, now they have given the option to Hubbers to take part in this scheme on their 60% of impressions.  Hubpages will deal with the advertising networks and will just pass on the revenue to individuals through PayPal (presumably after taking their cut).  The scheme was recently trialled with a very small number of individuals (I believe it was 7 who get very high traffic to their hubs) who on average saw a 60% uplift in earnings.  Now a further 500 people have been invited and it is planned to invite the remainder of hubbers by mid 2011 (so if you haven't heard anything yet don't despair!).  I was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky people to be included in this initial 500 so here is my views on the scheme.

If you are yet to sign up to Hubpages why not do so now?  I continue to earn in excess of £100 (over $150) most months from Hubpages from about 40 articles I wrote a year ago, so it is true passive income.   

I am unable to comment on the Hubpages ad program and it's effect on the page layout, since I think I am yet to see any such ads either on my own page or anyone else's when browsing Hubpages.  I am not sure why this is, unless it is the Hubpages ad program only currently distributes ads to those viewing Hubpages from specific regions, such as USA or North America.  

Whilst the Hubpages as program isn't in response to the 'Google farmer update' it definitely will help with keeping up the earnings if the traffic does continue to remain at the levels which are lower than previously.  So far I have been a member of the scheme for almost a week and whilst not long enough to provide a definitive answer for the exact effect on earnings, it should provide enough of an indication of earnings rates.

Initial indications for myself are that it has resulted in about a 20% increase in earnings per thousand impressions (CPM).  I have come to this figure by adding the CPM for the Hubpages ad program to my Hubpages Adsense CPM, which has dropped (as one would expect since there are now less Adsense ads per hub and more competition).  In total I would estimate I have since a drop in Adsense revenue of about 10%-20% since starting the Hubpages ad program.

I would attach a couple of caveats to my figure of 20%.  Firstly, there is only a very small amount of data I am basing this on (my own personal rather limited Hubpages traffic over just 5 days).  Secondly, it is hard to tell exactly what this uplift should be is since it has happened at a similar time to the Google Farmer Update which as far as I can tell has affected traffic from Google.com more than from the rest of the world (and obviously USA traffic on average has a higher CPM).  Therefore, I reckon that this estimate of 20% increase in earnings may actually be an underestimate and the Hubpages ad program is returning better returns than the numbers themselves would indicate.

Have you used the Hubpages ad program yet?  Have you seen any increase in earnings?  As always feel free to comment using the box below!

Monthly Update - February 2011

During February, as per many recent months, I did little in the way of online work and building a residual income.  Furthermore, like many other people, I have been hit by the changes to the Google algorithm.  Whilst it only affected the very end of February, I have already noticed a 10%-20% fall in traffic to my Hubpages, which pretty much chimes with the Alexa chart for traffic to Hubpages.  I would expect that I will see a similar decrease in earnings and whilst this may seem like a high amount I have only dropped (in traffic at least) to where I was in the latter half of 2010, and considering I hadn't spent much time on hubs in the time between it wasn't too bad. 

Well now on to earnings:

Webanswers: £24.71 (30% decrease from January 2011)
Infobarrel: £1.28 (1729% increase)
She Told Me: £0.01 (97% decrease)
Xomba: £2.44 (1062% increase)
Hubpages: £75.44 (18% decrease)
Total: £103.88 (19% decrease)

As can be seen I had a decrease in earnings.  Initially this would seem like a bad result.  However, as I have already mentioned, I did little online work and so this is pretty much true residual income.  Furthermore, February has approximately 10% fewer days than January and so I would expect to see a corresponding drop in income.  Furthermore, there have been the Google algorithm changes which probably knocked a bit more off of my earnings. There are reason to be positive though.

Firstly, whilst Google traffic to Hubpages and Webanswers may have fallen particularly due to the changes outlined above, I have noticed massive increases in traffic to Hubpages at least from Bing.

Secondly, and possibly more considerable to my short term earnings is the fact that Hubpages have opened their own ad system.  At present there is a limit of 5 Google Adsense ads per page, but for some larger hubs there could easily be more adverts and so Hubpages will display adverts from other sources and will pay hubbers through PayPal for these adverts.  A number of hubbers carried out a trial and they saw an average increase in earnings of 60%.  It has recently been rolled out to a further 500, of which I was lucky enough to be one, and so I am hoping to see the benefits of this soon.  If I see a 60% uplift in earnings this will more than make up for the earnings lost from the Google changes (and more!).  I have signed up, but believe I am yet to have these adverts shown as my details haven't been process, but when they are you can see them on my hubs such as Great Dance Party Songs, Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World, Motorola Xoom Screen Protectors and How Do I Find my WEP key?.  Furthermore, I will provide an update on how I find the Hubpages ad program, either in the next update or if the news is considerable in it's own blog post before then.

Monthly Update - January 2010

So, a bit late, but you know what they say - better late than never!  You may recollect that in the final month of 2010 I moved across to GBP earnings, and so my earnings are once again in GBP.  You may remember that I had a good month in December 2010 and although I was close to earning £200 and wanted to hit this in January, realistically I knew this was highly unlikely.  So here are my earnings:

Webanswers: £35.42 (11.5% decrease over December 2010)
Infobarrel: £0.07 (93% decrease)
She Told Me: £0.31 (61% decrease)
Xomba: £0.21 (not in Dec 2010)
Hubpages: £92.20 (31% decrease)
Total: £128.21

As can be seen my earnings definitely took a hit in January 2011 compared with December 2010.  However, it is worth noting this was after Christmas when many advertises cut down on budgets and a couple of my high performing Christmas articles dropped out.  It is still disappointing, but this is what you get if you don't work at it for months!