Write for money online series - Part 4 - Mahalo.com

Photo: Mahalo.com

So far I have reviewed three very different pay for content sites.  Today I am reviewing a site called Mahalo.  This is a site that is aiming to be a human powered search engine.  It was started by the guy who created a group of popular blogs including Engadget.  Now Mahalo is paying people to create hand made search result pages. 

 Website use and feel

When you arrive at the site  it is actually pretty hard to tell that they pay writers to create content.  You have to navigate your way to the Mahalo Greenhouse and submit an application.  Then you can claim search engine pages you would like to write for.  The editor is sort of like a wiki editor.  It is not very fancy.  Mahalo Answers looks very similar to Yahoo answers with cutesy icons and a bunch of interesting and inane questions.  I feel that the site tries to do too much at once, and is not as focused and well categorized as the other pay for content sites.  Then again, this is supposed to be a "search engine".

Allowable Content

Mahalo sources search engine results pages for almost any keyword, video game walkthroughs, and answers in their Mahalo Answers service. There is a human review process for everything you submit except for content in Mahalo Answers.


If Mahalo accepts your content and pays you, it means that they purchased the page you created completely.  You will get credit for your content, but you no longer have the rights to it.

Payment details

Mahalo also uses Paypal to distribute earnings, but you also have the option of direct deposit if you fill out the proper paper work.  There are several ways you can earn money.  You could sign up for Mahalo Greenhouse and submit your own search result page. There is a most wanted list on the Mahalo Greenhouse homepage and you can see which keywords you can work on.  The pay varies by the priority of the search term.  For example, in the Science category the keyword "dogwood" is paying $3, and the keyword "coral" is paying $9.  Most of the search engine results are very detailed and contain a bunch of informative links to related sites.  If you can generate these search results pages in less than an hour then the pay is not bad, but I think a lot of people spend more time than that.

Next, Mahalo also pays for video game walkthroughs.  These are pretty long documents that detail how to beat specific games.  You also have to know pretty much all the secrets to a certain game to write these guides.  I am not quite sure how much these authors are paid, but some searching reveals that the guides are paid at $100 to $200 each, but you have to consider that it may take 10 to 80 hours to finish a game and then write about it.

Another way Mahalo pays is for how to articles.  Basically, they are trying to collect a database of how to articles just like eHow.  You need to send a resume and writing samples to be approved for writing how to articles. Here is an example by Lynn on  how to improving your credit score.  These pages pay anywhere from $15 to $50.  These how to articles are much more detailed than eHow's articles and could take a while to create.  An example of a $50 requested article is "how to start a clothing line", and an example of a  $15 requested article is "how to tie a square knot". 

Finally, a new offering from Mahalo is Mahalo Answers. This is similar to the now defunct Google Answers, where people can ask questions and get answers from other people.  The twist is that Mahalo takes a cut in the process and converts cash into Mahalo dollars.  Every question is denominated in Mahalo dollars and each Mahalo dollar is equivalent to $0.75.  Answer seekers buy Mahalo dollars from Mahalo with Paypal and the minimum cashout is 40 Mahalo dollars or 30 American dollars.  So far, the top earner has earned a couple hundred dollars.


 I think it is tough for Mahalo to actually achieve its goal of being a human powered search engine  because the world just contains way too much knowledge for humans to write up a search result for every query.  A lot of people do not think Mahalo will stay around very long, and I find it unattractive as an long term money making site because there is no residual earning component like all the other sites I have already reviewed.  Your work is bought by Mahalo for a set amount, and that is all.  Suppose that you wrote an excellent page about coral and it is viewed 50,000 times, you will only have $9.  In comparison, on Associated Content and Bukisa you would get extra earnings for your pageviews, and on eHow you would get an ad share.  I think the most powerful earning mechanism for writers who write online is the residual income, and to give that up completely is not the way to go.

If you would like to catch up on the rest of the articles in this series, here they are:

Part I: Bukisa

Part II: Associated  Content

Part III: eHow

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Guest's picture

Mahalo is one of these companies that fired a lot of it's in-house staff and seems to be outsourcing to writers at a fraction of the cost. I don't think I could write for them without feeling like a scab.

Guest's picture

Thanks for reviewing Mahalo.
I don't think I will be joining them any time soon. Great review!

Guest's picture

Give squidoo a try, would love to see a review on it.