A question that I have seen show up a couple of times on various member forums is which is the better site, MyLot or Helium. Quite often, this question boils down to which one is the better money maker. Unfortunately, it is like comparing apples and oranges.
An overview of MyLot
MyLot is a paid to post forum. You get paid to start and respond to discussions. The earnings update every twenty-four hours. Based on my own postings, I figure that one recieves between a half penny to four cents based on the length of the posting. There are certain types of discussions that are not allowed there and will get deleted as soon as they come to the attention of the management of the site; the smart person will learn not to post to anything that looks like an ad, or a flaming argument--upon deletion, any earnings you made on such discussions will disappear.
The payout on MyLot is ten dollars, paid though paypal and paypal/moneybookers. There are people that claim to make payment every month, but given my busy schedule I doubt that I would ever be one of them. Basically, the more and longer your postings the more you get paid. There is also an option to post pictures (after you have taken part in 500 discussions), but it currently seems to be a less reliable way to make money; the general census is that they are only paying one penny for the first photo uploaded by an user on any given day.
An overview of Helium
Helium is a paid to write site. There are thousands of titles available to write to, and also an option to create a new title if your article does not fit one of the existing titles. Articles need to be at least one hundred words in length, soon to be four hundred words. Ideally, the articles should be well-researched and/or based on personal experience.
Payment is based on a secret formula--the writer gets a part of the ad revenue that Helium is getting. The better the ads around your articles, the more your potential payment. It is also based on how many people that read your articles. But one should keep in mind that payment comes after people read your article--think royalities--and is slow going at first until you build up your stock of articles. One way to earn more is to write about subjects that people are more interested in. Payout is set at twenty-five dollars.
All the articles on Helium are rated by one's fellow Helium writers. Unfortunately, Helium is still a young site, and its writers run the gamut from seasoned professional to rank amateur--the ratings reflect this fact. It may take days for a piece to reach its natural place in the ratings, and there have been a couple of time when I have looked at the material above mine and wondered how it got rated higher than mine (but that is another subject for another day).
Fortunately, Helium does provide the option for the writer to replace one of their existing articles with another verison (provided that three random raters consider it to be better)--leapfrogging. This allows one to replace a low rated article and take another shot at getting a higher rating.
Getting your articles into the top five is very desirable (though leapfrogging is risky; I have experienced some of my leapfrogs tanking worse than the originals). The top five articles are more easier found, therefore they get more readers (hence you earn more).
Comparsion of MyLot and Helium
The problem with comparing these two sites is quite simply that one (MyLot) pays you an one-time upfront payment for your contribution while the other (Helium) does ongoing residual payments.
Both are "user-generated content." Both provide a writer a place to practice their craft. Yet given the style and goals of different people and their payment methods, one or the other will prove to be a better use of their time.
For my own purposes, MyLot is a handy warmup site, a place to post a few quick responses as I look around for my daily inspiration; Helium, on the other hand, is more useful for my timeless fact-based short articles.
Comparing MyLot and Helium in the end is like comparing short and long-term investments.
Happy posting and writing.