Tags: squidoo

me 2012

Recent projects and February plans

I've been tweaking the layout and content of my food blog a bit more, working off a little free advice I got on how to potentially improve its performance. So far I'd say it's working, which makes me happy. I've also been looking at what are the posts that are the big traffic drivers there, and not too surprisingly it's restaurant reviews in my local little area. Obviously this is a topic where there's not going to be a lot of blogging competition as compared to writing about Philly restaurants. That's going to push me to try to get out more in the year ahead and sample some different places, even if just for a lunch bite here and there.

I have started posting a few articles for Yahoo! again as I'm surprised how well some of my old pieces are still drawing in regular traffic - and some $'s every month. I'm not going to make it a big tome commitment but my objective is one short (350-600 word) submission there a week.

I might come to regret this, but I also signed up for Zujava's "28 Leaves in 28 Days" challenge for February. Whether I complete the challenge or not, I figured it would be a good way to push myself to get a real portfolio of Leaves started there and to see what topics may actually have potential to pay off or not. There's very little competition/other writers there yet in my main areas of writing interest, so I feel like I do have a good opportunity to get in "early" there (and grab good URLs) before the competition is so over-saturated like on Squidoo.

We shall see!
me 2012

Daily update for September 10

I've been terrible about keeping this blog regularly updated. Time to do something about that.

I'm going to try to use it more as a daily update page, to share my daily writing progress: new leaves on Zujava/lenses on Squidoo, updates in the food blog, etc. So with that in mind...

Published today:

* Peroni Beer Gifts and Accessories - a new gift guide on Squidoo

* An Interview with Emily Davies - a spotlight feature on Zujava

By the way, I'm still looking for artists, musicians, crafters and other creative people to spotlight in my new Zujava interview series. Interested in being showcased? Please drop me a note!
me 2012

Now that's a screencap moment...

...because it surely can't last for long, but, as of this morning my What is Gelato? lens on Squidoo is the Number 1 Lens on the Entire Site.

Wow.

That's...something I always kind of dreamed about hitting, but never thought I'd ever manage. Especially about a specialty Italian dessert instead of laptop bags, coloring pages, or Justin Bieber. :)

It's really kind of amazing when you consider that there are typically about 400,000 active, published pages on Squidoo daily (and over 1.5 million more in progress, unpublished status, etc.)

Seriously. 18 months of work on Squidoo, but I really feel like it's starting to pay off.
me 2012

Testing new publishing waters at zujava

So, it's been about 18 months since I joined Squidoo and in that time I've managed to publish just over 150 lenses, which is no small achievement. I'm definitely a Squidoo junkie and fan, even while I am fully aware of some of the (many) ways manipulate rank, publish dubious content, get away with it and in effect "steal" profit from lensmasters who play by the rules. But, you know, I figure it happens just about everywhere and I'm not a Squidoo-naysayer like some on the forums are these days.

But I also know it's not a good idea to keep all of one's eggs in one basket. With that in mind I've finally put the time this week into starting to publish a bit at zujava, a similar platform which is going to look awfully familiar to anyone who's read or published on Squidoo before. Indeed, they almost look so similar I kind of wonder how they get away with it, but that's not for me to figure out. Zujava only launched earlier this year and is still working on developing a lot of coding features, more advanced modules, and key affiliate programs (right now while you can add eBay modules to your "leaves", you earn no affiliate commission on any sales. But you do for Amazon products.)

There are some things I definitely like about the set-up and ethics of zujava as compared to Squidoo. For one, they are EXTREMELY concerned about having quality contents. New members who sign up cannot publish live to the web until they've submitted three Leaves for review by the site admins. That way spammers, con artists and people just looking for cheap and quick backlists don't get past the front door. Certain topics which are woefully abused and full of copyright abuse at Squidoo, namely coloring pages and Wallpapers, are completely banned at zujava.

Also, right now ALL leaves earn a slice of the tier rank profits every month. Of course the top 10% get the highest cut, the next 20% a lower amount, but even "the other 70%" are still added in the revenue pile.

There are a lot of things I can do on Squidoo lenses that I can't do (yet) on zujava leaves, so it's not like I'm going to pack up and move completely - or even primarily - there anytime soon. But I think it's worth exploring and building upon, especially right now when someone can still get in the game very early on, and not have to fight so hard to get a top-ranking position on site. Here are the first three leaves I've experimented with creating (I'm sure I'll be tweaking and adding to them more in the future) - and if you're interested in trying out zujava for yourself, just click on the banner below and get started exploring for yourself!

* Being a Convention Dealer
* 5 Secrets to Authentic Italian Cuisine
* Infertility During Halloween: It's No Treat

Sign up for Zujava.com: Simple online publishing.
me 2012

But what exactly IS Squidoo?

I realized last night that while I talk a lot (ok, primarily) about Squidoo here, some of my friends don't actually really know what Squidoo IS. What's a lens? Who is a lensmaster? What's all this about, anyway?

Let me see if I can summarize quickly and simply :)

Squidoo is a platform for publishing on-line, individual webpages - which in Squidoo-language are called "lenses". Anyone who publishes a page on Squidoo is a "lensmaster" - just like "webmaster" elsewhere.

Squidoo lenses can be about virtually any topic you want (although some topics are prohibited for legal reasons, and due to past spam abuse.) You can make a fan page for one of your favorite musicians, blog about personal experiences, share a favorite recipe or even publish a travelog. There is a large assortment of modules you can add to a lens: simple text modules (write anything you want!), photo gallery modules (share your pics!), quizzes and polls, formatted recipes, rss feeds, Twitter streams, Google news search results, link lists, voting lists, you name it! With the variety of modules available, you can really come up with a unique-looking and varied spotlight on a particular subject - part of why Squidoo pages are called lenses.

A successful lens in many ways combines not just your own original content but serves as a gateway for the reader to then go out and explore the topic from your lens. Indeed, my top-performing lens at the moment, about MasterChef US, combines both my own episode recaps and polls with lengthy link lists of where you can find all of the contestants on-line (their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, etc), YouTube preview videos, and yes a few products and cookbooks by the Master Chef judges themselves.

Because that's the other type of module you can add to your lenses: sales modules. Ebay, Amazon, CafePress, Zazzle, Etsy...these all have preformatted modules you can add to your lenses to promote related products (even your own, if you have say an Etsy shop!) If something sells from most of these modules, you earn a commission (split with Squidoo) on the sale. There are other ways you can earn sales commissions as well on Squidoo, by joining affiliate marketing programs like those offered by AllPosters.com or Commission Junction. Doing so is perfectly fine with the Squidoo TOS, as long as the affiliate program is on the up and up and not selling products against Squidoo's TOS.

But it's not just via sales that you can earn money with a Squidoo lens. Every lens earns a "Tier rank" on the site, and at the end of the month you can earn a payout based on Squidoo's overall ad pool revenue for the month (any clicks on Google and Infolinks ads on Squidoo lenses go into the general ad pool, not directly to the person who created the specific lens.) Lenses in Tier 1, the top 2,000 or so lenses on the site, earn the highest payout - these days around $50. Lenses in Tier 2, which have ranks between 2,000 to 10,000 approximately, earn around $10. Lenses between 10,000 and about 80,000 are in Tier 3 and still will earn perhaps $0.50.

If you rank worse than 80,000, you won't earn a tier payout - put you still get any sales commissions you might have earned. So it's different from other content sites which pay directly by the "hit", or by ads clicked on your pages alone. When Squidoo overall does well, the top lensmasters do well.

This system naturally makes Squidoo a bit of a competitive environment - everyone is out for one of those coveted Tier 1 positions, and at first it can seem impossible to achieve (at least if you want to play by the rules and avoid BlackHat techniques, which can get your account closed if caught immediately.) But there are many great lensmasters at Squidoo who work to encourage new lensmasters to do well, and to encourage good lenses to improve in their rankings by "Liking" lenses or even "Blessing" them (SquidAngels are lensmasters given "extra powerz" to Bless lenses they consider exceptionally good.) Yes, there are people who don't understand copyright and intellectual property, and Squidoo HQ hasn't always been the best at following up on content abuse unless directly served with DMCA notices. But they're getting better about it, particularly as Google continues to try to push down "junk" and promote Unique, Updated and Useful information (which are in fact the "three U's" of Squidoo lensmaking :) ).

You aren't going to make thousands of dollars overnight joining Squidoo. In fact, you have to have a lot of patience because payouts are 2 months delayed, and it can take quite a few months to learn the tricks of good keyword research, promotion, and lens structure to start building your rank. I can say that after about 18 months on Squidoo, I'm earning a steady 3-digit amount from them monthly - enough to pay at least a few household bills regularly, which is nice. My to-date best performing lens on Squidoo has earned over $400 alone since I published it last year. Squidoo is also a great tool for promoting my other businesses and activities, like my artwork and jewelry. I would recommend that some of my friends who are fiction authors might want to investigate setting up a Squidoo account, as you can easily create pages to promote your writing blogs, published books, or just continue to create a web presence for yourself in a different environment.

Some would say "Why not just monetize a blog, why use a platform like Squidoo?" Because getting high enough traffic to a personal blog, unless you devote an EXTREME amount of time to it, can be difficult. And generally a blog needs to have a tight focus to do well from ad revenue, so if one wanted to write, say, about 10 different topics (art, music, food, travel, etc etc) you'd need 10 different blogs to maintain. That gets to be a lot of work. In over a year of having a personal food blog, I haven't even earned enough to get a threshold payment from Google Ads. Compare that to how the money comes in from Squidoo, and...yeah. There's good reason I like the platform.

Does Squidoo sound like something you might want to try for yourself? If so, just click thru to Squidoo here and see how easy it is to set up an account. And be sure to let me know your lensmaster name once you get started!
me 2012

NEWSFLASH! Life isn't always fair. Film at 11.

First off, I would like to say how absolutely THRILLED I am that I placed 2nd in the very first "SquidWoot" challenge. As soon as I got struck by an idea, I was obsessed with working on the lens all day - including being barely able to contain myself when I had to spend a few hours in Philly before I could rush to the farm stand and buy some fresh fruit, whatever was on hand, and hope I could make a great-looking batch of gelato, photograph it, and write it all up by the deadline. I got my submission in around 4pm EST yesterday, got word I'd come in second at about 9:30pm - a half-hour after the deadline. It was thrilling - and also sweet to come right in the middle of my favorite TV show, MasterChef!

What WASN'T so thrilling to me was seeing all the negative comments and complaints about the challenge all over the SquidooHQ blog, like here. I get it that it sucks when a particular challenge, contest or other activity doesn't exactly fit your schedule. And I do think it might be nice if HQ could change the day of the week for some of the future challenges.

BUT.

Let us remember a few things, here.

1. It's VERY VERY EASY to look up time zones around the world on-line. Hi, WorldClock!

2. Yes, I know some of you have "real jobs" so can't put time into Squidoo on a weekday. Remember that for some of us Squidoo IS a real job. I have spent enough years of my life while slaving in a retail store, and still working craft shows, to appreciate my time off on the weekends. I get the bulk of my Squidoo writing done during weekDAYS because that is when I try to concentrate on my WORK. A challenge that only ran on a Saturday or Sunday would likely be impossible for me to complete as those are my "days off" to work on other things.

3. Sure, it's nice to win a prize. I would have loved that 1st place iPad. But longterm-success on Squidoo does not come down to contest/Quest entries. It's about building a solid portfolio of lenses that will pay out over years. Hey, sure, it's sweet my Gelato lens shot right to Tier 1 overnight-but guess what? It sort of means *nothing* unless it has staying power, because I won't see any ranking payout from the lens until NEXT MONTH. Unless my keyword research is good, unless I build links, unless my *content is solid and unique*, it could just as easily drop like a stone into T3 or worse by the beginning of August, and then it's worth nothing more than the (admittedly cool) hoodie I'm getting for being in 2nd place.

So yeah. I think perhaps a bit of perspective is a good thing. Quests and challenges are great things on Squidoo. But they won't make or break your overall success.
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me 2012

It's quite exciting...

...to start the month of May with four lenses in Tier 1 instead of my usual two. However, I'm not sure they'll be able to all stay in T1 for the entire month, but I'll be happy if two of those stay where they are and I at least get a T2 payment out of the others.

I'm feeling a bit burned out on lenswork at the moment, as in April I really went a bit overboard and finished 14 new lenses and did a lot of work on some older ones. But that's okay as I have a lot of other things I should be focusing on this month, including getting back to my jewelry work in time for this summer's conventions, the first of which (Media*West) is only a few weeks away. I also need to get outside more as soon as the weather is less unpredictable, and work on my vegetable garden. The seedlings I started inside are getting crazy big, but we still had frost last week, and then this week was too rainy to get outside much. It is exciting though to see some of the foxglove I started as seeds last summer just getting ready to bloom. I've missed having foxglove in my garden the way my mom does, and they aren't the easiest plants to get started from seeds. It encourages me to pick up some more seeds this week and see what other varieties I can get started for next year.