Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do You Comment?

If you’ve been active on Squidoo this week you’re probably aware that there is a problem with the guestbook module not ‘always’ allowing you to leave a comment. This raises an interesting question that I want you to think about – do you always leave a comment on a lens that you look at?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but I thought I’d talk about what I used to do and what I do now. I always love getting comments, it’s all very well seeing your visitor numbers go up, but getting a comment makes you realize that people actually did visit your lens and it’s not just numbers on your stats screen. When I first started on Squidoo everytime I got a comment I would look at that person and visit one of their lenses to leave a comment and a rating. Invariably the person would visit another of my lenses and we’d go backwards and forwards.

I found that this commenting was taking up far too much of my time (trust me, I procrastinate quite enough without something else doing it for me!!). Why was it taking up so much of my time? I would try and think of something original, so that people would realize that I had actually read their lens and it would take me forever. Then I would also sometimes realize that I had nothing interesting to add to the comments so would end up just putting ‘great lens’ or something similar (this is after wasting my time trying to think of something!).

What do I do now? Well I still visit people who leave me comments and I read a lens of theirs and rate it, sometimes leaving comments sometimes not. Basically I’ve given myself permission to just rate and leave if I want to. These days I’ll often read several of a lensmaster’s lenses because I don’t waste time trying to think of what to write on just one. I leave ‘karma’ to take care of getting visits as opposed to a comment circle with the same people. I’ve found time to ‘discover’ lenses that I probably wouldn’t have got to if I hadn’t adopted this approach.

Now don’t get me wrong I do still leave an odd ‘great lens’ and this is especially if the person has made a comment somewhere that they weren’t sure about something or if I’ve visited a number of their lenses without commenting. Now that Google is indexing the guestbooks I’m trying to add comments that contain keywords to help the lensmaster rank better in Google……having said that sometimes I just start writing because the lens has stirred up something in me and I don’t care about the keywords :)

I’d be interested to know what everyone else thinks and how often you’d visit and rate a lens compared to how often you leave a comment.

Whilst we’re on the subject of visiting lenses I believe that if you want to succeed on Squidoo you do need to visit lenses on a regular basis. I spend some time 5 days a week just reading lenses – I’ve often found I’ve forgotten to rate because I’ve followed their links and have got totally absorbed, but now I open the links in separate windows so that I can still rate the original!

Seeing how other people have used modules is a great idea – I didn’t know that you could put a picture inside a Blackbox module until I saw it on someone else’s lens.

Anyway I’m busy chasing my tail today, I’ve added another tie to Zazzle and my tie lens and I’m busy trying to get another couple of lenses completed. I’ve just realized that it’s actually going to turn into at least another 3 possibly more because otherwise it will be too big! I’ll keep you posted once I get it sorted and give you a run down as to what I did. It’s Friday here in Australia so have a great weekend wherever you are in the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Extra Long Weekend and HIMYM Tee Update

Well I had a fantastic long weekend, but I didn’t quite manage to stay away from Squidoo :) I decided to leave the How I Met Your Mother Tees well alone and instead I worked on a few other things. I published a St Patrick’s Day Tees (which I linked to HIMYM tees……I know that’s not leaving it alone, but…), St Patrick’s Day Aprons for last week’s Rocketmoms assignment and my very first Zazzle lens. The Zazzle lens – Men’s Designer Ties by Lou is a first for me and today I’ll have to post it on the Zazzle group to get their feedback.

This morning I searched on Google for How I Met Your Mother tees really not expecting to find it and we’re back on the front page at number 7 – woo hoo! Unfortunately the traffic has slowed down to a mere trickle, not that it was that fast to start with! My plan is to leave all the HIMYM related lenses this week and see how they percolate by themselves before revisiting them with the rest of my ideas. Sometimes I find that leaving them alone can work wonders for a fairly new lens and they can take on their own identity. Keeping an eye on the traffic searches that lead people there can help you determine how you should develop the lens.

Well I’ve already published my thoughts for the day I just wanted to give you an update as well so until (hopefully) tomorrow I’ll leave you to your own Squidooing.

Remember The Internet is Global

Now I know I’ve said that you need to make your lenses very narrow and focused if you want to make sales, but you also need to think globally. I’ll give you an example – Halloween. Now if you want to do a costume lens for Halloween – do you put Halloween in the title, url and market it just at Halloween? I’ll put my hand up that I did for one of my lenses, but that was horror movie costumes. The answer I’m hoping to hear is no.

People wear costumes at other times of the year besides Halloween so you need to think in the terms of a costume lens, not just a Halloween lens. If you want to pull Halloween in then that is fine as long as you don’t mind changing the text after Halloween so that you can still attract other markets.

When I was growing up in the UK we didn’t really celebrate Halloween, we did all dress up on New Years Eve however. I remember helping my parents with their costumes and then as I became an older teen I was able to go out with my friends in fancy dress around the pubs and club.

I moved to New Zealand when I was 19 and they used to dress up in fancy dress on Christmas Eve. Fast forward to now and the last few years have seen many of my friends turn 40 and quite a number of them have had fancy dress parties to celebrate.

My Lady Gaga Costume lens uses the word costume and talks about dressing up for a party or a night out clubbing and it’s still making sales, in fact I’ve made a sale today – are your ‘Halloween costume’ lenses continuing to make sales in January?? It is because of the traffic and sales that the lens remains in the top tier.

The internet is global.

There are other things to think about when you think of how global the internet is such as seasons. Now I’ll admit the majority of my sales seem to come from the US and Canada, but the traffic still comes from around the world. When it’s winter in the northern hemisphere it will be summer in the southern hemisphere so if you have a summer cocktail lens or a top ten salads to take to a bbq lens then you need to make sure they are still being promoted during the Northern winter.

Back to school lenses should also be prepared to be polished and promoted for schools elsewhere. Australia and New Zealand school terms start at the end of January, beginning of February not in September, so if you market your lens correctly you could have two bites of the cherry.

Even Christmas lenses can have two chances at being popular……confused? A very popular thing ‘down under’ is the Christmas in July. This was originally pushed by emigrants who couldn’t ‘handle’ a full Christmas lunch in the middle of an Australian summer day and so they decided to celebrate in July! The tree and decorations were up at the last one I attended, small gifts were passed out (you just brought one small gift each, there was a price cap) and we ate the full Christmas turkey dinner and drank far too much!!! So if you have a Christmas lens that focuses on the food, drink or decorations of Christmas then get it out and promote it for the Christmas in July ‘season’ as well!

Hopefully that’s some food for thought, if you’re wondering whether any of your lenses might be able to do double duty then just google Australian holidays, New Zealand holidays, South African holidays…..the list is endless and you might be surprised at the results.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How I Met Your Mother Tees – Part 6

On a side note, this blog may be a bit erratic over the next few days as we’re having an extra long family weekend.

Now HIMYM tees isn’t looking too good in Google, but I’ve added an Ebay module today so that we can get a few more tees on there. I did find a great affiliate program which sold HIMYM tees, but they turned me down (it happens, but it’s sooooo annoying). I’ve also tried to design some at Zazzle, but they’ve pulled 3 of them already :/ (What Up is apparently someone’s intellectual property?!?)

After adding the Ebay module I also added another featured lens (see next paragraph) and pinged my lens through squidutils.

I did write another lens which was really just something that popped into my head and I wrote it really quickly as a piece of satire. Barney Stinson for President. It’s basically me going off on a tangent which has often paid dividends for me. I saw a photo of Neil Patrick Harris in a bow tie and the thought what if Barney ran for President just popped into my head. I got one person to look at it and they laughed so hopefully more people will share the humor.

Humor lenses often don’t make any money, but if the right person finds it there’s a chance it could go viral and maybe they’ll click through to one of the other links as well. I’ve even made a tee to add to it and as it’s my idea no one can claim intellectual property on that tee!!!

Happy squidooing until next time.

Sometimes it’s Good to Leave Squidooland!

I took my daughter out today and after the donut decorating (school holiday activity) we wandered around the mall killing time before our movie started. Just browsing at what was first and foremost in the stores was really good and gave me two different ideas for Squidoo lenses. The only problem now is finding time to do these!

I’m guilty of being tied to the computer like a clingy child is to their mother, unless Dexter’s on that is :) Sometimes it’s when you’ve had a day or even (dare I say it) a weekend away you can get your best ideas and inspiration. It’s also a great way to get photos.

I carry my digital camera everywhere with me now (since we brought this new one just before Christmas anyway) because I was sick of seeing awesome things and not having a camera handy. I just click away and if the photo’s no good I can delete it.

It means that I have a lot of photos ready to go onto Squidoo whenever I get around to writing particular lenses, but could they be earning in the mean time? I remember my Nan always telling my not to put all my eggs in one basket so I’ve been uploading a few of my photos to Zazzle. Today I sold my first actual product (I’ve only got referrals until now) which was a birthday card that featured a photo of a white pony I took while out on a Sunday drive with my family.

Will you be stepping away from the computer this weekend?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How I Met Your Mother Tees – Part 5

Okay so as well as my two lenses I have written an article on Bukisa which is about why Barney Stinson wears a suit and this is linked back to my Barney lens. It’s not directly to do with the HIMYM tee lens, but it is part of the same genre which can be linked together and give me more of an authority on the subject. I have also done a hub on hubpages about The Bro Code and in this hub I have included a text link to the HIMYM tees lens and a link to the Barney lens.

Google seems to be playing games as it listed my HIMYM tee lens on the 1st page again last night (Aussie time) and this morning it had disappeared again!! Both the Xomba link and the Shetoldme are ranked in the top 10 and 20 respectively and I’m receiving traffic so that’s good.

I need to promote both my hub and article the same way as I did the lens and I want to look at tags for my two lenses.

When you add tags to your lenses be sure to include your lensmaster name as one of the tags, I only learnt this trick recently but it’s a really handy one to have in your repertoire. Why? It’ll increase your chances of having your own lenses showing for example I have countless cocktail lenses so if I use the tags cocktails and lou16 the chances are that it’ll be my lenses that populate the featured lenses.

I’m not saying that I don’t want to share other lensmaster’s lenses, but I’d like to have as much control as possible over which ones I highlight where I can. This can be achieved by the featured lens module or by a plexo (set for you to approve).

Anyway I’m off out to go donut decorating with my dd so I’ll sign off until later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do You Have A Morning Routine?

Okay let’s have a break from the How I Met Your Mother tees! Obviously when you’re working on a ‘new’ lens or niche there’s a temptation to ignore all of your other lenses and I’ll admit to being a little guilty of this at times, but I do have a morning routine (it becomes evening if I have a temp assignment in the CBD) that I follow every day. Earlier this month we had problems with our internet for about a week, but I still only missed one day!

First up is I check my affiliate a/cs to see if I’ve made any sales and if I have I write them in my diary. Then I check Squidoo, now I know people say not to stress about lensrank and I don’t, but I do record it! Every morning I’ll write tier 1 = number of lenses in this tier and then the lens names or shortened versions in the correct order. Under that I’ll write tier 2 and repeat the process. I don’t worry about tier 3.

Next I look at the total on the dashboard and if it has changed from the day before I click on the $ sign to get all of the sales up. When payday comes around I get a clean piece of A4 and write a list of lenses and the sales amount that are showing, every morning I’ll go through and update this list and write the new sales in my diary. As an example this morning I’d made one sale so on my list I crossed out the 8.05 next to Gaga costumes and replaced it with 8.73 and in my diary under my tiers I wrote Gaga Cost 8.73 and on the next line wrote new total $114.08.

Why do I do this? Can’t I just get the stats from my lenses? Well you could do everything online, but I can compare last years diary with this years a lot easier (for my brain anyway) and pick up on trends that may not be obvious. Last year one product in particular sold well at Valentine’s Day and took me by surprise – I’ve promoted that product a little more this year (although I haven’t really done enough prep with Valentines again this year). Last year I missed the boat a bit for Valentines as you really need to have all of your lenses done before Christmas ready to start promoting in January (IMHO). I missed the boat again this year so I’ve noted it in my diary at the end of the year to remind myself to be on the ball – always think ahead!

Watching your lenses every day lets you notice when something suddenly takes off – one of my lenses shot up in visits a few months ago which prompted me to look at why and when I found why I decided to rewrite part of the lens to keep it relevant. If I’d had more time I would probably have written an article or something as it may have earned me a little money for a short time.

If I have time later in the day I’ll check to see exactly what products are selling.If I find I’m selling a lot of one particular thing I may look at other strategies to capitalize on the trend.

After this I’ll check emails, approve any comments and check out the Rocket Moms forum – I usually leave Squidu until later in the day.

So do you have a morning routine?

How I Met Your Mother Tees – Part 4

I have made another lens, this time on Barney Stinson one of the stars of How I Met Your Mother. I have put a featured lens on both lenses pointing to the other. I have gone into the discovery tool and added them on to each other and I have also lensrolled them together. Lensrolling is done by simply pressing the little smiley face you see at the top of a lens (near where the rating stars are).

Because I’ve got a lot of lenses and I’m planning on doing quite a few I’m going to take advantage of labels right now. Labels are something that is applicable to giants and when you have a lot of lenses they really help you to keep things under control so to speak. I didn’t use my labels much initially, but after getting to 200 lenses it was the quickest way to find certain ones when I wanted to!

Now I’m motoring through this pretty fast, but don’t feel that you have to produce lots of lenses over a short time, the beauty of this is that when you do get another lens to link together then you can add it as a featured lens – hit publish and then ping it so that Google knows there’s fresh content. This means that it doesn’t matter if you make the next lens on the same day, the following day, a week or even a month later.

What’s pinging? Apologies if I started talking in a foreign language, pinging is a way of letting search engines know that there has been some changes to your lens. The easiest way to ping your lens is by using Squidutils, enter your lensmaster name and then select ping and use the drop down menu to send out your pings. Squidutils can also be used to track backlinks, but that’s for another day :)

Obviously now that I’ve produced another lens I need to submit it to the same sites as before, but I want to tell you a bit about this lens. I used the Squidwho format for this one. The Squidwho pre-populates the lens with a number of things, now to be honest I’m not sure this is always a good thing. Most of the Squidwhos I’ve done in the past have involved me deleting every module included and basically putting all of my own content in it anyway :)

In my Barney Stinson lens I’ve kept the Youtube videos, the yahoo news and twitter updates, but I’ve rearranged them a bit. I left the poll module in, but changed the question and answers. I also left the Amazon module in, but changed it to products that I picked myself, in this case the series How I Met Your Mother (another way of keeping those keywords on the page). I took out the Wikipedia module, but used the same title in a text module.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Google Update for How I Met Your Mother Tees

My How I Met Your Mother Tees was listed at number 9 on Google an hour after I had written it which I thought was pretty amazing – thanks to my daughter who wanted to see because I wouldn’t have checked it so quickly myself :)

Fast forward 24 hours and my Squidoo lens isn’t even in the top 50 on Google, however my Xomba link is at number 10 and number 11 and my She Told Me link is at number 12. Should I panic – no. This has happened to me before and within a day (sometimes two) my lens has again appeared on the front page – I call it a Google hiccup. If this happens to you just keep on promoting the lens and creating other lenses/articles/hubs to interlink with it. If after a three or four days it doesn’t seem to be listed then maybe you might want to have a look at making sure your keywords are in your titles and adding fresh content ie new tees, a little more text etc. If this doesn’t work then to be honest I tend to just move on.....sometimes it just suddenly appears on Google when it’s a little more aged and sometimes it just doesn’t.

How I Met Your Mother Part 3

After I had finished my lens I would normally do the discovery tool, tags and lensrolling, but I don’t actually have other related lenses at the moment so all I did was twittered it and posted it on Rocket Moms. If you’re new to Squidoo you could post it on the Squidu forum under Critique Me and you should get some great feedback. It you’ve already done a few lenses and have decided that you want to aim for Giant Squid status then you’ll be able to list your new lenses in the So You Want To Be A Giant Squid part of the forum.

Now it’s great to get the traffic from fellow Squidooers, but they won’t be buying so don’t worry too much. Do you belong to any social networking groups such as Facebook? I don’t belong to Facebook so I’m not sure how you list your lenses, but apparently you can – I have had traffic from Facebook where someone must’ve listed one of my lenses so I know it can work. Obviously the best traffic would be from a forum that is interested in what you’re writing about so if you belong to an Elvis online appreciation forum and you write a lens on collectible Elvis plates then you should post your link there…….hmmm not a bad idea(!)

Now what we’re really after is search engine traffic to help us make sales so one thing that I can control is creating more links and one of the things that I’m going to do is create another lens that I can interlink with this one. Another is to list it on a few sites that also make me (a little) money.

Redgage – I don’t do much on this site, so I haven’t made much money (under a dollar I believe), but it does give me a backlink and (sometimes) traffic.

Xomba – I joined this a while ago and didn’t do much with it, I’ve just decided I really have to promote more so I’m adding a link in here.

She told me – when I first trailed this site I had a lot of success with traffic, but no money… the traffic has dwindled, but Google still seems to like it and the money has started to come my way through both Google and Chitika (I received my first payment from them in December – and all I’ve done is put them on She Told Me).

Then there are Squidcasts – you will have to wait until you have a green tick next to your lens before you can send a squidcast which is usually after it updates when you’re first starting. I’m guilty of not using squidcasts as often as I should and yet I get good feedback when I do use them DOH!

I have been told that you should email five of your friends when you make a new lens…..I’ve never done that, but if you want to try it go for it. Unfortunately my friends don’t really ‘get’ my online activities, even when they’re trying to be supportive!

Tomorrow I’ll take you through the next steps, if you’re following along with your own lenses please list them in the comments and let me know how you’re going. I’d love to see your work.

How I Met Your Mother Tees Part 2

Okay, it appears we have some Squidoo competition as the search function wasn’t working properly, but that’s okay.....usually I check in with Squidu at least once a day to see if there are any issues, but.....

Anyway my lens is published (and is already on the front page of google) and I have used Amazon, Allposters and Zazzle for this lens. Amazon is great if you haven’t used affiliates before because you can just use the Squidoo modules – the spotlight one is the best one to use for sales conversions. If you’re an Amazon associate you can use your own link, but we’ll get to that on another post.

The first affiliate program that I want you to join (if you don’t already belong to one) is AllPosters – Why? It’s a great way of being able to use pictures. I didn’t think I’d ever make a sale with them, but being able to illustrate my lens was enough – at first anyway. I have since learnt how to make money with them, but more on that one later.

I have only recently joined Zazzle and so far all of my earnings have come from referring products, but we’ll touch on Zazzle at another time. It is another great resource to use that has the potential to earn you money.

Now if you go to my How I Met Your Mother Tees lens I will take you through it. All lenses start with the introduction and you really should have a picture here and because I’m with Allposters I could use one of their posters as an image. I copied the picture from Allposters onto my hard-drive and then uploaded it, for the link to Allposters I copied the html from Allposters and placed it at the bottom of my lens I then deleted class="APCTitleAnchor" that was at the beginning of the code. I then deleted everything after the at the end of the first url before the word target. I added a > typed in what I wanted to have as my hyperlink (in this case the word here) and then typed in < / a > (leaving out the spaces in between, I've had to do this for the blog to accept it!).

Next is a poll module, this is good to get some interaction with your visitors. It’s not always necessary, but I felt (after I’d done the rest of the lens) that the lens needed something to engage people with.

We then have three text modules – I used three different text modules because I wanted to use the headings. Using these headings will help Google recognize what the lens is all about so it’s a good idea to use keywords in here….I actually haven’t done that with all of these, but I think the headings are good at the moment and if we get some link juice we may be okay with the ones I’ve used. The great thing about Squidoo is that you’re in control so we can go back and change things as we like.

I have filled these text modules with Zazzle products. Take a look at Zazzle, if you see products there that you’d like to use then it might be a good idea to join up as an associate – you do not have to publish your own products if you don’t want to. I’m an associate and I have just clicked on the products that I’ve liked and then pressed link. I chose the second option which actually uses div codes which aren’t allowed in Squidoo, but instead of taking them out I’ve just copy and pasted the code into a text module and then pressed save.....Squidoo automatically takes out the code it doesn’t like and you’re done. Now I must admit I deleted a little more because it would normally have a link underneath taking you back to the person, but leave that in there for now (unless you know your html), we’ll touch back on ways of formatting Zazzle products another day.

Next we have an Amazon Spotlight module. When using this module any sale that you have you’ll split the commission with Squidoo. It’s a great way of adding products when you’re not an affiliate yourself. All you need is to find the code on Amazon for the product you want to use and pop it into the module. You can add text and change a few things like showing customer ratings etc. There are a lot of different Amazon modules that you can use, but the spotlight seems the best for getting sales. It has a larger size image for starters.

I followed this up with another text module that was going to include a link for Allposters, basically I just copied and pasted their html code into the module. It didn’t work, I’m not sure what’s happening at the moment, but a lot of people are having a problem with this at the moment. I decided that I wanted to leave the small piece of text in there and then I uploaded the text with big picture module. Now I could have just replaced the text module with this one, but I wanted the text above the picture. I copied the picture from Allposters to my hard-drive and then uploaded it to the text with big picture module. I used the first url that is incased in “” that appears in the html for Allposters and I put this in the link for the picture, this means that anyone clicking on the picture will be taken to Allposters to buy it (using your referral code).

I then added another Amazon Spotlight module and followed this up with a guest book module.

I then hit publish and voila! What you have before you is the lens thus far.

There are more things we need to do like lensrolling, discovery tool, tags and promoting, but you’ll have to come back next time for these :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

How I Met Your Mother - Part 1

I was watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs the other night and I thought I need a t-shirt that says Suit Up for my hubby. I decided to look and see if I could find any such tee and yes there one was, along with others. Then I had a look on Squidoo to see if anyone else had made a lens on this – no!

My current mission is to release the How I Met Your Mother Tees lens and then to make some more lenses to interlink and share the traffic love between them. Interlinking lenses can be great. I have some that share a lot of traffic backwards and forwards – just make sure that each lens can stand on its own.

My early lenses (and some of them are still guilty of this) were very broad, the most profitable ones are much more narrow in focus. Search google for How I Met Your Mother and you get 52,300,000 results, search for How I Met Your Mother Tees and you get 581,000. This means that it will probably be easier to get onto the first page of google. What about traffic? I hear what you’re saying, but you want people poised to buy coming to your lens as opposed to people after information don’t you?

I made a very focused ‘niche, niche’ lens which barely makes double figures every day, but the visits that it gets are people ready to buy and the ratio of visitors to buyers is really high – I’d rather have 100 of these lenses than 100 of my high traffic lenses. My high traffic lenses which get tens of thousands or thousands of hits every week actually have very few people who purchase and so the visitor/buyer ratio is low.

Does this mean you shouldn’t chase traffic? Not necessarily, you may manage to get a high visitor/buyer ratio on a lens that gets tens of thousands of hits a day in which case you’ll be rolling in it. What I have done with my high traffic lenses is watch the stats and based on the stats I have made new lenses with a more narrow focus – one of these has made an amazing number of sales.

Come back tomorrow (or subscribe to my rss feed) to see my lens and I’ll take you through what I’m going to do with it and my stats as they occur.

Welcome to Swimming With Giant Squids

I am a Giant Squid 100 club member and also a Rocket Mom. During 2009 I managed to achieve a number of my goals for Squidoo and I am now bringing home 3 figures a month…..let’s hope it continues or grows :)

A lot of people seem to be blogging about their Squidoo activities, I always felt that I wasn’t an expert, but you know what? I’m doing something right so I may as well tell you all my ‘secrets’ as someone referred to them as.

First of all I’m assuming that you all know what Squidoo is. Squidoo is a place where you can share information online for free and make some money in the process. Check out my profile if you like and you’ll see that you really can write about a wide range of things. There are some squid-don’ts however and they include porn and gambling and spam-saturated products.

I am going to take you through my Squidoo day and offer tips and advice along the way so if you want to come along for the journey then subscribe today!