Thursday, April 22, 2010

Continuing the List of Things to Do on Your Lenses

If you’ve read yesterday’s posting you’ll know that we’re examining Bonnie’s to do list for lensmaking.....if you haven’t read yesterday’s posting then off you go and we’ll wait right here for you to finish :)

Bonnie’s List Again

  • DO think outside the box
  • DO go with your gut instinct
  • DO your homework
  • DO proof read
  • DO keep sharing your work
  • DO focus on a niche
  • DO use the tools Squidoo offers

Do keep sharing your work – a lot of people ask where you share your work to and I’m reminded of a lensography I read and I can’t for the life of me think who it was about otherwise I would link to it, but the person used to put sticky notes with her url on them in restrooms when she was traveling!

I think the moral of this is you never know where your traffic might come from so keep posting your links everywhere you can think of. Send a lens to friends and family (if you think they’d be interested), submit it to social bookmarking sites, add it to forum signatures and don’t forget to interlink your lenses together.

Do focus on a niche – niche lenses are great, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t write on other things as well and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t have more than one niche. I use the group function available to giants to keep all of my niche lenses together. I often find that I have overlapping niches which are great.

Focusing on a niche means that you can interlink your lenses, create a lensography on your niche to promote outside of squidoo and also you can have a blog which is a great way of sharing your lenses with the world. A niche blog is much more likely to get ranked than one which is generalized as Google doesn’t know how to categorize it.

Do use the tools Squidoo offers – there are so many tools such as the Discovery Modules, Sidebar Widgets etc but one of the best tools and one which I recommend using every day is Squidu. Checking in with squidu is invaluable because you never know when someone will mention something that they do and you think – oh I never knew that or wow that makes sense. I love hearing what veterans like Fluff and Jeffryv have to say about things because they’re not only helpful they’re very successful lensmasters.

There are often some interesting debates. Flowergardener recently started a debate which has really shown a number of issues being discussed and whatever your feelings it’s good to read feedback on both sides of the discussion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A List of Things to Do When Making Squidoo Lenses

I’m a member of the Rocketmoms group on Squidoo and they have recently started their new session. One of the things that Bonnie (our illustrious leader) is doing during this session is to add tips each day to help us. The first tip was a list of things we should do when we build our lenses.

Bonnie’s List

  • DO think outside the box
  • DO go with your gut instinct
  • DO your homework
  • DO proof read
  • DO keep sharing your work
  • DO focus on a niche
  • DO use the tools Squidoo offers

I thought this list was worth sharing because Bonnie has great insights into what makes a successful lens. I think we also need to add DO have fun because even though we’re trying to make money it is important to enjoy what we do.

Thinking outside of the box can help you to create some fantastic lenses. It’s all too easy to make your lenses using the same formula over and over again, this is one of the reasons that I don’t use the templates that giants are allowed to use, because I like my lenses to be different.

Thinking outside of the box is what led another lensmaster to discover that she could add a picture to the blackbox module and that led her to create this fantastic lens – Utilizing the Blackbox module.

Going with your gut instinct can be hard to do on Squidoo, I remember getting a Rocketmoms assignment that was right outside of my comfort zone and then as I was looking at a picture and an idea came to me, the lens was written so quickly after that and I was giggling to myself as I wrote it and having a fun time. I hit publish because in my gut I thought it was hilarious. Then I turned the computer off and went to bed, sleep was hard to come by as I started to doubt whether anyone would ‘get’ my humor. The next day my inbox was full from comments – other people did ‘get’ me.

It was also a lens that I felt I could send to my mum as I knew she’d get the funny side of it and from that lens I’ve given myself permission to add humor into my writing without worrying too much – I think this has really enriched some of my lenses.

Doing your homework is something that I don’t always do……I got in trouble at school for this too! It does help to do keyword research, but I don’t get quite as hung up on it on Squidoo as I do when I write elsewhere. Using the google keyword checker is a great idea to check if a lot of people are searching for something and what words they use. In some cases it’s good for spotting better alternatives to the word you usually use for example presents as opposed to gifts –using the keyword checker you can make sure that you use the ‘right’ one.

However if there is something that you’re interested in and it doesn’t get much search engine traffic does that mean you shouldn’t write about it? I don’t think so. If there’s not a lot of search traffic I would google it myself and see how much competition there is and the quality because if you’re interested in something then someone else probably is too.

I have several lenses that have low traffic, but convert to traffic because they are specific and do not have a lot of competition.

Do proof read is an absolute must and I think it’s a good idea to proof read again the next morning after publishing it. When you read your own words you know what you mean to say and so sometimes your brain ‘tricks’ you into reading what you thought you wrote as opposed to what you did.

By re-reading your lens fresh the next day you can often find some mistakes. What I often do if I come across them on someone’s lenses is shoot them an email alerting them to it. Yet another reason to enable your contact me button. I don’t know how others feel about this, but I’ve been lucky to have a couple of lensmasters alert me to mistakes via email and I appreciate it.

We’ll continue the list tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Keeping Your Lenses Fresh

How often do you update your lenses? I don’t spend a lot of time updating mine unless there’s been some big change or I’ve ‘discovered’ something that I want to add to my lenses and then it takes me quite a while because of the amount I have.

I keep my lenses fresh by adding google blogs to some of them and I thought that this was a great idea for keeping them updated. Last week a fellow lensmaster (I believe it was Jeffry) posted in Squidu that he had done some research with some of his lenses and had found that Squidoo didn’t seem to recognize the blogs as updating the lenses as much as adding an ebay module would.

I don’t have a lot of ebay modules in my lenses, although I’ve been gradually adding more and I’ve made some nice commissions where I do have them. Should we be adding an ebay module to all of our lenses? It’s certainly an idea to think about.

Keeping to something relevant is the problem I will have with some of mine, but on another site I came across an interesting hub where the person added an ebay capsule as a bit of humor to the end with a comment similar to - and you can even buy a set of steak knives. Now he hasn’t sold any steak knives on this hub apparently, but if we employed a similar technique to our lenses it may help with our lensranking which could help our visibility and tier payments.

Please note I haven’t tried this (yet), but it’s definitely food for thought.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Backlinks are very important in getting your lenses noticed by the search engines. The best backlinks tend to be the organic ones, but these are ones that you have no control over....technically anyway. If you write great authority lenses which people like then they will link to you when they find you which creates organic backlinks. I have some great backlinks for some of my lenses/hubs/articles etc from places such as the NY Times, Daily Mail, LA Times, NHS, Haverford University etc these are backlinks which are fantastic, but how did I get them?

By ranking well in Google the ‘right’ person was able to find my page, by creating great and relevant information that person decided to link to my page. The problem? How do you rank well in Google? This is the billion dollar question that we’d all like to answer, but one of the things that will help is to create backlinks yourself.

We mentioned Social Bookmarking yesterday and this is one way in which you can create backlinks. Another way used to be groups, but they are now ‘dead’, however like a phoenix rising from the ashes we have the Squid Clubs. There should be a lot of these being ‘born’ in the coming weeks and if you can find one in your niche they should provide you with another backlink.

Christine has been keeping a list of all of the Squid Clubs on her blog so check it out and see if you’d like to belong to one or more of them.

I also believe that interlinking your lenses are a great idea and you’ll know how to do this if you’ve read my how to interlink your lenses lens. It’s also a great idea to blog about your lenses and link to them from other sources such as hubs, articles or your own websites. Create enough links and the search engines will acknowledge you, but personally I prefer to do this using original content each time....some believe this doesn’t matter, but remember you also want to attract organic backlinks which will only happen with great, original, informative and easy to read information.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Bookmarking – Do You Do It?

Do you use social bookmarking? This is an area where I have seen mixed results – with some sites I find it works really well and with others the results haven’t been worth it. The key is to find which sites work best for you. Now I can be pretty slack which is probably why it took me so long before I started to make money! I know that certain sites are a great idea and work well for providing me with backlinks and/or traffic, but I don’t always put the work in by adding to them. Obviously if I want 4 figures this has got to change!

My favorite two are She Told Me and Xomba because they are the two that I have seen results with other several different niches…..they also earn me money themselves. There are lots of other sites that you can use as well and RickyRobi has written a lens to host all of the Squidoo Friendly Social Bookmarking Sites that she knows.

Which sites do you find the most effective?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When Should You Start A Seasonal Lens?

When do you start work on your Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day lenses etc? Some people have said that they start work a couple of months out others say 6 months. What about the day after an event or in the week after the event? After Valentine’s Day there was a forum post (at a place other than Squidoo!) that said the person was working on some Valentine’s Day ‘lenses’ while Valentine’s Day was fresh in her mind. She could see what had worked for her this year and what happened and she had seen what had happened in the real world. The idea sounded great to me – what do you think?

I have to say that being prepared early is definitely a great idea, last year was my best Christmas sales ever. I started my first Christmas lens at the end of Jun/beginning of July and the niche I developed started selling in September and continued into February. My lenses had had enough time to be seen as established and they were also interlinked well so that they feed each other. I was extremely happy.

Now that’s not to say last minute lenses can’t do well. During September one of my popular lenses started to get a lot of hits for people looking for Halloween lenses in this niche. I set up a lens in response thinking that I’d left it a little late……every day except one (and I think there may have been problems with reporting on that day) I made a sale throughout October and that lens continues to have made me the most money out of any of my other lenses.

I guess what this means is that there’s no clear ‘best time’ to write any lens. Personally the last few weeks I’ve been (in what time I’ve managed to find) alternating between Halloween, Christmas and evergreen lenses. What that means is that I’ve been juggling so many ideas I was shocked to discover it was April!!

Good luck with whatever kind of lenses you’re working on at the moment and remember if you have a lens that offers help with Squidoo or lens promotion then drop me a line and I may just feature you here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Make Money While You Sleep!

You’ve seen the ads for $xx you can spend 10 minutes and make money while you sleep..... it’s the get rich quick schemes that people are constantly running. Squidoo, as most of you will know, is definitely not a get rich quick scheme HOWEVER once you’ve spent time and set your lens up properly then you may be surprised as to how much you can make when you take time off.

Updated content is great and with some lenses it is more important than with others, but if you’ve set your lens up well to start with then should things happen in ‘the real world’ as they have with me for the last few weeks then you can continue to earn money. Yet another reason to love Squidoo!

Payday has just happened again on Squidoo and I hope you’re happy with your payout. Mine is still in the 3 figures, but my goal for 2010 is to lift it into 4 figures a month....unfortunately my time has been caught up with other things causing my plan to turn into a train wreck! It is important to make a plan though, just don’t get hung up if you don’t manage everything on your plan – I look at mine as a map, if you take a wrong turn you just find a new route to get to your destination.

I’ve actually received $11 less than last month which was a surprise to me as I thought it was going to be much less than that as I was busy with other things and had ‘abandoned’ Squidoo a little during February. I always find paydays inspiring these days, but my first payday didn’t even make enough for my $1 threshold payment – it was 68c. It has taken a couple of years and over 100 lenses before I started to get some really good paydays – the key really is perseverance. Now I’m not saying you need to wait for as long as I did, because I really knew absolutely nothing when I started and I didn’t pay enough attention to what people were telling me to do. I wanted to do my own thing, which is fine, but if you want to make money you need to mix in a little of what others want as well as your own thing :)

Now my daughter’s off sick from school today so I’m going to go and give her a cuddle because, luckily, I know this great way of making money while I live my life my way :D