Monday, July 25, 2011

Twitter and Squidoo

Do you use Twitter to promote your lenses?   I must admit I'm a little hit and miss when it comes to Twitter, I'll use it a little bit and then I won't get on it for a few weeks!   A lot of people have disregarded the value of tweeting, but I've recently taken the time to look at some stats as to my twitter clicks and I'm going to make an effort to use Twitter on a much more regular basis.

My Squidoo links get an average of 23 clicks per link which may not be hundreds or thousands, but considering how easy it is to tweet something I think it's pretty cool.

My Zazzle links don't seem to do as well only attracting average of 14 clicks per link and my combined blogs average is doing about as well as Zazzle.

Different links do better than others and I can see that my 80s blog alone gets an average of 27 clicks per link.   This isn't surprising as a poll in Australia a couple of months ago showed that Generation X were actually embracing Twitter almost as much as the Generation Ys.

I'm convinced that if I can get these clicks with my rather hit and miss approach to Twitter then if I make a concerted effort to use it I should be able to do even better.   Last year I used Amazon's tweet button once to try it out - the result?   I sold a kindle!   I really don't know why I didn't continue to use it - in the words of Homer (the Simpson, not the Greek) - Doh!

The only problem with Twitter is that I don't want to be on it all day as I can waste an awful amount of time.   I do belong to places such as Amplify where it will automatically send a tweet for me, but the other way around this problem is by using a program to schedule my tweets.

I use Social Oomph to do a few things.   I have started scheduling tweets through them (there's two versions a free one and a professional one - I only use the free version), this is very handy.

I have been using the shorten url link on Social Oomph - in fact this was the main reason I joined the site initially as it was bad enough keeping my tweets short enough let alone also adding a full url!

I also have it set to autofollow everyone who follows me - not something everyone would want, but I find it easier to unfollow people who send me too much spam than to keep up with everyone who becomes my follower.

You can set up a DM to be sent to all new followers, but I don't do this as I don't like to receive generic messages myself.

When tweeting there are things to think about - if all you do is send links I'm pretty sure you'll get unfollowed at worse or at best no clicks on the links.

I do get onto Twitter once or twice a day (when I'm using it which will be from now onwards!) and read through a couple of pages retweeting some things that I like or answering questions that people have asked.

I love some of the quotes that are around - yes I'm one of those people that used to like the quote a day desk calendar that we had when I worked in a major bank - I'll often tweet a couple of different quotes that I think are funny, inspirational, thought provoking etc.

I check if there have been any mentions of myself although lately social oomph have been sending me emails when someone replies to one of my tweets or mentions me (I don't know why this has started happening, but it's very handy).   I then make sure I reply if appropriate.

I have found that I can send tweets on my phone so I'll often send a quick tweet if I'm waiting on my daughter to get out of school etc.

I have read that there is a 30/30/30 rule - I'm not sure that you have to be exact, but it does seem that this would make sense - 30% tweeting your links, 30% re-tweeting, 30% personal comments or quotes - no links.

The other thing that I've done is used a second twitter a/c and you can log several with Social Oomph and they'll manage them all really well.   Unfortunately because I'm slack when it comes to tweeting this niche a/c while I'm sure was a sound idea, did not work for me :(

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Making Sales With Amazon Part Two

In my last post I talked about finding your voice in order to make sales with Amazon, but another important part of converting your visitors into buyers is by knowing your audience.   Now I don't know about you but I have a wide variety of different interests and my friends range in ages from 20 years younger than me to about 20 years older than me.   Why am I telling you this?   Well I have totally different conversations with my different groups of friends and acquaintances and this is the same with my lenses.

I always remember a fellow lensmaster called kab commenting on Squidu about writing on different things versus having niche a/c's and she said that is you looked at all of the different things that she wrote about you'd think she was like a monkey on crack.    That vision just cracked me up, but the same could be said of my lenses.   How do you sell Agatha Christie books alongside Katy Perry Nail Polish?   Obviously you present them differently.

If you've read a number of my lenses you may have noticed that both my layouts and language changes with the different types of subjects the same as the way you talk to different groups of people change - you speak to your child differently to how you'd speak to your best friend and you speak to your child's teacher in a different way again.

Identifying your audience and then knowing how to talk to them will definitely help your sales.

I  think that there are a couple of different types of buyers, those that want lots of quality information and then you just have to hope that you swing them over while they're in the buying process and not 'find them' while they're still in the research phase.

Another type of buyer are the ones that know they want say a Big Bang Theory t-shirt, but they're not sure which one - these buyers actually just want to see what's available and don't need a lot of information on the product, they'll click on what they like and buy from there.

The main thing, which is worth repeating again, is to know your audience and know which type of buyer you're writing for and then (hopefully) you'll start to make regular sales.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making Sales With Amazon

How do you make sales?   This is a question that I get asked quite often and in particular I've had a spate of queries about it recently.   It's actually not an easy question to answer because it's not a straight forward formula, but I'll try and give you a few ideas.

The most important thing you have to do is find your voice.   This is really important, even though it may not seem it.   I worked in sales for quite a while and I remember going to a seminar that the company paid for and I took lots of notes and decided to try and sell the way the speaker had told us.    The manager asked to speak to me on the Friday...............she wasn't very happy (although I didn't realize it at the time).

So we have a chat and she's asking how things are going with me and what I thought of the seminar etc and then came the zinger - what's been going on with your sales this week?   I explained I was following what the speaker had said, but I obviously needed to work on it because the results weren't showing.   Then she asked me the simple question well what did you do before?   It turns out that I had been converting the most sales of anyone (even the guy who used to make out he was the best - I loved that feeling!) and she wanted me to go back to that.

I couldn't actually give her an exact answer as to what I did before for the same reason that years later I had problems role-playing how to handle complaints, despite handling them really well in a work environment.   I don't use a stock standard method.   Everyone is different so how I would handle sales would depend on the person, it's called active listening when you're face to face combined with body language.   This is a lot harder to do online, but it boils down to this -

You need to know your audience.

My way of selling is totally different depending on who my audience is, if you're not sure who your audience is then you will have problems selling anything.

Finding your own voice is all about how you communicate with your writing so the first thing you should do is look around at something that you use at home and would recommend to your best friend.   Check it's available on Amazon and then sit down and talk about it as though your best friend was sitting opposite you - what do you like about it, why it would be ideal for her/him.   If you haven't figured it out yet - your best friend is your audience!

Now you've talked it out sit down and write a lens on that one product (but finish reading this post first) - use an Amazon spotlight review module or your own associate link and only promote that one product unless you've told your friend in your imaginary conversation that you find it even better when combined with something else.

Depending on what it is you may feel you need to add some product details and that's okay, if you're not feeling qualified to talk about the technical side of things just (staying in your own voice) say something like for those of you who want the technical mumbo jumbo here's what the website has to say about it, but for me it's all about ...................

Now, how are you going to get the traffic if no one can find your product?   Obviously most of the time we hear keyword research should be done first and that's true once you've found your voice.   It's no good doing all of the keyword research if you can't write a good review that will sell.

Now hopefully you haven't actually written the lens yet, because you're still reading this post - I would suggest writing it all into word first so you just have to cut and paste it into Squidoo when we're ready.   Now  do some keyword research and make sure that you use keywords in your url and in your titles and/or subtitles.    Now read it through - sometimes you'll find you've added the keywords naturally without thinking which is awesome.   If you haven't that's okay too.

Have you used the word the when talking about the product?   If so add your keyword in it's place and read it back - does it still sound like you or does it sound weird/stilted/not quite right?   If it sounds okay leave it in otherwise out it goes.   The word the is the one I most often convert to a keyword in the final edit as it can often be naturally converted without sounding forced.

Now, how did you start your introduction?   You want to make sure that you use the keyword in the first couple of sentences so let's say you've been talking about a blender, start with something like this - Are you looking for the best ever blender?   I wouldn't be without my xxx blender and use it constantly in the kitchen for things such as xxx and xxx.   Read on to find out why this blender is the one I would recommend to my best friend.

Another type of lens that will convert well is a how to lens, many people want to learn how to make something ie how to make the best xxxx costume for Halloween.   They'll feel quite good learning how to make their own outfit, but then they realize that either time is running out or it seems harder to make than they realize or it's not such a big monetary saving after all.   What do they do?   Buy the product already made!    It's true, honestly, so if you're making a how to lens remember to have a module after the instructions with a ............or you could just buy it here type of comment.

There are other tips that I'll talk about in the future, but I really believe that finding your voice is one of the best things you can do if you want to convert your readers to buyers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Halloween and Christmas Lenses

Well I'm a little late with this post as I've been feeling a little Squidooed out to be perfectly honest.   I haven't updated all of my page break lenses let alone checked for my custom bios!   I do have a few things to talk about however.

The first thing is for you to look to your left - I have some lenses for sell for only $10.   I made a new lens with an idea about flipping it a couple of weeks ago and listed it along with some old lenses that are in need of some tlc or I developed them meaning them to become part of a group of lenses and stopped at one!   I've already sold a few of them, but keep an eye on what's on offer in case you see any that you 'must' have!

If anyone is interested in getting a lens custom built for them then just contact me and I'll be only too happy to talk to you about it - the price will depend on what you're after.

Now you're probably thinking this post says Halloween and Christmas lenses when are we going to talk about them?   This time, last year, I started building Halloween lenses as I really didn't have much in the way of Halloween lenses before that - last October I received 4 figures from those lenses.   It is definitely the time to make a start if you haven't already.   I found I was more productive when I actually planned out exactly what type of lenses I wanted to make (there were only 2 that weren't made, so I was very happy).

I also started brushing up and increasing my Christmas lenses in July last year and Christmas is always very profitable for me.

I look at it by thinking when do the shops start showing displays and getting people thinking about the holiday season - then I figure that they've probably placed their orders a month beforehand.   I know the internet is a little different to shops, but the planning side is definitely one that I think can be emulated well.

I want people to start seeing Halloween decorations or costumes around and then search online to land on my sites!   The same with Christmas.   October, November and December aka the last quarter of the year is traditionally the one that sees the most online sales of any other time of the year and I want us all to cash in on that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Amazon Update & New Opportunities To Explore

First I have to give you an update - the 'sneeky' way of using out own Amazon associate code in the spotlight feature no longer works!   It appears that with the recent changes HQ have also managed to close that loophole so I'm sorry if anyone else wasted the hours I did in changing them over.

On a brighter note I have gone through nearly 100 of my 470+ lenses and updated the majority of the amazon modules to my own links using text modules and I'm pleased to say that it looks like I'll be getting an Amazon check each month from next month (I missed out on one this month by just over $2 - so close!).   It really is worth switching over to your own links once you start making regular sales through Squidoo and I should probably have done this a lot sooner.

Now in the past week I've heard about two new opportunities which I thought I would mention - one I have trialled the other I haven't yet!   They are called Wizzley and Loveblinks.

Let's talk about Wizzley first - now this is a very fledgling company started by some old timer Lensmasters (and I use that term in a good way - it means they know what they're doing!).   When I first looked there I was concerned by a clause in their TOC which they had copied (with permission) from another site - as soon as I queried it they looked into it and amended it.   I was impressed!

I was reading the forum before I published my first page and people were making suggestions and getting them acted upon very quickly.   Now is obviously the time to get in on this opportunity as the founders are just as hands on at communicating with us as they are at getting the site up and running to it's best potential.

This is my first page on Wizzley - How to Make Money on Zazzle - if you look at it you can see the layout looks fantastic.   It's like the birth child of Hubpages and Squidoo in that it has taken elements from both sites which are fantastic.   Wizzley doesn't pay you, all of your income comes from your own links - Google, Amazon, AllPosters and Zazzle.

You can set your pages to have the standard Google ads or a more discrete amount of Google ads or even switch them off all together.   There are modules for Amazon, Allposters and Zazzle where you input your own code.   I think this could be the birth of something really good.

I know this blog is all about Squidoo and I'm waffling on about another site, but there are two reasons for this - one is don't put all your eggs in one basket (always great advice as my grandmother passed this on to me!) and the other is backlinks.

After you've written five pages on Wizzley your links become dofollow so these should be good backlinks to get.

There is also the traffic factor - my first article got 80 visits in the first 24 hours which I thought was amazing......I wish all of my lenses got that!   If you can get people to your page and then clicking through to your lenses as well then you have double the chance to make a sale.

If you like the idea of Wizzley then I'm going to drop in my referral link for you here -

The next new opportunity is a site called LoveBlinks which has been set up by another lensmaster.   Now I joined this site yesterday, but I haven't had a chance to 'play around' with it yet and see how it goes.   It was basically set up as a way of getting backlinks to our lenses which sounds good doesn't it?

It's also an adsense sharing site which means another opportunity to add a further income stream which is always good.   If you want to check out more about it then here is the link - LoveBlinks which also contains my referral so that I can see if you've signed up and give you a little twitter love :D

As I've said I haven't had a chance to explore this site much yet, but I think the concept is a great idea and hopefully we'll all do well there.

Well this has been a long post today!   If you've already come across one or both of these sites before please share your experiences and any tips in the comments, thank you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Page Break Lenses

If you've got page break lenses then you'll be in the same boat as me right now and trying to think what to do with them.   When I first heard that they were going I tried to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich as the past few months seem to have been nothing but changing and updating things to keep up with different rules (I'm talking about all online sites now, not just Squidoo).

It is time to take action however and the first thing I did was reassess my page break lenses before doing anything, want to take the page break journey with me?   The first lens I'm going to update is my Disney Princess Christmas Ornaments lens which I hope doesn't suffer too much from this upheaval.

  • First I went through and checked my traffic stats to see what keywords had brought traffic to my site.
  • Second I went through and noted every sale made on the site.
Looking at my lenses a couple of things struck me and I did my keyword research again and discovered that Disney's Little Mermaid Christmas Ornaments ranked higher than Disney Princess Ariel which was a change from when I first set the original lens up.   So a bright note with 'having' to do this work is that it's a great time to check keywords because they do change as a fellow Lensmaster explains well in her Keyword Freshness blog post.

I decided that without the page breaks this lens would be much too long so my first step was deciding on how I was going to break the lens up.   I did some keyword research and determined 10 different (extra) lenses that I could make from this main one and what I would call them I don't know if there's enough products available for all ten so I focused on the five page break pages first and produced - Cinderella Christmas Ornaments.   I basically just cut and pasted what was on my second page of the original lens, adding a  heading to the introduction.   Next I decided it needed to be a little more interactive and so I added a couple of polls.

I still want people to click through the different Disney Princess Christmas ornaments so I added a featured lens module to link it back to the main lens.   I added a bookmark module, guestbook and a featured lens module on the bottom linking to my Christmas Ornament lensography.

I decided to utilize the sidebar widgets and included other Cinderella Christmas decor which included Cinderella Christmas stockings.   At the moment this is all duplicate content because I haven't deleted the page on my original lens, but luckily they've taken the filter down as I don't want to mess with the original until I've got all of the extra lenses done - I hope Google doesn't have a fit about it.

Now to the next lens which I'm basically going to approach like this one and this one is on Snow White.

Here is the completed Snow White Christmas Ornaments lens - again I simply cut and pasted from the page break lens and added a poll for interaction, side bar widgets, guestbook and bookmarking module.

This one was a little quicker to do so there is hope that I can complete this whole page break lens reorganization in one day!

I have now completed my Sleeping Beauty Christmas Ornaments lens and as with the other two it was basically cutting and pasting from my fourth lens break page and adding side bar widgets, poll, guestbook etc.   I'm starting to feel like this isn't so bad, although I haven't got to sorting out the main page yet so my feelings may yet change!

I've just completed this lens - Disney's Little Mermaid Christmas Ornaments, the keywords for Little Mermaid Christmas Ornaments were a lot better than Ariel Christmas Ornaments which was what my page break page had been titled.   I'm not sure if it's a case of the keywords have changed or because of the title character limit that the page break module had.

Again the majority of this lens is basically a cut and paste of the existing page so it was quite quick to pull together.

All of these lenses are obviously going to need some individual tweeking when it's all over, but luckily there's still plenty of time before Christmas.

This next lens has been called Beauty and the Beast Christmas Ornaments, again the page of the page break lens was entitled Belle Christmas Ornaments but whether that was all that could fit or whether the keywords have changed I'm not sure.

These are the five additional pages that were on the main Disney Princess Christmas Ornaments lens along with the main page so I'm going to start to work on the main page now and link them all together.

I'm going to leave the first few modules of the main lens alone and then after my collectible Cinderella and Snow White Christmas Ornament set I'm going to add a featured lens module to link to the individual Cinderella and Snow White lenses.

Next I added a poll under this and I've woven the other featured lenses in between amazon links for the remaining Disney Princesses.

One piece of advice - remember if your page break lens is an older one it will be grandfathered with the number of amazon modules allowed so do not delete any unless you're absolutely sure you've used enough.

I was missing Tiana so I moved some of the amazon spotlights from the Cinderella page up to add a couple of her Christmas ornaments.

I only had one Rapunzel ornament and when I checked Amazon I found a couple more so again I moved spotlights up from the other page breaks and changed them to Rapunzel ones.

Now I've checked the preview and it's time to delete all of the page break pages - a couple of deep breaths and here I go!

Well it worked!   This is the end result of my revised Disney Princess Christmas Ornaments and I got it all done before school finished.

In conclusion I don't think this one was so bad, but who knows about the others.   I hope that by following me along as I did this first page break restructure it will help you with yours.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Re-Assessing Yearly Targets

Today is my birthday and I don't know if it's a sign that I'm getting old, but I do seem to be getting very introspective on my birthdays which is why I thought it was a good time to review where I'm going with my online income this year and reassess what I need to do.

May is a great time to do this because we're not quite at the halfway mark yet and so we have lots of time to prepare for what is traditionally the most profitable quarter of the year - the final quarter.

As far as Squidoo goes I'm a little behind in some areas, my last pay was better than I expected although it is heading down which was to be expected as I've been changing over links.   This process of changing links over may just have got quicker thanks to a tip from susannaduffy on Squidu - I have been uploading pictures and adding my own links to amazon instead of using the spotlight module or the personal review as I believe it's correct name is now.   According to Susanna you can add your associate text link into the space where it asks for an ASIN - what a great tip and why didn't I know I could do that?!

Although my pay through Squidoo may be heading down my affiliate income is heading up at the same time with the result that I'm getting the same amount of online income as I have been.   I was expecting it to have increased more because my hubs were making great money before the panda update, luckily they seem to be recovering, but the google adsense income hasn't been what I predicted.

How are your targets looking?  

Now is the time to start planning, if you haven't already.   If you have planned then reassess how you're going and start some regular routines.

I am working harder on backlinks because the pages that were affected most by panda were ones that didn't have many (or any in some cases) backlinks.   I have been much better about setting up backlinks these days and interlinking my own work, but when I first started out I was shocking!

I am also going to use Susanna's tip to update more of my links - it will be alot quicker.

I'm updating and expanding niches which are successful and doing so in a more organized fashion.

I'm using my Outlook to set reminders to do certain things each day to add value to my online income (at the moment these are non-squidoo related).

What is the one thing you are going to do right now to either get back on track or to stay on track with your online earnings?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Using Calendar's For Squidoo

How organized is your Squidooing?   Do you have a calendar as well as a to do list on the go?   Now I have to be honest and say that while I think these techniques are awesome I have not used them over long periods of time - the techniques I'm talking about are blogging calendars and squidcasting calendars.

I came across the idea of a squidcasting calendar over a year ago when I saw this lens - Keeping Current With A Squidcast Calendar.   I immediately thought what a great idea and I started to send squidcasts more regularly. I actually get a good response to my squidcasts in general, but here are some tips I've found -

  • Personally I only squidcast during the week - weekend squidcasts don't seem to get as much response (yours may however, this is just my personal experience).
  • I do not send more than one squidcast a day as people get quite upset if they look in their Favorite's tab and all of the squidcasts are from one person - it does happen.
  • I try and make my squidcasts sound interesting.   My squidcasts are also sent as tweets so a heading like Just Updated My Lens or New Lens isn't something I use.   Rather use something like did you know.......? or how are you going to celebrate........?   Think of a squidcast as a cross between a blog post and a tweet.
  • I check my favorite's tag everyday, but I don't look at every squidcast I recieve - if it sounds boring I don't look at it unless it's someone who's writing I really enjoy or it's on a subject I love.   If the squidcast sounds interesting, however, then the chances are I'm going to love the lens it's promoting.

The other technique that is handy to use if you're blogging to promote Squidoo is a blogging calendar, now to be honest I have only heard this term this year - not sure how I missed it!   I have started to write a tentative blogging calendar for my blogs over the last few days and I think it should work really well.

When I was taking the A to Z Blogging Challenge I knew that I had to write on something beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet and I found it a lot easier to write a post with that in mind (and the fact that these were niche blogs so the subject matter was themed).   Quite often blogs don't get a new post as often as they should simply because the owner can't think what to write least that's the case with my blogs.   A blog calendar helps to keep things on track (in theory anyways).

I'm going to try and start using these techniques more regularly and I'd recommend you did as well because they really are an organized way to promote your Squidoo lenses.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Tools For Me - Amplify & More Blogs!

Well I'm back in Australia and I've finished the A-Z Blogging Challenge on two of my other blogs so it's back to trying to get on track with earning money.   How are you all going with your targets for your income?

I have to say that my targets are not co-operating as they should, not because of Squidoo as much as my other online income.   My Google income was really building via my Hubpages, but it has taken something of a nose dive since the Panda Update.

Squidoo is still going well, although I haven't got as far with updating as I probably should have by now I really don't know where this year has got to - we're in May already!   It's time to revise what I need to do and get more organized again as I've been flitting from one thing to another this week and not really making the most of my time.

I did discover a lens by Word Custard called How To Use Amplify - I have ended up joining Amplify and I think it's a great tool to use, because it's so easy.    I'm not sure if I would've found it so easy had it not been for the great step by step instructions in the lens though.   This is great to promote any site you're using and I've been using it on Squidoo, Hubpages, Zazzle and even some blog posts.   Check out the lens first and then join up.

I've also finally looked at Posterous which I joined when Correen (clouda9) first mentioned it in July 2010.   There are so many sites that it really is impossible to keep track of everything :(   I have heard great things about this site, however, across a number of different sites so I decided to start using it - Lou16's Posterous - I'm basically just linking new things to it across all of my different endeavors as a way to build backlinks.   It's not very exciting, but it does provide you an insight into what I'm up to (if you're interested) as I do like to keep this site to Squidoo and not talk (too much) about other places where I am earning money.

If you Zazzle as well as Squidoo you may be interested in another site of mine - I've started up a Zazzle blog which also includes links to some of my Zazzle lenses.   Again this is still new so I'm not sure how it will evolve, but if you'd like to check it out it's Lou165 on Zazzle.

So there you have it, not alot of Squidoo tips today, but I did want to touch base with everyone and let you know what I've been doing

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogging & Squidooing

Well it's the last days of April which means that it's the last days of the A-Z Blogging Challenge that I have been undertaking on two of my other blogs - All Eighties, All the Time & Unique and Funky Gifts.   I must say that the challenge has been fun and challenging (as a challenge is supposed to be by definition).   It has taught me something however - I can do it!

I have managed to post a minimum of 12 blog posts per week for a month.   In that month I've spent 2 weeks overseas with restricted access to a very slow internet connection, had to survive 9 days of school holidays and a 5 day long weekend with the whole family at home wanting my time.   If I can do that I know I can at least make 10 blog posts a week, every week :D

Why is blogging so important?   One word - backlinks!

Now there are a couple of different ways to blog and it's easy to get confused by them.   Many people blog for traffic hoping that people will click on adsense or purchase products listed, other people just blog for backlinks.   For Squidoo purposes you don't have to garner 100s of followers and thousands of hits every day because what you're after is backlinks - of course if you can achieve all of these things then that's even better.

A lot of people get discouraged when blogging because they don't get feedback and wonder if it's worth it.   One of my blogs has never received a comment, but it's given me a number of backlinks, while another blog has made sales, I think both of these blogs are successes because I established them for different reasons.

Niche blogs or general blogs is a question that a lot of people have and if you only have time to write one blog and you cover a number of different subjects on Squidoo as well as other sites you may belong to then stick to a general blog.   For each blog post focus on one thing and make sure that you write the post with seo in mind and then add the link to your lens/article/zazzle product etc.   This will ensure that you get a good backlink.

If you're after a blog that sales then you definitely need to go niche as you would with lenses, but to get backlinks for your Squidoo lenses (and whatever else you do online) then general is absolutely fine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Succeeding With Props

Large companies have long known the importance of 'props' to help their employees meet targets/company expectations and the biggest prop that seems to be used is Motivational Posters.   If you've worked in a bigger company then you're bound to have had posters on the wall encouraging you to reach for your goals.

My first awareness of motivational posters in the workplace came when I worked at what was at that stage a family business.   There were 3 employees at that time (the company did get bigger and the spin off company can be seen nationally) and the first motivational poster appeared complete with it's own catch-phrase.   The poster was one that said TEAM and I'm sure you all know what the acronym for that (and our work's new catch-phrase) is - Together Everyone Achieves More.

Years later and nearly every where I've worked has had some form of motivational poster up to 'encourage' us all to achieve.   Now if big multi-national companies, such as the bank I worked for a few years ago, are using posters to motivate employees then I'm sure they've seen research that backs the theory up.    Why do I mention this - you can use it to achieve success with Squidoo.

Let's face it when you're trying to get an income from home you can easily get side tracked, despondent and very de-motivated.   If you want to succeed then you need to stay on track.   Why not steal ideas from big corporations and apply them to your home.   Pop a motivational poster up near the computer with a power word that works for you whether it's Determination, Believe, Courage - you'll know which one will help you the most.

Now you may not need a motivational poster, it depends on what you're trying to achieve from Squidoo.   Years ago when I was first married I had a little picture of a house (just a generic house that was on a piece of junk mail) that I had cut out and stuck on the fridge.   My dream was to have my own house, I wanted to be reminded of that regularly so I popped it onto the fridge as it was one of the first places I looked when I got up.   When the opportunity came to job share a second job with my hubby (between our different working hours we could manage it, with our other commitments we couldn't have done it as individuals) I took it because I was still thinking of that house.    We saved the deposit by working 7 days and on days when I felt tired I would look at that picture and I knew that it was worth it.   Nine months later we're in our new home and it was worth it.

If your dream is to stay home so that you can be a stay at home parent then pop up a photo of your children. If you want to travel and your Squidoo earnings is needed to pay for airfares - go to the travel agent and get a picture of where you want to visit next and pop it up near the computer.

Incentives or props will help you to do the 'boring bits' of Squidooing so that you can earn money.

The most under-rated 'prop' is definitely a to do list.   On days when I have a to do list I always achieve a lot more than on days when I don't.   Writing down what you want to achieve the night before or first thing in the morning is a great idea (I find it helps me more if I write mine the night before, but whatever works best for you).   Then you need to stick to your list, now this is another place where I will (some days) get sidetracked so in order to stop that from happening write things like visiting a forum you like or checking emails, having a coffee etc on your list as rewards for completing certain items on your list.

What prop will you be using to help you succeed?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interactive Lenses

As long time readers will know I don't believe that chasing lensrank is the way to go if you want to make more money on Squidoo because sales don't know your lensrank.   However, as I mentioned at the start of the year I want to earn $30,000 online this year and with the tier payments increasing I have looked at how I can increase the number of lenses in tier 1.

Last year I had 5 lenses in the top tier all year and for a couple of months it went up to 6 when a couple of my seasonal lenses rose to the occasion (at two different times).   This year I have attempted to do very quick updates to each lens in my top two tiers every week ...........I have done this well for the most part, but there was a break when I was away.   This has kept my tier 2 lenses safe and increasing, but my tier one lenses would increase for a day or two and then drop just outside(!)

There was one of my lenses that has flirted with tier one on occasion, but seemed to settle into tier two and I wanted to change that - updating wouldn't work so what would?   The lens in question is How To Earn Money On Squidoo - it's a help lens that doesn't make any sales so in order to make me money I really wanted to get it into the top tier and keep it there.   I finally seem to have cracked it and it has stayed in the top tier for a few weeks now and will hopefully hold steady.

I was never going to get thousands of visits a week on a lens that was solely for the Squidoo community so I had to make the visits count and to do that I decided to add some interactivity on the lens - it worked.

I've added 3 polls to the lens - polls are easy for people to click on and 3 polls for the length of the lens didn't seem obsessive.   People are taking these polls and I think that's what is responsible for the extra push needed to get it into tier one and keep it there.

Do you have something to encourage people to interact on your lenses?   Polls, quizzes, even guestbook modules are great ideas.   On my Julia Child's Cookbooks lens - I have used several guestbooks to encourage people to leave their own reviews on the page.   All three of these ideas are great ones to add to your lenses.

Take a look and see if you can add something to keep your reader on your page for a little may find that your lensrank will improve as well :D

The other thing to think about is that the 'stickability' of a website (how long someone stays on your site) is said by many experts to increase your chances of making sales so even if your lensrank doesn't increase your sales might.   I have to say that my Julia Child's lens has made a lot of sales so that seems to back up what the 'experts' have stated.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The A - Z of Squidooing

The alphabet has been on my mind for the last couple of days, in fact it's been ever since I heard of an A-Z Blogging Challenge.   I've signed up two of my other blogs to it - Unique and Funky Gifts & All Eighties, All The Time.   It looks like  a lot of fun, but I couldn't think how I would keep this lens about Squidoo tips and still manage to write 26 blog posts - one for each letter of the alphabet.

I have, however, taken a break from updating lenses to produce Lou16's A-Z on Squidoo in an attempt to get my mind in shape!   On that note I thought I would devote this blog post to the A-Z of Squidooing (let's see if we can make it through the alphabet shall we?)

A is for Anecdote - adding your own anecdotes, experiences and stories to your lenses are a great way to make them stand out from the crowd.

B is for Blogging and Backlinks - we all know how important backlinks to our lenses are and one of the easiest ways to get a backlink is to blog about them and how did you like the combination of 2 bs for the price of one?

C is for Commitment - if you want to succeed at Squidoo you can't expect to become a millionaire overnight, you need to commit to creating at least 50 great lenses (in my opinion) and if you want to create an income you need to do the 'boring bits' too because as much fun as Squidooing is if you want an income you need to treat it as a job!

D is for Determination - sometimes you can follow all the advice and your lens still doesn't do well, what separates successful Squids from others often comes down to determination.   We've all had lenses that didn't do as we would have liked, but we've picked ourselves up and kept going.

E is for Excitement - Squidoo has lots of exciting moments to strive for whether it's receiving that first sale, getting a lens into the top tier, getting a lens into the top 100, receiving a purple star or getting a LOTD (I'm still waiting for this one myself).   The great thing about this excitement is that fellow lensmasters will also share it with you when you use up your bragging rights and there's not many online communities that do that :)

F is for Featured Lenses - this is one of my favorite modules and I think it's fantastic for interlinking your lenses or adding other peoples.   Could you imagine setting up a lensography without this module - it would take forever!

G is for Google - whether we love Google or hate Google the fact is that if we want to get a lot of traffic to our lens we need to get it ranked in Google and finding it on the front page is another chance to revisit the letter E again - Excitement!

H is for Hubpages - okay I know Squidoo is often seen as a competitor to hubpages, but a number of people actually participate on both sites and as much as I love Squidoo I do believe that you shouldn't keep all of your eggs in one basket.   Hubpages are a great alternative.

I is for Interlinking.   If you haven't read my Interlinking Your Lenses lens yet, then open it up in another tag and read it after you've finished this post.   I cannot stress how important interlinking is with helping your lenses to do better.

J is for Joker - no I'm not playing cards, I'm talking about having a laugh!   Some days (especially if you're busy updating lenses all day) Squidoo can become a bit of a chore and that's when you need to have a bit of a laugh to brighten up your day.   Squidoo is home to a lot of funny people - if you're a RocketMom then the Chatterbox group certainly knows how to lighten the mood, one of my favorite places to visit is a blog by a fellow lensmaster called Laugh Quotes - this is a great place to relieve any tension.

K is for - Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Carry On
Buy This

This poster just says it all.........let's face it in any avenue we venture up (including Squidoo) we can find ourselves struggling with a range of feelings that aren't very useful to us.

L is for Lensographies - these are fantastic for interlinking your lenses and I would be totally lost without my gazillions of lensographies.   If you don't have one yet then you need to read Why Should You Have A Lensography.   Now I have so many lensographies I need a lensography to keep them all in - don't believe me?   Then check this out Lensography of Lensographies, despite this there is another type of lensography that I came across recently......I don't even know if the lensmaster thinks of it as a lensography, but it's a great idea - Where in the World - this is actually a fun geography quiz, but if you look even more closely each quiz points you to a lens, it's a fantastic idea that's worth considering for your own lensographies.

M is for Making Money or just Money!   Sure Squidoo is fun, but the reason a lot of people are reading this blog is because they want to learn how to make money with it.   I believe that the best lens on making money on Squido is my one (but then I am biased) and I've recently updated it so here's the link again - How to Earn Money on Squidoo.

N is for Niche - as I've talked about again and again (or so it seems) the key to earning money on Squidoo is niches.

O is for Organization - not always my strong point, but the people who are successful are the ones who are organized and I've always found that if I have a to do list then I achieve so much more than if I don't.

P is for Professional - if you want to make Squidooing your income then you need to think of it as a career and don't let people dismiss you for anything less than a professional.   It's also important to present yourself in a good light online (just like you would if you worked in an office), so if someone asks for help in Squidu then help them politely - being treated nicely is something that gets remembered and I can still remember the people who helped me out in the beginning and I will often tweet their lenses or promote them when I can.

Q is for Quiz - the Squidoo Quiz lenses are a lot of fun, but if you want to make money out of them you'll need to add content as well - I used my Quiz lens as an opportunity to create backlinks to some of my hubs.

R is for Rinse and Repeat - basically once you've found a formula on Squidoo that works for you just keep doing it.

S is for Squidu - Squidoo's help desk and Squidoo's forum.   There is so much information there and so many lensmasters willing to help that it's well worth sifting through whether you want to add your 10 cents to the discussions is entirely up to you.

T is for Top 10s, if you are ever short of an idea for a lens try and think of a top 10 as they're always great ideas - top 10 coffee flavors, top 10 places to visit in your state, top 10 favorite movies the list just keeps growing.

U is for Unique - write unique content and use the word unique as well - in Kimberley's morning coffee (on Squidu) she mentioned a while ago that unique was a surprising keyword find, so there's another idea for a few lenses - unique wedding locations, unique holiday activities.............I hope you're taking notes :)

V is for Very Addictive, this is your warning (if it's not too late already) Squidoo can become extremely addictive and can end up ruling your life.

W is for Web Profile - don't just stick with Squidoo, find other forums to join or other sites and develop your own web profile - tweet, facebook, blog - whatever suits your personality, just create your web profile.....and then link it back to your lenses.

X is for the X Factor - some lenses just have this X factor and work, they're often lenses that you didn't expect to take off quite as well and whatever you do you can't replicate the results with similar lenses.   Don't stress, just enjoy the ride.

Y is for You - your lenses are all unique because they're written by you.   You are also the only one who can make Squidoo work for you which means that you're the one you need to pat on the back when you do a good job.

Z is for Zazzle - Zazzle is a great affiliate partner to use with Squidoo, just make sure that you use the text module to sell products on because Squidoo's Zazzle module doesn't pay you a referral.   Zazzle's referral rate is 15% which is not to be sneezed at.

Wow!   I can't believe I've managed to write and A - Z, I hope you've enjoyed it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Twitter Paper News

Swimming With Giant Squids is now a paper!   Welcome to Swimming with Giant Squids News!   If you are a subscriber to this blog and you are also on twitter be sure to contact me through my Squidoo profile or leave a comment in this blog with your twitter user name.   Why?   Well I have set Swimming with Giant Squids News up to pull on tweets from my subscribers (to this blog) who add the #squidoo to their tweets - I'd hate to miss you out because you weren't on the list.

I don't know if this will help your Squidoo as I'm afraid I have a very patchy past with Twitter.   Sometimes I'll tweet and then months will go by and I haven't signed in!   I recently got a couple of hits from a paper li, however which is why I thought I would set this up.   If you haven't heard of paper li it's basically an online newspaper that  pulls it's news from Twitter.   I don't know anymore than that, but if you're familiar please leave information in the comments for us all to share.

A proper post is in the works (.....well it will be) so don't feel short changed by this quick note :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Which Keyword Phrase Should I Use?

If you read my Let's Talk Niche post then you'll know that when I do keyword research I'm quite happy with low traffic numbers if I think it's a market where I can make sales, but how to determine which keyword phrase to use?

This is where it's important to check out your competition so you take the keywords/keyword phrases that you've isolated and you open up Google as well as a page rank checker tool - Google's PageRank Checker is totally free to use.

Use quotes around your keyword/s and search in Google to see how many sites are competing with you for that keyword, now if I'm looking at a niche keyword phrase that attracts 500 monthly searches and there are 5 million sites competing then I'm going to look at the next keyword phrase that will work whereas if there's only 500,000 competing I may go to the next step.

How much competition you feel you can handle really depends on how much value you feel you can bring to the equation and how strong your competition do you determine how strong your competition is?

Enter the next stage - once you've found how much competition you have you need to analyze how good the competition is and how easy it will be to outrank them.   I look at the top five sites on the front page and pop them into the page rank checker.   If they are under PR5 then you can beat them with good content, if only one of them is a PR5 or higher than I would check the rest of the top ten and I'd still consider it a fair chance if the others were all really low.

If you find two or more with high page ranks then I would look at your other keyword phrases to see if you can find one that will still give you search results with less stiff competition.

Once you've found some great keyword phrases with low competition and you've written some compelling and unique information that makes people whip out their credit cards and buy buy buy then you'll want to treat yourself to a nice steak which means you'll need a lovely set of steak knives.

But wait theres more...........actually there's not, but I though you deserved some light relief after the boring nuts and bolts of keyword research!

I did promise to give you the steps I take in deciding which keywords to use, but that was before the big Google shake-up.   I actually wrote the last couple of posts before I went on holiday so whether I'll have to tweak it further in light of the changes I don't know, but if I do you'll find out all about it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's Talk Niche

Why am I not making any sales?   How often do we hear this question, there are often several different answers, but one common one is that your lens is too broad in scope.   In my experience my biggest amount of sales have come from having very niche lenses.

How niche should your lenses be?   As niche as you can get!

For a Rocketmom's assignment last year I wrote a lens on The Best Purple Computer Mouse, now I look at this lens and I can see a lot of room for improvement in the introduction, but it makes sales - why?   It's about one thing.

I do have some other computer mouses at the bottom of the lens, but they're all purple so they still all count as purple computer mouses/mice (I still don't have an answer to that question!).   When the side bar Amazon modules were introduced I added other purple computer accessories because I didn't feel it would 'dilute' the lens too much.

Now I don't get a lot of traffic, but the traffic I get is very targeted, let's face it if you search for 'computer mouse' you may be after reviews, but if you're searching for 'purple computer mouse' you are usually looking to buy.  

This all means that the amount of traffic that converts to sales is a lot more targeted.

Talking niche is often the opposite of talking keyword research.   When you do keyword research you're often told to look for something that has at least 5,000 monthly searches with low competition etc.   When it comes to niche I will often look at keywords that only have 100 or so monthly visits if the competition is low that is.   Why?  Because if I can get just 10 visitors a week to a targeted lens that converts 4% of visitors then I consider that to be good use of my time.

I'll talk about assessing competition for keyword phrases in my next post and let you know what I do when researching.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Using Amazon Tracking IDs

As you know I am busy changing over some of my links from Amazon modules to my associate links as I do more I also find that there are some products which I'm promoting on both Squidoo and Hubpages so it's time to  introduce a new Amazon Tracking ID.

People have asked me in the past how do you know whether your sales have come from Squidoo or Hubpages and I've been able to make an educated guess because my lenses and hubs are all very targeted - the shopping sprees that have occurred leave me unsure as to which a/c they've come from - hence my next move - adding a new Amazon tracking ID.

I had been told it was easy to do and it really was, here's how you can do it -

When you visit your associates account page you need to click on Manage your tracking ids.   Once you've done this you'll see a list of all of your tracking ids that you have (this includes a-stores if you have them) along with a button that says Add tracking id - click this button and add what you'd like to use as your tracking id and click search.   If no one else has that tracking id then you're all good to go!
How easy was that?   Now I'm thinking that this would also be a great tool if you wanted to compare different niches within your Squidoo a/c - you can have up to 100 different tracking ids.

I always felt that the stats provided when a sale was made through Amazon or eBay was one of the advantages to using the Squidoo modules - just knowing exactly what lens made a sale is really helpful.   I have one product in particular that I have featured on two lenses - to me it really belongs on one of these lenses and on the other lens it made a good filler (because it's related), but as I got more information I would've been tempted to get rid of it.    Guess which lens sales the most!

In all honesty I won't be adding several different tracking ids to my different Squidoo lenses, but it certainly would have an advantage that is worth considering.

Well I must carry on with changing over my amazon modules and if you're in the process of doing the same let me give you another gentle reminder - do them slowly so as not to spook Google!   I am only changing one module per day on a lens that has a good ranking in Google and so far it's working really well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lens Stats Tell A Story

I'm sure we've all received a great pay this month as it relates to our December pay, traditionally the best pay of the year. Mine saw an increase of 150% on the previous year which is fantastic. In fact every month of 2010 saw great increases over the year before. I'm not saying this to brag, if you keep reading you'll see I have a point!

My January pay (due next month) does not look good though and although I'm expecting it to be up on the previous years, I don't think it will be such a big percentage February pay also hasn't looked as good. Now luckily Squidoo isn't my only online income source and one of these is going to buck the trend.

Looking at my pending payment (due next month) for January at Zazzle my pay will be slightly up on my December payment.

Why am I telling you all of this? So that we can analyse why these things are happening.

 At the beginning of 2010 I realized that I'd effectively missed the boat with Valentine's Day traffic and extra lenses on Squidoo (luckily Hubpages performed well for me) and I was dangerously close to missing out on St Patrick's Day as well. I sat down and made plans to be organized for Halloween and Christmas months in advance and I also factored in a few other occasions. At the same time I was also looking at expanding my income stream.

I had a few problems in real life and made several trips backwards and forwards between Australia and New Zealand, but I stayed on track until October.

October was when I was due to start on my preparations for New Years and Valentines Day - I ended up getting about 4 hours total internet time during this month and most of that was in 10 minute lots!

I believe that this was a major reason why the beginning of 2011 hasn't seen the increase (percentage wise) that I had seen throughout 2010. The key here however is to look at what did work.

Planning ahead of time - magazine editors know to do this and will plan at least 6 months in advance and that's what we need to think about with Squidoo if we want to keep growing our income.

What About Zazzle?

When I got home and was settling back into my usual routine (in November) Zazzle introduced iphone and ipad cases.   I produced  a few of them, but the big thing that I did was to produce lots of Squidoo lenses on them.   Initially they didn't sell very well, but I had read in a couple of places that iphone cases were seen as fashion accessories, I had seen teens buying several cool designs at market stalls.

I also read that the ipad was the most requested gift for 2010 and even commented on a Rocket Mom's forum that I thought the sales of the cases would go up after Christmas.   I didn't manage to make as many lenses on the ipad cases (unfortunately), but I'm sure that if anyone did they would also have made a few sales during January.

I know a lot of people personally who were given iphones for Christmas including two of my friends (mid 30s and early 50s), and two teenagers.   All four have brought themselves iphone cases during January and they're not alone.

Should you all be making lenses on iphone cases?   No!   What you need to do in the lead up to Christmas 2011 is to pay attention to what is heralded as the hottest gift of the season and instead of trying to sell it (and going up against hoards of other people) focus on the accessories for it and aim for the post Christmas market especially on products aimed at teens who have often received money for Christmas and have disposable income.   This way you'll (hopefully) have less competition and will also not see such a huge drop in income between Dec/Jan.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Plans To Increase My Earnings In 2011

Okay it's the middle of February now and schools have been back (down under) for a couple of weeks so it's time to turn up the notch and start thinking about how much I want to earn in 2011.   Ideally I'd like to bring home $30,000 - so how am I going to do it?

The first thing I looked at was Squidoo and I decided I had to change my lenses as far too many of them have amazon modules on them.    This would greatly affect my Squidoo income however and I'm not sure I want to see that go down - dilemma, dilemma.

I make 6.5% on Amazon under my associates a/c and if I didn't make so many sales through Squidoo I'm sure that would be up to 7 maybe even 7.5% (although that might be wishful thinking).   At the moment 94 of my lenses have pending dollars from Amazon so this is where I need to start - and I have.

I am changing over amazon modules to text modules slowly - why?   Because the lenses are ranked well in Google and I don't want to spook Google by changing them too much.   This is the reason why I hadn't changed them over before - well one of the reasons, the other is my natural laziness!

I am spending 30 minutes per day changing over modules in lenses, but only one module at a time.   I've started with the lenses that have the most sales from Amazon and I'm working my way down.

What about my Squidoo income?   I am worried because most of my income from Squidoo comes from sales as opposed to tier payments and psychologically I know I'll feel upset if my income starts to go down (even though overall it'll be going up).   To counteract this I am taking a few steps.

  • Updating
  • Legofun
  • Updating
Wait you've got updating down twice!   That's because I'm using a two pronged approach to my updating so before we go into that I'll get the Legofun out of the way!

I am going to be writing 2 legofun lenses per week - those of you who are regular followers will know that this is my niche a/c.   I'm also running a Lego on Squidoo blog and I'm hoping that this a/c will do well as it's a niche a/c.

Updating 1

The first type of updating I am doing is a 30 minute per day routine.   It is often said that keeping lenses fresh will help with ranking...........I must admit I didn't pay a lot of attention to that as I have had lenses in the top tier that hadn't been touched for months.   However, I've looked around at some of the top lenses in certain areas where I 'know' the lensmaster makes a lot of their Squidoo payments through lensrank and they do keep their lenses pretty well updated.   

Any lens in the top two tiers will be updated at least once a week and I will be working my way down the list so how many in tier 3 get updated will depend on how quickly I work my way through them!   This is quick updates and nothing major.

Updating 2

I haven't worked out how much time I can allocate to this, but I need to spend so much time each week doing major updates on some of my lenses.   My older lenses in particular are in dire need of a change.   I will be starting by looking at keywords, then the serp tool etc.   I need to update amazon modules as well and make lenses click friendly.

Using these techniques as well as continuing to increase my lenses should keep my Squidoo earnings steady for the year (fingers crossed).

Where else am I going to get my income from?   Amazon, as I've already mentioned, Zazzle, Google and Shareasale are the areas that I am concentrating my efforts on.

My question to you today is - how much do you want to earn in 2011 and have you planned how you are going to achieve it?

Before you go - would you like to buy a set of steak knives?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More of Legofun!

Well I promised that I was going to keep you all up to date on my niche a/c and I've been quite busy with it so here's the promised update. If you're new to this blog then you can catch up on Legofun here, essentially it's a second niche account that I started with a view to a. making money and b. showing you exactly how.

The most exciting thing is that I got my second sale, now the grand total is still less that $1, but I think it does show that to make sales in the first couple of months with Squidoo you do need to have tightly focused niche accounts.

So what have I been up to? I am trying to remember to take notes as I go along so that I can share everything with you that way you can apply the same techniques to your own lenses so here goes! -

I identified a couple of other keyword phrases concerning my Lego City Police Sets lens and one of them is lego city police station 7237. I added the 7237 to the Lego City Police Station headings on my lens.

I’ve also written an article for Xomba on the Lego City Police Station that links back to the Lego City Police Sets lens. I focused on the other pieces included in the set besides the actual police station so that I could make sure it was different to the lens and I checked it in the Google SERPS tool first.

I don’t write many articles for Xomba as I usually just do bookmarks, but they don’t require a long article, so I thought it was worth trying it. This way I might still be able to bookmark the lens at a later date for a different keyword phrase.

I’ve had a lot of success with getting my Xomba bookmarks listing well in Google (without even using the serps tool to double check myself) so here’s hoping the article does well.

The following day I was at number 4 on Google so we’re moving in the right direction.

Since then I have updated the lens – I noticed that I’d only added two lenses to the discovery module so I added another one. I have also turned off the chitika ads and added an affiliate banner at the bottom of the page in lieu of the chitika ad.

I have also put a few links out for my Lego Hearts lens (this is the lens that my second sale was from), I haven’t kept a track of them, but I think they’ve mainly been on Squidu. I have also written a top on Best Reviewer about Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts and a blog post on my gift blog about Top 5 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts which both included a link to my Lego Hearts lens.

I am currently holding the number 5 spot on Google for this lens and I’m getting between 70-80 visits a week as we lead up to Valentine’s Day.

I have done a few more things on my Legofun account including –

  • Adding my Lego Christmas ornaments to my unique Christmas tree ornaments in my main account.
  • I published Legofun’s Giant Squid Challenge as the about me lens for week 1 of Rocket Moms.
  • Started (and published) the lensography for this Rocketmom’s session – Legofun Joins Rocketmoms.
  • I made a lens on Lego Ultimate Building Set and also made a blog post on yousaytoo about this set.
  • Week 4 challenge I wrote a lens about the Lego City Camper which I was able to link straight to both the Rocketmoms Lensography as well as the Lego City one.
  • Next I published the lens on Lego City Hospital which I linked to both my Giant Squid Challenge lens and my Lego City lensography.
Over the weekend I decided to start another blog on yousaytoo which is called The Latest Lego Fun on Squidoo – this is a very short blog which I plan to update everyday and basically I’m looking at the Squidoo categories for all of the latest lenses published in the Lego sub category and blogging about them.

To promote this blog and to establish myself as a Squidoo Lego ‘expert’ I’ve also started a lens on The Best Lego which features other Lego Lensmasters who seem to be dominating in the category.

If I’ve missed out any other steps that I’ve taken then I’m sorry, but I think I’ve let you see everything that I’ve been doing on this niche a/c. Reading all of this I feel quite tired LOL!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sales Don't Know If People Like You!

An extra post for you this week, no tips though just an observation :)

I was looking at my stats today and I have 100 likes on my top lens - woo hoo! This got me thinking that it was probably my second most 'liked' lens and it was - the most amount of likes I have is for my How to Earn on Squidoo lens which is sitting at 193 likes. I know there are lenses with thousands of likes, but they're not mine :(

Then I thought well I wonder how many of my lenses have no likes at all - judging by how far I had to scroll down about a third. Now I could start to get depressed, thinking that nobody likes me, but instead I thought well likes are like lensranks - your sales don't know if anyone likes your lenses.

I started looking at my lenses with no likes to see how many of them had sales on them -

25 lenses with no likes had sales and the sales came to $35.13.

Well I can put away the tissues because I know not everyone can visit all of my lenses and as long as people who are looking to buy find them then I'm a happy camper!

How many lenses do you have that need a little love? I must admit when I look at mine they are ones that slipped through the cracks of getting promoted and I'll start spiffing them up and posting them in places to get them noticed and hopefully they'll achieve a few likes along the way!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Backlinks - How Important Are They?

Do you need to get backlinks?   Well no, not really BUT if you want to get found you'll need them!

When I first started Squidooing my backlinking strategy was very hit and miss.   I would hear about a site and my most recent lenses would be submitted and then I'd forget about it!   Despite this 'I can't really call it a tactic' some of my lenses have done well.

Yesterday I looked at my top lenses and they had lots of backlinks, I looked at my bottom lenses - guess what's missing?

Now luck or good SEO has helped me pick up what I think are the best backlinks - organic ones.   It's getting organic backlinks that make people think as long as their SEO and content is good people will automatically link to them and so they don't NEED to add backlinks themselves.   I have certainly found that this can work, but how much better would the lens have performed with more backlinks?   After all people have got to find your lens before they can link to it.

Some sites are better than others and you can check out your existing backlinks and see what ones are showing up to determine the best sites to submit your lenses too.   If you remember last year's HIMYM tee experiment Xomba and She Told Me proved that they were must have backlinks (although she told me doesn't appear to be doing as well these days).

There are so many sites available that it's hard to know where to start.   Some sites are what is called Do Follow and some are No Follow.   A lot of people will tell you that you need to only use Do Follow backlinks, but in all honesty I think the more links to your site from out there in Cyberspace the better regardless of their follow attributes.


One thing to keep in mind - don't list too many sites in one go because Google will get spooked and may penalise your lens.   The best thing to do would be to make yourself a worksheet that you follow for ever lens ie

Day 1 = submit to Xomba, She Told Me, Squidu
Day 2 = Submit to Isle of Squid, Squidom, Best Reviewer

Submitting Your Backlinks

With some sites that you submit your links to a description is required.   Now you could copy and paste the first few sentances of your lens, but I have found it's better to write an original synopsis using the same keywords that are in your lens - check what you've written in the Google SERP tool before submitting.

Articles for Backlinks

Articles can also create backlinks to your lens.   For the best results take a topic like How to Cure Eczema as your lens.   Next you can write articles such as Do You Have Eczema? or Signs and Symptoms of Eczema and link these articles to your lens on How to Cure Eczema.   Remember to submit your articles to the same sites as your lens (where applicable) ie Xomba, She Told Me etc.

Now right another article or a hub if you're on Hubpages  on The Top 5 Natural Remedies for Eczema and link back to your lens for more information.

Checking Your Backlinks

I usually use Squidutils to check my backlinks, but one thing you should be aware of is that it doesn't mention the links within Squidoo, but Google does rate these.   This is why it's important to interlink your lenses AND make the most of the discovery module.

I've been pretty bad at checking my backlinks lately, but I am going to get more organized again now especially with my new (and so much faster) computer!   What I used to do was have a look at what sites are linking back to me and if I liked them and I thought they looked good (do not do this with all of the sites or it will lose it's effectiveness) I would tweet them.   Giving their site a push will (hopefully) help your lens.

Don't forget to check out the Squidoo Directories that we looked at last year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Legofun - Working On A Niche Account

Today we're having a break from doing lens dissertions and we're looking at my second account which is a niche account focusing on Lego.   I'm trying to take note of everything I do so that you can follow along from the beginning of a new account to what I hope will become a very successful account - we live in hope anyways!

I was so excited when I logged in yesterday because I got my first sale on my Legofun account!   Now my main account still has three figures showing on the dash and yet I’m doing a happy dance over a mere 29 cents, but I know that you’ll understand.   Since starting this second account I haven’t really had a chance to do much in the way of marketing and promoting so I wasn’t expecting to get a sale so soon.

The sale was on my Lego City Police Sets lens, this was my second lens ever created and was ‘born’ on 20th December 2010.   Considering how little I have done with this lens I think that it’s pretty cool to have had a sale in less than a month.   (See below for what sold.)

Now, however it is time to start promoting this account and as I was going to start at the top that will be the Lego City Police Sets lens, so what am I going to do?

First I’m going to take a look at the lens and see if it needs anything changed and to refresh my mind as to the lens itself.   Next I have to look at Google and I’m number 8 for Lego City police sets, the ones above are all big players like Lego’s own shop, Amazon, K Mart etc.   Being on the front page does explain why I’m getting regular traffic though.  

According to the Google keyword tool I am well optimized for legos city police which gets 22,200 monthly views, I’ve had 213 visits since I published (just under a month ago) – obviously I need to get to the number 1 spot!

First up I lensrolled my Lego City Police Sets to all of my other Lego lenses.

Next I submitted the lens to –,, isle of squid, lensmasters.slinkset, squidpoint, squidirectory.

With each of these submissions I entered the ‘description’ into the Google SERPs tool that we’ve discussed previously to make sure that I had some keywords in them.   That’s all I had time for yesterday, but that alone has seen an increase in Google this morning as I find myself at #5.  

I think the fact that I wasn’t able to jump on and add all of my backlinks straight away might be working in my favor.    Google has some pretty complicated algorithms and gets suspicious if you try and add backlinks too quickly, maybe leaving the backlinking for a few weeks before starting was a good idea??

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Jackets - Another Lens Dissection!

From Chocolate to winter jackets we’re looking at more lens critiques today and this one comes from a long time reader of our blog and a fellow Australian lensmaster ElleDeeEsse.   Her lens is Best Winter Jacket for Men.

ElleDeeEsse has also told me that she has had some sales from the lens and if you read it you won’t be surprised to hear this, she also sent me the top keywords that had sent her traffic from Google which is always a great place to start looking at your own lenses when trying to improve.

The top keywords that were finding traffic were –

best winter jackets
best winter jackets for men
heavy jackets for men
best jackets for men

When you first look at this lens straight off the bat you see what looks like a really warm and comfy jacket and you’re also drawn by highlighted text in the intro.   You can buy that jacket without scrolling down at all!   Having 2-3 links in the introduction has been found to be very good and I love the way that ElleDeeEsse has done this, I would say it’s part of the reason she’s had some sales.

Now let’s see what the introduction looks like in Google –

Best Winter Jackets For Men

eview by Darren Slatten - Jan 1, 2010 - Price range: $999.99
 ... Winter is coming for those in Northern parts and as the weather gets colder now is the time to start thinking about whether to struggle on for another ... - Cached - Similar

Unfortunately as you can see there are no keywords showing in this text, so if you’re searching for a winter jacket and you saw this result along with a result that actually said winter jacket in the first sentence you’d click on the one that says winter jacket wouldn’t you?  

Before we look at the introduction more though we need to work on what keywords we are going to use.   First up let’s look at the top two keyword phrases that showed up in ElleDeeEsse’s stats.

best winter jackets
best winter jackets for men

Best winter jackets gets a monthly global search of 1,900 which isn’t bad and ElleDeeEsse comes in at number 8 which means she’s on the front page of Google.    5 of the results above her have the words best winter jackets showing in their SERP, only one as a complete phrase.    This could be good for us.

Best winter jackets for men gets 390 monthly searches and ElleDeeEsse is at number 6 for this result.   The search doesn’t show anyone above ElleDeeEsse using this exact phrase in their SERP, the closest is Best Men’s Winter Jackets which is only used by one person above her.  

Okay so that was one step to looking at keywords, but what does Google keyword tool think the lens is about?

The biggest keywords that it recognizes are coats, men’s coats and coats for men, but we’re going to ignore these as they are too broad (coats) or with too much competition (and hopefully if we optimize for a different phrase we may find that we naturally start ranking for these too).

Mens winter jackets – 6,600
Mens winter coats – 5,400
Winter coats for men – 9,900
Winter coat for men – 2,400

It seems to identify more with the term coat than it does jacket, do we want to change the keyword?   Personally I don’t think so because when you search for best winter coats for men or winter coats for men you get double the amount of competition as when you search for jackets.

Okay so I think we’ll stick with the two keywords that we already know have brought ElleDeeEsse traffic and combined these keywords account for 2,290 monthly searches.   At the moment ElleDeeEsse gets 123 per week.  By targeting on these we should also find ourselves ranking for mens winter jackets which gets an additional 6,600 monthly searches.

Although we’re only targeting for the two main keyword phrase you will usually find that your style of writing, products on the page, images etc means that you will usually hit other keywords as well.

Let’s look at the introduction – the title contains the words winter jacket and for men even though they’re not together, but the title doesn’t actually show in the search it shows afterwards.   In this case I would leave the title because it actually doesn’t scream keyword stuffing it reads as though you were being given a lovely, warm idea.

We do need to work on the introduction however, I don’t like to see lenses targeted too much for seasonal things (except international holidays) because you want to be selling the whole year around.   It is always winter somewhere and the internet is global.   I have one particular lens that makes sales every week because I resisted the initial urge to put it into a pigeonhole for something that was primarily targeted at a US market, despite the fact that this is my biggest market.   I wrote it so that it was relevant all year around and I think this is key as I’ve spoken to an online friend who wrote something very similar and they make a lot of sales, but primarily just for three months of the year.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again The Internet is Global!

Okay rant over and back to the lens in question!  

Here's an idea on how to change your introduction -
As winter fast approaches it means that it’s time to check out the best winter jackets for men and I have found a great collection of some of the best winter jackets online.   It’s always hard to know when to struggle on for another year with that old favourite and oh so comfortable jacket or take the plunge and ditch it for a new one.

If you’re in any doubt at all then check out this collection of the best winter jackets for men that I have compiled, you may find that just one look is all you need!   Look at the picture opposite for example – this fabulous…….continue on with existing intro.

This is what it looks like –

Best Winter Jackets For Men

eview by Darren Slatten - Jan 1, 2010 - Price range: $999.99
 ... As winter fast approaches it means that it’s time to check out the best winter jackets for men and I have found a great collection of some of the best ... - Cached - Similar

Now only one of the keywords show up in the serps, but if you remember only one of her main competitors has the phrase as a whole in their serp and I’ve tried to emulate ElleDeeEsse’s chatty and friendly tone,    It also doesn’t look like it’s stuffed which, in my opinion, her main competitor does look like.   This is obviously subjective and you have to go with something that you’re happy about.

Now moving on down past the introduction ElleDeeEsse has Great Savings and Free Shipping as a title, this is also repeated on the link below which stands out enough so I wouldn’t waste a heading with these words.   Instead I would change it to the type of jacket (which is in the subheading and add the keywords to the subheading for example –

Carhartt Men's Extremes Arctic Quilt Active Jacket
One of the Best Winter Jackets for Men

I would add this subheading to all of the headings that name a particular jacket.

I would change the heading on the selection of Carhartt jackets to –

Selection of the Best Carhartt Winter Jackets for Men
This will just add the keywords best winter jackets for men in their quite naturally.

Again I would change the heading of – Most of the Excellent Marmot Thermal Jackets to Most of the Excellent Marmot Thermal Jackets for Men.  

Personally I would get rid of the ad for heated shoe insole as it dilutes this lens’ niche, if you really wanted to add it I would pop it on the bottom of the page instead of running the Chitika ads.

You’re on the right idea with asking a question in the guestbook, but I would rephrase it to get your keywords in.   Try - Did You Find the Right Winter Jacket for Men From This Selection?
Or - Did You Find the Right Winter Jacket for Your Man From My Collection?

Having the sidebar widgets to sell something that compliments your main lens is a great idea, but I would also incorporate a little keyword juice in here as well.    For example on the first Amazon widget use the title for something like – Even the Best Men’s Winter Jacket Needs Some Headwear! – then add your existing titles as sub-titles for the individual modules.

Hope all of this helps and not just ElleDeeEsse, I’m hoping that as we look at people’s lenses we can look at how the advice can be applied to our own.