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.