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