Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Cope With the Latest Squidoo Changes

Squidoo caught us all unawares with their 7th birthday surprise last weekend when they rolled out their new responsive scripts. While I think this will be great in the long run, the timing was really off which is why so many people were in an uproar over it.

I must admit when I first looked at a couple of my lenses I just wanted to cry and not because of excess CSS by the way - one of the initial issues I had was a link list being really wonky and that was all on Squidoo as I had done nothing to it.

I changed image credits on 3 lenses and decided to sleep on it. I like to align the credit under the image and when they changed the images from one side to another these credits were now in the middle of my text! The next day I looked and I'm so glad I only touched 3 because the images had been moved back to where they were - in the words of Homer DOH!

 I waited until Monday (Aussie time) before doing anything more on my accounts and I'm glad I did as a number of the kinks worked themselves out and my lenses didn't look as bad as I was expecting.

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel by telling you how you can fix up any issues you have with your lenses as the wonderful Greekgeek has already come to the rescue with her very own cheat sheet. If you don't subscribe to her blog then I've got the link for you right here -

As far as December's early pay went it certainly took the sting out of the weekend's fracas and was my third highest ever and my affiliate payments are also reaching new levels so I'm one happy camper heading into Christmas.

I hope you are making lots of sales and one important tip is to keep checking your links to make sure the products are still available.   I have one lens that I'm checking every few days and things are still running out on me!!

Another Christmas tip for me is not to forget to start thinking about the New Year so that you can try and keep your earning momentum going and not experience too big a drop in earnings after the Christmas sales clear so that's things like Valentine's Day, Easter, St Patrick's Day and other winter related lenses ie What's the Best Snow Blower or Cool Looking Boots That DO Keep Your Feet Warm etc.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Zazzle & Squidoo - A Match Made in Heaven

Are you using Zazzle products on your Squidoo lens?   If not you're missing out on an opportunity to make some extra money and I think we'd all like some of that :D

There are lots of different places that we can promote on our lenses to get extra money and at different times of the year different affiliates really seem to stand out to me, however Zazzle is great for consistent referrals which is why I think it's a great program for everyone to use.

Head on over and join Zazzle now and then visit this lens to learn How to Make Money on Zazzle Through Referrals.   I've put as much information as I could think of on this lens and I think you'll find it very valuable.

Now I'll admit some of my Zazzle income is from sales as I have a number of Zazzle stores, but the referral income used to be my main source of Zazzle income and is still going up so even if you have no artistic bone in your body Zazzle is worth joining.

Another cool thing about Zazzle is that they have square shaped stickers and square shaped posters which you can use for your introduction image as long as you have a clickable link underneath the image.   I use this code on my lens - 

<p style="width: 250px; float: left; clear: left;"><b> HERE PLACE THE A HREF LINK TO ZAZZLE </b></p>

This lines the text up underneath the image if you place it between your first and second paragraphs in the introduction text.

I've used some square Zazzle images on a few of my lenses to see how they go and although none of them have made the front page of Squidoo :( they have all shown sales of the items pictured so I'm really happy about that.

Now a quick note to apologize for not posting very regularly any more - personally a lot of different things have been happening in my life and Squidoo-wise ....... well I have felt a little disconnected from HQ for a while. 

Initially I couldn't log in to the official forum since they shut down Squidu and since the log in issue has been fixed I've looked in on occasion and even added a few comments, but it just doesn't feel like a good fit for me right now.   If you need advice from some long term lensmasters who will treat you with respect you might be interested in an alternative forum that I visit every day - 

I'm not suggesting that you choose one forum over the other I'm just showing you an alternative so that you can see which is the best fit for you.   The best forum I ever found for Squidoo (Rocketmoms) no longer exists, but it just felt like home for the time it was around and I found I learned a lot from it which is why I think it's important for everyone to find the forum that feels right to them - no one can tell you which is best because we all learn differently.

I will try and start posting more regularly again as we head towards 2013 as long as the world doesn't really end on Dec 21st that is!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Farewell Zazzle Module & Lou's Purple Star Lensography

RIP Zazzle module - I must say that I'm quite happy that this module is gone as too many people were unaware that they didn't make any money with it.   It is a much better idea to use a text module for Zazzle products that way you can also earn a referral.

Think about this - someone likes the look of one of your products enough to click through to Zazzle, but once there decides to have a look around as it's not quite what they were after and what do you know they find the perfect item and purchase it from a different Zazzle store.

If they had clicked through the Zazzle module you wouldn't have made anything, however if they clicked through one of your links (that has your referral code in it) you would've just made yourself 15% commission - awesome!

While on the subject of farewells I've decided that it's time to say goodbye to my Purple Star Lensography - at one stage everyone seemed to have a purple star lensography (if they'd received a few of these awards), but I don't think that mine has any real value any more so I've decided to delete it.

Having decided to delete this lensography I thought I would just showcase my purple stars here kind of like their farewell tour!

I've been lucky enough to 8 purple stars and 4 of them were assignments from when I belonged to the now defunct RocketMoms.   Those four were -

Celebrity Ebayers - a funny lens written to showcase the caption module.
Pac Man Baking - I think the name says it all, I had been thinking about writing a lens like this for a little while and when we got given an assignment to write a decade's lens I knew it was time to make it!
Asian Inspired Cocktails - this was an assignment to write a beverage lens and the rest is purple star history!
The Devils Marbles - this is a lens about a place in Australia and surprisingly it wasn't written for a travel assignment!   We all had to submit an introduction to get everyone's juices flowing before writing the rest of the lens - lots of fun.

My other four purple star awards were for these lenses -

How to Earn Money on Squidoo - a how to lens that I think is pretty good and the purple star givers obviously agree!
Mocktails - a beverage lens and one of my earliest ones.
Barney Stinson for President - this was a funny lens that I wrote mainly to link to my HIMYM T-Shirt lens.
Lady Gaga Costumes - this lens says it all and was ranked number one on Google for over 2 years - now that scroogle is no longer around I'm not sure where it's ranking, but it did drop to number 2 just before scroogle shut down.

Thank you for letting me farewell my purple star lensography, I'll be back with some tips next week :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

RSS Feeds to Earn Extra Money

Are you using your RSS feeds to earn extra money on Squidoo?   I'll put my hand up to say no, I hadn't thought about it, but a recent comment on Squidu made me bang my head on the desk and think - why aren't I doing this!

Basically if you're an Amazon affiliate you can use their affiliate feeds in the Squidoo RSS modules - I think this would be ideal for the sidebar which means I have a lot of work to do next week.

There appears to be a couple of ways of getting this feed and the easiest way (in my opinion anyways) is to get some tag-based feeds which is done like this -


Now to translate this feed you need to understand the different parts of the url which are these -

tag - this is your affiliate code which should end in 20
books - this is the tag you want to use - it could be blu-ray, shoes, anything that is relevant to your lens.
the part in green - this relates to how you want to sort the results ie new is as it suggests products tagged with (in my example) books for the very first time.   Popular is the most popular products with that tag.

Another way of sorting out an RSS feed is by using the bestseller feeds and this looks pretty easy as well, but instead of typing it all in here I'm going to give you a link to Squidoography as they have got their url bar captures to show you exactly where to find the numbers you'll need.

This is definitely going on my to do list for next week as I think (especially in the lead up to the holiday season) this could be an absolute windfall in sales.   

If you're already doing this let me know how you've found it and if not I hope you'll join me to try and maximize our Squidoo returns.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get Traffic With Images

As I'm undertaking a lot of updating in recent weeks I'm coming across a lot of my older lenses that aren't primed for Google image search - are yours?

When I first started writing I assumed that Google saw images the same way as we do, but they don't.   Search engines see what are called alt-tags, alt-tags are basically words that describe the image and are another way to get keywords onto your lens.

There are two ways in which you can add alt-tags on Squidoo and they depend on how you upload your photographs.

The first way is when you upload your image from your computer into a Text Module, Text Module with Big Picture or a Polaroid Module - when you're uploading it the box will look like this -

The first box is where you choose your file from the computer to upload, the second box is called Label this photo and the third box is the option to link the file to a url.   The label this photo is where you add your alt text.

This alt-text should include some keywords in it, but if my image uploads in a big enough version to read it (I haven't done a screen print on blogger since the changes) then you'll see that I didn't use the words Lady Gaga Tattoos on this photo despite that fact that it's on my Lady Gaga Tattoo lens and there's a reason for this.   You need to vary the keywords used on your images the same as you do in your text or Google will think you're keyword stuffing.

I did a lens over a year ago now and had just been reminded about the importance of alt-tags so I went through and updated all of the products with the same title - my main keywords.   It did not work and despite the fact that lots of people were searching for these exact keywords and I actually promoted the lens a bit it was getting nowhere.   I recently reviewed the lens wondering what to do and I noticed the alt-tags and banged my head on the desk - what was I thinking???   Needless to say I have altered them know so that it doesn't look like such a spammy page in Google's eyes - to read it you actually don't see a lot of keywords, because you see the images as images, but to Google it would've reeked of spam (I should have known better).

The second way of adding alt-tags is when you're using images via HTML either because you're hosting them elsewhere or because you're using products with an affiliate link like Zazzle or Shareasale.   When using affiliate links they will sometimes contain alt-tags already, but they may not be the tags you want to use so it's easy to change them.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="gothic count costume" width="190" /></a>

The alt-tag is showed in red from an affiliate code I got from Shareasale - the first part of the code is the linking part shown inside the <a> tags and then you have the part which shows the image - immediately after the image url (which is always inside "") you simply put the alt tags like above.

Now I actually altered the words inside of the alt tag in this code as I was doing a blog post on Gothic Costumes and wanted to use the words Gothic and Costume in there for more keyword juice.   I notice especially with Zazzle that the alt tags aren't always the best for your particular lens so feel free to change them to something that fits better.

Changing alt-tags - now it is easy to change your alt-tags at anytime, simply alter the HTML if that's how you've uploaded the image or go in to edit the module and change the Label this Photo box.   Now when you change the label you must remember to hit upload again or the change will not happen.   You will get an error message, but just ignore this (it seems to happen whenever you don't change the image itself, but just change the alt tag or the url) it will still update.

Now I have a feeling that you're not going to be able to view the screen print I uploaded very well, so I'm going to tell you what it says for the alt tag - born this way tattoo.   Now why did I use this?   When I first uploaded the image a lot of people were searching for images of her born this way tattoo and Google was directing some of the traffic to me because I talked about it although I didn't have an image I could use initially (lots of illegal ones doing the rounds mind you, but that's a whole new blog post!) - because most people were circulating an identical image that actually wasn't a very good one I wanted to dominate the traffic with this one.    This is a valuable lesson - using your own stats and add keywords from them (if applicable) onto your lens OR make another lens on that topic which you can link to from your existing lens (if that's more appropriate).

It really is amazing how much traffic images can bring to your lenses so it's well worth checking out if you've optimized (but not over-optimized!) your images when you're updating your lenses.   Remember also that sometimes you'll need to change your alt-tags depending on changes in what people are searching for at that time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Lensographies Still Valuable?

With all the Google changes during the last couple of years are lensographies still relevant?   I believe they are, however we need to be aware that the type of lensography you have will make a huge difference.   The mere list of lenses style of lensography really isn't effective any more, however lensographies with content are invaluable.

I like the fact that I can keep all of my 'like lenses' in one place for organizational purposes, but lensographies do more than that.   How many of you have lenses that have dropped into WIP?   

If you've answered yes then did you know a lensography can help that lens?   When a lens falls into WIP it means that Squidoo no longer features it on the Related Lenses feature, or on tag pages.   With a loss of internal links it's important that it still has some in Google's eyes which is where interlinking your work helps.   There are lots of ways of letting Google know that your page is still there and one of the easiest ways is by setting up a lensography which features the lens.

I have a few lenses that live part of their life way down in the ranks and with the increasing number of lenses on Squidoo a number of them have fallen into WIP over the past year.   These are lenses that are very specific to different seasons and although they are barely visited at some parts of the year the sales they make at other parts of the year make them valuable pieces of online real estate.    This means I link to them from various places like other sites such as Wizzley or Hubpages, on blogs and with a lensography.

I've actually been amazed at how well some of my lensographies have ranked in the past as well.

With this in mind I realized that although I have a Christmas ornament lensography (which ranks really well in the lead up to the holidays), I didn't have a more general Christmas page and as I'd just made a few more Christmas lenses I decided I should start up a new one called - The Christmas Page.

This page is far from perfect yet, I didn't do any keyword research, I basically wrote a page where I could encompass my Christmas lenses.   What I have done is added some content and I also decided to keep it in the Happy Snowman magazine to see if that gives me any traffic.   I will be going in and customizing my bio on the lens and will also be examining my traffic and adjusting the content depending on what keywords show up in my stats (if any).

When I first published this lensography two of my lenses featured were in WIP, they're still not in a paying tier, but they are featured and are getting traffic.

As I mentioned on a previous post you should be working on Halloween and Christmas lenses at the moment and one of the things I worked on this week was updating my Costume lensography which had just been a list of my costume lenses.   I've added extra content including a few costumes on this page and customized my bio as well.   I'll continue to add content to it, but what's interesting is that it's now comfortably in tier 3 which I was not expecting.

Shameless Plug

If you're looking for some products to promote on your Christmas lenses check out these throw pillows and cake picks from my Christmas Zazzle Store -

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Squidoo and Zazzle

The tax year in Australia (where I live) runs from July 1st to June 30th, now you might wonder why I'm telling you this.   The answer is because I'm busy preparing my tax return and I've discovered that Zazzle was my third highest income earner for the year which is great - what does Zazzle have to do with Squidoo?   One word - referrals.

At the beginning of the year I re-assessed my income streams and I realized that Zazzle was becoming a bigger part of my income and yet when I looked at where I was making my Zazzle income it was quite an eye-opener - 15% royalties, 85% referrals.

My biggest method of getting referral earnings is through Squidoo - for some reason Squidoo and Zazzle combined just work.   There's a lot of people complaining about lack of referrals through Squidoo both on the Squidu forum and on the Zazzle forum, but I have to say that my income shows the two still work well together.

Now my last post was about taking advantage of the Flickr module demise and increasing clickouts on your lenses and a recent post by Greekgeek on her blog has given some more really interesting food for thought that concerns Zazzle and Squidoo.   Ellen's blog is a really good one to subscribe to by the way, anyway she says that on one of her lenses she includes posters -
....whose spoof punchlines are a little too small to read, so visitors tend to click on them to view the posters on Zazzle. 
Now she goes on to say that she doesn't sell many, but this is definitely something to think about when looking at increasing the click through rate.

I mentioned a lens in my last post that was getting a lot of traffic, but only had a 1% click through rate well that lens was my 10 Delicious Blue Curacao Cocktails and I increased the clickout rate to 3% after adding the recipes on Google Docs and then linking to the document as a printable version.   The traffic has also increased (as it does in the lead up to and throughout summer) and this lens is now firmly in tier 2 and even seems to be knocking on the tier 1 door.    It has never been this close to tier one in it's life!

What did I do?   I added some Zazzle products to the lens only a couple of days ago.   There's a Zazzler called the Martini Diva who makes cocktail recipe cards so I found 6 recipe cards that included blue curacao and popped them into a text module adjusting the size so that if people want to actually see the recipe they will have to click on the product as well!

Another great thing about joining Zazzle and adding the products to your lenses is that there are a number of licensed products that Zazzle make including Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter.   The referral rate is 15% so selling some of their posters, mugs, iphone cases etc can really add up.

If you're working on your Christmas lenses then why not add a few Zazzle products to them like these -

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Take Advantage of the Flickr Module's Demise

As you're probably all well aware Squidoo's Flickr module has bit the dust.   Now if you have been using a lot of Flickr modules on your lenses then I'm sure you've been following some of the suggestions on Squidu about the changes and ideas for dealing with it.

I have only had the module on three of my lenses, although earlier this year I had looked at putting it on a lot more of them.   Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be the images that came up in the Flickr module just weren't right for the lenses I wanted to use them on.   I was after clickouts and the Flickr module was great for that.

What do I mean by taking advantage of Flickr's demise?   Well there are a lot of people with well ranked lenses who suddenly find themselves possibly losing alot of clickouts which means there's opportunity for you to gain some lensranking juice.

Let me tell you a story which I'm sure is familiar to a few of you, I'll call it The Tale of Two Lenses.   I have a couple of lenses that don't make sales (that's not their intent), one of them got 282 visits in the last week the other got 796 visits in the last week.   One of them is in tier one and the other is in tier three (actually this morning he's visiting tier two, but his visits are usually very brief ones).   Can you guess which is which?   If you guessed that the lower visited lens was in the top tier you would be correct.

The Reason - clickouts!   Yes the one with nearly 800 visits has only a 1% click-through rate which is something that I need to work on.

If you have some lenses that aren't performing as well as you think they should have a look in the traffic stats and see what the click-through rate is.   You'll see the rate under the traffic stats of your lens -

As you can see this lens doesn't get a lot of traffic, but it does have a good click-through rate of 30% which sees it perform better than some lenses with double or triple the traffic.   

Personally I want to get all of my lenses to have a click-through rate of over 20 (although the higher the better).   Now is the time to start looking at your lenses and seeing how you can improve your click-through rates while some other lensmasters are scrambling to fix up their Flickr modules - it should pay great dividends for you.

How to improve your click-through rate - that is the question and it's really hard to know how to do it with some lenses, but here's a few ideas.

Make sure all of your images are linking out to somewhere - depending on where I've gotten the images from some people are happy to simply have the photo linked to their website other's want a text link, but even if I've given them a text link I'll also link the photo as well because it's amazing how many people will click on that which equals a clickout.

I use a number of posters to illustrate my lenses and these all link back to allposters or amazon (with my referral link of course) and whereas I don't expect to sell these posters they do give me clickout juice as well as nice images.   On one of my lenses - Lady Gaga's Tattoos - I found a poster showing Lady Gaga's unicorn tattoo, but you could also see her bottom so I put a black box over her bottom uploaded the image (linking back to the amazon poster) and put in the text that you could see the poster without the 'blackbox' by clicking on the image.   I think this is the biggest click out I get across all of my lenses!

What if you use your own images?   Well one idea that I've just started for one of my niches is a photo blog on posterous.   I started writing some wedding lenses this year and one of the fun things about them was making my own inspiration boards - I started the photo blog this week and it's called Wedding Bells - it's basically so that I can link all of my inspiration boards back to it and hopefully get some clickout juice.

It's not just images that get clicked on!   Last year I made some Google docs with printable recipes of some of my cocktails/mocktails and even a party planner - checking through stats on one of my lenses this week I've found that this is responsible for quite a few clickouts which tells me I must definitely work on getting the other recipes onto Google docs as well!

Videos also count as clickouts, although directing traffic to other lenses does not.   If you write on other sites then I think it's time to write complimentary articles that you can link out to as these also work well with the added bonus that you're not just sending people to a different site away from your work.

Of course the best thing for people to clickout of your lens on is a product because not only is that a clickout, but it could also result in a sale which is a win/win scenario.

How are you going to try and increase your click-through rate on your lenses?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome Back - Let's Get Busy!

Well it's been nearly a year (well 11 months) since I had to take what I envisaged as being a short break from this blog.   I've had a lot happening in my offline life as well as online and things have been falling through the cracks, my offline dramas still continue, but hopefully I can still manage to keep this blog updated again.

One thing that I've noticed on Squidoo is how important it is to keep a lens updated.   People have been saying this for absolutely ages, however it's only really been the last 12 months that I've noticed it really making a big difference to my lenses.   I'm not sure if it's a change in the algorithm or if it's because so many people are refreshing their content, either way I think it's a great idea to set up an updating system for your lenses.

You don't have to do a major update every single time, just a few little things count as an update like these -

  • Check that you've filled in all 6 spaces in your related pages spaces.
  • Update tags.
  • Check for spelling mistakes.
  • Credit images.
  • Change a theme.
  • Make sure you're using your sidebar widgets.
  • Add a bookmark widget.
  • Change your featured lenses to do-follow - I use this tool
  • Check that your links all work especially sales links.
  • Change modules/products/images around - think of it as a shop, shops change window displays and shop displays regularly.
I also make notes as to major changes that I can do at a later date and plan time to go back and do them.

Don't stress if you haven't updated your lenses in a while I have a number that were last updated in January 2011 and only one of these exceedingly 'old' lenses have gone into wip.   However I will be working a lot harder on updating every single one of my lenses after noticing some huge jumps in lenses I have been updating over the last couple of weeks.

I'm continuing to also use Wizzley, both to produce content in it's own right as well as to provide backlinks to my lenses.   Interlinking of your relevant work is always a great idea.   I'm finding Wizzley to be really good and thoroughly recommend it.

It's the sixth month already so you should be working on updating your Halloween and Christmas lenses as well as making any new ones that you want to add to your collection.

I will be endeavoring to update this blog once a week from now on to include tips (as usual) and I might also be adding some lenses of mine that I'm needing to do some serious work on so that you can see how I try to 'rescue' some of my lenses when they're not paying their own way.