EelKat's Secrets To Squidoo Success
On April 17, 2007 I joined Squidoo and had no idea what I was doing. Now on April 17, 2008 I have gained Giant Squid status, had lenses reach the coveted Top 100 List, and am making enough of a steady income to run the Pidgie Fund on my Squidoo income alone! Over the past four or five months, I have gotten several emails from new comers seeking my advice on how I got where I am today, and how they can do it too.
Well, I do not consider myself an expert at Squidoo. The way I see it, I'm still learning the ropes myself. There are others who have been here longer and have done way more than I have. But, that is no reason why I can't tell folks what it is I do. Maybe in trying to teach others, I will become even better at this as well? Who knows. Anyways, I now bring to you this lens, where I well discuss and debate on the things I do with Squidoo, and you can read it and see if anything here, helps you out. I have chosen to write this in a question and answer interview format, as I find it easier to write up my answers this way. Hopefully you will find it useful in your own quest for higher Squidome.
Contents at a Glance
EelKat's Little Black Book of Secrets
A Look at My Life As a Squid
Why Did You Join Squidoo?
Once upon a time, long ago and far away, in August of 1997 I joined the new found craze of geeks everywhere, and joined the internet. My first visit was to Yahoo, where I set up my email account . . . the very same email account I still use today 11 years later. My next move was to eBay, quickly followed by Amazon. I became known to the world as EelKat, the cartoon watching, comic book crazed, Disney fanatic, Uncle Scrooge obsessed, forum posting maniac who joined new forums weekly and posted 5,000 word rants at a rate of 20 to 30 a day on EACH of the forums. In less than 2 months I had my own fan following. In less than 6 months I had my own stalker and had to contact the FBI as a result to get rid of him.
In 2004 I discovered five new sites to join: Fanlisting.org, Freewebs.com, Proboards.com, Blogspot.com, and Wordpress.com. With the help of these five websites, my manic chatroom-message board posting hobby became over night my #1 source of income, as I set out to no longer joining message boards, but now building them instead. Soon I owned 32 blogs, 13 forums, 24 fanlistings, and nearly 300 individual FreeWebs hosted websites.
It was on April 17, 2007, while using Freewebs.com to create yet another fanlisting, that I ran across Squidoo, quite by accident. I was seeking info for the fanlisting site I was building, and Google's #1 search result had lead me to a Squidoo lens.
It was love at first sight.
Squidoo was like taking a Freewebs site and crossing it with a Blogger Blog, than throwing in a discussion board on it to boot. I knew in an instant that this was the place for me, and less than 10 minutes later I was building my first lens. By the end of the day I had 15 lenses, and the rest was history, I have never looked back.
What Do You Like Best About Squidoo?
Obviously I love Squidoo. I mean, I've got 313 lenses, and you can't have 313 of something and not like it right? But what do I like best of all? Well, let's see . . .
What is it about Squidoo that has caused you to stick around?
uhm . . . I don't know. I just plain have more fun here than on any other website I have ever visited, so I spend most of my online time here now.
I love to talk/write about things I know, and I love sharing ideas and info with other people. Squidoo allows me to do that with a limitless abandon. I can write about anything I want to, when ever I want to, in whatever way I want to, and I can do it any time night or day.
I just love Squidoo, and so I keep coming back day after day, month after month.
Are You REALLY Making Money Via Squidoo?
When I first joined I didn't know you could make money on Squidoo. I came here to build lenses and share my knowledge about my favorite subjects. Than I learned I could make money doing something I loved doing: writing about my hobbies, so now I have made I my goal to make a regular and steady income here.
My goal is to get $458 a month, in direct payout from Squidoo.com (NOT including off-site affiliate incomes) and to keep that amount rising higher as the months and years go by.
I love watching those numbers rise!
UPDATE: February 15, 2009
Well, what do you know, a year has past since I first created this lens and I'm now ranked as one of Squidoo's highest paid lensmasters! (I got an email telling me so!) YAY! And me just 2 months away from my 3rd year here. Cool! The drawback? I now have to pay taxes. Just got my 1099 from Squidoo. Oh well. This year I made more money on Squidoo, than I made last year working at Macy's. Wow! I'm floored! If it keeps going like this, I may never have to work offline again!
Which of Your Lenses Brings in The Most Money?
I have 5 lenses that bring in high affiliate sales each month since the first week I created each of them. (Sales coming from the Amazon and eBay modules). They are:
Are There Other Ways To Make Money With Squidoo?Making Money Via Squidoo Other Than From Squidoo
The figures listed in the section above are only the PayOut figures from my payments, made to me by Squidoo themselves; this is NOT however the only money my Squidoo lenses bring in.
Most of the money I make from my Squidoo lenses does not actually get paid to me by Squidoo!
Zazzle.com is where most of my "Squidoo income" comes from. I have been a Zazzler since December 2004. I am and always was an artist. I paint animals, dogs, cats, roosters, birds, flamingos, peacocks, goldfish, eels, and more using watercolors, acrylics, pastels, pen & ink, and digital media. I also illustrate books. To add to the mix I am a costumer and fashion designer, and do a lot of figure art as well for that. All in all, art is a very major part of my life.
What does me being an artist have to do with making money via Squidoo? I sell prints of my art via Zazzle. I sell T-shirts, greeting cards, mugs, mouse pads, magnets, buttons, Christmas ornaments, tote bags, and more all featuring my art on them. I have more than 20 Squidoo lenses that do nothing but promote my art for sale on Zazzle! About 65% of my lenses have at least one link on them to at least one of my products for sale on Zazzle. I make $40 - $120 a month from Zazzle via sales of my products off my Squidoo Lenses.
After Zazzle, my second biggest non-Squidoo Squidoo income comes from CafePress. Like Zazzle, I have been a member of CafePress since December of 2004. I joined them both the same day. Like Zazzle, I sell my art on various products.
Cafepress is different from Zazzle in that, Squidoo has a CafePress module which allows me to promote my CafePress items using that feature. Via CafePress I bring in about $70 per payout, which is about 3 times a year.
UPDATE: November 2008:
There is now a Zazzle module, meaning that I not only can sell my Zazzle products, but can make Squidoo affiliate sales as well by featuring my products on my lenses via the module! Yay!
So What Do You Spend Your Squidoo Money On?
When I'm not on Squidoo building lenses I'm usually doing this:
Money Making Success Stories Of Others
One Lens, One Month, One Thousand Dollars
I heard some pretty cool news recently from superlensmaster Loyalis, the self-styled Captain Squid.
He made $1,000 from just one Squidoo lens in one month. . .
Can You Guess Why This Picture Is Here?
What Is Your Secret To Lens Success?
By April 2008, I had built more than 240 lenses, was listed on Squidoo's Top 10 Lensmasters (September 2007), have had lenses placed in Squidoo's Top 100, and have won Squidoo's The Giant Squid Award:
(On May 16, 2008, my name was added to Squidoo's Top 100 Most Rated Lensmasters! My name entered the list at #94!)
I have created several top ranking lenses, 4 of which are currently in the Squidoo top 1,000 and one that not only made it to the top 100 it made it all the way to #32! So, what is my secret to building high-ranking lenses that sweep in money?
Focus on content.
Your readers want a unique point of view about topics they enjoy. What are you passionate about? What do you have expertise in? THAT is what you should write about. Just write good content. People like that. Write about what you know and your readers well love you for it. The more you write, the more folks will keep coming back to read what you wrote. Don't be afraid to let your lens get really long. Love your topic and talk about it!
Don't focus on making money.
Focus on informing your readers. If you focus on making money, your readers well know it, and they probably won't stay on your lens too long. Squidoo is filled with spammy money-making lenses owned by folks wondering why their lenses aren't making any money. Well, I ask you: What content have they included to attract readers? The answer: none. Readers don't care if you make money or not, they want to know what you have to say about your chosen topic. Love your topic!
Give your readers a break.
I mix my personal text content with both Money Maker Modules (Amazon, CafePress, & eBay being my top 3 faves!) and non-money making modules (Polaroid, BlackBox, and Polls, being the 3 I used most) . Think of it as a TV show: Your written text is the show, and the Money Making Modules are the commercials that pay for the show. The non-Money Maker Modules add color and hook reader interest.
Make sure the Money Makers are on topic though. If you are talking about Harry Potter characters, than put Harry Potter books on your Amazon module and Harry Potter action figures on your eBay module. If you are writing a bead-work how-to lens, than put bead craft books and seed beads on your eBay module.
Share the link love!
Are you writing about self-publishing? Than add a link list to your personal fave printers, like LuLu.com. Even if the links don't make money for you, your readers well enjoy it. Your reader want to find what they are looking for, and if you help them find it, they well come back to your lens again and again, and they well tell their friends about it. And keeping your readers coming back for more is the real secret to making money through Squidoo.
Keeping on sharing the link love and send readers to your other lenses. The more of your lenses they read, the better your chances are of making a sale!
Share the link love a little bit more: feature some on-topic lenses built by other lensmasters. No need to be stingy, there are enough visitors to go around, so why not send your readers to read the lenses you enjoyed reading yourself?
UPDATE ADDED: February 15, 2009:
The side effects of linking out to others on my lenses! OMG! They started linking back!
While I haven't had much success getting traffic from Digg (I get maybe 4 visits total from each submission to Digg), I have had very good luck with YahooAnswers. The funny thing about that is, I'm not the one posting links to my lenses at YahooAnswers! Several of my highest ranked lenses (including on that made it to #32 on the top 100 list in 2007) got their high rankings after someone answered a question on YA and than told the question asker that they had found their answer on one of my lenses than added it's link as a reference! I only found out this was happening when I checked my stats and found that a lot of my traffic was coming from YA, (which I had never heard of at the time) so I went to YA to find out what it was and why my traffic was coming from their and I found several questions linking back to several of my lenses. I was amazed!
YahooAnswers is not the only case of this happening however, another site, AnswerBag has been sending me traffic quite regular for more than a year now. Like YahooAnswers, people post questions about various topics, and members submit their answers, advice, and suggestions, often adding links to various websites recommending that the person asking the question, check the particular site out to find out more information. As it turns out, several of my lenses, were getting traffic from AnswerBag, a site which I had never heard of before, so I headed over to find out what the site was and to see why it was sending me traffic. As it turns out, several people were referencing several of my lenses as "the best source of information" on the particular topics in question! I was stunned, seeing how I had never heard of this site before and had no idea who any of the people were who were recommending my lenses! The lenses being recommended included my Publishing Methods, Creating Character Profiles, Creating a Fantasy Realm, and Your First Goldfish. As a result of these recommendations, I was getting traffic, and finally decided to join AnswerBag, becoming one the the members answering questions and offering advice, eventually going on to become listed on the site as it's resident expert in Goldfish and Aliens.
On This Lens I Explain How I Get Sales
Which Is Your Most Successful Lens?And How Did It Get That Way?
In October-November when the National Novel Writing Month contest was going on (I won btw!), I was posting comments on their forum and helping out new writers, at a rate of about 50 posts per day. Each one of those posts linked back to my "Publishing Methods" lens via the sig link. During that time I was so focused on the contest that I did not log in on Squidoo (or any other website for that matter) during the entire contest. But than the last week of November rolled in, and I finished my entry early, so I went back to my regular online habits, including Squidoo.
What I found when I got back was a complete and total shock to me, cause not logging in all month I had no idea what my Squidoo lenses had been doing while I was away.
Thanks to my posting over 1000 posts in a 30 day period on the NaNoWriMo forums, my Publishing Methods lens, went from a 14,000 lensrank, all the way up to #32! I found out it had hit Squidoo's Top 100 list about two days after I started posting on the NaNo forums, and that is was getting visits at rate of 400 - 700 per day!
NaNoWriMo had 120,000 people enter it last year, and about 75,000 of them were active posters on the forums, and a good third of those ending up visiting my lens!
The next thing I knew I was getting traffic from bloggers, so I checked the link backs in my stats to see how these blogs which I'd never heard of, were sending traffic to my lens, and I was shocked even further to find that, the writers who had entered the contest, and had found publishers to publish their novel entries, were crediting me and my Publishing Method lens as the "secret to their success!", thus driving even more traffic to my lens via their reviews!
I totally never expected any of this, because I wasn't really actively promoting my lens. I had just stuck it in on my forum sig, without really thinking about it, and than went off to do what I do best, which is help new writers to write better novels.
My lens stayed on the Top 100 list for about a month and a half, and than slowly dropping down to the 500 rank and staying around there ever since.
Oddly though, NaNoWriMo, has a second contest they hold in April, which I have not entered and so am not on their forum posting this year, however, my old posts from last years contest are still being visited and driving traffic to my lens! Thanks to NaNo's April contest going on right now, my Publishing Lens is once again on the move and now hovering around the 200 rank, these past few days. This traffic I'm getting right now is coming in from posts I made during LAST YEAR'S contest! OMG! It just goes to show, that you should be careful what you say on the forums, because even years later, people are still reading your posts!
So, my conclusion is that lensrank is greatly affected by traffic, and heavy doses of traffic in a short time period can really drive lensrank up super fast.
My Top 5 Highest Ranking, Most Visited Lenses Ever
Publishing Methods reached #32 in November of 2007 and gets 100 - 600 visits per week, though in November 2007 and again in November 2008, it got that many visits PER DAY. The other 4, get similar traffic and have each reached 100 - 200 in lensrank.
Secret Tip #1: Forget About Lensrank!
So many people worry and fuss over lensrank it ain't funny.
STOP WORRYING ABOUT LENSRANK!
Yes, I have over 300 lenses.
Yes, several of them are rank under 1,000.
No my highest ranking lenses are not the ones bringing in the most money.
Did you see those two lenses I listed back there, as the two that bring in the most money?
Ironically these 2 lenses of mine that bring in the most money, are both ranked at lower than 30,000!
I have only 2 lenses that I ever worry about lensrank on: Publishing Methods and Lord Sesshomaru Costume.
Why? Because both of these two lenses went straight to the top, hours after I published them, and once they got there, I wanted to make sure that they never came back down. So while my other lenses are often falling to less than 100,000 in rank, these two never go less than 2,000.
While the Publishing Method lens took a month to break the top 100 list, it only took my Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens about 10 hours to break 300.
My Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens went to lensrank 264 less than 7 days after I made it, and has NEVER received less than a top tier payment EVER. Since the day this lens was made it has never gotten less than 50 hits in one day, the highest it got in one day was over 400 hits. It also ranks as #1 on Google's page one for 13 of it's keywords, and in the top 10 on Google's page one for the rest of it's keywords. The answer for this is that it is one of only 2 websites on the entire internet which tell you how to make a Lord Sesshomaru costume.
In other words if you can find a niche topic with not only no other Squidoo lenses about it, but also no other websites at all about it, you can in fact reach tier one ranking. Plus it helps if you promote you lens directly to all the people looking for it. I went directly to everyone who was planning to make this costume and asked them what info they needed, and than made the lens, and went back and told them about it. I had over 200 visits before it went out of WIP less than 24 hours after it was published.
(Off line, I am a sales rep with 10 years of field work, if there's one thing I know how to do, it's find a product people want and than show the where to find it. Training in costumer service and sales rep, helps with Squidoo lens promotion even more than you could possibly imagine.)
Outside of those two lenses though, I never bother with worrying about lensrank, and just my lenses dance up and down the ranks how ever they please.
But Doesn't Lensrank Affect Your CafePress, Zazzle, & Affiliate Sales?
No. Not really.
I have over 20 lenses that do nothing but talk about and promote my CafePress & Zazzle shops. These lenses rank from 13,000 to 241,000 and yet all of them are still driving traffic and sales to my CafePress & Zazzle shops!
It's odd really, but it's my lower ranking lenses that are bringing in the highest affiliate sales off of Amazon and eBay modules. Almost all of my top paying lenses with these two modules rank between 5,000 - 30,000. So, while they are slagging when it comes to lensrank, I'm not going to complain seeing how they are making money anyways.
Likewise, you will notice that my highest ranking lenses (namely Publishing Methods, Lord Sesshomaru Costume, Amphibious Aliens, On Being Homeless, and Goth-ography) rank among my LOWEST is affiliate sales! Why is this? Well, if you will notice only one of those 5 lenses actually has any Amazon or eBay modules on it (Lord Sesshomaru Costume).
You don't need high lensrank to make a sale. It only takes one visitor to buy your items. Forget about lensrank and worry about content. Write good content and your traffic will find a way to get to you.
High Rank, High Traffic, & No Money?
A Look At How My Top 5 Reached Top 5:
This has got to be the lens that surprised me the most, because this lens was not planned and not promoted, and yet, somehow it got to be my #1 lens in October of 2008 and remained my #1 lens until January 2009. The fact that this lens got any sort of upper level ranking at all still surprises my today.
I have no idea how Goth-ography became one of my highest trafficked & highest ranking lenses. I never did a thing to promote it. It's one of those lenses that I threw together on a whim, one day when I had nothing to do. I made it in about 45 minutes by randomly pulling rants about the Gothic movement off of my blog and pasting them in, in no real order at all. Then, decorated the page with lots of posters via my AllPosters affiliate account. Finally, I turned it into a lensography by sticking all of my Goth-type lenses all over it. Than, forgot about it and never did a thing about it.
For about 6 months it hovered at a 300,000 rank, and remained last on my list of lenses, lucky if it got any traffic at all, seeing 1 or 2 visits per month. Than in August of 2008, nearly a year after it's creation, I logged in one day to find it had jumped 300,000 spaces in rank and was now sitting at #600 and getting nearly that many visits per day. What happened? I have 2 MySpace accounts. One for me and one for my "Goth-me". On that second MySpace account, is a link to my Goth-ography, posted in a blog post, back when I had made the lens. Somebody, I have no idea who, read that blog post, visited my lens, and than posted a MySpace bulletin, telling others to visit it.
The mountains of traffic that lens was suddenly getting, were all coming from a SINGLE MySpace bulletin! One which I was not able to access or read, due to it not having been posted by anyone on my MySpace friends list! After that, Google took over. Apparently, that spike in traffic, attracted Google's attention; the next thing I knew, I was getting traffic from Google, via searches for variation of the word "Gothic". From that day forth, my Goth-ography lens, has been one of my best trafficked and best ranked lenses, and with not a single Amazon or eBay module on it, it remains one of my least profitable lenses as well.
This lens is living proof, that high rank does not necessarily mean you'll make money. To date, this lens has made about $30 total, all of it from lensrank pay alone and all of that from it's short period as my #1 ranked lens in late 2008.
Lesson: Write random lenses for no reason at all, you never know what people will flock to.
High Rank, High Traffic, & No Money? A Look At How My Top 5 Reached Top 5:On Being Homless & Amphibious Aliens
Most of my lenses started out as a one paragraph blog post, which I expanded upon. Two of my 5 top lenses, "On Being Homeless" and "Amphibious Aliens", were both pulled from not my blog, but from the first draft of a book I was commissioned to write in mid-2008. What you find on them, is straight up copies of various chapters of the first uncorrected proof rough draft of my autobiographical book "For Fear of Little Men".
These lenses, being nothing more, than my brain storming outlet for my book, have zero money making modules on them and were not originally promoted. Eventually, they will have links to the book itself, and will be edited as reviews for the book, but for now, these lenses are rapidly changing, daily edited drafts of the book itself. Actually, there are 5 lenses that are drafts for this same book, but the others do not receive the attention these have. Due to news reporters publicizing various events in my life (namely my being homeless and my contact with aliens, which resulted in the angry mob that made me homeless), these two lenses saw an alarming boost in traffic, from curiosity searchers looking to find out more info about the news reports, and both of these lenses are not only heavily trafficked, but also heavily commented, though due to the nature of these lenses, the commenting feature as since been disabled.
As for my traffic, I have ABC News and the resulting curiosity seekers to thank for that, as well as a blog review which "condemned" these lenses by calling them "the tip jars of Squidoo"! LOL! I found that term hilarious seeing how not only do I make not a penny from either of these lenses, but there is absolutely nothing on them that in any way tries to make money! I am accused of supposedly using Squidoo as a means of "panhandling" with these 2 lenses being the "tip jars" themselves! ROTFLMAO! Woo-Hoo! OMG! If the writer of that blog post had actually read the lenses in question, they would have known that I was homeless at one point IN MY PAST and that I am NOT homeless today and that these lenses are the result of me being asked to write a book about how I became homeless, what it was like being homeless, and how I got back on my feet again (a fact which is started on the lenses.) I found out about the "tip jar" blog post after it started sending traffic to my lenses. I love it when people take a quick glance at something, jump to all sorts of conclusions, and than write a bad review without actually knowing anything about the thing they are writing a bad review about. You should always read the entire lens before writing a review about it, you might actually learn something.
Lesson #1: It's your life, write about it.
Lesson #2: Good reviews are good for traffic, but bad reviews are even better.
(UPDATE: Originally one lens, it has now been divided into 3 separate lenses.)
High Rank, High Traffic, & No Money?
A Look At How My Top 5 Reached Top 5:
The Publishing Methods lens started out as a rant on one of my blogs and later became a "link farm" linking out and indexing hundreds of useful sites for writers, authors, and self-publishers who needed help sifting through the scams on the internet to find the sites that were really useful.
There are many articles written telling you not to overload your lens with links, because Google hates that. Well, maybe that's true and maybe it isn't. All I know, is that there are well over 500 links on this one lens alone, and that never stopped traffic from coming in, in fact, that was the very reason traffic was coming! I had spent months, researching sites for writers and sifting out the scams, and than putting all of those links together in one place. This is a case of lots of links being a good thing, because they links are targeted and relevant, and meet the customer demand for a list of sites that are useful for new writers.
My goal on this lens was never about making money (it was one of my early lenses made before I was even aware you could make money on Squidoo!). I created a banner for it, and placed that banner in my sig on the NaNoWriMo forums, (a site for writers, authors, and self-publishers, many of whom are teens and young adults just starting out and looking for help in their writing career) and from there things just snowballed, as first one NaNo member after another started writing blog reviews about my lens and how it had been the resource that had helped them to get their first book published.
So, for 2 years, this lens has rocked on without a single affiliate module on it and thus while it is my most trafficked and highest ranked lens ever, it has made $0 in affiliate sales, with it's only income being from lensrank, though due to it's lensrank it has never made less than $7 per month since October 2007. (I have recently added Amazon modules to this lens, so it may soon become one of my money makers lenses.)
Lesson #1: Find a demand, fill the need.
Lesson #2: Listen to advice, but know when to follow it and when to toss it aside.
High Rank, High Traffic, & No Money? A Look At How My Top 5 Reached Top 5:Lord Sesshomaru Costume
Of my 5 highest ranked/trafficked lenses, only the Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens had Amazon and eBay modules on it: dozens of them, well over 100. Why? Because this lens is a review lens of sorts, a very tiny niched topic, and one of only TWO websites out there on it's topic: making a Lord Sesshomaru costume. This lens resulted from me making my own costume, and being asked by others how I was doing it, because they wanted to do it too. I created the lens, than emailed the link to my several dozen requesters informing them that I had created the site on their request. It got more than 300 visits with in the first couple of hours after it's being published, and did something totally unheard of on Squidoo: it's first day as a "ranked" lens, it ranked 700! (From a starting creation of being lens # 200,000 and something on Squidoo.) It broke a record for being the fastest moving lens ever on Squidoo. By the end of it's first week it rank #200 and was getting 700 visits PER DAY. Wow! And all I had done was to email it to about 30 people!
What happened? I emailed it to several people who live in Japan, where Sesshomaru is the reigning icon, and can be seen "walking down the streets" every day, all over the country, due to the onslaught of Japanese fangirls who take to dressing up like him and than parading through the streets. These girls, were quick to tell all of their fellow fangirls, who in turn started texting each other, emailing each other, blogging each other, and my oh my, some body ended up contacting the creator of Sesshomaru and next thing I knew I had editors from the comic book telling me what "mistakes" I had made on my lenses. Four months and 24 Lord Sesshomaru lenses later an all out war broke out, as 210 star-struck lovesick crazed fan girls took to a love-hate battle on the comment box of my lens, which receive 210 comments in the space of 6 hours! (All of which now deleted, due to the heated and alarming adult-rated nature of their debate.)
I learned a lot about online traffic from making this lens. I learned, that if you have a hobby and someone sends you an email asking you to create a website telling how you do what you do, then you sure as hell better make that website! Customer demand for this site was out there, but no one had ever made a site like it, and once it was found out I was a hobbiest AND a web builder, every one else in the hobby wanted me to make the site, so I did, and boy, was it worth it!
I also learned that the best online promotion there is, is to tell the person who requested you to build the site, that you built it on their request, and believe me, they will do the rest, via word of mouth! They will tell EVERY ONE! Hobbiests, know other hobbiests. Fanatical die-hard hobbiests are obsessive in their love for their hobby. Fanitical hobbiests know other fanitical hobbiests. Hobbiests love to share "trade secrets" with each other.
My Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens is undoubtedly my "most popular" lens, and yet, while high ranking and heavy trafficked, it ranks as one of my lowest in sales in with it's innumerable Amazon modules. Why? Because it's target audience, is do-it-yourselfer seamstresses who love Lord Sesshomaru. A small audience, looking for advice on how to sew an outlandish and rather difficult to make costume. They are looking for information, and are prone to use every day items to bring their creation to life. I know, because I am one of these crazed fangirls myself. We buy local and we buy cheap, because we have to buy a lot, and are likely to spend thousands of dollars and 3 or 4 years of our time before we finally finish with our costumes. And thus, we are very unlikely to buy anything off an online site in the process, resulting in a very popular, yet very unprofitable website. However, as profit was never the goal of this lens, it does not bother me that it ranks so low on my list of profitable lenses.
Lesson #1: Find a hobby you do, write a lens about it, and tell your hobbiest friends about it. Hobbiests are the best promoters there are of their hobby; they know it, they love it, and they love to tell every one about how much they love it. Best traffic secret there is: love your subject and tell others who love it too.
Lesson #2: If someone requests it and you know all about it, go ahead a write it.
(UPDATE: Originally one lens, it has since been divided into 4 separate lenses.)
High Rank, High Traffic, & No Money?
So, there you have it, a behind the scenes look at my traffic vs my lensrank vs my sales. High ranked lenses bring in traffic, low ranked lenses bring in sales. My conclusion? The be successful with Squidoo, you need both.
My 6th most successful lens "Your First Goldfish", is perfect example of this on many levels. I love Goldfish. I raise Goldfish. I know an awful lot about Goldfish. I get asked a lot of questions about Goldfish. So, I wrote a lens titled: Your First Goldfish. It filled a need. Now when people ask me about Goldfish, I can tell them: "I already answered that question, and many others, here . . ." They go to the site, they find the answer, they find other answers, and they find lots of Amazon links.
This lens is different from my Top 5, however in that this lens, gets a steady stream of sales, and while not nearly as high ranked or as high trafficked as the other 5, it ranks as one of my top 5 most profitable lenses. It is what I call a "mid-section lens".
I divide my lenses into four levels or layers: the high ranked lenses, the mid-section lenses, the money makers, and the low-level or WIP lenses. When someone asks me: "What type of lenses should I make?" I tell them, some of each. Be multi-faceted, and create lenses in layers, for that is the true secret to success on Squidoo.
If you take a look at my 5 high ranking/trafficked lenses you will notice a common thread to all 5 of them: They are what is known on Squidoo as "big lenses". How big are they? My Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens has 25,000 words on it. Before being divided into several smaller lenses however, it had 75,000 words on it. And for those who don't know how many words 75,000 words is: a 100 page Nancy Drew book averages at 50,000 to 75,000 words per novel.
Yep, I write lenses that are bigger than the average novel. That is not my biggest lens word-wise, however. My biggest lens ever was "On Being Homeless" before it was divided into the 5 lenses that make up the book's draft today. Between these 5 lenses are a grand total of 274,000 words! If you were to attempt to read the lens top to bottom in one sitting it would take you a minimum of 6 hours, providing your were a speed reader. As I said, this lens (now 5 lenses) is an actual book draft, and thus, you can read the book, as it is being written, changed, and edited. This is the first time I have ever written a book online like this.
These lenses stand out from others on Squidoo in that I am the only lensmaster who actually sits down and spends months (not hours, not days, not weeks, but actual MONTHS) writing the text for a single lens. Obviously, I don't do this with all of my lenses other wise I would not have topped 400 lenses in January 2009. However, it is these mega-huge mega-giants that are bringing the traffic to all of my other lenses, and that is a point to consider. It's something I call "the filter method" of lens creation.
Big lenses, bring in a different type of traffic, than regular lenses. Big lens have lots and lots of words. A lot of text, and not much else. These lenses get lots and lots and lots of traffic for a very simple reason: it takes 4 or 5 days to actually read everything on a "big lens". If you get 30 visits each day for 3 days, it's because the same 30 people kept coming back each day, not because 90 people were visiting your lens. That's the secret to success on Squidoo: you have to keep your readers coming back for more. A big lens is not built for your average browser audience, it is built for the reader audience who is looking for a particular piece of information and is willing to sit down and spend not only several hours, but also several days returning to your lens to read it. The average browser is going to see the "walls of text" and be scared off, but they are very likely to look at one or two of your other lenses before they leave. And that's where "The Filter Method" comes in:
The Filter Method:
What It Is & Why I Do It
The reason I mentioned the Goldfish lens back there is because it or rather my Goldfish hobby itself, was the inspiration for my creating The Filter Method, of lens creation.
Goldfish are messy fish. They produce twice as much wastes as other fish. They Uproot plants, and overturn gravel, and overall cause a huge muddy, cloudy, mess in the tank, which requires a much larger filter, than you would use were you raising any other type of fish. You can't change the nature of the beautiful, yet disruptive and messy fish. All you can do, is provide them with a place to live, and do you best to counteract their messiness with the use of a filter system custom tailored just for Goldfish. The filter on your tank is going to be the determining factor that will decide with you have strong healthy fish or weak sickly fish. The filter you use on your tank, is the most important part of your fish's life.
Squidoo is just like that the the Goldfish tank. You have a big tank and lots of fish who call themselves "Squids" all swimming around and stirring things up and making a big mess while they are all trying to compete with each other for lensrank. Each of those Squid has their own tank, and in each tank are their lenses all floating around.
In a successful Goldfish filter, you need a layer of filter media. The first layer is a sponge with big holes in it. This sponge attracts all of the particles in the water and draws them in. However, only the biggest particles will get stuck in the sponge, the smaller ones go right on through the holes and would head back into the water, if you don't add a second layer of media, this time a cotton batting. The cotton, like the sponge, also draws in the water, but it draws it in more slowly, due to the smaller holes, like wise, it traps all but the smallest of the particles. The tiny particles would go back into the tank, but now you add the third layer, a carbon layer, with holes that are almost microscopic. The big and mid sized particles will ever reach this layer, but the microscopic ones will. In the end, what goes in as very dirty water, comes out clean.
The thing about the filter is that if you take any one of those layers away, the whole system fails. The more layers you have the healthier your fish are. But take away any one of those layers and your fish become sick.
Squidoo lenses are the same way. You have the big lenses, the ones that draw in lots of traffic, but than don't keep much of that traffic, and thus don't bring in much of an income. The traffic they brought in however, now wants to look at your other lenses. Your smaller, mid level lenses, have a mix of text and money maker modules, and while they don't draw in nearly as much traffic as the big lenses, they hold the traffic longer, thus are prone to higher sales and will become you most profitable lenses. Most of you traffic is going to stop here, but some are going to want more, and they will move down to the next level, to your "shopping" lenses (low ranked which are just to promote items for sale and nothing else) and the seasonal lenses (Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's etc.; popular for only a week or 2 each year). These lenses will only draw in minimal traffic, but they will bring in enough of an income to warrant making them.
Like the layers in the fish tank filter, you should have a few lenses from each level: big lenses to attract lots of traffic; mid-sized lenses to bring in profits; low ranked or season ranked lenses to fill in the gaps that the other two missed. If you have nothing but "big lenses" you'll get lots of traffic, lots of lensrank, but no income to show for it. If you have lots of low-ranked or seasonal lenses, you won't get much traffic, and with out the traffic from your big lenses, you won't get as many sales either. Nothing but the average to mid-ranked lenses will, bring in an income, but not nearly as much as you would have had, had you had a high trafficked big lens drawing people in. You see, like the filter on the fish tank, having lenses of varying types and sizes will bring in a wider variety of traffic and and filter that traffic throughout all of your other lenses.
Google likes a lot of text. Google is going to send more traffic to a text heavy lens than to a Amazon-link heavy lens. You want a big lens to attract the traffic. Only the readers are going to stay, the rest are going to trickle through to your other lenses. That's why I call it the Filter Method, and that's why I have the mega-huge lenses, like this one you are reading right now . . . notice how there is not a single money maker module on this lens, and yet, this lens sends heavy traffic to most of my other lenses, making it one of my most profitable lenses even though it in and of itself does not make any affiliate income. This lens is a "filter" drawing in traffic and than dispersing it to my other lenses.
OMG! You Have 313 Lenses! How Did You Ever Find So Many Topics To Write About? Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
I have a lot of hobbies and lead a very busy life. I get my ideas for topics to write about from my life, my hobbies, my jobs, my family, things I do, places I go, etc. Here is a list of the things that inspire me most:
Here is an Index of My Lenses
Help! I Can't Think of Any More Topics!
What About Burn Out?
How Do You Avoid It?
Believe it or not, I get stuck all the time! Ironically that is how I ended up with 350 lenses! but than I deleted a bunch of them a few weeks ago and ended up down under 300 again.
Anyways, when I get bored and can't think of anything to do on Squidoo, I usually end up on one of the forums I haunt (eBay's Soapbox, NaNoWriMo, AbsoluteWrite, CosPlay.com, 4HWW, PortCon, ProBoards Support, Mrs. Nesbits, Snape's Dungeon, and of course SquidU). Next thing I know I'm busy posting and chatting with other members and from chatting with my online buddies I usually come up with ideas for new lenses. I find forum chatting a great way to come up with new lens topic ideas.
That doesn't always work, though, and sometimes I just don't log in on Squidoo at all. I figure, if I'm not getting any ideas, than I'm suffering from burnout and need a break. Usually I'll not log in for 7 or 8 days. Gives me time to clear my head from Squidoo and start over. The longest I ever went was 3 months, not logging in.
Sometimes you just need a break. No matter how much you love a hobby, if you do it too much you'll get bored with it, so it's best to give yourself a vacation from your hobbies every once in a while, and building Squidoo lenses is no exception. So I just give myself a *Squidoo vacation* and go about with the rest of the things I do in life.
Usually by the time I finally come back to Squidoo, my head is so full of ideas that I can't keep up with them.. You can tell when I've taken a vacation from Squidoo, because when I come back, I end up with 20 new lenses in one week! (though I sometimes end up deleting them, once I *come to my senses* and realize I just can't handle that many at once!)
How Do Your Lenses Go From An Idea To A Lens?
The Horrors of Having 4,000 Blog Posts
How do my lenses get started? OMG! That is a nightmare in itself. Long before I was a Squidooer, I was a Blogger, and an overly hyper active rampant blogger at that.
I've got several blogs, (32 from one blog host alone!) some of them have been around for years, but most of them I don't use anymore, so I won't bother listing those. One of my older blogs has just under 2,000 posts on it and I still keep posting over there.
I do have one that actually is a "Squidoo" blog, more or less; well it isn't a Squidoo blog, it's just me going off on a rant every few days. The weird thing about this is is that nearly every single rant I wrote foor this blog has since expanded and become a Squidoo lens!
I call it my Squidoo blog, but it's not so much a blog about Squidoo, as it my "workshop" where I do my writing up drafts for Squidoo lenses, so it's really random and often a complete mess, but if anyone wanted to see how my Squidoo lenses get from an idea to a lens, this is the place you'd want to go.
Most every one of my lenses started out as a post on this blog, and they usually end up with links on the blog once I get done with them. If you start following my posts on this blog, you know pretty much what my next Squidoo Lens is going to be about. Here are my lastest posts:
As Requested - The Previously unposted except of "For Fear of Little Men" - Why I Kept The Goldeneagle All These Years - An Inside Look at Life Behind the Padlocked Doors of The Atwater Family Compound and the Story of How The Infamous Saco Ward of Maine got it's Start and Created a Religious Monster
GRAND THEFT AUTO attempt on the GoldenEagle ... A longer more detailed explanation about why I have not sleep or eaten in 4 days...Or operation rescue The Goldeneagle from car thieves, than stand guard 24 hours.
What advice would you give to other lensmasters?
Secret Tip: #2 DO NOT LIMIT YOUR LENS TOPICS!
A lot of people come to Squidoo from CafePress, and use Squidoo to promote their shops. This is good. This is very good. I do this too. Squidoo is great for promoting CafePress shops. They even have a module to help you do so.
A common thing I have found folks to do is to focus on writing lenses on one topic and one topic only for the sole purpose of promoting their CafePress shops. Often they feel that they should ONLY write lenses that are the same topic as their CafePress shops. This can become your downfall.
DO NOT LIMIT YOUR LENS TOPICS!
EXPAND! EXPAND! EXPAND!
You have a lot of hobbies, interests, likes, and dislikes. Write lenses about all of them . . . each and every one of them!
You can write lenses about anything, and for every topic out there, somewhere there is a CafePress shop to promote it. If you feature some one else's shop you get an affiliate payment and you help a fellow CafePress-er make a sale... I feature all of my own shops as much as possible, but my CafePress items are limited in topic, and my Squidoo lenses have a wide range of topics, so when I don't have a CafePress item of my own to promote, I head to CafePress's marketplace and look for someone who does and promote their shop instead!
I'm always on the look out for other people's CafePress shops to promote, and as my Squidoo lenses get heavily trafficked, that means I'm sending traffic to you and your CafePress shop, wither you have a Squidoo account or not!
Write About Things That Matter To You
What's the most important thing for you to keep in mind when building a new lens? Writing about things that matter to YOU. Forget about what the latest "hot topic" is. Forget about what you think "others" will like.
Ask yourself: What do you like? What are your hobbies? What are YOUR favorite things to talk about with your friends? That's what you should build lenses about. Things that interest you. Things that you enjoy. Why?
Because if you like it, than you'll enjoy writing about it. If you enjoy writing about it, than you'll be inspired to put your heart and soul into writing it. And that's what people who read Squidoo lenses want to read. They don't want mountains of links and Flikr pics and YouTube vids. Those are all good, yes, but they want to hear your take on the subject. They want to hear your views. They want to know why you chose your topic. So be sure to add lots of text modules and fill them up with lots of writing. Lots of content is good... especially if it's content that you care deeply about. Write what you know. Write what matters to you. That is the secret to great lenses.
Me . . . :P
Perfect Man #1. YAY! Dog Demons!
Perfect Man #2. YAY! Pirates!
You Seem To Promote Other People's Lenses an Awful Lot. Why? What is in it for you? Should I be doing this on my lenses?
No reason really. I just love to show off lenses I like, It doesn't matter if it's a lens I built or one that somebody else built, if I like it I'll find a reason to tell others to check it out. In fact, I have actually built lenses just so I could showcase other peoples lenses!
What is in it for you?
Not a thing. It just feels good knowing that I can do something to help others get traffic to their own lenses, thats all.
Should I be doing this on my lenses?
Absolutely! I believe that having "things to do" on your lenses, well help to make your readers stay on your lenses longer and come back to visit it more often. Recommending other folks lenses, gives your readers something to do after they have finished reading your lens. It'll help the other lensmaster to get more traffic. It'll promote a better feeling that Squidoo is an interconnected community and not a bunch on random pages. It's a win-win, it helps you, it helps other lensmasters, and it helps your readers.
But I've never featured a lens before, how do I do it?
Easy, all you do is go to the "A - Z List", under section "F", and add the "Featured Lenses" module to your lens. Than in the blank, add the URL of the lens you want to feature. You can feature up to 5 lenses in each module.
Lenses I Built To Showcase Featured Lenses On
How often do you update your lenses?
Every single day.
Well, not every lens, every day.
Usually, I'll have an idea pop into my head and I'll say, "Hey, that'd be great for that lens." Next thing I know, I'm logged in and editing away.
As a general rule I'll edit 3 or 4 lenses a day.
How often do you create new lenses?
I used to have the goal to create at least 1 new lens per day. My goal was to reach 100 lenses, which I did 6 months in, and than kept going to reach 200 which took me another 4 months to do. Than I started striving for 300, but am going at a much slower pace. I probably won't hit 300 until this fall now, because my focus now is no longer quantity.
Now that I've got quantity, I'm striving for quality. A lot of my lenses don't meet up with the standards I've given myself to meet (and I'm a very hard task master on myself too!) I've got about 40 really good lenses, and the rest really need A LOT of work, before I am comfortable saying they are really good.
Right now I have 262 lens published and about 20 more still WIP, so my main focus is editing, updating, improving and overall making better the lenses I already have. After I've got the lenses I already have improved to the point that I'm happy with them, than I'll start up creating new lenses more often again. But for now I only make about 1 new lens once every week or so.
What common mistake do you, as a lensmaster, make most often?
Spelling. Spelling is my curse. My spelling problem is two-fold. For one thing I never learned how to spell properly in the first place, which results in me spelling phonetically the words I can't memorize from reading them in books.
Secondly, I have dyslexia, (the reason I was never able to learn to spell properly) and tend to spell about half the words I write in complete reverse, example, if I want to say cat, usually I write tac.
In my case even the best spell checker is unable to correct my spelling, because of the front to back spelling reversal. Spell checkers look at the first 2 letters and than guess at what you should have spelt. But when what should be the first 2 letters are now the last 2 letters, the spell checker totally has no idea what word you were saying.
It took me nearly three years to self program my MSWorks spell checker, but eventually I did get it programed to catch my odd misspellings and set them right, so today, most folks see what I type on my lenses and forum posts and they just assume I'm a pretty good speller, when in fact, all of my posts are first typed using FireFox (the browser auto spell checks) and than run through my customized MSWorks. A process that takes a bit of time, and results in me not answering as quickly as I might had I typed the forum post right into the reply box.
Even doing all this, a lot of misspelling still slip by, but at least you can actually read what I wrote. If my words had not been spell checked, you would be hard pressed to make heads or tails of them at all.
What does all this mean for my Squidoo lenses? It means that lenses that should take me 2 or 3 days to build, actually take me as long as 3 to 4 weeks to build, because once I have built the lens, I have to run it through a massive series of checks and rechecks, often 4 or 5 times, before I finally am able to catch all of the spelling errors. It's a long and tedious process, but it can be done, and as you can see, even with many mistakes still on about half of my lenses, I did become a Giant Squid, during their first round in September of 2007. (Spelling is one of the criteria of becoming a Giant Squid.)
There was a time when I was constantly fretting over my spelling, and I tied like hell to learn to spell properly, but after years of trying every spelling program under the sun, and wasting money and stressing myself out over it, finally, I just said to hell with it, this is just the way my mind is going to spell words wither I like it or not, and I'm going to have to learn to live with it and deal with it. The fact is, I'm an author, and an author who has to constantly rely on an editor to help you with little basics like spelling, really becomes a burden all around. I knew I had to make an effort to change this, and if I couldn't change how I spelt things, than I was just going to have to find a way to correct the miss spellings after I'd written them. Once I had accepted the fact that this was a disability that I could not change, I was able to move past it and find ways to work around it and not let it get in the way of my life anymore. This wasn't something I overcame over night though, it took many many years and a whole lot of patience. Now, there are few people who look at my words who could guess that I had dyslexia, most just assume that the few misspellings they see are minor typos, caused by typing too fast and missing a few keys!
For other lensmasters with similar spelling difficulties, I suggest you change your browser to FireFox, as that'll catch most all of your mistakes, as you type. And if you have a lot of words that the normal spell checker misses, than use MSWorks and add those custom words into the spell checker, so that it does catch them.
What non-Squidoo resource have you found that helps you with your lenses?
That's easy. Two answers, and look, I'll even provide links to their websites so you can look them up! Ain't that nice of me. They are:
I currently have 15 books out from one and 8 books out from the other and all of those books are siting here by my computer, because I got them out to do research for several of my lenses. I visit each of these two libraries on a weekly basis and you can find me there quite often, usually doing research for something, and always with mountains of books. The most books I ever took out at one time from Portland was 32.
A Picture Because I Felt Like Putting It Here
Do you rely on Google for traffic to your lenses?
No! Not at all!
When I first joined Squidoo on April 17, 2007, I was getting most all of my traffic from Google and Google only. At that point I had 15 lenses, which I wasn't updating, and I did not know much about Squidoo. Google hits were at 100 - 300 per page per week.
Than in October of 2007 after the Squidoo Google Slap, my lenses all dropped to getting very little traffic from Google, so I started doing my own self-promotion instead to bring in traffic other than from Google. At that point Google hits were 10 - 20 per page per week.
Now, in April of 2008, it's a good thing I did, because in the past month, not a single one of my lenses has gotten a single hit of Google. No one is sure what is going on, but it's so wide spread across Squidoo, that it appears Google has sent Squidoo yet another "slap" and has cut off traffic hits entirely. Looking at my stats page, it's like Google has completely vanished! Now 100% of my traffic comes from my own self-promotion and no where else at all.
The Story Of My Only Lens Google Loves:
Do you ever buy leads to get traffic?
I found this to be a very odd question. But I got asked, so I need to find an answer for it. First off, I have never heard of "buying leads" before. What an odd idea! So, I'm not entirly sure what buying leads is or how one would go about doing it. So, I can answer right quick and say: No, I have never bought leads before.
That should be the end of my answer, right? What me? Answer you with a single sentence? Not likely. You see, this question inspires some thinking on my part and gets me to wondering: Are there really people out there who pay money for marketing? I suppose there must be otherwise I wouldn't have been asked if I do it, right?
I looked it up, and from what I read, it seems that buying leads, is nothing more than a scam, which makes the lead brokers a lot of money, but which pays you only in the promise that you will get traffic to your site . . . some day . . . as long as you just keep sending them monthly checks. Actually, I found thousands of people saying that they had yet to see any traffic at all, even after paying thousands of dollars. I even found a couple of lenses right here on Squidoo, warning against buying leads! So, I haven't tried it, and based on what I'm reading, I'm not going to either.
But the fact remains, you are asking me if I spend money. Yeah . . . about that . . . I don't spend money.
You got to understand here, that the whole concept of spending money is very foreign to me. I'm now making money on Squidoo, but that is a relatively new thing in my life. I've only been on Squidoo for 2 years. Before Squidoo, my income was almost non-existent. In the past 30 years, the most money I had ever made in a single year was $1,800, and that was twice what I normally make. Most years I make less than $800. I've never had money to spend. Never spend money, so never think about things that cost money, and never bother trying to make money to spend either, as I find the concept of "money to spend" a rather vain and foolish notion.
When people come by and see how I live I get the whole: "But, but, but . . . your cloths . . . the way you dress . . . I thought you wear a millionaire. . . you . . . you live in the woods under a tarp? How can you live like this? Don't you need running water? Electricity? Heat? You don't have a phone. Not even a cell phone?!? OMG! How do live without a phone? I'd die without a phone! What's wrong with you? How can you take a refusal of spending money to such extremes?"
When I say I don't like spending money, you better believe I won't spend a penny for ANYTHING. Of course, I've had the comment "Well you're just acting as stingy as a miserly old Scotsman." thrown at me a few times, to which I answer: "Why thank you. How did you know I was Scottish?" They think I'm being sarcastic. I'm not. My grandmother on my dad's side was Scottish, and so was my Grandfather on my mother's side, in fact, he was an immigrant and lived in the US for 70 years before applying for US citizenship. Both married Indians: one a Kickapoo and one a Cherokee. So if you want to start throwing politically incorrect name calling at me, about my spending money like a Scotsman, it might first interest you to know that I am in fact Scottish. Thank you. But moving on, what has any of this to do with buying leads for marketing? Well, like I said, I don't spend money.
When it comes to marketing and such (with me that is) I don't do anything that costs money. Of course it helps that I've never owned either a phone or a credit card too, resulting in I can't join anything that required either information. I also don't spend money off line either, (locals refer to me as a hermit because 4 or 5 months or more go by between my leaving the yard). I did grow up on a farm. I am a farmer. I grow my own food, and what I do by I buy in bulk so I have a years's worth at once. I can live quite well, for years without ever having physical contact with Humans . . . in fact, there was a 20 period when I did just that. Fact is, you got to be around another Human to give them the money for the thing you are buying from them. Yeah. People issues = money issues = no money to spend to begin with = living a very thrifty lifestyle to make up for the lack of money = waste not want not = if I can't see it, touch it, hold it, why should I pay money for it? You see where this is leading too? How this all ties in with me not buying leads online?
Can I see the lead? No.
Can I touch the lead? No.
Can I eat the lead? No.
Can my pets eat the lead? No.
Will the lead keep me warm at night? No.
Okay. I can't see it, I can't touch it, I can't taste it, and it's not going to protect me from Maine's fierce snowstorms, so why should I spend money to buy it, if it serves no useful purpose for me?
I need to see it to buy it, and it has to be something I'll use (food, books, or fabric, and nothing else at all) or I won't pay money for it. My income has been for many years less than $1,800 a year, so I can't spend money on things I can't see or can't use, and thus the reason I never buy any marketing things. When it comes to marketing if it ain't free, I don't need it!
Now, granted, my extreme lifestyle (as it has been referred too) is not something you are likely to be doing yourself, but the principle still applies to you no matter how you live. If you can't see it, can't touch it, can't feed your family with it, can't keep your family warm with it, you really should ask yourself this: "Why the heck should I spend money on it?"
Fact is, there are hundreds of ways to market your site/lenses for free and you should only spend money on marketing AFTER you have exhausted the free leads first.
Where Do You Get The Traffic To All Your Lenses From?(The Answer To The #1 Most Asked Question I Get From My Readers)
Okay, I've been sent this question a couple of times now, so I decided it was time for me to do some research and find out just where exactly my traffic to my lenses does come from. So from January 2008 to April 2008 I tracked my traffic and here are the results of where most all of my readers are coming from. Looking to see where my readers come from and reading my current stats on my most trafficked lenses, here is where my traffic comes from:
And there you have it. The answer to the most asked question I get in regards to my Squidoo lenses. Now you know where my traffic comes from.
An interesting thing I should point out here, is that these lenses get 7 - 35 visits on weeks that I do not visit the forums mentioned above, however they also get 175 - 300 visits on weeks that I do visit those forums and post on a lot of threads.
Another interesting thing is that not a single one of my lenses gets more than 10 visits per week from Google, in fact most get no hits at all from Google, with 100% of my traffic coming from clicks on my forum sig links
So, over all, I say the best way to bring traffic to your lens, is to add a link to it in your sig on every forum you post on, and than just sit back and chat up a storm with people on the forums. If they like the things you say in your forum posts, chances are good they'll click on your sig link to find out what else you have to say.
Another thing is, you'll notice that I have a lot of lenses about comic book topics and those are linked to my sig used on eBay, where I talk to comic book fans. On CosPlay.com and on CrossDressers.com, my forum sig link back to my fashion-cosplay-costume-drag queen lenses. On NaNoWriMo and AbsolutWrite forums, my sig links back to my lenses for self publishers and authors.
So it helps if you match your sig links to the group you are talking to as well. And it also helps if you write Squidoo lenses about topics that you actually practice in your daily life, cause people like to get advice on how to do things from people who actually do them; an example of this would be:
I'm comic book collector and comic book script writer, therefore I also write Squidoo lenses about comic books and chat on forums for comic book fans.
You get the basic idea right? Create Squidoo lenses about things you do in real life, and promote them to others who do or want to do the things you can teach them how to do.
How To Get Traffic To Your Lenses: More Things I Do and Info You Should Read
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You Must Have Learned Your SEO and Traffic Tricks Some Where, Can You Tell Me Where You Learned To Do This Stuff?
Yep. Trail and error for the most part. I've been on the internet since 1997, so I've had 11 years of doing stuff and learning what works and what doesn't work.
However, in about 2005, I ran across a blog that went on to become the ONLY blog whose RSS feed I subscribe too, as well as the only blog I active read and comment on: ProBlogger written by Darren Rowse. Somewhere on his blog is the story of how he got started, what he did, and how he retired just 2 years after starting his blog. Today he lives off the income brought in from his blog alone, and his blog brings in a whopping $200,000+ per year! ProBlogger is the world's most trafficked blog, as well as the most sought after blogger, and he got that way for a reason: It is quite simply the best blog ever written!
What does he write? He writes about making money online, while avoiding the scams, the MLMs, the get-rich-quick-sceems, and how to drive traffic and sales to your site. He does it without telling you to buy an eBook or sending you to ClickBank links. He tells you what he did, what worked for him, what flopped for him, and he posts it all 100% free right on his blog! All you have to do is search through the topic list for old blog posts and you can find the answer to almost every question you could ever think of to ask about building and promoting a website that brings in both traffic and cash.
Hey, I'll even make it easy for you, by posting the RSS feed of his blog here on my lens. Here are the last 5 posts he has written:
This is a guest contribution by Nicholas Whitmore. The title: What on earth does it mean? Well, recently it seems like a lot of bloggers fancy themselves as marketers. You can?t read a post on a blog without seeing a load of other bloggers commenting at the bottom, with a link back to their own site. [...]
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
This is a guest contribution by Belinda Weaver, marketing copywriter behind The Copy Detective. You?ve finished your latest blog post and it?s pretty good isn?t it, isn?t it? Are you sure? Some bloggers think that coming up with ideas is the hardest part of blogging. Maybe you agree. Personally, I think it?s harder to [...]
Originally at Blog Tips at ProBlogger
"ONE DAY I'll be a full time blogger!" ‘V' – my wife – must have heard that statement 100 or more times in 2003-2004. It would usually be accompanied by a spread sheet and/or chart in which I showed her how the earnings from my blog had grown from $9 per month to $11 per [...]
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Today I want to set us all a little homework – a challenge of sorts – to update your blogs ‘About Page'. This challenge evolves out of the embarrassing realisation that my own about page here on ProBlogger was dated and in need of a refresh. It had been well over 12 months since I'd [...]
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
This is a guest contribution from freelance writer, Ayelet Weisz. Blogging is hard work. You need to come up with fresh, quality materials on a regular basis, promote them, connect with readers, network with peers and mentors ? and that's before you even see a single dollar for your effort. I've put together some simple business tactics to [...]
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
How Much Promotion Do You Do?
How much promotion do I do?
Each and every day.
Where do I promote my lenses? MySpace, FaceBook, Freewebs, Blogger, WordPress, Proboards, NaNoWriMo, eBay community, chat rooms, message boards, forums, post-it notes in public restrooms, all the usual stuff.
~~~~~>^..^< The EelKat has spoken.
Wait . . . What? Did I Hear You Say Post-it Notes In Public Restrooms . . .WTH?
Yep. That's what I said.
Post-it notes in public restrooms.
Simple, easy, quick, and when you are on the road as much as I am, you know where every single public bathroom is at every single store, mall, gas station, library, fast-food take-out, and rest stop from York to Biddeford to Bangor to Arcadia and a little bit of New Hampshire and Vermont too. There is hardly a town, city, village, hamlet, or township in Maine that I have NOT left a trail of Post-it notes in public restrooms in. A family of 7 + lots of travel = lots of in the car time = lots of looking for public restrooms = "Hey! why not write the URL of my web sites on a whole package of Post-it notes and leave one in every restroom we stop at!"
No way to tell either.
The stats only tells me what sites sent me traffic, not if the folks were locals who visited those same public restrooms.
"Than why do it at all?"
Every little bit helps, and post-it notes are .99c for a pack of 100. That's a penny for each advertisement, you can't get much cheaper than that for paid advertising!
"So you do this, but you don't know if it brings traffic to your lenses?"
Yep. And you can make a guess as to wither or not this is working, by checking your lens stats. The stats do tell me if the lenses are getting "direct" traffic. Direct traffic is when someone types the URL to the lens in their address bar and comes to the lens directly, without searching for it or clicking on a link.
The lenses that get the most hits from "direct traffic" are also the same lenses I leave on Post-it notes. Now I ask you, how else are those lenses getting direct hits, if not from the Post-it notes?
Banners For Your Lenses & Places To Promote Your Squidoo Lenses:
Make banners for your lenses, and post the banners on your other lenses, your blogs, your MySpace, and any other web sites you may have.
Here are a few banners I use, and the link to the site where I make them. It's quick, it's easy, it's totally free, and I made each of these 2 banners in under 5 minutes!
For info on how to make banners for your own lenses check out this site: Make your own banner at MyBannerMaker.com!
Also, don't forget to submit the URL of your lenses to as many directories as possible. There are hundreds of free directories you can submit to, just search Google to find them. Here are the ones which I think are the best for Squidoo lenses:
Which of Your Lenses Gets the Most Traffic on a Regular Basis?
Here are my 5 most trafficked lenses of all time, which have gotten steady streams of traffic since the day I made them:
What Are Your Best Current Lensranks?
Here is the live RSS Feed, for my Top 10 lenses. This list is updated hourly based on current lensranks. These are the lenses of mine that are currently doing the best of all:
How to start a publishing company: I started my own small press publishing company. With the help of...
A character is a person about whom you write. Every work of fiction (book, screenplay, SCA persona,...
Second in my series of CosPlay lenses, here is my lens about the art of making a kimono. As this len...
I think women have men running around in circles. Women say they want one thing and the next thing a...
Ultra Sexy Hard to Find Fetish Shoes for Clubbing, Trannies, Dancers, Show Girls, Divas, Drag Queens...
Every November thousands of writers gather together to take part in the world's largest writing cont...
Are you writing a fantasy novel? Have you joined NaNoWriMo and don't know what to do next? Do you ne...
Zazzle vs CafePress Zazzle is a print-on-demand manufacturer that allow you to create, share and cel...
After reading the "About Me" lens challenge, I have decided to take on the "25 Things I Carry in My...
I love embroidery and have been embroidering on a professional (non-career) level for more than 20 y...
How Do You Feel About Comments?
Me? I love comments. I love leaving comments. I love getting comments. I can't speak for other lensmasters, but I personally love getting comments that link to other lenses. Like everyone else, however, I like it when you leave relevant comments on my lenses.
Why are comments good? Lots of reasons.
Leaving comments can lead to conversations and new friendships.
Comments help drive more traffic to both lensmasters.
I often do not see typos and minor mistakes on my lenses, and am grateful to the lensmasters who left comments pointing them out so that I could fix them.
I've joined a lot of groups after the group master left a comment requesting my lens join their group.
I've found and feature lenses I didn't know were out there until the lensmaster posted a link in their comment requesting a link exchange.
I've made changes to lenses after being left comments about ideas I could do to make the lens better.
Comments are good. Comments are fun. Comments boost self esteem.
Does Leaving Comments on Other People's Lenses Effect Your Traffic Any?
Oh my, yes!
I leave comments on every lens which I give 5 stars too. That does not mean I give everyone 5 stars, what that means is, if I like the lens enough to give it 5 stars, than I also like the lens enough to tell it's creator why I liked it and why I gave it 5 stars.
Most every lensmaster whose lens I leave a comment on, usually stops by a few days later and leaves a comment on one or more of my lenses. So yes, leaving comments on other people's lenses most certainly drives some extra traffic to your own lens.
A word of caution here though: Don't go around leaving spam comments.
The Story of My Most Flamed Lens:
What Are Spam Comments and How Do I Avoid Leaving Them on People's Lenses?
A spam comment, is in the simplest of terms, a comment that is irrelevant and should not have been left in the first place.
Looking into spam comments farther, we find four different types of spam comments that are common on Squidoo.
What does each of these terms mean? Let's take a look:
#1) Drive By Spam
This kind of spam is by far the most common, most harmless, and also often, completely unintentional. Usually the commenter is not even aware that want they are doing is spam.
What is it? It is leaving a quick comment, such as one of the following:
As you can see, none of these comments really has anything wrong with them, however, none of them tells the lensmaster that you REALLY read their lens either.
Many people do not even consider this spam. Most lensmasters overlook it and let it pass. Only a few of the most strict lensmasters delete them. You are not likely to get banned by posting these kinds of comments.
#2) Self Promotion Spam
The second most commonly seen spam on Squidoo is self promotion spam. It is quite simply what it says it is and looks a lot like this:
It's a toss up as to how lensmasters will respond to this. Some think there is nothing wrong with it and will leave it on their lenses. Some don't like it and delete it. Some, get miffed and ban you. A few get mad and report you to Squidoo HQ.
I know of one lensmaster who actually gets super pissed and retaliates by visiting all of your lenses and giving each one a 1-star rate, just to spite you for leaving a link to your lens on one of their lenses! (This is called Flaming, see below.)
#3) Spammy Spam Spam
This is the type of spam that is against Squidoo ToS and could get you booted off Squidoo, all of your lenses deleted, and get your computer's ISP banned from ever being able to log in and create a new account ever again. This is True Spam. Spam in it's worst form. Spam, that can be reported to the FBI and result in up to 25 year in prison. Spam in it's true form is illegal and you can go to jail because of it.
What is "True Spam"? We all know it. We've all seen it. And we get dozens to hundreds of it in our email every single day. They are links to websites, with or without a comment. On Squidoo comments, it usually looks something like this:
I do not know of any lensmaster who does not delete these comments and ban the poster.
Rarely have I seen this kind of spam posted by a lensmaster. Usually it is posted by a non-member. Often, it is not even posted by a human, but instead posted by a SpamBot. The most ferocious of all SpamBots is the one that reared it's ugly head in 2005 and became known simply as "The China SpamBot".
Normally these spam posts are harmless link, however, if the posts were left by the viscous China SpamBot, it could cost you your computer and in most severe cases, the host's site as well (in this case the host would be Squidoo.com). What makes The China SpamBot different from other spambots? The links it leaves are not links to regular spam websites, but rather links to viruses, which once clicked on, set out to downloading on your computer, copying all the passwords to all the webs sites you visit, and than erasing it's path, by erasing everything on your computer's hard drive. In some cases it has erased entire websites as well. The China SpamBot is the ultimate in spam, you'll know it when you see it, because it sends out links in Chinese characters, usually a long list of them, several hundred letters long, and containing links to 40 or 50 different sites. If you see this, report it to the FBI, and than delete it off your page. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CLICK ON THE LINK!
To date Squidoo's servers have been very good at stopping The China SpamBot from breaking in and there are no known cases of it ever being able to leave comments on lenses. We can thank Squidoo's team of techs for keeping Squidoo a safe haven for it's lensmasters.
Rarely is Flaming seen on Squidoo. The Squidoo community is built up of a more mature and intellectual group of people than you normally see on sites such as MySpace and Proboards where flaming wars are common and out of control.
What is Flaming? Flaming is essentially sending out hate mail to people for the sole purpose of being a mean faced bully and making people cry. People who flame others are known on the internet as "Trolls". Flame comments look something like this:
Fortunately for all, flamers and trolls are pretty rare on Squidoo, and when they do strike, lensmasters are quick to delete them
My Most Hated LensesI have a fan! O_O (Lots of them!)
Originally just one, but now 2 of my lenses are hated and blasted with flames. Here they are (note that flames have been deleted):
What Makes a Good Comment?
A good comment is one that you wrote after you took the time to at least read a little bit of the lens.
Both of those comments took about 5 seconds to type. They are quick, short, to the point, heart felt, and tell the lensmaster that you really did read their lens.
A really good comment would read something like this:
These comments both tell the lensmaster that you read the lens, and open up the way for a conversation between the commenter and the lensmaster.
Remember, you are allowed 1,000 chars in a comment. that gives you room to say quite a bit!
And remember this too: Links in comments are not a bad thing!
Links in comments are not a bad thing!
Half my readers just fainted.
I'll sit here and twiddle my thumbs while I wait for them to get over the shock of what I just said . . . oh look! an ice cream sandwich! I'll eat that while I wait.
Zaps Dalek with Sonic Screwdriver.
Good! You're awake again! You missed the war between the Daleks and the Time Lords while you were out of it. Let's continue . . .
I know, I just got off ranting about links in comments being spam, but not every link in every comment is spam. Spam is unwanted. Spam is off topic. Spam serves no purpose. Spam helps no one. And here's the shocker: Relevant links are NOT spam!
What is a relevant link?
If you have read a lot of my lenses, it won't be long before you see a pattern in my comment boxes. Not read enough to have noticed it yet? Well, I'll point it out to you than.
They are all the same! Every single comment box has the same message copied and pasted into it and here it is this (as copied off my Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens):
The first thing you notice is the kitty picture. He's cute and that's why he's there. The sudden addition of a pink winged kitten makes the read stop and say "What's this?". Now even if they haven't read anything else on the lens, all of a sudden they are reading the intro on my guestbook, and changes are good that they will now leave a comment.
So what exactly is it I've done here and why do I do it? Simple. The way I see it, people are going to leave links to their Squidoo lenses in your comment box, wither you like it or not, that's just the way life is.
Now you have several choices. You can rave and moan and get mad about it. You can ban them from ever commenting on your lenses again. You could just delete them and hope they never post again. . .or
You could do what I do and ASK people to leave links in your comment box. Yes, that's right, I actually tell my readers to go ahead and leave links in my comment box. Why? Well, for one thing, they are going do it anyways. There really is no reason to get mad at them, they just want you to check out their new lens after all. So if they are going to leave a link anyways, why not do what I do and I ask them to leave an on-topic link?
In the example shown above, links that would be on topic for that lens would include InuYasha, CosPlaying, Japanese fashion history, Japanese swords, or costume making, because that is the topic of that lens. I change the criteria to match the particular lens, but the rest is always the same.
As noted earlier, I feature a lot of lenses by other lensmasters on my lenses, and this is how I find those lenses: simply by people asking politely if I would check out their lens and consider adding it.
I also join a lot of groups from group owners putting a link in their comment to their group and requesting I join my lens to it.
Since I have started doing this I get a lot less spam comments too. Seeing that request for on-topic links in comments has just about stopped all off-topic links from being put in comments on my lenses!
Sharing the Link Love in Reverse or Asking for Back Links
Do not be afraid to ask for back links!
If people really do like you lens, chances are good that they will put a link to it on their blog . . . they may even write a review about it. If it's a lens they REALLY REALLY like a lot they may want to stick it on their MySpace profile or link to it from their sig on a forum they visit.
Make it easy for them, by putting the code to do so right on your lens!
Look back at the message I copied off my Lord Sesshomaru Costume lens comment box. Do you see where a code is shown, followed by what the code looks like when pasted on your page? Here is how you make that show up on you Squidoo lens:
copy the code below, and paste it into your comment box's description section.
Now remove the following from the code:
When you save and publish, you will get the code which your readers need to copy and paste, in order to link back to your lens, displayed on your comment box.
This is a quick and easy step to getting more free traffic to your lens, by letting others post your link on their own web sites.
You Mentioned Interacting With Your Readers. . .What Do You Mean By That?
I did? Where did I say that?
I think you're right. It does seem like I said that. I wonder where I said it?
Interacting with readers can be done in many ways. I'm doing it right now, by having a conversation with myself and the invisible reader who is asking the questions. It's weird but true, that by talking to yourself on your lenses, like I'm doing on this one, draws readers in to what you are saying and makes them feel like you are talking to them and them alone. A trick I picked up from writing fiction. Just write your lens as though you are writing dialog between two characters in your story.
That's one way to interact with your readers, here's another: Polls.
People love to vote on things. Everyone wants to make their vote count. How do I know this? I know this from the many forums I frequent. Here's an example of one forum topic that resulted in over 200 votes, and a near riot between side A voters and side B voters:
And my point is? I've seen the same thing happen on polls and duel boxes here on Squidoo. By adding polls, guestbooks, and duel modules, you are inviting reader interaction. The more of these polls you use on your lenses, the more your readers will interact with you and other readers and the more they will come back to keep posting and keep interacting.
Squidoo knows that polls and comment boxes and duel modules are good for your lenses, which is why they created their sister site: Hey Monkey Brain! The whole point of the Monkey Brain lenses is to ask a question, give two possible answers, and than set people loose on the lens to debate their brains out over it.
One Last Question. What's With the Pictures on This Lens?And where do you get them?
How dare you question my pictures! Snarls. Growls. Bares my long white teeth . . . oh . . . wait . . . no . . . wrong lens . . . I'm not CosPlaying a dog demon here am I? Let's try that again.
Pictures you say? Why? Is there something wrong with them?
Than, why'd you ask?
"Well, it's just that . . . they don't seem to match the topic of this lens, is all."
Aaahh! So you noticed that did you? Good. That means you were paying attention and you are about to learn one last thing about my Squidoo success:
PICTURES and LENS TOPIC RELEVANCY.
I use pictures on all of my lenses. Lots and lots of pictures. I take advantage of every available space that could fit a picture in it.
I always put a picture in the introduction box's logo space.
In the text modules, I make sure to always upload a picture.
Also in the text modules I make sure to add off-site hosted pictures. For this I use my PhotoBucket and ImageShack accounts.
I make use of the Polaroid module and add as many as possible.
I feature Amazon Spotlight items that have on-topic items, because of the big picture it adds to the lens.
When I feature lenses and lensmasters on my lenses, I'm more likely to feature them if they have loaded a picture into their intro box. If their lens is displaying the blank orange squid image, I'm likely to delete them off my lens.
And most important of all, I make sure that the pictures on my lenses are on-topic for the lens they are on, otherwise, my readers will do as you did on this lens, and do a double take and than wonder, why all these off-topic pictures are floating around for no reason at all.
I get my pictures from a lot of different sources. Some of the picture are screenshots off my DVDs (Pirates of the Carribean, InuYasha, etc), others came on copyright free discs I bought (animal-nature-travel pics etc), the ones with words and quotes I made on paint, the little moving smilie gifs were either made by a friend or found on a website that posts gifs to share, several pics came from a sig exchange site, a lot are scans from books and comic books I own (cover art, illustrations, etc) and the rest are my our art (paintings, drawings, and photographs made by me). I have a second hard-drive installed on my computer just for picture storage as my collection has over 300,000 images in it. I use them on all of my lenses.
As you may have noticed the pictures on this lens have nothing to do with the topic of the lens. I did that on purpose, to show you that, yes, these pictures look good, yes they are nice and colorful, yes they make the lens look better, but they also distract the reader, because they are off-topic.
The lesson here: Add pictures to your lens. People like to look at pictures. Add a lot of pictures to your lens. A single picture can speak louder than a thousand words. Put pictures everywhere . . . just make sure they are on-topic to the lens.
Be Relevant and On Topic in Everything!
When you add something to your lens, ask yourself:
Is it relevant?
Is it on-topic?
Does it help to get my message across to my readers?
If you answer no, to any of these questions than you should not be adding what ever it is to your lens.
In other words do not do this:I love My Lord Sesshomaru Costume Lens and put this link here for no reason at all! :P
Did you learn anything here?
Yes. I learned that you are insane, and I should never have asked you anything. (7%)
Yes, this lens was very helpful. (78%)
Uhm . . . I don't know, I was too distracted by the off topic pictures. (6%)
What? I'm sorry, I forgot everything I read when you jumped at me with those wolf fangs. (4%)
I'm am now more confused than ever. (3%)
Total Votes: 64
Like this lens? Want to share your feedback, or just give a thumbs up? Tell us what you liked about this article. Think of something we should add? Just want to say hi? Submit a blurb today!
PS: Don't forget to leave a star rating too. (See top of page). Thanks!
Want to Link to this Lens?
Here's the HTML code to copy and paste:
<a href="http://www.squidoo.com/EelKatSquidooSecrets/" title="EelKat''s Squidoo Secrets">EelKat''s Squidoo Secrets</a>
Link to us from your blog, your MySpace page, your website, your forum sig, and every other place you can think of! Tell your friends about this page, spread the word!
Here is what your link will look like:
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For info on how to make banners for your own lenses check out this site: Make your own banner at MyBannerMaker.com!
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