Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is "Squidoo" A Dirty Word?

I've noticed a somewhat disturbing trend lately. Well, to be honest I'm sure it goes all the way back to the notorious "Squidoo Slap" of 2007, but it seems to be reaching a critical mass in the past few weeks.

IF you know what Squidoo is you fall in to one of 3 categories:

1) The conscientious, honest, and hardworking lensmasters. Mainly, folks who hang out at SquidU, put lots of effort in to making great lenses, who care about what they're doing and why they're doing it.

2) The hard-core SEO/marketers/make money online NOW types. These are the bajillion bloggers and gurus preaching that everyone should make lenses to promote their blogs/websites/pyramid schemes/ponzi schemes/get rich quick schemes/e-books/affiliate programs/ways to make money online scams. Just a quick browse of Google will bring up DOZENS of "guru" sites that promote some pretty low-brow and even downright silly ways to use Squidoo. Everything from spamming guestbooks (and yes, I have to delete at least 10 or more comments from my own lenses every.single.day from these types) to (I'm not making this up) one self-proclaimed expert who preaches that everyone should ONLY make one lens per lensmaster account to make the most money. Seriously?

3) Everyone else on the planet who honestly still (rightly or not) believes that essentially Squidoo is a spam-machine. And that's it. Only recently have I seen Squidoo compared to less-than-kosher places like Yuwie and ASD (the old Ad Cash Daily scam). Now Mixx has banned lenses from being submitted and even my old standby of forum siggies with lens URL's has become suspect. The reigning opinion is not a nice reflection on Squidoo.

Seriously, what the heck? Even an innocent post about the Twitter Charity Drive has been frowned upon on a forum in which I am VERY established on (and rarely do I even mention Squidoo at all there, and not even anything since August). The problem? Not the charity part. Not the Twitter part. It was the fact that the URL for the contest was from Squidoo and they don't appreciate "those types of spam links". Um, what?

I asked questions. I poked around. My findings? Regardless of what your lens is about, the prevailing opinions are that 1) Squidoo "clicks" pay us cash (???) so if we put links in our siggies we're "tricking" folks in to giving us money, 2) Since lenses are "primarily" used for revenue generation, any promotion we do is considered advertising for personal financial gains, 3) that "promoting" for a charity has less-than-savory connotations - that is, the charity makes a few pennies, but we (as lensmasters) make more and therefore only use the charities as a "front" to trick more people in to our evil plans to take over the universe apparently (insert the eyeroll here).

So, my question is this - how in the world do we change the tides of opinion? I actually read a blog post (from a highly respected blog) regarding social bookmarking in general today during my reasearch that stated "if you see a Squidoo link, just skip it - don't give them any votes". I also read a blurb stating "unfortunately, Digg still allows submissions from Squidoo, but we hope that will change in the future".

I have explained Squidoo over and over and over to people. I've been blue in the face, but I must admit, today my spirit has been crushed. Mentioning the word Squidoo in conversation is apparently akin to mentioning Amway. I want to scream.

Monday, December 8, 2008

LOTD and Affiliate Chat

WOW! My Chanukah for Kids lens got Lens of The Day on Squidoo last week - http://www.squidoo.com/chanukah-toys

That was quite a nice surprise! Even nicer since I only noticed when I checked my e-mail and saw dozens of "You've got comments" notices from Squidoo and thought "Um...wut?". How cool it was that the very first comment that I saw was from my dear pal Willow!

And speaking of friends, I'm even happier about LOTD on this particular lens since a BIG issue I had last year, apart from finding cool *free* stuff for my kiddos to do, was finding a nice selection of Kosher treats and sweets to send off to my wonderful friend Libby in England. Last years selection in the brick-and-mortar stores around here was pretty weak so I was most pleased to find an affiliate partership with AviGlat Kosher Grocers! Shop At AviGlatt.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speaking of Sales...

One of my affiliate network stores is having an INSANE clearance sale right now!

Miss Spider girls shorts and t's outfits in 2T, 4T or 5T for 99 cents!! I put the link and pic at the very bottom of my Miss Spider lens.

Atomic Betty skirt and shirt sets for 99 cents, ToddWorld 10 inch plush toys for 99 cents, and more - 28 inch Atomic Betty cuddle pillows, collapsable character laundry hampers, toys, clothes - everything all crazy-low prices. You can find some great (cheap) stocking stuffers for kids too.

I ordered a giant cuddle pillow , a few outfits for my 2 youngest girls, shirts for my son, nephew, and oldest daughter, and a few "extras" for Christmas!

Click here to start shopping now before they're all gone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

US Lensmasters - don't forget about Black Fiday and Cyber Monday sales!! I'm going through today and revamping a few of my lenses that could benefit from the sales crush. Although I didn't have any lenses on Squidoo last year, I was up at 2 AM to take advantage of A LOT of online deals before heading out to shop with my husband at 5 AM (we tag-teamed). Most of the online stores that I shopped with had their best sales on Black Friday and not Cyber Monday. It seems that Friday is for sales and Monday more for people looking for deals that they couldn't find or missed out on Friday. Just my little consumer observation.

Today I've completely re-done my tarts lens. Most of the seller links aren't affiliates, they're just places that I've purchased from or that other people have recommended. So, today I sent out an e-mail to all of the sellers listed on the lens and offered to list their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales for them.

OK, mainly so *I* get advance notice because I need to SHOP too, but also to promote my lens, expose more eyeballs to the affiliate items I have listed, and to just help out some small, independent e-tailers.

AND (kind of off topic) but, if you check out my tarts lens, take a peek at the awesome hand made clay burner I found on Amazon!!! It's so cool - I'm buying one for myself. LOVE IT!!

As you may know, Amazon usually runs some great sales too, so it certainly wouldn't hurt to let your readers know that the Amazon prices are live feeds so they're getting the best deal at the moment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meet The Squidlets - How A Six-Year-Old Builds A Lens

I mention my children so often in nearly everything I publish, so it's about time for some introductions I think!

My middle daughter just turned 6 last week. She and I have been having some fun working on a couple of new lenses which is quite a feat when you can't read very well yet! Her latest is Wubbzy Toys.

We start with my lens template and I go down the list of what's there and she decides what to keep and what to delete. I used another of my lenses to show her what the different Amazon modules look like and she decided what she wanted. After I added in the Amazon Spotlight modules for her, we went to Amazon and I told her the letters to spell "Wubbzy" and she hunted out the letters on the keyboard. Scrolling through to find her favorites was easy, then she just had to learn how to highlight the right codes to cut and paste in to the Amazon modules on the lens.

We used a lot of the Big Picture Text modules and she was able to right-click and save the pictures then hunt for them to load on to the lens. We cut-and-pasted the product descriptions from Amazon since that was the easiest for her to do (and 6-year-olds aren't the best with sentence structure anyway).

We used the same links for Cafe Press as we already had on our main Wubbzy fan page (and after seeing the store over there she decided that the magnets were pretty cool too). She picked out all of the Amazon merchandise to feature and her "favorite" is the one she put right on top. So, any revenue this lens makes she's going to use to buy it - Soapity Suds Wubbzy. Apparently the idea of giving Wubbzy a shampoo wig is just too full of win to pass up!!! She also drew a lovely picture of Wubbzy, Widget, Walden, and Daizy to add to the page but my scanner is on the fritz. We tried to take a photo of it, but that didn't work too well.

With her new skills she helped me spiff up Yo Gabba Gabba Toys (and I know the keychain pic looks a bit wonky, but she INSISTED that it looked beautiful that way), and Charlie and Lola Toys (but she got bored after picking out everything so Mommy had to do most of the formatting). I LOVE the little avatar pic she chose for it, though:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Advice

I read a great blog post from an online pal today. It's definately worth a read for folks just starting out or as a reminder even if you've been plugging away online for a while. Just great, practical, sound advice. It doesn't cost a penny and it works for everyone on any platform - blogs, websites, squidoo, hubpages, you name it.

"This is what every one is looking for, right? The real hidden secrets of online money making industry. I will keep things very simple and straight to the point. If you can get the following simple things right, Nobody in this world can stop you from making money. If somebody tries , you can laugh all the way to the bank."

Read the rest here: Antharjalaya.com

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Adwords Experiment - What Was I Thinking??

I often find myself reminding my kiddos that yes, sometimes we suffer in order to learn a lesson. Sometimes lessons hurt. Sometimes they just cost you money.

Even though it's only been 4 days so far, I know a bad thing when I see it and am cutting off my Adwords campaign - sort of. I realize that only a few days is not a good indicator of results, but the pricey clicks are just ridiculous. I've adjusted my settings for the maximum bid of 15 cents. Thanks for the "budget maximizing, Google, but no thanks. So far, I've had 7,833 impressions. 169 of those were as "sponsored results" on searches from 10 keyword phrases and 7,644 were on Google partner sites. Out of those impressions I've gotten 12 clicks on 6 of the keyword phrases and 3 clicks from partner websites.

Those 15 clicks cost me $8.30.

I earned zero in sales and only 3 clickouts from my lens.

I certainly wasn't expecting miracles or anything, but those are some pretty pricey clicks I think! I'll let the campaign run with the 15 cent per click max for a few days to see how it goes, but I really don't think I'll see any improvement in performance or click-throughs. I could be wrong, but that $8.30 could have been better spent. How? I'm not sure, but at least the kiddos and I could have had ice cream for that!

Here's a screen shot from yesterday (second row from the bottom is parter website impressions and clicks):