Well! I turn 7 on Squidoo today.
Much has happened since my last Squidbits post. I got banned! (Only from Squidoo’s HQ blog and forums, at a time when I hadn’t been posting on them for many months.) As far as I could tell, HQ thought my last Squidbits post “too negative,” according to the form letter I received. Thus chastened, I stopped posting.
Ironically, my Squidoo lenses are now attracting approximately the same amount of traffic that they were drawing back in the halcyon days of 2012, although they only earn about 1/4th of what they did back then.
Google Analytics for All my Squidoo Traffic (about 400 lenses):
…when the heck did Google change “unique visits” to “sessions”?
Don’t be fooled. My March traffic upsurge is largely due to a niche account capitalizing on new, remastered releases and sequels to some popular titles. (I say vaguely, since my niche account is connected to a fandom alias that I prefer to keep as an alias). Yes, I did plan ahead with lens updates and articles that anticipated said releases as far back as 2011; I have not totally abandoned my old skills. I expect that niche traffic to tail off again over time.
So, what have I been doing with myself on Squidoo?
Apart from prepping my niche account for those March releases, not much, although I’ve just updated and reworked all the lenses on the front page of my Greekgeek profile for the first time since the Pleistocene.
Yep. I’m lazy. (Or rather, I have a limited number of spoons, so I prefer to spend them making new things instead of maintaining old things.) In 2013, I thoroughly burned out on updating 400+ lenses in response to various layout changes, filter changes, policy changes, module changes or site glitches which kept causing bits of my lenses to vanish into the ether. Squidoo expects us to update frequently and keep abreast of site changes, and I… I just can’t.
So why am I not posting new lenses, even if I’m negligent in overhauling my old ones?
Sadly, when I look at the kinds of lenses showcased on the front page of Squidoo and the HQ blog, I see that the kind of articles I prefer to write don’t really fit Squidoo’s style any longer. Even in my own Greekgeek profile, the lenses I consider to be perfunctory and silly tend to bubble to the top of lensrank (25 Funny Things on Google Maps? Really?) whereas the ones I’m most proud of languish in the third tier—still earning traffic, but not enough to earn much money. I’m not deleting my old lenses, but I’m posting new material on my hobby blogs (which also earn pittances) or on Hubpages, which pays more for my style of intense geekery on obscure hobbies and interests.
Yes, I did write some Squidoo lenslets this December to keep from losing Giant status, for fear that my old, successful lenses might be locked due to additional automated filters which are brought to bear on non-Giant accounts. (I suspect this may be what happened to my old buddy Flynn). But I despise my own lenslets. They are superficial and inadequate; they remind me of essays I’ve written that satisfied the teacher but which no one else would ever want to read.
Naturally, a few of them earned a Best of Squidoo, which just goes to show that Squidoo and I are on utterly different wavelengths nowadays:
- Exhibit A: A Doctor Who Lenslet by Greekgeek (“Best of Squidoo”)
- Exhibit B: A Doctor Who Hub by Greekgeek (“Editor’s Choice”)
…you see my problem.
What I’m Up to Outside Squidoo
I realized that my old goal to be totally self-supporting with my online income was— not impossible, certainly, as I was doing it just before Squidoo earnings crashed— but it was a point of pride rather than of necessity. I conceded that health troubles would make it difficult for me to churn out enough pages in a reasonable amount of time to make up that loss, so why not thank my good fortune with grateful heart and enjoy life as well as I can?
So, I have been:
- Writing on Hubpages. Not often enough, but I’ve got some good meaty articles there.
- Moonlighting as a video game blogger. It’s like sports journalism, only more nerdy.
- Engaging in Tumblr, where one can blog under aliases without sharing personal info. I am from the side of the web that wants to be able to share my interests without having to share my personal life with then entire planet. (Zuck you, Zuckerberg).*
- Returning to my creative writing, which I set aside years ago in order to focus upon more profitable writing.
- Posting more designs on Zazzle.
- Getting sucked into geology blogs. (Why not?) Backyard astronomy was apparently not a sufficiently geeky pasttime for a humanities major.
- Learning modern Greek. I’ve forgotten so much ancient Greek now that I’m no longer (much) confused by the past 2300 years of linguistic shifts.
- All right, yes, that’s not much to show for the past year.
*Flynn, however, knows all my haunts. Be afraid.
Pretend That This Is a Witty Subheading and That I Actually Have Useful Advice to Give Bright Young Squids
Drat. My joints are screaming HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME. I was going to finish up this post with some passionate exhortations about what I still think works for the web and works somewhat on Squidoo. All I can say is…
… I was right, neener-neener-neener! Screw backlinks. Screw promotion with ephemeral social media posts that everyone is going to ignore as spam. Screw keyword density and link directories and pro forma guest posting and infographics and any artificial tricks or templates that involve dressing up a pig as a unicorn. (If you have a pig, for goodness’ sake make yummy bacon with it, and quit trying to pretend it’s not a pig.) The only thing that works is creating content that’s so useful and/or juicy that people other than your Mom will like it and share it. No shortcuts.
Figure out what you know and love that other people would love to know, and write lots of it. If you want to earn something, make sure you’re satisfying your visitors really and truly. If there are other webpages out there that answer their searches better than yours does, or entertain readers more, or give them more interesting/useful information, why the heck should they come to your pages? Watch your traffic stats and any keyword data that Google hasn’t hidden to see what kinds of visitors your pages actually attract, and figure out what those people like and how to satisfy them.
And no, that probably doesn’t mean cute personal anecdotes. Strangers don’t care about you, your Aunt Sally, or whoever you say uses this Fabulous Product that you’re recommending. They can get product reviews on Amazon. Web users generally search for, find and read pages on random websites only if they have a problem to solve, a question to answer, or just want to look up their favorite thing and find more of it. Therefore, mine everything you know and love and make it useful or interesting to someone.
Because, despite all the ways that Squidoo has changed, I still believe in the Squidoo credo that drew me to the site seven years ago: Everybody’s an expert. About something.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot…