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…
Thanks for this, GG. I’m happy to read this, sorry about your health troubles, and happy to read about your positive attitude and fortitude.
I’ll keep plugging away until I find what works for me and pieces like this one encourage me on.
I almost fell off my chair when I checked my email this morning and saw your update. Glad you are still around and doing not so bad (obviously when people vanishes others start to become somewhat alarmed lol).
I turned 7 too (back in February), I also lost about 60% of my income. I also did those lenslet (although I am a wise owl and did them on toys so I can move them off to my niche website). All my lenslet are somewhere in a pit no where to be found, but I had to keep giant (I have been busy and don’t have time to go through an account lock).
I do think Hubpage is currently doing rather well, my measly 3 hubs are pulling nice traffic compare to Squidoo. And I am not sure lenslets is helping at all (my best performing lenses traffic and sale-wise are the long ones with lots of content).
Good luck with your niche account and it’s nice to read your blog once again
Not sure if “happy anniversary” is welcome but I’l glad to hear you’re doing well.
Thanks! Yes it is. I’m glad to see people doing well, and sorry I’ve had to step back.
So pleased to see this post and read what you are up to these days Ellen. I too got banned from the HQ Forum, when I had not been on there much at all, but had been a “good girl” on there – honest!
I still have to decide what to do with a lot of my “now deleted because I left Squidoo content” and have been considering putting the more content rich ones on Hubpages. I only have a few hubs but they do get some traffic.
However, I decided to take a break from all things online during April and the break has extended into May.
I wish you all the best Ellen and every success on your online Odyssey
Lovely to hear from you again and a very Happy Squidversary!!! I’m 8 today – so we can celebrate the fact that those of us who write very long lenses on niche topics know what works and are still alive and kicking (when the joints don’t ache!!)
I totally agree with the points you make. At the end of the day what goes on and one forever attracting an audience is great content for a niche audience – and lots of it!
I’ve never been able to see the point of competing in areas of high volume searches and high volume websites. Ditto, you have to add a lot more than a review to a lens to make it attract traffic and be sustainable in the longer term. My best lenses are all ones I made several years ago – and they have done consistently well for years on topics I know about.
I’m also not fan of the short lenses – and why should I be when I have so much evidence long ones work better?
I very definitely agree with your endorsement of Seth’s original premise “everybody’s an expert – about something”. At some point, when I’m no longer writing ‘big on content’ books for major publishers entirely generated by writing a ‘big on content’ blog with long expert blog posts (which is my news for the last year), I’ll get round to setting up my own websites for my content – but right now they’re pootling along at Squidoo and doing as well if not better than they did prior to The Great Hiatus.
I just wish Squidoo HQ would see the sense in licensing the template for use independently of Squidoo for those who’d rather like to set up our own sites. I still like the modular approach with navigational URLs and the one page style – but I want to put it on my own website with my own branding and styling. In the meantime I continue to investigate Weebly…..
Here’s hoping I find rather more evidence of life in GG land over the next year – I have looked periodically but obviously didn’t find your new hideaway spots.
Muahaha. No matter where you go, I will find you (dammit, now people know that they can get to you through me! …if I was actually contactable these days by general internet people. I should work on that sometime. I have checked my internet email recently, but it had months of updates and notifications to wade through so I gave up).
Yeah, I suspect the filters. One thing that I suppose it could be (triggered by your mention of Hubpages), is the linking out stuff. I always did that very freely, and the linking restrictions are on of the things that kept me off Hubpages (I remember ranting about it in some frustration and holding Squidoo up – a long time ago – as a site that didn’t restrict you in that way, which was why I kept coming back. I don’t want to suddenly run into a random and arbitrary rule when in the flow of writing!).
…I feel like having a campaign of terror in which I rampage through all my old haunts and … I’m not sure. Banning everyone in site, or something. I’ll have to think about that one. I can’t post a Dramatic Flounce on the Squidoo forums, because I have been banned for a year as well (nearly).
Oh Zazzle. I forgot about that site, almost. I still make a couple of sales a month, and it’s nice and steady (as it has always been), but obviously the referrals have dropped. It was just so much effort. I was terribly OCD about putting ALL THE PICTURES on ALL THE THINGS.
Oh yes, the other reason I avoid internet stuff. it’s 4am again. I ACTUALLY HAVE A REAL JOB NOW THIS IS BAD.
I lost all the news when the Squid Upside down U forum went down. I can’t believe you got banned! Somehow I can’t even get ON the Squidoo forum so I guess I beat you there. A pre-ban!
Squidoo…what an interesting experimental lab for Seth Godin’s theories. I wonder if he’s happy with what came out of the test tube?
I recently wrote a lens on squidoo about why their lenses don’t rank well any longer on google. Seeing that you’re a experienced lensmaster and a competent and accomplished online writer, I really would love your input on the lens.
here is the url – http://www.squidoo.com/why-squidoo-isnt-ranking-in-google-anymore-my-theory
Some of the things you’ve written, like google penguin hasn’t affected squidoo, I raised an eyebrow at, but because you have been at this online stuff much longer than me, I want your opinion. I know that I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, and therefore want to hear other people’s opinion!
Thanks in advance – projectresolute
Looks like a good lens! I’ve moved on from Squidoo in the past year, so I’m a little rusty on the issues at this point. As usual, I’m mindful that we can guess and guess, but unless we can correlate a traffic change to a Google algorithm change or something that happened on Squidoo, we’re pretty well all sitting around the bar speculating (in an informed manner, but still).
Hey GreekGeek – you sure rank well for some stuff. Or maybe G figured out I like to read it.
Re. Squidoo forums. If you are not insanely positive on there they don’t like it. I wonder if anyone is allowed to mention the traffic drops there yet?
I never did much on Squidoo – too much happy-clappy for me. And opaque earnings process.
I’m still learning..