Greekgeek's Online Odyssey - Hubpages and Online Article Writing Tips

cool squidoo tips

Squidoo Lens Transfer To Hubpages Has Begun

Hubpages has set up a new help forum for Squidoo members making the transition to HP.

As expected, HP is transferring accounts a bit at a time, with early opt-ins getting early transfers.

Relache reports on how her lenses looked after import and what happened to modules that work rather differently on HP.

Still waiting for your lenses to transfer? Here’s what I’m doing.

  • One final Traffic Stats compilation. My weekly traffic for all my Squidoo accounts dropped below 9000 this week. Partly because I deleted over a hundred of lenses (Squidoo-related tutorials and community lenses, lensographies, and some product review niches that I’m moving to my own site), but that’s still sad for 259 pages.
  • KEYWORD DATA DEEP DIVE. Last chance! Whatever else one can say for it, Squidoo gave us good data on keywords tucked away in the depths of the dashboard. Really tucked away, since they hid the 90 day data.

You can get it by creating a random bookmark (be sure to add it to your browser toolbar), then editing the bookmark in your browser’s bookmark editor and changing the URL to the following mini script (scroll right in the code box below to make sure you copy all of it):


Click that bookmarklet while you’re logged into Squidoo, and it’ll ask for a lens URL  — just the stuff after — and then it takes you to the 90-day traffic pane for that lens. Be sure to click the “see more” toggle at the bottom of the keywords list to grab ‘em all. Save ‘em to a text document with all the keywords for one niche, and they may give you some ideas about the sorts of things your primary audience is looking for.

I’m trying to collect the keyword data for my favorite niches and top hubs. That’s not something HP is going to preserve.

How to Post a Recipe Lens on iPad

…Mostly so I can remember what the heck I did later.

So there’s this recipe I kept meaning to write up. I can’t lug the desktop computer down to the kitchen, and I’ve basically switched over to doing work on the iPad.

Turns out writing up the recipe was as fast as cooking it, so I could do both at the same time.

Needed apps: Pages (there’s also a desktop version of this which may have the same template). Something to transfer files over to one’s desktop computer (like Dropbox) or to the web (like FTP Client Pro).

  1. In Pages, I chose New and the Recipe template.
  2. I filled in and erased the text.
  3. I snapped an iPad camera photo and plugged it into the image placeholder by clicking on it and choosing Camera Roll.
  4. When done, I chose Share and Print. Then…
  • Open in Another App
  • Choose PDF
  • Choose App: FTP Client Pro
  • Upload
  • Rename to something without spaces in it.

At this point I had the PDF uploaded to my website’s server. That’s the “Printable Recipe” link on the lens.

Alternatively, at the “Choose Another App” stage I could’ve chosen Dropbox and uploaded the file to my Dropbox. It then would’ve been accessible in the cloud via any of my computers with Dropbox installed. From there I could’ve uploaded it to my web server like any other file. But FTP Client Pro saves a step.

I then wrote nearly all the lens on the iPad, copying the instructions from my Pages file to the Recipe module. (I used a Big Arrow Link to point to the PDF version uploaded to my server for the printable version because it looks better than Squidoo’s printable. Also, clickouts.)

Unfortunately, for the lens photo, there’s still no way to upload a graphic on iPad: you have to go to a traditional computer and upload the photo there. (I just sent a suggestion to SquidHQ to work on this.)

Everything else is incredibly easy to do on iPad.

The True Power of Social Media

Wow. I had started to create a lens on the Mars Curiosity Rover a little over a week ago, claimed the URL, then stupidly failed to finish it.

I wound up creating the article on Hubpages instead, since its clean interface looks a little less corny for educational pages.

I discovered one more reason why I was glad I’d created my Mars Rover page on Hubpages: it’s really fast to edit, update, and add pictures.  Sunday night, I decided to use my hub on the Mars Rover to liveblog the whole event. With a few Tweets and hashtags related to the event as it was unfolding, I started getting traffic before the spacecraft hit the atmosphere!

Today, I saw just how fast Google can crawl after a Tweet or link on a social website gets posted (possibly this is only true of social sites its owns).

On Squidoo, I wound up making a lighthearted Mars Curiosity Rover 3D model lens showing off an amazing free app from NASA that lets you plunk a virtual reality model of the rover down on your cat, er, your desk, and move the model around. (It’s bizarre. It’s SO COOL.) Obviously, if I’m combining a trending topic with a funny cat video, I should Tweet it. In this case, I tweeted the video on YouTube, which is liable to get more visitors. In the video description, I included a link to the Squidoo lens showing how to get your own copy of the virtual rover so you can put it on your cat, er, desk.

I published that lens a few hours ago, but it’s got a lensrank of almost 2 million, since Squidoo ranks unpublished lenses lower and lower if you don’t publish them pronto. This means it’s a WIP lens, and is not yet plugged into Squidoo’s internal links, so Squidoo hasn’t yet informed search engines that the page exists.  To my surprise, it immediately started getting Google search traffic wanting to know how to get and use the app I was demoing in the video!

Remember, YouTube is owned by Google. It must have seen the link in the video description, and/or seen the Tweet, followed it back, and crawled it, a good 12 hours before Squidoo acknowledges that the lens exists.

I’m actually not sure whether the Youtube video link or the Tweet got the page indexed and ranked well by Googe, but it’s good to remember both, and to remember that you already have to be part of the conversation in social media like Twitter, or nobody is going to follow your interruption (link drop) into the conversation. 

Hubpages vs. Squidoo: Short-Term vs. Long-Term Traffic

I’ve been exploring Hubpages vs. Squidoo ever since Panda smacked Hubpages and left Squidoo alone. (The longterm fallout from that is that Hubpages’ traffic has fallen roughly to be the same as Squidoo’s, but Squidoo’s distribution of more money to top-performing lenses means one can make more money with fewer visitors.)


One thing has come home to me forcefully in my recent experiments on Hubpages. It’s obvious, yet I don’t think many people are taking advantage of it.

Articles on Hubpages start earning ad revenue immediately. Articles on Squidoo can earn sales commissions immediately, but they only become eligible for ad revenue on the first of the month, not for their first partial month. Also, Hubpages revenue is tied directly to impressions, whereas Squidoo’s ad revenue is paid indirectly via the tier payout system.

What this means is that if you create a lens on a current, trending topic, you may not earn anything from the initial burst of traffic, and the later trickle of traffic after the main buzz is over may be too low to sustain the lens in a payout tier (or, at best, tier three). Whereas if you create a hub capitalizing on a current topic, you’ll get all the ad revenue from the initial traffic spike, then a modest trickle of revenue from the modest trickle of visitors that come later.

I discovered this by accident when one of my hubs went viral and earned more in a week than all my hubs combined in the previous six months. I confess that I had that episode somewhat in mind when, on May 18, I rushed to get up a page about how and when to watch the May 20th solar eclipse. (The article is now rewritten to reflect what people want after an eclipse: cool pictures.)  The 3500 visitor spike on May 20th easily doubled my earnings for the rest of the month. Post-eclipse, it’s getting 20-25 visits a day, not enough to pull in much ad revenue, but the pennies will become part of my overall daily income.

After some thought, partly because I think it will get more visitors on Squidoo, and partly because I really was excited about this event, I created a different article sharing my solar eclipse photos on Squidoo. That’s tailored to the more community-minded, slightly less informational style of Squidoo lenses; also, significantly, I host the pictures on my own website and link to them so they get clickouts, capitalizing on Squidoo’s lensrank factors and greater ability to drive traffic by letting me name images. It will be an interesting experiment to see how these two articles compare in earnings over the longterm. I predict that the Squidoo lens will earn more.

So, anyway, the point is: if you’re leaping on a trending topic, consider Hubpages for that initial traffic spike. If it’s a topic that’s likely to get longterm traffic and clickouts, Squidoo is the better option.

Squidoo Image Sizes, Format and URLs: Under the Hood

Ever wondered what image sizes work best on Squidoo?

In the following cases, there’s a maximum width (but not height); Squidoo shrinks the graphic to fit but keeps the height proportional if you give it something larger. Best to let Photoshop or an image resizer to do it; Squidoo’s built in shrinker isn’t as smart.

  • The width of the Squidoo column (e.g. Text with BIG Picture module) is 590 pixels wide.
  • The lens logo graphic and the graphics that can be uploaded to the Text module are a maximum of 250 pixels wide; Squidoo shrinks them to fit.
  • Lensmaster photo on your profile page: 120 pixels wide.
  • The Polaroid Module is 400 pixels wide.
In the following cases, Squidoo needs the graphic to be absolutely square. It does this by scaling the graphic to the specified width, then cropping or adding whitespace to the top and bottom to make a perfect square.
  • Lensmaster photo in bio box on lens: 70×70 square
  • “Related Lenses” in the sidebar (Discovery Tool): 70×70 square
  • Featured Lenses module: 60×60 square
  • Front page of Squidoo: 200×200 square

Instead of using keywords for the lens logo graphic, Squidoo replaces the filename with a long string of numbers. If you replace the graphic, it keeps the same string of numbers, so external tools like SquidTool’s Featured Lenses tool will still work.

Want to see how your lens graphic looks at different sizes (e.g. the featured lenses module, related lens sidebar, etc)?

1. Go to your lens and right-click the lens graphic to get its url.

Example (this is a lens logo, so it’s 250 pixels wide):

Greekgeek's 3D Computer Art

In the published version, it’s something like:

In the Lens workshop, it’s different (so that you don’t replace the published version by accident before you’re ready):

Want to see how it looks at different sizes? Then change the -1 (in the URL of the published version) or the 250 (in the URL from the workshop) to the desired width.

For example:




That shows you the graphic scaled to different sizes. But remember, for the Squidoo front page, the “Related lenses” sidebar graphic, and the Featured Lenses module, the graphic will be cropped square.

Squidoo has done something with CSS classes to make it crop exactly in the middle, and you know what? I still can’t replicate what they’re doing to make the square crop. So just know that it’s the exact middle of the graphic.

Need to figure out the image size of a graphic you’ve found somewhere else? See How to Tell an Image’s Size, both pixel dimensions and file size/memory.

As for formats, Squidoo allows the following:

  • gif: no animation allowed, and no transparency (it makes a black background). gifs have a maximum of 256 colors; if you save a photo as a gif it gets a bit posterized. gifs use very little memory and are fast-loading.
  • jpg: this is usually the best format for Squidoo. It uses less memory by compressing the photo somewhat (cheating to save space). If you look closely, you may find jpgs have lost some detail, like YouTube videos but not quite as bad because the data isn’t compressed (simplified to save memory) quite as much.
  • png: this format is a memory hog, but preserves the colors and pixels accurately. Larger-sized pngs may not upload on Squidoo (I think the max may be 1MB, not sure). The only problem is that, as with transparent gifs, where one color is designated to be transparent and let the background page color show through, Squidoo fills in the “transparent color” with black. The way to avoid this is to uncheck transparency when saving a png, or save it as a jpg and put up with the slight loss of resolution.

You should know that picture quality always degrades slightly if you upload an image into Squidoo’s text or introduction module. Photo quality is better if you save a high-quality jpg or png and upload it to your own website or a service like Flickr. (I love being able to upload images to my own site; I can give each photo its own filename AND folder name, which means a lot of keywords I can use to optimize the lens where those images are displayed.)

More Tips for Building Amazon Associate Links

I’m always fiddling with ways to display Amazon Associate links with big bold images and appealing layouts so they get more clicks.

I’ve got a few tricks I use all the time. They’re fast, and I do them almost without thinking about it.

Unfortunately, when I try to explain them, they look scary, because the code Amazon gives us is scary, then I have to insert minor tweaks.

Which is why I’ve filed this Squidoo Tutorial under Advanced CSS. For old Squidoo hands, it may be useful; for new Squids, it’ll probably make your head spin:

My Amazon Associates Links Beat Squidoo’s Links

Hopefully they will prove useful to somebody.






Resizing Images for Amazon Associates, Squidoo, Zazzle

I experiment with different ways of using images, because they get clicked even when they’re decorative. (And there’s nothing like a visually intriguing thumbnail to get people clicking — they want to see it full-sized).

When you grab a basic Amazon Associates “image” code, you get something like:

There’s an easy — well, fairly easy — way to resize Amazon graphics, up to whatever size the original product image is that’s stored on Amazon. (Any larger than the original, and it gets fuzzy.)


Rel=”me” Rel=”author” UPDATE for Squidoo lensmasters

I just got a note from Gil on my Rel=”author” Squidoo tutorial. (Thanks, Gil!)

The slots on our Squidoo Profile for “other profiles” (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) are now labeled with rel=”me” automatically. So is the “My Blog” slot.

More importantly, Squidoo has now added a slot on our lensmaster profile for a link to “Google Plus” (which will work just fine for a regular Google profile account as well). This link is automatically marked with rel=”me” in the code.

Therefore, in order to connect your Squidoo lenses to your Google profile, the process is now:

  1. Create a Google Profile
  2. Edit your Google Profile, add a link to your Squidoo Lensmaster Page in the “Other Profiles” box
  3. View your Google profile and copy its URL
  4. On Squidoo, go to My Settings > Profile, scroll down, and paste your Google Profile URL into the “Google Plus” box
  5. Save, and you’re done!
(You don’t have to fuss with rel=”author” at all, because the bio box in the upper right corner of lenses automatically creates rel=”author” from each lens to your lensmaster profile page.)

P.S. Remember those slots in our Squidoo Profile that we haven’t been able to access since the Dashboard update? They’re editable again!

Silly moneymaking tip…

I’ve got just one word to say to you:

“The Graduate”

Or, wait, two words…

I noticed this phenomenon several years ago when I converted a seminar paper on the Egyptian god Thoth into a Squidoo lens.

People love action figures. Even in this economy, and especially if it’s something for which one would not expect an action figure, they’ll click on small thumbnail images of action figures to get a better look. Sometimes they’ll buy. Sometimes they’ll buy something else on Amazon instead.

There’s sports figure bobbleheads and politician action figures (and voodoo dolls) and collectible action figures for every single movie, video game, and most pop music stars. There’s collectible Greek mythology action figures.  There’s Seth Godin and his mismatched socks.

The eco-friendly part of me shudders at promoting collectibles, because they’re plastic, plastic, plastic, and they’re a waste of resources. Mea culpa.

The pragmatic part of me says that they pay the bills. And I’m really fond of the one that sits on my computer guarding my hard drive.

So there’s a thought. Which I’m offering in lieu of intelligent commentary on Squidoo’s experiments with subdomains and “digest” style magazines following the Hubpages success with subdomains which has the Panda watching world in a tizzy. Other than: it’s worth testing.

Squidoo Pay Day Coming: Two Things to Check

Squidoo Pay Day is almost here. Someone usually posts a thread in SquidU when earnings start showing up in our dashboard.

You can find them by clicking the “stats” link under an individual lens, then the “earnings” tab. There’s an Ad Pool “earnings” amount showing for 7/30. That’s July earnings, which will be paid in September.

Nice to know, but first something to check: are your Payment Settings correct?  It’s a bummer when a charity drops from Squidoo’s list, so that your donation to your favorite charity goes to another instead. It’s even more of a bummer when you make a co-brand lens that sends all your earnings to charity by default, or when Squidoo glitches and sends your earnings to charity. I’ve started taking a screenshot of all my lens payment settings for my records.

You get to the “Payment Settings” overview of which lens is set to donate to which charity by clicking “My Settings”  at the upper right of Squidoo’s control strip, then “Payouts,”  then scroll down and click “Individual Lens Settings.”

One more thing. Do you have multiple accounts? There are advantages and disadvantages to niche accounts. One disadvantage is that you pay the Paypal transaction fee on EACH account, which is (I think?) something like 2%, capped at $1. I’m a little worried about Squidoo glitches and the hopper, but I’ve just raised the payout threshold on my accounts to $50.