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


Check-In Jan 2015: Where Is Greekgeek?

Personal Chatter

‘Lo, folks. Back from adventures.

The good: I managed to make a solo trip to the UK, including Scotland, Ireland, and northern England, which I haven’t visited before. I had a ball at a classic Who convention, indulged in geology and mythology geeking at the Giant’s Causeway, poked around old castles and ruins, and rambled around in the British Museum saying hello to all the bits of Greece that aren’t in Greece. (Sooner or later I need to post about the Elgin Marbles controversy.) Also, Flynn the Cat and I hung out. Thank you, Flynn, for putting up with my being so ragged!

The bad: Bleeding ulcer. I was too stubborn to cancel my trip, but boy howdy do I never want to travel again while feeling that awful. I’m now on the mend, and finally able to sit at the computer for enough time to work.

Also good: My Buzzfeed-style listicle, 25 Funny Things on Google Maps, picked up Hub of the Day on Jan 4.  Mind you, I’ve always mixed feelings about that article. In 2012-2013, it was my top-ranked Squidoo page, thanks to high traffic and clickouts. I’d like to think that my educational articles are better quality. On the other hand, I did go the extra mile (so to speak) to hunt down interesting information about each item on the list. So thanks, HP. I hope someday one of my meatier articles earns an HotD nod.

For what it’s worth, even when it was Hub of the Day, its hubscore still hovered around 83. [See my thoughts about Hubscores.]

My Hubpages To-Do checklist

I gather that transferred Squidoo articles were given a two week extension before they undergo the full Hubpages Quality Assessment Process? At least, when I was working on revisions last week, the warning messages on those flagged with “overly promotional links” said that I had two weeks to bring them up to snuff.

Here’s my checklist.


Squidoo to Hubpages Transfer: Traffic Increase

I just checked Google Analytics to see how my Squidoo lenses are faring after transfer.

Here’s their daily traffic stats according to Google Analytics. (Scroll down for a visual chart of the boring data).

To create this table, I combined all their Google Analytics daily traffic data. Squidoo or Hubpages, wherever they were, it was the same batch of articles.*

First Week of Squidoo to Hubpages Traffic


Happy Squidversary to Me! (7 Years)

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): 

My 2012-14 Squidoo Traffic

…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?


Updating Squidoo Lenses: My 2013 Checklist

Squidoo progress Excel Spreadsheet

My yearly progress spreadsheet helps me track progress and seasonal trends.

Whew, 2012 was quite a roller coaster of a year for me on Squidoo and beyond.

The good: I achieved a 68% increase in online earnings, and I began an earnest push to diversify beyond Squidoo, and succeeded at least a little (see bottom of my payouts chart).

The bad: Pinterest members began copying and uploading our photos en masse, so that we were competing with ourselves for image traffic, and third-party websites began using pinned images to make money. Hubpages, where I’ve had the most luck in diversification, had its Google ups and downs and its share of disruptive policy changes. Later, along with many Squidoo members, I lost 34% of my Google traffic to Squidoo around November 15. Accordingly, my November Squidoo earnings saw a 33% drop, when normally my November earnings are up. December saw a couple of Squidoo Surprises that required emergency triage to all our lenses. Also, the old by-and-for-lensmasters SquidU community was closed down by HQ and resurrected by Christene.

I’m tired. I’ve been tired. All of the above, plus arthritis, have left me exhausted and discouraged. So I’ve been taking a break from Squidoo and article sites in general. However, January’s almost over, and it’s time to get back in the saddle.

This year, rather than writing new content on Squidoo, I’m mostly going to write elsewhere and just do maintenance on my Squidoo portfolio.

Here’s a checklist of what I do to update each lens. I’m not gonna do all these changes on every lens all at one sitting. Instead, I’ve created an “Update log” spreadsheet with “type of update” as the column headers, lenses as the rows. When I make an update, I’ll note it in the appropriate column/row with the date.


Dealing With the Changing Web

Changes! Yep, that’s the name of the game on the web. GeoCities, MySpace, Lycos: the web is littered with the carcasses of sites that didn’t evolve as the web did. So we have to be braced for it.

The sites where I publish have had several widely-discussed changes of late: Squidoo closed SquidU and opened new forums, while Hubpages implemented Idle Status to Hubs. Both changes caused upheaval and member consternation, and, hopefully, opportunities.

The changes will keep coming. Seth Godin’s recent post on SquidHQ’s blog elicited some positive responses as well as trepidation from the following announcement:

…if you haven’t been hearing a lot from Corey and Gil, that’s because they’ve been hunkering down with the rest of our tech team working on a new project that we ought to be able to share with you in a few weeks. It’s designed to make Squidoo an even better platform, with more options for different sorts of users.

My first reaction is hope. Squidoo desperately needs to adapt to the mobile web. I’ve also felt like Squidoo focuses on some niche audiences to the detriment of others, so I like the sound of “more options for different sorts of users.”


My Online Earnings Diversification (or not)

I’m reviewing which of my earnings come from where, in my slow march towards diversification.

Last year, by the end of the year, Squidoo still accounted for 95% of my earnings, and most of the rest was Amazon Associates (despite Amazon Associates in California getting punted for several months). Alas, nearly all those Amazon Associates were Amazon links embedded on Squidoo lenses, not on my blogs or other sites. That’s bad, because if Squidoo ever has problems, Associate links embedded on those articles will get clobbered too.

Here’s my Jan-Jun earnings breakdown for this year:

Squidoo is mostly tier payouts. But how much? For the most part, I have Amazon Associates links embedded on Squidoo lenses, but I also have the odd Amazon module here or there. A question on SquidU induces me to check out my Squidoo earnings breakdown to see which parts of my Squidoo payouts are from tier payouts.

Digging out my three niche accounts and checking their Squidoo earnings breakdowns for the past 3 payouts, there’s a wide variety in sales income:

Adsense Text Links Amazon eBay Cafepress
68.70% 21.05% 9.54% 0.00% 0.71%
65.77% 20.31% 2.90% 9.89% 1.13%
76.37% 23.18% 0.36% 0.00% 0.00%

Keep in mind those are all for Squidoo’s built-in modules, not 3rd party associates links, which are on the pie chart above.

In short, my Squidoo earnings are still mostly tier payouts (as opposed to sales commissions), and my overall earnings are mostly Squidoo, either through Squidoo payouts or through third party affiliate links on Squidoo lenses.

Clearly, I need to attend more to my blogs to have them draw a more significant amount of traffic/income (they get some Adsense, but I don’t count it yet as they have yet to reach payout threshold, and my Amazon links on my mythology blog almost never convert). Or else I need to establish a presence on Zujava or Wizzley as an alternative to Squidoo for embedding Amazon Associates links. (However, Squidoo has made me greedy: I like being able to embed my own Amazon Associates links and not share sales commissions.)

Getting Ready for Hobbit Hype…What Are You Getting Ready For?

A good and bad aspect of writing online for a living is that everything you love becomes potential writing fodder.

As usual, you have to find the “What you love / what people are searching for” overlap: I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fall of Gondolin” story in Book of Lost Tales, but few people are searching for it; those few people who love it are all on some Lord of the Rings fan forum talking about it. They’re not going to find an article I write on it unless I write a really good article on it, and lots of other really good Tolkien articles, until finally I get a following of Tolkien geeks.

That’s social promotion, which works by word of mouth.

Search engine optimization means automated traffic: people finding your content through searches. Not all aspects of a topic get search traffic. (“Fall of Gondolin.”) But many do. I’ve learned by trial and error that common search traffic queries related to science fiction and fantasy fandom are collectibles, toys, and costumes. People want Harry Potter  legos and Star Wars action figures and Xena swords. Being part of science fiction fandom, I also like some of these things, enough to research and write about them. Bingo!

Being a longtime Tolkien fan, I know that another Tolkien book is being turned into a movie — two movies — and that as with The Lord of the Rings films, there will be collectibles, action figures, replicas, toys, stuff. But of course, if fans just want to buy that stuff, they’ll go straight to Amazon and look it up there, bypassing Google and bypassing my lenses. They don’t need me to natter at them about that stuff! So product-related articles must do more than just showcase the product. They must provide some kind of information that fans want that Amazon doesn’t cover.

If you are a fan, you know what fans find interesting or want to know, and it’s your job (a fun job!) to research and provide that info. For example: The origin of Hermione’s Time Turner and how it works. The colors of different Jedi lightsabres. Costume details on Thor’s armor, and how to make it (and where to find materials to make it on eBay for cheap). This is where your fan expertise suddenly becomes useful, instead of merely an embarrassing hobby: you can answer questions that Amazon can’t, related to things.

In my case, I like swords (there’s an Éowyn bottled up in me somewhere), and I like Elvish and runes and dead languages. I paid attention to the props and replicas in the LOTR films and noticed all the Elvish runes written on them. So what am I doing, on days when I can’t think of more educational and thoughtful topics to write about?

Amazon product images let me grab photos, and the Fair Use policy of a “limited excerpt” for critique/commentary lets me use a credited close-up photo for analyzing and reporting on the inscriptions on each weapon.

The details of what I’m doing aren’t important except as an example of how to mine an interest for an angle that’s likely to draw traffic and drive sales.

The point is: you have fandoms, hobbies, interests in which you have expert knowledge. Many of them are related to upcoming books, films, or events. Those are prime targets for search traffic. Now think of products related to the hobby, fandom, or event. And think of details about those products that fans might be wanting to know (“What do the runes on Gandalf’s sword say?”) The more you know about the fandom, the more likely you’ll be able to come up with information that may not be available elsewhere, or may not have been pulled together in quite the way you can do it. (There are webpages on Elvish, and there are websites about Tolkien trivia, and there are websites on movie swords, and there are sales listings for the swords available on Amazon, but the information from all those sources hasn’t been combined onto one article, plus I’ve found or added some information not found anywhere else.)

I’m getting ready for the Hobbit films. What are you getting ready for?

My First Five Years on Squidoo

I started this lens on my Squidversary, May 4, 2012, but I didn’t bother to finish it until the end of the month:

My First Five Years on Squidoo: a veteran Squid’s retropsective

That lens photo shows the only Giant Squid t-shirt I’ve ever handled. It’s not mine; it wanders along with the Journal of the Traveling Squid!

Beyond Squidoo: Getting My Eggs in Multiple Baskets

It’s wise to get eggs in multiple baskets — that is, income streams from multiple online sources — to protect oneself against Google penalties or policy changes on any one site. Whereas last year I decided to make a go of treating Squidoo as a full-time job, this year I’m trying to diversify.

So far, I’m having a hard time getting traction anywhere else, but then, it takes a while to discover what works best with each service and website. Here’s my breakdown for January-April 2012:


My Earnings Breakdown: Squidoo, Hubpages, etc

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately.


So There You Have It…

As expected, the earnings for June were discouraging for someone who decided at the beginning of this year to take a sabbatical from academia and become self-sufficient through online income by year’s end.

Here’s my Squidoo stats for June earnings and today’s traffic.

October 2010 was the last time I earned less than $500 on Squidoo. I had half the lenses then than I did in June. Some of June’s lost tier ones (I lost seven of my twelve) were my top tier page break lenses getting broken. At least one is probably dropped traffic from Squidcasts, but I can’t account for the lensrank crash on all of them.

It’s scary. Squidoo was a lot more fun when putting in 60-70 hour work weeks meant my pay was going up most months. Still below minimum wage, but the long-term dividends made it worthwhile.

I’ve started working on the other  legs of my Five Goals, looking for alternatives, but nothing’s really effective yet. I have at least struck gold in my alternate Squidoo account with a niche that seems to get clickouts through the roof : 800+ clickouts in the last week on just one lens. Even so, most of the lenses in that niche aren’t getting insane clickouts like that one; they’re mostly turning out tier three with a few tier twos– translating to about $10 more dollars of earnings a month. This is definitely not the efficient way to become self-sufficient through online income.

I’ve got lenses with ~600 visitors a week that are tier two, and occasional sales don’t get them to tier one. Clickouts seems to be the magic bullet — for now. Frustrating for me, because my lenses with tons of clickouts actually have less interesting, meaty content than other lenses with more traffic. But of course, if people are looking for free clip art or photoshop brushes or the like, they don’t want an essay and they don’t need information or a step-by-step how-to. This has only been since June, mind you — before that, my clickouts didn’t seem to edge out all other ranking factors quite so strongly. But one learns and adapts.


After Squidoo pay day, someone always asks, “So, how are you spending your Squidpay?”

Paying for a rental and car repairs after my first auto accident since 1988.

It’s been one of those weeks. We all have ‘em, eh?