…which aren’t quite as successful as they were due to Squidoo setbacks, but that’s another issue. Even so, while I’m panicking at having my Squidoo income dropping from $600 to $400 in the next month or so due to lensrank drops and recent upheavals, I have not abandoned five key methods I use for being moderately successful on Squidoo.
Most of you have seen me rant about all of these before, but I see some new Squids coming aboard who are asking “so, how do you do it?” Also, I wanted to do a self-check and see which methods I’ve discarded, which I’m still using. These are the clear winners:
1. Choose Topics that Meld Your Passions & the Web’s
I created this diagram a while ago for Squidbits, and it still holds true:
If you write on what you love without considering your audience, people may never read it, because they may not be interested in what you have to say. But if you use the “content farm” method of looking up what people are searching for and churning out half-hearted content, they won’t read it either, because your material won’t satisfy them. The trick is to figure out which parts of your interests, expertise and passions overlap with what lots of people on the web care about, and then use YOUR knowledge to give them what THEY want.
To figure out what YOU know (the left side of this chart), see my Ten Suggestions for Squidoo Lenses, which is NOT a list of specific ideas, but a brainstorming aid.
To find out what THEY want, do this:
2. Keyword Research and On-Page Optimization
See my “New Long Tail SEO” tutorial for how I research keywords before creating a new page, and how I use traffic stats on existing pages as leads to refine my content or as ideas for new articles.
3. Encourage Clickthroughs
See my “How to Get More Clicks, Sales” tutorial.
Squidoo lensrank rewards lenses that get lots of clicks and interaction, on the theory that, hopefully, they’ve found something useful or interesting enough to click on. Clicks aren’t the only proof that your visitors have found something they like on your page, but it’s hard to gauge readers’ reactions unless they interact with the page in some manner.
4. Attract Visitors With Graphics
See the “attracting visitors with images” section of my Uploading Images tutorial. I love this method because it’s so easy to do; you can incorporate it just like capitalization and punctuation.
5. Cross-link Related Content
Once I’ve landed a visitor, I try to make the most of that visitor by sending him/her to more of my content. You can’t cheat by creating a virtual scavenger hunt sending visitors from one page to the next looking for real content—if you don’t give visitors what they want, they leave in ten seconds or less. But if you’ve provided good content that your visitor likes, you have then earned his/her trust enough to recommend other related content.
You’ve seen one way I’m doing it in this article: when I refer to something I’ve talked about before, I link to it. I also make heavy use of Squidoo tags for cross-linking. And I create clusters/series of articles in the same area or niche, linking them together with fancy tables of contents, the “Featured Lenses” module, the “My Lenses” module (giving all the lenses in the cluster a unique tag), or the “Rollover Feature” trick I figured out for Squidoo.
All of These are Making the Most of One’s Assets
You’ll notice that I don’t focus on social promotion, backlink building, or external strategies more than I absolutely must. I tweet new material, yes, but I don’t submit to directories; I don’t look for places to advertise my articles other than online communities where I’m active anyway.
Instead, I concentrate on maximizing my content with on-page optimization, on-page graphics, on-page links, and pointing to my other work where and when it’s relevant and useful. Rather than taking time off to advertise, I spend as much time as I can making more content and enhancing existing content. This method takes time. It results a slow build-up of real, useful, interesting assets and content on a variety of subjects.
You can do this in different ways: blog posts, more articles on multiple publishing sites, even posting photos on Flickr or videos on YouTube and linking back to related lenses. (For example, see this YouTube video where I share a Magic Trick pointing to a lens that explains the trick).
The key for me is to spend my time discovering what content I have (I’ll actually dig through my hard drive looking for old school papers and photos that might be seeds for a new lens), creating unique and interesting content, and hooking it up to other nodes of my ever-growing network of content.
Whch is why I kick and scream when people tamper with my content through “site improvements” or by removing the channels through which I’ve been sharing tips and content. (See: Squidcasts. ) I do not want to have to use social media separately to promote. As much as possible, I want my content to be its own promotion! (RSS feeds are lovely for this.)
Finally, notice that this method absolutely depends on creating original, unique, interesting and/or useful content — MY content, MY passions — rather than simply collecting and curating content. Curation can be powerful and helpful, and I’ve got a few lenses that are simply curation lists in fancy packaging. But the majority of my lenses hook visitors with interesting and/or useful content that they won’t find elsewhere.
Thanks for another useful post, and I second the protest against interference! I get fed up with the ‘one size fits all’ attitude – it doesn’t. If there’s a better way to get the message over, fine, build it. Don’t destroy the other methods and leave only one because something WILL go wrong! Why should everybody be shoe-horned into ‘popular’ methods? We don’t all drive the same cars – some don’t drive at all! Some prefer buses, others prefer bikes or motorcycles. They all get somewhere too!
Another great post, thanks. I do wish your links opened in their own screen though…it’s a bad habit that I have, opening pages to read when I’ve finished reading the page I’m on, LOL.
Ha. I’ve gotten lazy due to Squidoo always opening external links in a new window. Let me go fix that. (Too late for you, but perhaps helpful for another.)
Ellen, I am just catching up on all your posts. You are one of the few bloggers I read on a regular basis and alsthough I may not leave that many comments, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the information you share.
I am getting thoroughly disheartened at watching my lenses fall, knowing that some of it is due to the crap that is allowed to exist on Squidoo – despite all the new filters.
Seems to me that there’s more innocent lenses getting caught while the Flagship plagiarised lenses, that we all know so well, are still sailing along.
I am starting to look at Squidoo as more of a platform for backlinks to my own sites that I own, rather than as my main platform for earning income – it is just getting too time consuming keeping up with all the changes and who knows when a change will have a bad impact of my own stuff?
I know these changes are necessary but I have such a strong sense of what I believe is fair and what is not, that if I spent too much time thinking about it, it would drive me crazy. I just hate seeing the “bad guys” win at the expense of the “good guys”.
I hear you, AJ, and I think you’re wise to diversify beyond Squidoo. My original post here was “Squidoo Setbacks, Part II,” but it was not very helpful outlining all the obstacles I’ve been struggling to overcome since May instead of working on new lenses. There was’t much useful, actionable stuff in that post, so I abandoned it. The point being what you said: Squidoo is becoming ever more time-consuming, with less of a monetary return. It’s a pity I’m not still doing it as a fun hobby: I’d be a lot more relaxed about across-the-board tier decay or unpredictable filters if I weren’t trying to support myself this way.
I’m in a dreadful bind: with Amazon Associates shut down in my state, with my content ill-suited to most affiliate marketing, and with Adsense completely unable to find appropriate adds for my mythology blog, it’s very hard for me to diversify and escape the Squidoo hamster wheel. Then again, I’d probably discover alternatives if I spent less time in the hamster wheel.
And incidentally, when talking about one’s own sites, Mythphile is PR4. Not great — I’ve got some lenses there as well, and a few lenses are PR5 — but I should probably be making better use of it, eh?