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Recovering From a Squidoo Surprise

Here we go again

As most members know by now, Squidoo just unleashed a dramatically different layout two weeks before Christmas. This fits a pattern: Squidoo typically launches changes with little or no warning (that one was released on December 21, 2010, and it managed to throw some top-earning lenses into WIP, hiding them entirely from view and killing their tier earnings for the month.) Clearly, Squidoo thinks we have far too much time on our hands during the holidays.

If you’ve got hundreds of lenses, it may take days to salvage and check all of them. So how do we prioritize? Well, I’ve discovered a handy Excel trick to list all our lenses in order of how much they earn, which can aid in triage assessment.

But first, let’s look at some possible ways to repair layout problems caused by this so-called “Responsive” update (as a major iPad user, the old Squidoo layout gave me no trouble, whereas this one does):

  • [UPDATE] SquidTool’s creator A3 Labs has been on the ball and has updated SquidTools to work with Squidoo’s new layout. See this announcement post from A3 Labs explaining the fixes, and/or Annie’s tutorial on how to get these repairs to fix old Squidtools layouts.
  • For what it’s worth, most of my templates from my Amazon Associates Links Tutorial seem to be working under the new layout. Exception is the five-items-across. The rest are flexible enough to cope with varying screen sizes.
  • Create smallish fixed-width building blocks that flow and wrap around like the words in this paragraph when they hit the right-hand margin. By “building blocks,” I mean a box-shaped unit such as one image plus its caption underneath and maybe a “buy” button. My How to Align Image Side-by-Side templates all work this way, and as far as I can see, I think they’re all still behaving correctly.
  • One might be able to change dimensions to percentages, so that layout elements stay proportional to the page width. For instance, with a three-in-a-row layout, set the width of each of the three “building blocks” to 30% with a margin-right of 2% to give a little padding and still leave a smidge of wiggle room for borders.  But there’s a problem with this, too, as kburns notes: 30% of the screen width on a smartphone is tiny, too small for images. [UPDATE: See my next post: Cheat Sheet for Converting fixed-width to flexible-width Squidoo layouts. I think I’ve gotten the hang of it now.]
  • People who really know CSS backwards and forwards may find that some percentage-width problems are solved by adding max-width or min-width: making bits of a layout stretchy and flexible, but not infinitely so.

WHATEVER YOU DO: Keep in mind that Squidoo’s width and font sizes now vary on the fly to fit people’s screens and devices, so you can’t assume anyone else’s column width will be the same as it is on your computer. One quick way to check is to grab the lower right-hand corner of your browser window (if you can) and drag it left and right to view the lens resizing itself to fit the new window size. Also, check Screenfly (thanks, dee) to see how it will look on an iPad and other devices.


This was what I was going to post before I got distracted trying to solve layout issues (note: I cannot answer any more questions now, as I’ve only managed to check/repair 11 of my 431 lenses since yesterday and I’ve gotta get back to them).

If you have over a hundred lenses, it seems daunting to figure out where to start. Here’s a five-minute exercise you can do with Excel to help you find and prioritize your top-earning lenses on Squidoo.

  1. Go to the big blue Dashboard Stats tab. (that link takes you there.)
  2. Choose “My Payments” and “Life to Date” in the pulldown menus at the bottom, and click “go”. Go to the bathroom while that loads in. [UPDATE: you might want to set it to “Previous 3 months” instead; old lenses may have earned more historically, but may not be top earners now.]
  3. Click “Download report as TSV” at upper right-ish.
  4. Open the result in Excel.
  5. Select All, then, under the Data > Sort… box, Sort By Lens Title (or URL).
  6. Choose “Subtotals” under the Data menu and click OK.
  7. Now at the top of the left-hand corner, you should see buttons for “1 2 3.” Click the 2, and it should hide all the different month-by-month payouts for each lens and show you just the total lifetime earnings for each lens. (If you can’t find the numbers, under the Data > Group and Outline submenu, choose “hide detail” to collapse everything and then “show detail” to get the summary. This is dumb but it works.)
  8. Under the “Data” menu, choose “Sort” again and Sort by “Total,” Descending.
Of course, this only tells you about Squidoo earnings, not lenses that earn most of their income through affiliate sales with third party programs like Amazon. On Amazon, you could perform the above procedure on their Earnings Reports, which could at least tell you what items are selling most on your lenses.


  1. Flycatcher says:

    Awesome! Thanks so much for the Excel step-by-step. Excel is not my friend.

    1. Karen says:

      *Then, try a global search-and-replace to change the layout’s fixed the pixel widths to percentages as I described above.*


      1. Greekgeek says:

        Sorry, you caught me in mid-edit. See the post again: I’ve now added links to SquidTool’s post announcing a fix (yay!) plus a quick tutorial from Annie telling how to update our old SquidTools layouts with the fix. I haven’t had a chance to test it yet, but Annie’s got it working!

  2. Wow – amazing. Thank you for that explanation about how to sort the data in Excel. I think I stopped trying to learn new stuff in Excel – big mistake!

    1. Greekgeek says:

      me, too, but I was deeesperate, so I started poking around in the data sorting functions looking for something that might help.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to explain this. I have been really busy updating, but now it is back to square one to change to percentages from fixed, although I am not really sure what the code would be. You should write an e-book on this. I know you are busy, but when you do get to questions, could you add it as a reply. I am currently using fixed codes like width=”200px” I am off to search out the answer.

    1. Too bad I can’t edit my comment. Thanks again. I had no idea I could use a % sign within the code which is why I was confused. I hope you don’t mind I am answering myself incase others are confused too. Simply change width=”200px” to width=”30%” – Which is exactly what you wrote. Thanks GreekGeek!

    2. Greekgeek says:

      I’m still a little fuzzy about the percentages. Also note that kburns on squidu reported a problem: when you get down to a smartphone size, 30% of the page width is TINY, so the images get microscopic. So I’m thinking the fixed-width boxes flowing around like word wrap (I think this may be called “liquid layout”) may be the way to go.

      1. Flynn says:

        Is there a way to specify a min/max size? The string of conditions might get complicated but it would be interesting to have as an option.

        Also sdfhdsf carpal tunnel symdrome. DFkdhfjdf it to asdhasdkj

  4. Pat says:

    Thanks for the info. Thanks for the Triage info. I have to download to Notepad before saving to Excel. (I have Microsoft Starter Excel.) Then I can follow instructions down to #5. I don’t have a subtotal option or a subtotal column. I only have monthly totals for each lens. Am I missing something?

    1. Greekgeek says:

      I wonder if Notepad is losing the tab-delimeted-data that I was importing directly into Excel.

      The Subtotal option mentioned in step 6 is a menu option under the “Data” menu at the top … at least, it is in the Excel I got in 2008. I don’t recall that tool in the old Excel I used to have before, so maybe it’s not there in your version (or it may have been moved to a different spot, if you have a newer Excel than I do.)

      That “Subtotal” menu option is what creates the subtotal lines in your spreadsheet. If it’s not there, I’m afraid my tip won’t work.

  5. lisadh says:

    Excellent advice, as always! :-)

  6. Tony Payne says:

    Thanks for the tips, you are on the ball as always. The clear works perfectly with Squidtools code.

    I have Squidtools code in the text box of the Squidoo YouTube module as well, and it now results in the video showing alongside the text box instead of underneath as before. The clear fixes this easily.

    It’s still annoying that having re-sorted or added modules to a lens, the sidebar disappears to underneath the modules.

  7. Draig says:

    All this Excel stuff and collecting information and stats is definitely something I need to get a hold of for myself.
    Thank you for helping us all out, it is much appreciated.

  8. Thanks for the great trick in Excel. I’ve been wondering how to see this type of list for years without having to go to each lens.

  9. Correen says:

    You’ve done it again…thanks for all your help figuring out the latest Squidoo shake up! Nice to discover a couple more of your Squidoo tutorial lenses too ;)

  10. Sunny says:

    Thanks for the explanation GreekGeek because I have been trying to wrap my head around how to fix my modules, I didn’t realize that the fixed borders were going to cause a problem on mobile devices so now I will have to go back and remove those. I will check out the squidtools fix also. Thanks again.

  11. AJ says:

    As ever, I am so grateful how you share what you know to help others Ellen. Thank you so much.

  12. Sheri Oz says:

    Thanks for this, Ellen.
    One thing I have not been able to find, however, is how to get my polaroid module images fixed. Ideas?

    1. Greekgeek says:

      Sheri, that sounds like a bug: the built-in Squidoo modules should work.

      If they’re misbehaving, I’d file a bug report.

      (Alternatively, try uploading a larger image; perhaps they’ll now accept images bigger than 400×400. As a general rule of thumb, larger images take longer to load but scale up to larger sizes without looking fuzzy.)

      Which is a roundabout way of saying, “Er, I don’t know, sorry!”

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