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How to build a lens
Lens Building is Child's Play
Forget the plans and the hardhat. This form of building is simple, easy and lots of fun, So many newcomers to Squidoo struggle, as I once did, to understand what it is about and how one should construct lenses? The mysteries continued in the many abbreviated and shortened forms of instructions and the missing links to tell you what something is or where to find it.
Hopefully this lens will help you out if you are in that situation. The ins and out of doing it right will come easier as you get into it but to start with it might be a bit of a mystery and you will need to juggle things a bit. So come with me and explore a little about the fundamentals of lens building.
Finding Your Way Around
Where to Start
Always think of your visitor in the best possible light. Make them feel welcome and find some relevant but good images to display that emphasise warmth, knowledge and that target your subject matter.
It can be a bit of a minefield to start with but the list on the side are your tools. And you should start with them as they are going to help you build your lens from the ground up. Look them over and experiment with them to discover their purpose. They can be moved around by click and push up or down. If you want to remove one or two put a tick beside them in the box and press save.
When building your lens the first place you will visit is the Dashboard. This brings you to the lensmaster page where everything will happen. Here you will see a big button which says Create a Lens. Press it and you will be asked what your lens is about. Think of the right words here so that others will find your work when it is published. Be creative as well. What would you put into the search engine box to find your lens.
Once you have named it you get a chance to type in the url you want. This is very important. What you add here can take you to the top of page 1 on Google or to any page thereafter. This is where you need to be clever but not too much so that you defeat yourself. Your heading should also be keyword for the benefit of SE ratings.
If you are writing a story on swimwear, for example, you might put in /thehistoryofswimwear. But I put dashes between my words so that Search Engines have less trouble understanding the string. So enter /the-history-of-swimwear. Now if someone is looking for the background of it or where it originates the chances are they will come to your lens. You can also do searches to pick better keywords and even a better url, but that is not what this lens is about.
Once you name your url you select the category under which it should appear, then the rating. Most are G rated. then press next. You might get a message that states Bummer - this url is not available. That means going back and picking another until you have the right one. When that is done press Create My Lens and you are taken to an editing page where you add your modules and start writing.
Lens Building is a lot of fun and once you get the hang of it you will find it is also very addictive.
Now to Build a Lens
First things first
You probably have a fair idea about what you want to talk about but you may not know how it will shape up. That's OK and quite normal because you can go back again and again as many times as you need to in order to correct it, fix up errors, typos etc. So don't worry about that at this stage.
When starting a lens it is usual to select the modules required as well as the theme before you start to write. In other words you are working to a plan.
Look to the right hand side of the editorial page and you will see a section that says 'Add Modules'. It also has a shortcut and here you can quickly get your list of them. I like to go to the 'Browse all Modules section." When that opens there is a list of things to choose from and here I generally select 'Text module' and by pressing it 6 times I get six boxes. I also select 'Twitter follow' and a couple of 'Duel'. Press apply before you do the next step/
Now look on the left and you will see a box in the middle labeled 'All Modules', now go there. Here you will find a lot of nice things which you can experiment with over time. My choice is always Bookmark, Twitter follow, and About me. Also you can add the Black box (at least 2) a couple of New Video and the New Table of Contents'. The only other ones I worry about are the 'Featured Lensmasters' and the 'featured lenses'. These allow you to put a list of lenses, either yours and/or someone else on, and the featured lensmasters is the way to credit angels who visit and bless your lenses. or to put in lensmasters whose interests favor your own. These are better added later when you have lens or angels to add to these.
Once you have done selecting press Done Adding and these will be added to the box on the right of your page.
Now for some fine tuning. IMPORTANT - Save your lens at regular intervals with the save button on the top right, otherwise you might loose your work if the browser crashes.
Have You Built Anything on the Web Before? - Do you know HTML or even what it means
HTML means Hyper-text-markup-language and this is the code by which all web pages are built. But you don't need to know that with this lens building tool. The editing page does it all for you.
Do you feel you are learning something here?
Its Just So Easy
Building lenses is easy with Squidoo as all the coding is done for you. The difficult part is knowing what to write about and to present it in the best possible light.
An easy Way to Get a Site with Google
But you won't get an easier one than here on Squidoo and its about as good as they get. So let's persevere here
Order Your Modules
Do you know what you are going to talk about?
Once your modules are added you can go to the side bar and change them around. Simple put the curser over them, one by one, and left click to move them up or down. The one that should appear at the top of the list is Bookmark followed by the New Table of Contents, then your text boxes, all of them, come next. Then move the guestbook til it is just under the text modules. Then add the flicker and Google blogs etc. If you want to keep all the other boxes that's OK. But you may find it easier to check the box beside the unwanted ones and when you press apply they are removed. At the same time your modules are set up in the order you have chosen. If you ever want to redeem a removed module just go to browse modules where we started.
Yoou might also want to add some Amazon and other sales modules so you can sell products through the lens,
Now to write. Start with the Introduction. What is your lens about, who are you, what's your authority for it, How will it help anyone and what should it achieve. Readers like to know up front whether this is worth reading so you put in your best punches right here. When you finish typing press Save
Most people start a lens with nothing more than an idea and they let the flow happen, as I do, when the story develops. But, if you are not a writer and are struggling with ideas then you have a perfect tool in the modules to help you.
On a notepad or piece of paper note down the main points of your debate. Try to get 6 to start with. That's enough for any lens. The points you note here can be the heading for each of your text modules. You are told to add a picture and this helps tremendously to create interest and keep people focused. I get my images here . But there are lots of free image resources as well but I find I can more easily negotiate and find what I want with this Company and the images are dirt cheap but very good and you have them for life. That means you can use them again and again as I have done on many of my lenses.
Its my policy to pay for what I get as I know that others go to a lot of trouble and they deserve to be rewarded.
You might like to read my lens How to Write Well to get some ideas on writing, before you start
Decorate Your Lens to Create More Interest
Add a border to your modules
Learn how to add borders as they help to make your modules more attractive. It also gives the code for bigger font sizes and aligns the text for you. But go easy. you don't want it to be too gaudy so choose the best color scheme to fit in with your pictures and theme, etc.
You can also learn how to add your own pictures and align them with text, etc, You should bookmark these sites and put them into a folder named Squidoo Tools as you will get a collection of them as you go on.
There are a lot of handy hints available which will help you when you need to know.
This lens will help dress up your work with style. Again take it easy until you know what you are doing.
This is another tool to use on all your lenses.
It will come to you over time.
Most important is to make sure you rename ALL the modules in your own words. If you leave any as default titles you will get penalized by those who might otherwise rate you highly.
Also in the top right hand corner there is a block with your bio in it. Press edit here and redo your bio to suit the topic you are writing about. Some people are very fussy about that one as well..
Now You Can Publish
But only when you have your lens ready for viewing by others
Before you press publish make sure your have plenty of content. Modules with only a couple of sentences or such will quickly let you down. People want content and to learn something new from you, so don't just rehash someone else's lens as that will get you banned from Squidoo all together.
Make sure you have it as you want it, although you can alter text, the pictures, borders, and other things by choosing edit at the top of the page on the lens afterward at any time. Only you have access to that tool. You can also add to it as much as you want at any time, correct errors, edit and eliminate typos, change the theme, and so on. You cannot alter the url or that side of things so make sure to do it right first time.
Before you publish there is an area on the right that says Tags. Here is where you can add keywords, one per line. Some will tell you to put in strings of words while others say not to use more than one or two words. What you need to know is how people will search for your topic and arrive at your site. If you are selling cheese then 'cheese types' might be Ok whereas 'types of cheese' would be better. You can get a lot of advice on keywords in Squidoo.
When your lens is published you can press the view lens at the top to see what it looks like. it may take a while before it is featured, however, and that is when you can go to Squid Utils and use the tools available to ping your lens and do other things.. You can also use Facebook, Twitter and Squidcast to let others know of your publication and to get back links. When you get your link from View Lens make sure you put it in the Critique Forum for others to look at and comment on. There are other forums where you can also post your link but get used to the CF first.
Has Your Confidence Improved?
Are you ready now to build your lens?
Special Things to Know About Squidoo
It's a huge community
To start with its a huge community of web masters who use lens building for all types of things. Some just use it to write stories about things they know and are interested in. Others use it to advertise products, and you can do that either through affiliate sales you generate on your own or through sites like Amazon, eBay, Zazzle, Cafe Press, and so on. You will find there are modules for each of these in the Browse Modules section. They are simple enough to follow.
(My lenses add to my marketing efforts as I send the url to my lists of subscribers who have opted for information about my Malls. This saves me writing huge newsletters all the time.)
You will also be able to put in links to your blog as well as to blogs or news reports on Google. The video modules you included can lead you to some more great material to enhance your lens. Just click uTube or one of the others and type your subject in the search box. Select the video you like the best and copy and paste its url from the top of your browser into the slot in the video section. Press save and then move the video module to the most appropriate spot in you lens.
We also added some duel modules. These help to engage your audience in your site. Ask a simple question, preferably with a yes or no answer and its done. Again add these in the most appropriate spots.
Black boxes: These also add to your lenses, as I have done in this one. Just type in some text and select the color from the bar on the left and you're done. Then move them in the side bar to the most appropriate position.
Finally add an inviting sentence to encourage people to leave a comment and follow this with your star rating module.
You will notice that I have an additional text box and this is what I do with it. On all my lenses I have an invitation to join Squidoo and you can get paid if others join under you. You can check the details out in your Stats at the top of the Dashboard.
Still images from Dreamstime - click here
© 2010 norma-holt