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Writing Prompts to Brainstorm New Squidoo Lens Ideas
Great Big List of Squidoo Writing Prompts and Lens Updating Tips
One of the biggest secrets of Squidoo success is to write lots of lenses.
But how do you write a lot of lenses and still create and curate high-quality content? It can be a tricky balancing act. Break through your Lensmaster's Block with these simple yet thought-provoking writing prompts.
I've also included my best tips and ideas for expanding on a niche once you find something that's working for you. Use the list of writing prompts to jot down every idea you have, big or small, and then move on to the tips section to multiply each of those ideas into an awesome group of highly targeted niche content.
Everyone has something to offer; that's one of the most basic principles that Squidoo was founded on. Sometimes it can be really hard to see our own worth, because we get so bogged down in the "everydayness" of it all. It can be really easy to overlook a rich topic of knowledge when it's just a fact of who you are. This list is intended to help you poke your head up out of the everyday, and get a little broader look at who you are and what you have to offer.
Your audience is out there. No matter the subject, some one wants to know what you have to share. It's a BIG world out there and while every person is unique, very few thoughts are unique. The simple fact is that if you've thought it, some one else has too. Don't let that discourage you! It may not sound like it at first, but this is a very empowering concept.
It means that for every idea that you ever have, no matter how big or small, complex or simple, there are probably thousands of people out there who want to know about it. Seriously. I don't care if it's how to organize your prize collection of antique wind-up monkeys, or just neat trick for getting the windows clean in no time flat, I promise you: there are other people who want to hear about it. Remember that all those potential clicks are living, breathing, thinking people just like you. They have needs and desires and problems to solve. They sat down at the computer, and went to their favorite search engine to find something. Help them find it.
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world."
People loves stories. And everyone has some great ones to share. Let's take a look at some ways to figure out what you're good at, passionate about, or just plain love to talk about. Even if you're not writing content for Squidoo, if you want a lot of ideas for writing blog posts or any other articles online, these questions will help you figure out what stories you have to tell.
Grab a pen and paper, you are going to be surprised at how many ideas for new lenses you generate.
- Go through your wallet or purse, look for old receipts. Look over the shelves in your home. Or your Amazon order history for that matter! Read through them and ask yourself questions like: Was I planning to buy this? If so, what research did I do beforehand that helped me decide to make this purchase? If not, what was the triggering factor that prompted the impulse buy? Answering these questions and thinking about your own mental processes when you are buying things can help prompt ideas for lenses.
- Think of a broad category of products that you really like. This could be board games, cooking supplies, clothing, figurines, or anything at all really... What do you collect, hoard, browse for, or crave? Got something? Good. Now consider the niche markets there. For example, my husband and I love board games but we're pretty introverted so we play a lot of them just the two of us. So I wrote a lens about Two Player Board Games. Mentally divide your collection into categories. What patterns do you see? What are some unusual common threads? What are your favorite pieces and why?
- What drives you completely crazy? Think about all the little annoyances in life. Is it something that's hard to clean? Is it annoying habit a friend or loved one has? Or maybe something that keeps breaking and needing to be repaired or replaced? Any problem you have in life, somebody else probably has it too. Brainstorm every possible solution, and write about it, collecting all those tips and ideas for making life easier into one place.
As a matter of fact, that's part of how this lens came to be! I've spent a lot of time thinking about stuff like this, but when I actually sit down to write I draw a blank. It makes me crazy because I know I have good ideas - usually they come to me as I'm trying to drift off to sleep at night! So I put together this list for my own reference and if it help you out too well that's just icing on the cake.
- What's the most organized thing in your life? Everyone struggles to be more organized, and similarly almost everyone has at least one area they are really good at. Write about your unique storage solutions, or how you repurposed something unexpected to be the perfect organizer for your needs.
- Did you score a great deal recently? At heart, we are all bargain-hunters. Everyone wants to feel like a shopping ninja genius. Help your readers save money - show them how to buy in bulk or make their own or use an alternative product or just learn to stop using it altogether. Show them how to use less water or electricity, and you'll be making the planet greener too.
- Think about treasured childhood memories. What did you do on rainy days? What was your favorite Halloween costume? That magical subject that was actually fun to learn about? Mine your memories for kid-oriented lens ideas. Parents and teachers are always looking for stuff like this; if you aren't a parent it can be easy to think you can't write for this audience. But everyone was a kid once, so we are all qualified to sit down and interview our inner child for some awesome lens ideas.
- Did you just discover a new band, or actor, or author? Even if they aren't new to their field if they are new to you they have that shiny-and-new feel in your eyes, and you're in the perfect position to write about them with passion. Shout it from the mountains! Tell the world that they have GOT to go check this out!
- What was the best vacation you ever took? What made it so special? Where did you go, what did you do while you were there? What would you differently if you had it to do over again? What saved the day on your trip, and what do you wish you'd just left at home? Vacations are a great source of ideas, everyone wants a dream vacation. Tell people what was great about yours, or even about awesome little-known attractions in your city.
- What special detail made your wedding unique? Even if you're not married, think about what you've always wanted to do on that special day to make it perfect and exactly right for you and the person of your dreams. Or what made a wedding you attended especially memorable? Is it the music, the decor, or a special location? Tell your readers what's so great about these things, and how they can capture that magic on their special day too.
- What do you look forward to all year long? Whether it's Christmas or the start of a sports season or National Craft Month, there are plenty of other people anxiously awaiting it too. What's your favorite part about it? Do you like to dress up for the occasion or decorate your home? Show other how they can do the day and celebrate in style.
- What websites solve a problem for you or tickle your funny bone? Help support your favorite lesser known websites and write a lens about what they do and how they help you out. I have two great examples of this in my own lensography. The first is Choosing the best products for your Amazon sales modules that shows other lensmasters an awesome site I found that helps select great Amazon product based on a variety of criteria, as well as a few on-site Amazon tips. The other is Create a Lego Profile Pic which shows examples of how I used a web-based app to create a personal avatar that looks like a Lego minifig.
- Be a trend-spotter. There are tons of sites online where you can take the pulse of current trends and popular subjects. Often just browsing through these will generate a plethora of clever niche ideas, and it's a great way to unwind and let your mind wander a bit when you're feeling extra stuck. It can also be a great way to spot ideas for updating your existing lenses. To start with, try checking out the Popular Pins on Pinterest or the Amazon Best Sellers.
- Build on your own success. What's your best lens? Look at the traffic stats and see if that gives you any more ideas for lenses within that niche. Read through what you've written there and look for areas you can go into more detail. Take that information and expand on it as it's own separate lens and then link to your new lens on the existing one.
- What do you do to relax? Everyone gets stressed out sometimes. Write up a list of the ways you cope with stress, and tell people why these activities help you to manage stress or soothe your worries.
- What's your superpower? Lots of people have a little running joke among close friends about what their superpower would be. Me, I'm Finder Girl. I also used to be the Queen of Meatloaf, but since my husband found out he is gluten-intolerant I've mostly had to retire that role.
- What is it like to be you? What little quirks make your life a bit different from most folks? From a food allergy, to a disorder, to a battle with cancer, or even just growing up the youngest of twelve kids, the sharing of experience is a powerful thing. One of the lenses that I'm proudest of is My Life with Asperger's. It's not the most successful lens in the world, but it brings me immense satisfaction to share my experiences with others; those who feel isolated and alone because of their Asperger's, or who are trying to understand a loved one who has AS.
Getting search traffic and engaging your audience
Just talk... this is a conversation; imagine you are sitting down to a cup of coffee with your best friend. Tell them all about what's great about your topic. Advise them on the possible pitfalls, give them all your best tips for success.
Be real and genuine, and say everything you have to say about your subject. Then re-read your work. Substitute some synonyms, and add as many adjectives as you can while still reading like a real conversation, to draw in readers who phrase it another way.
Now that you've collected a bunch of ideas for potential areas of expertise from the brainstorming questions, it's time to multiply those into a bunch of smaller, more specific topics - each of which can have its own lens.
There are a variety of ways you can expand on a topic. Think of your answers to the brainstorming questions as seeds. Each of those can grown into a topic; sometimes those topics are specific enough to be a single lens, and left at that. But most of them can be made more specific, capturing traffic from detailed search terms you might otherwise miss. Make a lens for each of them, and your seed topic will soon branch out into a tree of various related lenses.
On your Traffic Stats page for an established lens you can see the keywords that are driving people there. Open up the time frame to "in the past month" to get as much data as you can. It's a lot of keywords for high-traffic lenses, but you can get a feel for what's bringing people there. You won't always find ideas here, but when you do they are often real gems.
The flip side of this is that you can also look at where they are going when they leave. Take a look at the products that are getting the most clicks. Follow it and browse around for a while. On Amazon, some possible areas to mine for ideas include the Customer Reviews and the Related Products, and even the Product Ads from External Websites can spark and idea for a related lens topic.
And of course, always include social modules on your lenses so that your readers can communicate with you. Make the title of your guestbook module a question. Ask them if they found the answers they needed, or what their thoughts are on what they've read. Invite them to add their own tips and techniques to the discussion. Prompt them to join the conversation - it will add to your content and can lead to some great new ideas.
Check out what the best lensmasters are writing about
Just like keeping up on fashion trends by observing what's being worn in Hollywood (or just at the local mall), browsing through the Squidoo Top 100 can help spark some ideas. Don't be a copycat of course, but you can pair that scarf with the blazer you have at home... or create a lens in your existing niches that follow some trending themes.
Once you find a niche you like, a great way to cash in on it is to pull out a calendar. Let's say your topic is Pet Rocks. Even if it's April, you should start writing lenses like "Popular Pet Rock Christmas Gifts" or "Make Your Own Pet Rock Costume for Halloween" or even "Top Pet Rock Fashion Trends for Fall".
And don't forget to tap into events that occur at different times of the year for different people like weddings, vacations, birthdays, and anniversaries. These niche keywords have great staying power all year long, but a lot of marketers overlook them because they are so specific. Turns out plenty of people are looking for that perfect Pet Rock Birthday Gift.
Here are some holidays and events to get you started:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, New Year's, Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, April Fool Day, Easter, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, Back to School, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa
And here are some ideas for possible seasonal subjects:
Parties, decorating ideas, centerpieces, costumes, gift ideas, crafts, games, activities, coloring pages, recipes, music, movies, poems, quotes, jokes.
Try pairing up a keyword from one or both of these lists with your niche of choice - it's a very easy way to create a nice big list of targeted lens ideas.
Another source of targeted, long-tail keywords and phrases is demographics - various groups of people. This can be age, gender, stages of life, or relationship to the person running the search. As search terms (as therefore, as long-tail niche keywords) these are typically used with a noun and a connecting word like "for" or "with". Activities for teens, gifts for mom, etc.
Here are some gender/age related terms to consider:
kids, children, teen, tween, teenagers, boys, girls, men, women, elderly, seniors, toddler, infant, baby, guys, him, her, newborns, pregnant women
Just a small sample of possible life stages and relationships:
Bride, Groom, Wife, Husband, Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Mother of the Bride/Groom, Mother, Father, Mom, Dad, Retirement, First Time Parents, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Gramma, Grandfather, Stay at Home Moms, Work at Home Moms, Stay/Work at Home Dads, New Home Buyers, College Students.
Some Great Books on Writing Web Content and Brainstorming New Topic Ideas
We've all been stumped from time to time. I hope my list has helped you come up with ideas, and here's one more for you: how did you come up with the idea for your favorite lens? Please, tell us about it! We want to know all the ways people have come up with crazy new ideas for lenses. You never know what will spark some one else's creativity too.