I'm a Lensmaster! What now?
Welcome to The Squidoo How To Guide
UPDATE: A piece of Squidoo history. Information no longer valid.
This lens deals with the ins and outs and tricks and tips that will help you make your next (or first) Squidoo Lens.
Other information you should read (if you haven't already)...
All About Squidoo: What others have had to say about Squidoo, and it's place in the world wide web.
Why Squidoo: What I have had to say about Squidoo. And reasons why you should sign up.
The Characteristics Of A Good Squidoo Lens
Squidoo gives an excellent opportunity to 1) get some good quality links and therefore traffic to your own site/s. And 2) you can actually make money with it.
The most effective, and probably most appreciated lens from a visitors point of view, is that you research your topic well. And either make a lens that has links to the best quality sites available on the world wide web (and by that I don't mean a quick Google, I mean REALLY dig deep to find the best sites), or research the topic, as you would an assignment, and write about it.
Of course you could do both. Create a lens with unique quality content and some good solid related links.
Now before you get started making your first lens you need to register an account. This will be your Lensmaster profile. So you're not actually building a lens yet.
Choose a name that you feel is 'you'. It may well be your actual name, but consider how much personal information you put on the internet.
Generally speaking putting your first name, surname, suburb, and date of birth on ANY site will leave you vulernable to identity thieves, so don't.
So pick a lensmaster name that suits you, but doesn't reveal too much to strangers.
Naming Your Lens
What to name it?
It's lot like picking out a domain name.
What's the right name? What's the best name?
Lets say you want to write a lens about Soil Erosion.
You could get www.squidoo.com/soilerosion
Maybe that's already gone. If it is there are other ways you could write it.
www.squidoo.com/soil-erosion or www.squidoo.com/soil_erosion
Search Engines will read soilerosion, soil-erosion and soil_erosion as "soil erosion", so don't be worried about a negative SEO effect.
Maybe they're all gone, or maybe they aren't, and you're spoiled for choice. And you don't know which way to go.
There's also www.squidoo.com/soil and www.squidoo.com/erosion to consider.
Any of them will work. It may come down to a matter of taste. Your opinion. And also aesthetics. The one you think looks best.
Now if all those words are gone and indeed each of them are to do with the topic of Soil Erosion then you may want to consider whether or not you should do a lens on soil erosion.
If it's more than just a passing interest and you do have experience and inside knowledge into the topic then by all means go ahead with creating a lens. You will have something to new or fresh to impart to someone else seeking information on the subject.
So you've got an expert opinion on Soil Erosion but all the good simple soil erosion names are gone. Where now?
They're all possibilities. And they may not be quite to your taste because they look so long and almost unreadable but you could consider breaking up the words with underscores or hyphens.
Before you decide on a name and lock it in consider the possibilities and alternatives. Type them out, check to see availabity and then make a shortlist of the best candidates.
And the title of your lens doesn't have to be exactly like the url of the lens. eg: www.squidoo.com/soilerosionnow can be titled "Soil Erosion"
Creating a Lens
It may be a little overwhelming at first when you make a lens, what with all the options, so I suggest looking at what others have done, and how they've done it.
Pick subjects you like. Things you know.
After you've checked out other lenses or if you've started to make one yourself you'll notice that each lens is made of blocks. These are called 'modules'.
By all means experiment, but I have found the most used and useful to be the TEXT/WRITE module. Each TEXT/WRITE module will hold up to 2500 characters.
If you haven't been able to fit what you need to say in that many keyboard characters then ADD ANOTHER TEXT/WRITE module.
I tend to slip between two TEXT/WRITE modules an AMAZON module. And I choose a product that complements the topic at hand. It's a chance at earning money AND it adds a pretty little graphic between the two chapter like TEXT/WRITE modules to break up the slabs of text.
The way I personally start a lens is I open up Notepad (use Word or whatever else you prefer) and draft my ideas. I arrange the flow of content.
I give each segment (which will later become a module) a headline. I spill out my thoughts and then tidy them up.
I know exactly where I will have an AMAZON module before I even register the name for the lens.
Once I'm done with the first draft I'll go to www.amazon.com and do a search for books or other products which will complement the topic.
From Amazon you grab the ISBN/ASIN. I copy and paste that onto the Notepad page. Along with the name of the book. In the end I'll have an entire document which will be copied and pasted over to the lens. Once I've published the lens I keep that document in a folder where I keep all the other published lens content docs. Just in case anything ever goes wrong I've got a back up copy. Or if I need to add new information I do it to that and then copy and paste the contents back into the lens.
You may very well just slap together a lens on the fly, but being someone who likes a bit of organisation and a coherent line of thought I much prefer to plan. Of course that's not to say I have never then picked out all my modules and added my content and have decided to rearrange a module or two even after publishing.
Do what you've got to do in the way you feel is best.
These are easy to assemble building blocks. You pick them, organise them, and fill them with content (or a URL or a product/item code from the appropriate affiliate website).
Each module has a function. Some are flexible, some have limits. But as your experience as a Lensmaster grows you should be willing to experiment and see how you can push the boundaries with the more flexible ones.
For a demonstration on the most popular and useful lens modules check out Squidoo Modules for more information.
You can add images to your Introduction and to the TEXT/WRITE modules.
Images are good, they help break up the slabs of text. And can make an otherwise boring looking (even if the content is excellent) page inviting to read for your potential audience. It's a real attention grabber.
You can in fact insert images without uploading them. But they will need to be hosted elsewhere.
You will need your own webhosting, or a free imagehost, and a basic understanding of HTML to be able to do this.
Ideally you will use images which are either royalty free (you can get some of those from here, or you've obtained copyright permission to use an image, or you have taken them yourself.
Images sourced from another website or an image search at Google, Yahoo or any other Search Engine are not in fact free to use.
If you were to have a lens on a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore you could take photos of each step of the preparation, especially the final step. I can think of no better way than adding a wow factor to your hand built lens then by taking them yourself.
An Unimproved Lens is one that has three or less modules.
In other words, you need four or more modules to have a Lens which is counted as being "improved". And you have to have clicked on "Publish".
And you don't count your Introduction as one of those modules.
There is a limit to the amount of unimproved lenses you can have. Once you hit that limit you can't claim any new lenses.
Currently that limit is 30 unimproved lenses.
Is It Too Big?
How long is too long?
Maybe you've got too much information for someone to easily digest in one lens sitting. For instance I wrote an instructional tutorial on how to play the drums. After the introduction I broke each lesson into a seperate lens. To make it easier to read and understand and so people could clearly know where they were up to.
Look from the point of view of the visitor. What is best for them? If you look at it that way you'll come up with the best answer.
Of course sometimes you can come to that conclusion through trial and error or experimenting.
I wouldn't just have a lens called recipes. I'd sub-divide it. Maybe a lens dedicated to Chicken Recipes. Another to Curry Recipes. Or maybe one recipe per lens. The choice is yours.
Start drafting or constructing your lens in the manner I have described earlier and if it gets too unwieldly it might be time to think about organising the material into more manageable and seperate lenses.
Can I use HTML in a module?
Yes you can. This is the current list of allowable tags:
For some reason has never worked.
Has recently been (permanently) disabled.
For more information check out Basic HTML for Squidoo.
How Often Should I Update?
The question is, do you need to update your lens?
Perhaps it is an ongoing work in progress that's adding new information as it comes to hand. Daily? Every few days? Weekly? How frequent is up to you.
Maybe it's all been said and done and there's really no room for improvement. You've got your point across, there's no need for regular updates. That's alright. If you've done the content and subject justice then move along.
Though I imagine there will come a time where a new book or a new site would further enchance the quality of your lens. Then by all means add it.
There is no hard and fast rule as to how a lens works or what it's agenda is. It's up to you the Lensmaster to decide which direction you want to take it and where you want to steer it.
Don't just rely on a quick "Google" for content or links for your page. Dig further, dig wider. In fact step away from the Internet and look for articles or assignments you may have written in the past. Whether it's as a wordprocessor document, typed up or handwritten. You're not going to get much more unique than that!
Go to the library and research. They're not obsolete and extinct yet. And you'll be amazed at what you'll find. Your humble librarian is the original search engine.
Can I Have More Than One Lensmaster Account?
The official word from Squidoo Inc is, yes you can.
Here's what they say...
Can a single lensmaster have two or more usernames?
Yes, with the caveat that each account needs to be attached to a unique email address. You cannot have multiple accounts using the same email address. Some lensmasters consider doing this so they can have one profile associated with professional lenses (their job or profession) -- and another associated with more personal lenses (their activities and interests).
Don't create an extra account for the purpose of voting up your own lenses. Okay, so it's not the biggest online crime you can commit and you won't get hung, drawn and quartered if you get caught doing it but it's a waste of time. You're better off spending that time and energy finding ways in which to promote your lens/es to people outside of Squidoo.
The advantage of having a second account is that it can be your lens workshop. If it takes a little while to build your ideal lens you can do it there before releasing it into your pool of well constructed and buff looking lenses. Or maybe you're all business in one and whimsical, witty and humorous in the other.
Alternatively you could always get your wife, husband or other family member to sign up and get them addicted to Squidoo. Two people creating lenses is quicker than one person.
But of course be focused on quality not quantity. And after a while you will have a large quantity of quality lenses that you can be proud of.
How Do I Get Visitors?
There are many ways in which you can promote your lens. In fact it's such a big subject that one module on it would not even scratch the surface.
But I am writing a whole daisy-chained row of lenses dealing with the subject. From a broader viewpoint too. The techniques aren't necessarily just for Squidoo Lenses but websites in general, drawing on almost tens years worth of experience.
Stay tuned, add this Lens to your Lensroll and Favorites. When I'm done writing it I'll link to it from here (the initial draft looks to be around 30 lenses long).
Initially you can get visitors from people who are browsing through Squidoo. After your lens has been indexed by search engines people may end up there whilst doing a search.
You can tell your family, friends, fellow students and co-workers about your lens.
There is a downside to that though, I'll explain later.
You can also link to it in your sig at forums where you are an active member.
If it is built on quality then you could very well be promoted via word of mouth.
Show Me The Money!
You get a split of the revenue generated by Squidoo. 50%.
Of course you can donate all or a percentage of your own revenue to charity. Or you can keep it for yourself.
They pay you via Paypal.
If you don't have a Paypal account just yet then it doesn't matter, the money will accrue until they can pay you out.
Your earnings are calculated and paid around the 12th of each month.
Take into account though the time that is taken for the processing of the payment by first the people paying Squidoo and then Squidoo itself.
So what money you would have earned in January has to be calcuated by (for example) Google (for their Adsense ads). That money is then paid to Squidoo by about the 27th of February.
Then Squidoo pay you your dividend by 12th of March.
So whatever PPC (Pay Per Click, such as what Adsense is) or PPS (Pay Per Sale (Amazon and others) activity you've had at your lenses in any given month you only see the $ two months later.
Don't be disheartened when you've been doing it for a little less than two months and you haven't yet seen a cent in revenue. Or in fact that your first "paycheck" pays for little more than a coffee at Starbucks. Over time it will gradually build. And if you have a bumper month you won't know for a couple of months. It's unfortunate but that's the way it is.
But you do get paid. How much is up to you.
For more information also read When will I get payments? and Payrank
Don't be too concerned with Lensrank. Concentrate on the quality of the content in your lenses.
Are you giving people the best links? Is the original content well written? Check for spelling mistakes, grammar, and so on.
The algorithm for Lensrank is constantly changing. It may always be in a state of big change. Or it may settle down once the creators feel they have the best and fairest and most innovative system. Even then they will give it small tweaks here and there.
But whatever happens concentrate on what you're doing and do it well.
For the latest gossip on Lensrank go here.
What's Something Popular I Can Write About?
Don't just think popular, what about... OBSCURE!
If you write with knowledge about something you know about, no matter how obscure it is, someone somewhere is going to want to find it.
Less popular can also mean less competition. So when someone goes to Google and does a search for it, guess where your lens is likely to rank? RIGHT NEAR (or at) THE TOP!
Write about what you know. Write about what you like. People are going to be far more interested in a topic written by someone who has a love for it rather then someone with a fleeting interest. And most will be able to tell the difference.
Not Signed Up Yet?
Sign Up Now And Get $5! By registering using this link you will get $5 credited to your account.
When you hit $15 you get paid the extra $5.
Maybe I've missed something. So ask a question here and I'll see if I can answer it.