Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Gift Ideas For Wheelchair Users

A bit late for the holidays. But check out these 10 gift ideas for wheelchair users. With some 2 million wheelchair users in the USA, there should be quite an interest in this subject.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Baby Songs : Our Baby's Favorite Baby Songs

Have you searched for entertaining, education and fun songs for your baby? After going through many many songs, we made a selection of our baby's favorites songs. It was helpful for us, because now all of his songs are in one place. But it might be helpful to you too.

Finding the right baby song is difficult to do. Some songs were to scary for our baby. Some were too boring for us. Some songs were too noisey and made him cry. The songs here are fun, educational and easy to listen to both for our baby and for us.

These songs are all branded Super Simple Songs. Some of the best are made by Jeremy. The others are their animated songs. Check out these excellent baby songs.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My only television celebrity lens: William Levy, hot Latino telenovela star

William Levy star of Sortilegio
This lens is so atypical of my collection it sort of makes me giggle. I'm not ordinarily one for gossip, or for drooling over hunky tv stars, but I made an exception for William Levy. Partially because I was actually curious about him, and partially because the gossip about him threatened to get out of hand on my telenovela blog Caray, Caray!

I don't allow speculation on stars' private lives at Caray, Caray, so I made this lens so fans of this sexy Cuban tv star William Levy could speculate and share juicy tidbits about his life and loves to their hearts' content. There've been some mighty long comments in the guest book!

I think it's interesting that a lens about a Latin-American tv star can make it to #15 in the tv celebrities list.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cheap Footed Pajamas

I have recently been surprised to find some cheap footed pajamas. When I started with my footed pajamas brands, I was actually surprised that the average cost was around $50. These are brand name footed pajamas between $20-$25!

The price was so astonishing for me, that I created a squidoo lens and a page in my website about it. My goal is to drive traffic to my new website in search of these inexpensive footed pajamas. I notice that there is not much competition for this long-tailed keyword (cheap footed pajamas). There is one website with that name (Cheap Footed Pajamas), but the prices of the footed pajamas are actually over $50, not very cheap at all.

I expect some of my new traffic will buy the $25 footed pajamas and others will look around and actually buy some of the other, more higher priced footed pajamas, thereby earning me slightly higher commissions.

The best Zazzle stores I could find, want to see them?

Whenever I have an internet problem, I do some research. If I'm doing something badly, I try to figure out how somebody else does it better.

So my Zazzle gallery, Uncle Shlomo's Pushcart is pretty disorganized and I went poking through Zazzle looking for great galleries, which have solved the problems I face, with all newbie Zazzlers (for instance, that if you're not careful your page is just a chaotic mashup of whatever products you've created most recently).

Because I'm a squidoo addict, I put screenshots and links to the best zazzle stores I found in a lens: Best of the Zazzle Stores. Have a look and...

... if you know of a great zazzle storefront I didn't mention, add it to the plexo - and if you have some advice for me about mine, please leave a comment. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deep Links And Matching Footed Pajamas

This is my next post in the series about making my own website about footed pajamas. Today, I created a new Squidoo Lens about matching footed pajamas to go with one of my website's most important pages which is also about matching footed pajamas. Why did I create the lens? It is difficult to get deep links and Squidoo can help with that. What does that mean?

If you submit a website to a directory, most of the time only the homepage is allowed. But if you want your other website pages to be found by Google and other search engines, it is helpful to have links directly to it. However, a link to your other website pages (besides your homepage) are called a "deep links" and few directories allow them. You need to be creative to get deep links.

Squidoo not will not only bring traffic to my website, it will allow me to create links to any page of my website, that is, with Squidoo I can get deeplinks. And since the Squidoo lens is also about matching footed pajamas, it is a highly relevant link. However, I will not stop there. I created a Hubpage about matching footie pajamas and I will write articles about matching footed pajamas. All of those things will allow me to get traffic and deep links to my page about matching footed pajamas.

This is one of the reasons that I think that building websites and creating Squidoo lenses go hand in hand.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The National Yiddish Book Center

I may have gotten this lens up too late to help them this year, but maybe a few people looking to make a tax-deductible end of the year contribution will find my National Yiddish Book Center lens.

I'm not affiliated with the Yiddish Book Center in any way, except as a devoted fan and satisfied customer. They have a gorgeous, interesting magazine called the Pakn Treger which comes out every month (oh, it's so yummy) that you get for a modest donation. It's the only magazine I didn't cancel when I decided to simplify my life...

I've visited their set of buildings, styled like a little shtetl on a lovely sweep of greensward on the Hampshire College campus. They have zillions of real old-time Yiddish books you can buy for cheap, and real old-time sheet music, and if you don't want an OLD book you can pay them to make you a new one, or you can read almost any book they have online, because Stephen Spielberg gave them a grant to digitize their ENTIRE collection available, incredibly: Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library cataloged and downloadable for FREE.

They have concerts and lectures and they provide scholarships for summer interns to learn Yiddish and do projects (very cool ones) and take care of these books.

Aaron Lansky, the founder, wrote a very popular book called "Outwitting History" about saving Jewish literature after the Holocaust. It's funny and inspiring.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Three Log Night Christmas Songbook: uncommon music for the Holiday season

Christmas SongbookHere's my other holiday songbook: the Three Log Night Songbook: Christmas and Hanukkah and winter solstice music, songs in 2- to 4-part harmony, with guitar chords (also playable on piano, accordion, whatever). You can also sing them alone, or play them on your recorder or ukelele.

You can have it in your hand in a week if you order it today (click on the picture to order).

If you want to learn more about it, and hear some of the songs (both from the companion cd made by the Solstice Assembly and from youtube) visit the Christmas Songbook lens at squidoo.

It's not too late!

My Hanukkah songbook at Createspace: does print-on-demand seem too slow for the holiday season?


I painted the picture on the cover of this Chanukah songbook on October 26; when the paint was dry half an hour later I scanned it and sent it off to createspace. Three days later I had the proof copy of the book in my hand - minutes later I approved it and it was available for sale! But in October people aren't thinking about Hanukkah...

... and, besides, it takes a while for a new book, or a new lens about a new book, to be found by search engines... and a holiday songbook is a time-sensitive purchase ...

Createspace is very, very fast - but I wonder if potential customers think it takes a long time to get books made specially and individually for them - I wonder if they worry that, by the time they're thinking about Hanukkah gifts, it's too late to order a book that's print-on-demand?

Hannukah begins December 11 this year - that means it runs through sundown on December 19, 2009. When I ordered copies of my book as a customer, they were still in my hands within a week. That means theoretically a person could order my TJC Hanukah Songbook on December 9 or so and still have it arrive during the holiday. That's another whole week of buying opportunity! But would people already think it too late?

Just wondering whether print-on-demand is a failure at holiday time. What do you think?

How to avoid Christmas entirely!

It's a subject near to my heart, I've been trying to formulate an answer for years. I'm a convert to Judaism - you could say I'm a refugee from Christmas. My kids think my aversion is peculiar. But in case you share it, I have a lens for you - How to Avoid Christmas.

I realize it's sort of a heretical concept in our society - after all, it's Christmas shopping that drives the economy. But the thought of all those presents eventually hitting the landfill depresses me...

I give big whopping checks to the Nature Conservancy and Nothing But Nets and Mercy Corps and then I make delicious treats and send them to my relatives, and punto as they say on the telenovelas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Religious and spiritual quizzes

I love the interactive modules in squidoo and the squidquiz project is the latest branch on that tree. I've set up over 10 religious trivia quizzes so far. Whether it's Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam - I've made you a quiz.

I'm also collecting all spiritual quizzes I have found in the template: cool spiritual quizzes. Please submit yours if you've made one. So far there are only two there that I haven't made. One about people in the Bible and one about astrology. But I can imagine quizzes on topics like reiki, meditation. My favorite so far... Yoga trivia and facts quiz.

Give to get

Even though squidoo is mostly geared towards selling - after all, only the quixotic (like me) would lavish so much time on this with nothing to be gained - it's the personal lenses, and the personal connections, which keep people coming back.

When I saw all the work Jaguar Julie had put into her friends thank-you lens I decided to make my own - for each of the 120 or so people on my fan-club list I included their picture, name, and one of their lenses which I most enjoyed. Then I published, and went around to the guestbooks of the lenses I'd featured and said thank-you individually.

Well, I learned a lot in my travels through all those lens lists of my fans, but what I wanted to tell you now is that many of those fans have come back, looked at my lens and given it five stars, and said thank you right back at me! I think I made more friends in the course of this project... and those are people who are more likely to look at my other lenses.

I have two kinds of lenses: the kind related to my work and creations and those I made for the heck of it. The "heck of it" lenses include, for instance, more than a dozen on puppets, small and large. I'm not selling anything on them. They're just there.

Then there are the lenses about the things that matter to me in a more creative sense: showing off my paintings (see the latest images for my Zazzle store, Uncle Shlomo's Pushcart), my songbooks like the Solstice Assembly Songbook, etc. I take them much more personally and they get fewer visitors, but hopefully, a rising tide raises all boats, and if people are happy I've featured their lenses, maybe they'll visit my songbooks.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another thing I like about Squidoo: helping out my friends

I'd like to think I'm making some headway in promoting some causes that matter to me - or matter to my friends...

For instance, I wrote a lens on Chai Lifeline, an organization that provides help to many families with desperately sick children, including a summer camp called "Camp Simcha." My son went twice - it was the only place he could go, sick and weak as he was after his cancer treatments, where we knew he would be taken care of.

My lens, Chai Lifeline - helping sick kids make it through, is quite modest but it meant a lot to me to write it, and I hope it provides another way for people to find Chai Lifeline when they need it.

Another example: there is a really worthy but little known rescue center for carnivores in our area. My friend Mark is a donor and is trying to get them more publisicty so I made a lens about the Conservators' Center which is on the first page of google results just now.

A few more examples:

I encourage you to think of somebody - or some organization - that could use a new arena of publicity, and make a lens about him, her, or them. It's fun and probably helpful.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Popshops and Your Shopping Website

As I recently reported, I have made a Footed Pajamas website to accompany my footed pajamas lenses. As you may know, I have several lenses focused on Footed Pajamas, including:

* Footed Pajamas For Adults
* Footed Pajamas for Boys
* Footed Pajamas for Girls
* Matching Pajamas

My new website has pages for all of those things as you can see here:

* Adult Footed Pajamas
* Boys Footed Pajamas
* Girls Footed Pajamas
* Matching Footed Pajamas

I have built the new page with modules from Popshops. If you are selling stuff via your own website, I encourage you to find out about Popshops. I learned about Popshops from the affilate manager of a company I affilate with. I complained about the fact when I click on a link for a product, I often get "out of stock" messages. I told him that we are both losing alot of sales. He wrote "Sorry for the inconvenience. Have you tried popshops? They are datafeed driven, and I believe they have the option you're looking for".

I did a Squidoo search about Popshops and came across a fellow Squid named Casey who made a few lenses about Popshops. Casey has several beautifully made websites, which are based on Popshops such as this Plus Size Shopping site. I exchaged a few emails with Casey who gave me some very helpful tips such as: "I consider Enterprise level PopShops to be one of the best investments I make in my business". Thank you for your help Casey!

What I leaned from Casey and my own experience is that Popshops is:

* Very easy to use! If you want to change the products being offered on your site, you do not need to copy and past code. You simply go to the Popshops desktop and click on a product and instantly that product is added to your site! It is very simple and very fast!

* If a product goes out of stock, it will automatically be replaced with a similar product. No more "Out of Stock" links.

* If you offer products from various manufacturers, popshops makes them all look similar. Your website looks like one company rather than a patchwork of offers from various companies.

There are some limitations with Popshops, however:

* Popshops basically does not work well with Squidoo. Popshops offers many different types of coding possibilities (Javascript, PHP, ASP, Atom, RSS, HTML, etc, etc). The problem is from that list, it seems that only HTML works with Popshops. And HTML does not have all of the cool features that I have written above. This is a REAL pity and limitation with Squidoo.

* Not all companies you will work with offer their products via Popshops. But many, many do. Both of my two most important companies offer products via Popshops.

So, I created my own website. I quickly began creating my own Popshops modules. I was worried that there would be a steep learning curve, but soon realized working with Popshops was VERY simple. Wow! I had my first "shop" installed in a few minutes.

With Popshops making my website was FAST! Creating a Popshops Shop is very similar to creating an Squidoo Amazon module. You simply:

* Do a keyword search for products
* Click on the programs you are approved to affilate with
* Click on the products you want to offer in your shop
* Select the type of code you want
* Copy and paste the code into your website.

Once the code is in, you can return to your shop and click and change the products being offered at any time. You never need to change the code on your website again!

I am still a Popshops newbie and am probably not getting everything out of it that I could be. But I already see alot of advantages of Popshops in addition to the ones I mentioned above. I am making more money. My Squidoo commissions from Amazon is around 2% of sales. My affilate commission is around 12% of sales. Of course, I can have affilate links on my Squidoo pages. But I have to live with those links that constantly go "out of stock" and the only way to discover those deadlinks is to click on all of them. Who has time for that?

After a few weeks of using Popshops, like Casey, I am now convinced that Popshops EXCELLENT for building shopping websites. I plan to be making more websites soon and I have every intention of using Popshops to offer my products.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More fun with rss feeds

Did you know you can make an rss feed out of almost any page at all? I have an rss feed in my newsreader now, for instance, that shows me the newest purple star lenses as soon as they're awarded. You can use it too: just paste the following url into your newsreader.

You could also make one, for instance, for your fan club. That way you'd know when somebody new joined you. Want to learn how? I made a lens about it: Making an rss feed from your fan club.

You're welcome!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Touring the "purple star" lenses

Since I've received three purple stars (one for my Mexican mask lens, one for my deer fence lens, and one for a lens about my Uncle Shlomo's Pushcart Zazzle Store, I got curious about the program and looked into it.

Did you know that as of today there are 640 purple star lenses, out of the hmm, maybe 900,000 lenses at squidoo?

Here's a list of all the purple star lensees. I visited most of them - starting from the bottom up - and I've done two lenses showcasing my favorite purple star lenses - there's a plexo so folks who've won purple stars can add their lenses to the list. It's fun to see which of the many excellent lenses by giants have gotten this award.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squidoo gives you lots of reasons to grow.

I'm a member of the "Fresh Wonders" group on Ning - a community willow created to encourage quality lens-building - and there is the occasional weekly challenge.

This week's challenge: to make a lens using illustrations which are not photographs. It was posed by MeltedRachel; she wrote:
I want you to make that lens that you always wanted to make but thought you couldn't because you didn't have any photos of it. It could be a holiday that you lost all the photos to or a ghostly encounter.

I've made lenses about art exhibitions that I couldn't photograph, imaginary places and places I've never been and I want you to be able to do the same.

This made something click for me. I had been wanting to do a lens about Chai Lifeline, the organization that helped my son when he was in treatment for brain cancer, but I couldn't bear the idea of using photographs - it seemed like a privacy issue.

So I used Rachel's idea and drew pictures instead. Here is my tale of Chai Lifeline and its wonderful summer camps for kids with cancer and other mortal illnesses:

Chai Lifeline.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Learning by doing: I discover the benefits of irfanview by doing a lens on it

I hadn't really been planning to go for the 100 club, but I'm so close I've started thinking about ideas for lenses again.

Today I was using Irfanview, my favorite (and FREE) image editing software, and I thought: this would make a good lens. So I started building one, and that made me peer into all the menus, and DANG! I found lots of way wonderful features I'd never even noticed!

I wrote some of them up but not all. I'll be able to revisit this topic over time and try out some more features I wouldn't have seen if I weren't making a lens.

This lens had the added benefit of showing off some of my stuff I (theoretically) sell at Uncle Shlomo's Pushcart Zazzle Store - I used my images as examples when I illustrated features (here, I made a text box on a photo of a tshirt with a celtic knot I painted).

I used the "PoweredBy" class to label the images, with links to the store.

So you can visit my Irfanview lens and see what I'm talking about - and download the free software through the link I provided - and see how I used my images in the course of explaining the program!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing up a project for squidoo: The Day of the Deerfence

I've been thinking about writing about my marathon couple of days erecting a deer fence around 1550 feet of my property, but I finally got to it yesterday and finished at 2:30 am! Here it is: Build your own deer fence.

It was fun re-living the experience, going back in my mind and remembering what tools and equipment I needed and how I'd researched the project. Research wasn't quite as easy eight years ago. Now practically everything you need is on Amazon so I loaded the lens with Amazon spotlight modules and used the "description" text box to describe the way I made the fence.

Do you have deer problems? Maybe this would help!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Footed Pajamas For Adults: Now a Website!

Dear Fellow Squid Giants: Are you still focusing all of your time making Squidoo Lenses? Have you thought about creating your own websites to market your products?

As some of my fellow squidooers know, I have a popular lens about footed pajamas for adults. My Footed Pajamas For Adults Lens has been quite successful, selected as lens of the day and voted by my fellow squidooers as best marketing lens of 2008.

Recently I have taken the next step and have created a website, The Footed Pajamas Shop, dedicated entirely to footed pajamas. The new Footed Pajamas Shop has not only footed pajamas for adults but also footed pajamas for the entire family. The new Footed Pajamas Shop is still in its early days, but I can tell you it was REALLY easy to make it; just as easy as making a Squidoo Lens. I plan to tell you all about it soon.

I have many plans for developing the Footed Pajamas Shop. And in the days ahead, I will be posting about my experiences of creating and developing my new footed pajamas website. I will tell you what is working and what is not working. I also hope that you will give feedback concerning my footed pajamas website with ideas about how to improve it.

Do I plan to stop making Squidoo Lenses?? No way. Squidoo will always be a part of my online marketing campaigns. In the days ahead, I will tell you why.

What can you do?
* Have a look at The Footed Pajamas Shop and make suggestions for improvement
* Ask questions about developing The Footed Pajamas Shop which I can address in my upcoming posts
* Post about websites that you are creating and what you have learned
* Post about how Squidoo is fitting into your online marketing plans.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More SEO and Marketing advice

I have been outgrowing my blog at squidtop for a while, but it took someone asking me to create an e-book to go and create my own blog about SEO and online marketing. The result is my Marketing Spiritual a blog about Online marketing with spiritual integrity.

The most popular posts there so far are:

The free online marketing e-book itself has also been downloaded a whole lot already. 

The e-book is basically the information from my SEO and Keyword research lenses, plus the most important content of my blogposts about SEO and online marketing, plus the basics about online publishing in general.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A great to use Squidoo: learn as you go, and document.

Here's another reason I love Squidoo: it gives me a second motivation when I'm thinking about launching a project.

For instance, not too long ago I got very interested in giant puppets, and went to see a local show given by the Paperhand Puppet Intervention troupe, and thought it would be a fun thing to do with my young friend Jeimy (I'm a mentor through the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program: here's a lens about mentoring).

It seemed like a lot of work, though, and I might have sighed and not done it, but then I thought: "Oh, I could take photos of the process and make some lenses!" and so I did.

While I was on that kick, I thought about the song I sing with my musical partner Bob Vasile (we're the Pratie Heads British Isles fiddle tunes and songs duo). The song is about that blood-thirsty villanous puppet Punch and his antics; I made a lens about Punch and Judy so I could put our song on it and that got me started learning how to cast a plaster mold for paper-mache heads. I love paper mache. And that got me into a series of paper-mache heads for Halloween!

One more example... about twenty years ago when I was just starting to direct an a cappella vocal ensemble (the Solstice Assembly), we made a Skylark Productions recording called Three Log Night: Uncommon Music for the Holiday Season. I made a songbook to go with it. Twenty years later, I still get emails ordering the cd and songbook! So I decided to re-issue both, mainly because I could also make a lens about them: A Christmas Songbook.

Sometimes - you need a reason to get up and do something. The happy prospect of making a lens has often spurred me to get something done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New blogger says hello, and: Why *I* love Squidoo (part one)

Hello friends (taps microphone to see if sound system is working) -

Thanks, Gene, for inviting me to join your Valley here... here's one of the reasons I love Squidoo:

I'm using Squidoo as a filing cabinet of my interests. And when I learn something new, I make a lens about it.

So, now, when I'm trying to remember how to use Yahoo pipes to format an rss feed - instead of digging around my messy desk for the notes I took when I first figured it out, I just look at the lens I compiled as I was learning!...

Same with using the "Wimpy Player" to put music on a lens. It takes about 17 clicks to do it, and I'd have forgotten how by now - except I wrote it up in a lens, so now I can look it up any time I forget ...

I was given a miniature horse in partial exchange for building a website for the best divorce mediator in Greensboro, NC - and people kept asking me about him (the horse, not the divorce mediator) and wondering if he's actually a Shetland Pony - so I looked the matter up online and wrote a lens about it!

I loved the wattle-and-daub houses I saw in Bulgaria and England and wondered about them, so I looked them up and found a bunch of good pictures - and wrote a lens about them. Now, everything I know about wattle and daub is in one place.

Do you use Squidoo this way?

I'm Chapel Hill fiddler, and you can see all my Squidoo lenses here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Ten Most Recent Lenses

I'm issuing a challenge to all lensmasters. I would like to see lenses that list your ten most recent lenses.

The reason for this is simple. I often look through the lensmaster bio pages, trying to figure out what lenses are new. As of today, there's no way to tell. However... if you make a lens that lists only your newest lenses, and list that as one of your "Featured Lenses" on your bio page, then it will be easy for others to find them.

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I make a new lens, I want the world to know! Sometimes it takes days for those new lenses to get any attention at all. Well, having a list of ten new lenses would make it easier for people to find your fledgling creations.

Today I created Ten New Lenses by LindaJM, and wrote about it in SquidU, asking people to make a similar lens then leave their link on that thread. I also offered use of my graphic, included here. You can use it at will, or create another that is more to your liking.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Places to blog about squidoo

Blogging about squidoo on a free blog usually has this disadvantage: you may get your blog removed for linking only to one domain. For about a year there has been squidtop. Now there's also crabbysbeach.

So far some familiar people are blogging at crabbysbeach: AJ blogs about green lenses, luvmyludwig blogs about squidoo anniversaries, I'm doing more tributes to squidoo lensmasters and calendars.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I love squidoo

I know, this is just about the least original title for a squidoo blogpost. But while I'm at it, I might as well confess... I AM addicted.

I love that squidoo is a community place where new squids sometimes start out sharing their favorite lenses... like JOAN did.

I love that it's such a successful online place that it's considered normal to create a blog (like this one) for squidoo purposes only. Check out: Squidutils about how tags are important again... and The question of the weeks by growwear. This week: What would make you a better lensmaster? Great question, and all her questions are like that. The added bonus is links to your lenses, website or lensography (depending on Mimi's mood I think) for the best answer.

I also love the challenges - giant squid summer school, rocket moms and now the teams that are helping new squids (and old squids) reach their goals.

Then the culture of helping each other out is great. The squidoo answer deck is only a selection of all the great help lenses out there or course. Would this blog be complete without bragging a bit about my own efforts at helping the squidoo community?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting your lens found in google

Two of my most popular squidoo help lenses are devoted to how to get your lens found in google. The first I made was about that subject specifically, but in order to be really successful one has to start with something else: keyword research.

If you want to make a lens that is successful economically and gets found by google, you need to think about keywords BEFORE you make your lens. This is called 'keyword research'.

I did a blogpost about keyword research on my squidtop blog: analyzing a weight loss lens.

If you've set that up right the next step is promotion. You want your lens found in google, so some people submit their lens to google, yahoo etc. This is a waste of time.

The basis for Search Engine Optimization is getting links (good links) to your lenses. There are all kinds of ways to do that. Within squidoo it makes sense to submit to groups in your niche. But that is also potentially a trap. So I thought I'd give some advice about what to look out for when submitting your lens to a squidoo group. I also did a post analyzing link building for that same weight loss lens I talked about earlier.

One more thing: when it comes to search engine optimization I still see a lot of advice relating to tags. Tag pages however DO NOT COUNT towards your lenses backlink profile. What tags ARE good for was explored here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Get Lost In Your Own Sites?

I have had such varied interests and have done so many sites in the last couple of years that I had to have some way for me to keep up with me. So, I did a blog site just to keep up with me. I found myself forgetting about blogs or other writings I had started and for some reason never followed up on. It was not a lack of interest, but a lack of organization. How can you keep a site up if you forget you even developed it?

So, I finally decided to do a site specifically to keep up with my internet writings. I started actually searching my records for all the sites I had previously done. As of tonight I am probably still missing some, but will add them as I remember them or come across them in my lists of ID’s and passwords. In the future, it will be easier for me as I will have all my links organized in one place. .

For you “Squidooers”, you probably have a lensography and that serves a good practical purpose for you and for your “friends”. However, if you get to the point I have gotten to in a few short years, you will probably have to organize the rest of your sites in a similar fashion.

On the site I just developed for me [LamarRoss.Com ] I have used a Wordpress blog format, developed pages to categorize my squidoo links, and made various other categories of links to organize links to my blogs, ezinearticles, etc. This is the site where I will attempt to keep a running tabulation of all my internet blogs, sites, affiliate links, etc. as they are developed.

If my followers, friends, and casual passersby learn from these “parts” that the “whole” of me is greater than the parts, so much the better, but the site was done primarily to organize me. I, like most everyone in life, have now and have had throughout my life many varying interests. These interests are reflected in the links on this site.

Some of my sites have been for fun. Some of my sites have been for money. But all of my sites are an expression of me and my interests. That will never change.

I will make occasional posting on items related to my many interests and attempt to keep on this site a listing of links to all my internet ventures, adventures, and misadventures. Only time will tell which of these sites reflect the ventures and which the misadventures. But, I promise you that I will always be having fun.

Check out my site. Maybe it will be something you will decide to do for you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Un-Junk Your Squidoo Lens

People who go to your site have certain expectations. It is up to you to reshape those expectations or reinforce them. Use the Introduction Module of your Squidoo lens to target your market and to set your reader's expectations. Tell them what they will find on your page.

Then follow through – give them what you told them you would. If your lens is on how to bathe a cat, don't include facts about the latest kitchen gadget or wrench.

A Squidoo lens which sells something – and most do – does not necessarily have to appear as a junk site. In fact, I go to certain lenses, especially shopping lenses, because I'm looking for a product and I want to have a variety to choose from. This usually equates to lots of Amazon or CarePress modules.

However, I also want and expect some content - product reviews, care tips, what style goes with what, materials comparisons, etc. There are lots of ways to add value to these lenses and keep them from being junky – facts that make it a valuable resource for deciding which product, if any, to buy.

How to your sites stack up?

For an example of a lens selling products but offering more, click Bear Paw Boots

Thursday, July 9, 2009

eBay and me

I took eBay off all my lenses. No, I didn't have a bad experience with them directly, but after adding them, I noticed a huge drop in Google traffic to those very lenses. One of my top lenses at the time, Fantasy: Castles, Dragons, and Wizards, was completely dropped by Google. It had a PR of 3 at the time, and I was frantically trying to figure out what I did wrong. My lighthouse and wolf lenses fell drastically, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. I scoured the 'net' for a solution, and came up with very little. I did a 'site ban' check on my fantasy lens, and it wasn't banned by Google, they just dropped it. Perhaps it was penalized for some reason? All I did was add eBay modules, and not a lot of them, because I didn't want to junk up my lens. Finally, I did a keyword density check on it...and got 'cat' and 'seller' as the top keywords, also the phrase 'cat seller' as the top phrase of words. Huh? I didn't have either word in my text, so it must have been linked to eBay code. I suppose the Google crawlers thought I was trying to fool the public into thinking my lens was about one thing, when it was actually about 'cat sellers'. I honestly don't know. It's all I could come up with.

Well, all I could think to do was delete all the eBay modules on all my lenses and see what happened, and it worked. My lens got picked up by Google again, but started all over with a PR of 0, and my wolf and lighthouse lenses have shot up to the 3rd and 4th spot on my dashboard. I hate not offering eBay products, because they have some great collectibles at good prices, but for now, it's the best thing for me. I never made a sell from them anyways.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Baby!

On 24 May, the newest member of our family arrived. He is healthy, happy, cute and VERY time consuming. With midnight diaper changes, cuddling, song singing and book reading, I am having difficultly finding time for Squidoo or blogging. I expect this to last for several months. So, while you may not see much of me on this blog for a while, I am confident that my fellow Giant Squid contributors will pick up the slack and continue to add valuable content to this blog. So, please forgive me if I am absent for some time. I will return when my little guy and I are able to sleep longer hours.

Some time ago, I created a lens about some of the baby products that we are buying for him and us. We have made some remarkable discoveries. Some of the products we thought would help alot (eg swaddlers) have turned into remarkable failures, while others (anti-stretchmark cream and post-partum girdle) have really been helpful.

I hope to update this lens as soon as possible, as I think it will be very helpful for other expectant parents.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Purple Star Surprise

I find it interesting that we never really know how someone feels about or evaluates a lens we do. To some extent we know by the lens ranking, but that can be somewhat contrived with the proper advertising. I have always found it interesting that my top ranked lenses were usually lenses I would not have anticipated to be as highly ranked as they were.

So, imagine my surprise when out of the blue, I get an email saying I had received a purple star for one of my sites. I have been so busy with family and other endeavors lately that I have not had the time to be as concerned with Squidoo and my lenses as I previously did. (A temporary status, I hope.)

When I first did my lens on my home town of Rome, Georgia -- it was a labor of love. I had no marketing content and was not concerned with whether anyone cared or not. I did it because I enjoyed doing it. Yes, I hoped it would be of interest to some, especially those from my home town. Yet I never would have considered it to be of interest to as many people as seem to have visited the lens since I first published it.

So first, thanks for those who considered it worthy of the purple star. It is an honor.

Second, to those who wonder how they can get a purple star for a lens they make, I have some advice. Don't seek after it. Enjoy what you do; do every lens as a labor of love; and let your peers evaluate it when it comes to their attention. If it is really a quality lens (from their viewpoint, of course), you will get the appropriate reward when your time comes.

Although, I am proud of the lens and thankful for the purple star, I would not change anything in it purposely to seek an award. I'm having fun and the purple star is simply a mark of how much fun I had creating this lens.

I hope that other giants will have the pleasurable feeling of receiving a purple star award for their favorite lens. With or without the awards though, keep enjoying the journey. My journey has just begun.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Groups and Purple Stars

Have any of you Squidooers noticed all the new groups that are forming out there? Rocket Moms, Senior Squidooers, "giant" groups? And what do you think of these purple stars?

Personally I have joined several of these groups and I have been awarded a purple star on one of my lenses. (My Vegetable Garden--just in case you want to check it out!)

What do I think of my groups (RocketMoms, WiWon Team, and others)? I love them. I have been getting lots of really helpful critiques from the members. I also get new, fresh ideas for lenses and ways to manage the ones I have. Needless to say, I am also getting noticed. Why is this good? Visitors, ratings, etc....

The purple star helped in the lens rank of my article for about a week. But, it has stayed near the top of own lenses in rank for a longer time.

I think that the influx of groups and the purple star is Squidoo's way of helping all of us "non-spamming" lensmasters. Squidoo is promoting ways to make better lenses. It is encouraging me to be a better lensmaster! It is a good thing. Yes, it is OK to want to make money on the internet. Yes, it is good to have tons of new lenses on Squidoo. The more lenses visited, the more money Squidoo makes and divvies up to all of us lensmasters on payday. The groups, all the awards and giantness, does help me get more cash from Squidoo.

I do not make a living from my membership on Squidoo, but I am feeling pretty good about what I do make -- FYI: my last paycheck was for less than $20. I consider it my "found" money. I am having fun on Squidoo and learning, too.

I can also say that I have made acquaintances with people from around the world. I love it!

I believe in Squidoo so I want to participate. I am not trying to become "the most popular" lensmaster. Actually, I do not think I have the talent that JaguarJulie, fluffanutta or ChefKeem and loads of others have. I probably don't have the energy, either. These lensmasters work at what they do. They also do it very well!

But, what I do have is a desire to get better every day.

I also like to get an occasional pat on the back.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blocking Spammers from your Squidoo Lens

I always set my Squidoo Guestbooks and Links Plexos to "contact me" first because some Lensmasters don't always read what should be posted there and what is not appropriate. This allows me to delete link entries without having to look at every lens every day to catch the junk.

However, recently I've had 2 types of annoying spam:
(1) I was spammed in my Links Voting (Plexo). It was not a Lensmaster that I could tell, but in 1 day they hit 7 of my bear lenses with 4 links each to Fat burning sites.

(2) I was also getting spammed by a lensmaster doing the same thing on a couple of my cat lenses for something about intantcash. I know this was a Lensmaster because when I did properties on the link they posted, they screwed up and linked to

It was all happening at the same time so I'm pretty sure it was the same doofus!

What did I do?
1. I deleted all except the 4 entries on my Save Our Bears (SOB) Group -- which had 5 votes on each -- and reported it to Squidoo. This was so Squidoo could get the IP address or Lensmaster info.
2. I reported the spam to Squidoo through the Report Spam link.
3. They were able to block the user by IP address used on the link and warn the offending Lensmaster.
4. They removed the link from my sites as they addressed the issue.

So now you know what to do if it happens to you. Report it and help stop it from happening to others. The Squidoo folks are amazing and they eliminate spammers fast.

Bear hugs, Frankie aka Bearmeister

Friday, May 29, 2009

If you want to become popular on squidoo... a purple star :)

There is something about becoming a squidangel... I guess it brings out the groupy in other lensmasters. And one of the lenses those new visitors to my lenses seem to want to know is: how do you become as popular (as you are) on squidoo... I wrote about that a while back on my How To Become Popular on Squidoo lens. Now if you'd have told me in high school that I'd be writing about popularity, I'd probably have thought you mad. I wasn't very popular at all, in fact I turned down my one chance at popularity when one of the popular girls wanted to talk clothes. I was like - you think these clothes are cool? I don't get it!

Luckily squidoo popularity works differently from high school. Fashion doesn't play a part, as nobody can see what I wear. Then again, my clothes these days look alright even working from home - I guess I've developed my own sense of style, and that works for me. In highschool I was still searching and feeling my way.

Back to my lens - it started as a rant. I realized how important ratings were to getting a high lensrank, and really didn't like that. I thought - and to an extent feel - that quality should determine lensrank. But making the lens made me realize that it's the social aspect of squidoo that sets it apart from other online networks. The fact that social lensmasters get rewarded helps the atmosphere at squidoo. And that's a good thing.

Anyhow, the purple star program has been going on for about a month now, and my lens about popularity isn't just in the top 2000 (where it got thanks to all those people whose lens I'd blessed rating it), it's in the top 300 - so thanks giant squid organizers for the honor :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I opened my email to a nice surprise yesterday. I got a congratulations email on my new Purple Star from The Squid Team for my Lens about Footed Pajamas for Adults. That was cool. But the amazing thing was that I had not even applied for that lens!

Last month, when Purple Stars were announced, I applied for a different, newer lens. But as I wrote in a post on this blog, it was not chosen. So, it was really surprising when a lens that I did not nominate was selected.

Thanks Bonnie, Patti and Robin!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Squidangels introductions - about rewarding quality

Early April a new batch of squidangels arrived - I did a short post about that then. In this one I want to explain a bit more about this program. There are more of us, because squidoo is growing so fast. For us to be able to keep up with the new lenses out there, we are assigned specific categories to keep an eye on. Like I said last time, I keep an eye on Religion & Spirituality, Books, Duels!, Squidoo Tips, Green Living and DIY and education.

Squidangels are there to promote quality and - to a lesser extent - to get rid of spam. We are collectively meant to make sure quality DOES rise to the top. Of course blessings are only one way to get to the top. Another way is simply to get traffic, but sometimes traffic comes to lenses which aren't worthy, or lenses rise to the top because they game the system. In those cases squidangels will ding lenses, so they won't be giving the squidoo community a bad name.

This batch was invite only - that is, I was asked to be a squidangel, and which categories I would want to keep an eye on. I'd been wanting to be a squidangel for a while now, but was never in the forums at the right time to apply. Luckily, applying wasn't necessary this time.

On her lens about the angels, Squidster has assigned 4 possible ways squidangels opperate:

Secret Agent - You might never know if and when this Angel was there
Ambassador - Rewards consistent quality and spreads goodwill
Talent Scout - Always on the lookout for fresh talent
Mentor/Adviser - Likes to offer encouragement and advice

I'm closest to the talentscout, but I also have traits of the Ambassador and the mentor. That is: for those who can handle my mentoring style. I'm pretty direct and will not always remember to compliment what's good, while handing out negative feedback.

But in my function as a squidoo ambassador I've been rewarding those who consistently help others on squidoo on my Thank You Lensmaster blog. I started this blog last year. At first I thanked and interviewed people who had personally helped me. Then I went on to thank and interview those who I felt had helped the squidoo community best. This means that those who give on squidoo, will receive links in return. Often thanked lensmasters include: Thefluffanutta, Semperfidelis, Jaguarjulie, Janet21, Chefkeem, AJ2008, A_willow and BDKZ. While most of these are or have been squidangels, they were often mentioned BEFORE they were assigned the role. Squidoo HQ is rewarding those who give back to squido in this round of squidangels - and they picked well.

This is as it should be of course: giving back to those who contribute. It also means that it pays to give back to squidoo. One of the reasons for starting this blog was that I think links are more important than ratings or even blessings. So the blog links out to whatever lenses and lensmasters the interviewee mentions :) But of course, now that I'm a squidangel, they also get a few of their lenses blessed - if I hadn't already. Check the blog out for interviews with many of our squidangels as well :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Squidoo and a pinched nerve

At the end of March, I got bronchitis, and since I'm one of the thousands without health insurance, I had to get over it on my own, which took quite awhile. It took weeks for the coughing to subside, and so to add insult to injury, I developed a pinched nerve from all the violent coughing. Now, this is the first time I've ever had one of these, and they are excruciating! I found that I could not sit at the computer and type, so I dropped off Squidoo for awhile. Driving was horrid, and by the time I got home from work, I was wracked with pain. It's much better now. Honestly, there really isn't a purpose to this post except to whine, moan, gripe, and wallow in self-pity. Forgive me for posting about my pathetic ungratefulness for being temporarily under the weather, considering I am otherwise quite healthy. Now, I have so much catching up to do.... (Yes, that's me complaining again ; )

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Photo Gallery Module - my new favorite!

I have recently discovered a photo module that I just LOVE on Squidoo. It is the Photo Gallery. You are allowed ten images in this module. One is large and the others are thumbprints that you can chose to rotate into the large frame or allow the visitor to click on one to examine it closer. In other words, you get lots of "bang for your buck" in the gallery module without having too much vertical space taken up by your pictures.

I have found this gallery module very useful for my vegetable gardening lenses. In my growing tomatoes and vegetable garden lenses, I use this module to show the weekly progress in my small plots of earth.

I am enjoying the documentation of the growth of my tomatoes and vegetables so much this year because I might have found two "secrets" to their successful growth. Sunshine and taking the advice of Mike Pender from Classic Gardens and Landscape in Center Point, AL. Mr. Pender has developed a tomato program that uses Ferti-lome products and a "secret" combination of ingredients he sells in a gallon sized baggie. So far, I am the envy of my other vegetable gardening neighbors. Luckily, the Homeowners Association has not elected to give me a "ticket" for any violations that I might have earned (accidentally, of course).

I have a feeling that one of the subjects of my future lenses might be one focusing on "Fresh Tomatoes Recipes" or "What To Do with a Bumper Crop".

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Module to Allow Visitors To Rate Your Lens

I learned about a cool new module developed by The Fluffanutta from Lewis Smile at Squidoo Cool. As you know, until now, if someone wants to rate your lens after reading it, they have to scroll to the top of the page. Of course, many of us (me, me, me) often forget or are too lazy to scroll up.

Now you can allow the visitor to give a rating from anywhere on the lens. All you have to do is be logged into Squidoo and click here.

Thanks Fluff

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Free Online Photo Editors

Do you use a photo editor on your photos? Are you looking for a FREE photo editor?

We have Photoshop on my wife's computer, but I do not have it on mine. So, if I want to bling up, crop or clean up a photo and she is on her computer (which is most of the time), I turn to one of a growing number of free online photo editors.

The online photo editor I am now most comfortable with is the editor at Photobucket. I love what it can do to a photo, like adding speach bubble or a thought cloud, like the ones you see in comics, as shown in the photo in this post. Or you can also easily add a picture frame around your photo with a click of a button.

Now there are many, many other free photo editors available, including online Free Photoshop. Some of these photo editors specialize in working with photos on Flickr.
There are no more exuses for having dull and lifeless photos on your Squidoo lens.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Life Between the Dash

As I was reading the post by Veronica on Giant Thoughts, my thoughts went back to a poem and slide-show presentation that I used last year on a personal family history blog. It is simply called "The Dash". The poem presentation had created such an impression on me at the time that I just had to go back to it again, watch the slide-show, and read the dialogue with each photo. I was not disappointed.

The poem has became even more significant for me because 2 years ago yesterday; my mentor, my friend, my inspiration, and my father, passed away. On his tombstone read the years 1915-2007. I spoke at his funeral giving a brief eulogy, pointing out some of the happy events that he had created for me and my 5 siblings. For you see, it was those years between the birth and death date (the dash) that had significance to us and Dad's many friends and relatives. It was not the date of birth nor the date of death.

Likewise, it is our life (the dash between the dates) that will be remembered after we are gone. As sqidooers, we become many things to many people. We never know what our influence is or will be to others who follow our lenses. Live life with "gusto", love, and laughter. Let that adventuresome spirit come through in your lenses. You will be glad you did and others will be the better for it.

Check out The DASH poem. You want soon forget it.

Are You Working On Those Summer Lenses?

Are you madly working on your summer and fall lenses yet? Now is the perfect time to get started working on those summer fun lenses, and fall lens ideas. Both will be here before you know it.

I’ve been working on a summer dessert lens, and another one for a summer garden party.

If you get a good start now you will be ready to greet those seasonal shoppers with content filled lenses. People are already doing their 4th of July, and Halloween shopping, I have some sales and lens traffic to prove it.

If you just spend 15 minutes a day working on lenses for the next season you will have a whole collection of seasonal lenses before you know it.

I put together a whole list of summer Squidoo lens ideas over at Lens Author for you to check out. I also posted a few tips to help you capture your own images for your online projects.

Happy Creating! Linette (aka Barkely)

Image (c) L Gerlach

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fillers for new Squid Product

I am putting together "Squid Kits" That will be sold to current and new squids. If you are a giant squid and have a side business, I am taking fillers to put into the bags with the other items. It could be great exposure for your side business. It's still in the planning stage but I'll be doing a lens about it soon. Just email me at if you have any questions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Social Networking: When Does it Become Too Much?

Seems I've stumbled into a lot of conversations lately that begin the same way.

"I can't keep up with all I have to do. The frustration paralyzes me."

Last week I blogged about it in a post titled "Stuck in a Rut?" It wasn't long before AJ picked up on it at her Always Juggling blog too, in a post that addresses social networking, and how hard it is to keep up with what we perceive as commitments.

Well, this week I'm determined to sort through my commitments. I'm slicing and dicing them to see what's critical and what has become nothing more than a fun way to waste time. So far, I've concluded that I can live without most social networking tools except LinkedIn and Twitter. For now, at least, I plan to pull back from the others.

I haven't taken the Facebook leap yet and I'm glad I didn't. It sounds like something that I would end up liking way too much. I might forget that I have real work to accomplish.

It's interesting how basic it is to take a step back and just breathe. Who knows, I might even find time for gardening this week. Sort of reminds me of a tv commercial I love, where a twenty-something guy is describing an awesome sight--this gold and pink explosion of color across the sky--as if he'd never seen such a thing before. The older guy with him throws him this little smirk and says, "Yeah. It's called morning."

Backing off of social networking feels a little like seeing my first sunrise. I plan to enjoy it.

Rainbow of Fashion Colors

Hi, it's me, rms, and I wanted to tell everyone about my newest passion; my Rainbow of Fashion Colors Group.

The group is based upon my theory that many people shop for clothing and home decor specifically by color, such as a "blue" bedspread, "red" dishes, or maybe a "tangerine" shawl, or a "white" pair of sandals.

The group is growing by leaps and bounds because I've got an awesome group of highly recognizable and extremely hard-working lensmasters creating wonderful niche market color lenses, some of whom are even claiming their own color spectrums to work on.

Sound interesting? Stop by the Rainbow of Fashion Colors Group Headquarters and join us by claiming a color and building some incredible Giant Squid fashion lenses!
This group is not for Giant Squids only but your submitted lenses need to be Giant Squid Quality to be accepted.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Giant Squids Take Note: Purple Stars Are Here

Purple stars are the latest incentive for Giant Squids only. Pretty cool if you ask me. Initially there were going to be six per week. Now I understand that there will be 21 per week.

Why are they cool? Bragging rights mostly, but also "The lens gets a generous one-time editorial turboboost in LensRank." Sounds good to me.

I applied for my Laser Hair Removal Lens (I like that lens!). But it didn't get selected :( poor me, sniff, sniff.

Oh well, I will keep trying. The winners of the first purple star awards were announced on the Giant Squid Showcase. Congrats to all of the winners!!

Did anyone else submit?

Photo by hellokitty-skittles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lensrank Explained

Spirituality (Katinka) wrote an excellent lens explaining Lenrank. In her lens, she discusses the factors which are known to influence lenrank. I learned several things from this lens. For example:

* "Giant squids get the equivalent of 2 angels blessings on every lens they make"
(This is a good insentive to becoming a Giant Squid)

* "Anything a visitor does on your lens is counted towards lensrank. Whether it's writing in your guestbook, voting in a poll, voting in a plexo, adding a link to a plexo or joining a duel"
(A good reason to put polls, plexos and duel modules on your lens)

Why is lensrank important? For one thing, as explained in my post about "How to Earn a Few Extra Dollars on Squidoo" lenses with higher lensrank earn more money. Currently lenses with lensrank above 2'000 earn over $10/month and lenses with lensrank above 10'000 earn over $2/month. That adds up.

Also, if you get a very high ranked lens, that can bring traffic. At the moment, I have two lenses with lensrank above 200. They both get significant traffic due to this, mostly from being in the top 10 for their topics (health, shopping, food, etc)

Here is another tip. Spirituality notes that "Click Outs" are an important factor for lens rank. What is a "click out"? Anytime someone clicks on something and leaves your lens, you get a "click out". This might seem counter intuitive, because you want someone to stay on your lens, right? Well, not if you want higher lensrank. What can you do to increase your click outs?

* Create relevant and valuble links on your lens that people will want to click. This might be to a related resource, a wiki article or anything a reader might be interested in for more information.

* Exchange links with a blog or website that is relevant. This has several advantages: you may receive traffic from their website to your lens, you should receive a relevant link which will boost your Google PR, and you will receive a "click out" if a visitor clicks on it.

* If you place a Youtube or Flickr Module on your lens consider using a thumbnail view rather than "show a full sized version" (examples of both can be seen on this lens about laser hair removal). If visitors want to see the video or photo, they will click on it and it will open in a new window. This click will count as a "click out". Watching the video on your lens does NOT count as a click out, though I have no idea if is might count as "visitor activity" as does voting in a poll or writing in a guestbook.

Does anyone else have other suggestions for increasing click outs?

(Image by Eurosquid)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

7 Things I Ask Myself Before Creating A Lens

Below are the 7 questions I asked myself before/while creating my lens, BEARS: The 8 Wonders of the World.

1. What am I hoping to accomplish?
Raise awareness of the world's 8 bear species and raise money for Wildlife SOS.

2. Am I focusing on a singular sub-topic or giving an overview?
A brief overview / introduction of the 8 species.

3. How can I organize it to make it easy to navigate?
With only 8 bear species, it seemed logical to put the bears in alphabetical order.

4. How can I make it interesting?
Most people don't know the 8 species so I included their aliases (Brown Bear / Grizzly), photos and conservation status. I also added a Flickr slideshow and videos.

5. What do I want to link to?
I had already created more in-depth lenses on each of the 8 bear species so I linked to each of them. I also linked to organizations saving bears.

6. What can I sell?
I added bear Wildlife SOS's CafePress and Amazon books and bear gifts.

7. How much royalty do I want to give to what charity?
100% of the royalties goes to Wildlife SOS so I make sure I added a Donation Module.

Adding a guest book, some featured lenses, and a link to the Save Our Bears (SOB) Group made this a 5 star lens (in my opinion) right from the get-go. I have, of course, continued to update and add new items often.

Mixing Humor With Sales

Want to ramp up your sales lens? Mix humor with your sales.

Why? Sales lenses are typically SO boring. Most of them just do not work.

But if you add a bit of humor, you will get postive rankings and this will help your lens to obtain high lens rank.
Recently I created a lens about hair removal. Sounds like a dull topic right? I searched through flickr and found a few funny photos which were available under creative commons license. I searched through Youtube and found a few cool videos. Voila! My new lens was born.

Photo By Pure1967

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Groups changes - a lot of debate

Squidoo HQ came with a bit of a bombshell on April 8th: they're going to be closing down low quality groups. This caused a lot of groupmasters to close their groups down immediately. There are a lot less groups out there any more of the 'anyone can join' variety. Some smaller groups disappeared as well - some included that I didn't think were all that bad. So far it's self-censorship.

But some people are panicking a bit. One lensmaster started a rally to make sure that the right lenses would be allowed to stay around - having misread the blogpost. He thought that there are only going to be 100 groups left AT ALL... Which is not what Kimberly said. She said that the best 100 groups were going to get extra features. Which is a very different thing.

Right now we know only two things: 1) no new groups can be created right now and 2) the worst groups are going to be closed for us if the groupmasters don't improve them or close them. Beyond that - this post by squidophile summarizes the consequences pretty clearly.

The bid for quality over quantity is going to mean that all big groups are going to have to offer more to lensmasters to stay in the air. This could mean featuring the most prolific lensmasters, making sure your group page is changed reasonably often (as in once a month I should think) etc.

Aside from groups now having to make sure they have a decent group page, it's unclear whether we can keep using the groups platform as a convenient way to create a lensography and interlink our lenses. It is clear that the technology wasn't created for this purpose, but for giant squids and others with more than 50 or even 100 lenses - they do have to be connected somehow. That's just good SEO.

In the meantime some people are responding by really improving their game. Like Paula Atwell, who has decided to start promoting her group in hopes of getting actual search engine traffic. That's really going to benefit the lenses featured on her group page and her own lenses as well. I doubt it's going to help her group rank though - Even the most focussed group is not going to be niche enough to get much traffic.

So, for those of you in that last camp, trying to make your groups better so they can stay up, do read up on what Barkely (giant, squidangel and Citizen) has to say about getting your group from good to great.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The new angels :) & I'm one of them

I'm honoured to be one of the new squidangels. The new system is that each squidangel takes special care of 5 categories on squidoo. For instance I personally keep track of new lenses in Religion & Spirituality, Books, Duels!, Squidoo Tips and Green Living.

And - in the spirit of squidoo - I of course made a lens about being a squidangel. I listed all lenses about being a squidangel by the current angels (that I could find - please tell me if I missed any).

Photo by MaryN

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Bucket List

Okay, this really doesn't have much to do with Squidoo except to say that you'll find all kinds of lenses on topics you never thought to write about. One topic was the bucket list, and I was reading all these wonderful dreams people have of doing before they "kick the bucket". I started thinking about a bucket list of my own and realized that mine would pale in comparison because thanks to my Aspergers, I'm just not that adventurous. The stress associated with travel and change is enough to make me happy with just staying home. So, I've come up with my perfect "bucket list" of things I would love to accomplish that wouldn't over stress me. Mainly because they would be next to impossible, so I wouldn't have to worry about them.
1)Learn to make myself completely invisible. (I wouldn't have to socialize)
2)Travel to other dimensions at will. (No travel preparations or cost)
3)Find the fountain of youth. (In my backyard)
4)Discover another planet capable of sustaining human life. (During those dimension travels)
5)Uncover a diamond mine. (Beside that fountain of youth in my backyard)
6)Write a speech that inspires all people to live together in harmony. (If only...)
7)Create a teleportation device. (No more airports)
8)Win a Nobel Peace Prize. (For that harmony speech)
9)Discover a way to make all food and drink good for you. (Wouldn't that be awesome?)
10)Build a holodeck like the ones on Star Trek. (So I can pretend I've accomplished my Bucket List)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

YEA! New Giant 100 Club Member!

Just received the news this morning that I have been inducted in the Giant 100 club. That is very cool! I am honored! Thank you Squidoo!

Does anyone have suggestions about where to upload the badge?

Monday, April 6, 2009

What Do You Do When You Are Crabby?

When I am crabby, I try to find things online to do because I can do them by myself and not push my crabby mood on other people. I like to work on the computer, and writing so I tend to write articles and update lenses when I am in a crabby mood. It doesn't seem to stop my creativity, just changes what I feel like working on.

Today I was feeling kind of crabby, but I actually ended up having a great day. I became a Squid Angel for the first time ever, I was written up on Squidlog today by Mimi, and I was interviewed on the Giant Squid Community Showcase. So even when you are having a bad day, you can have a good day at the same time. That is why it is so important to keep at it, and continue to work toward your goals, even when you are not in the mood.

Have You Got What it Takes?

The next wave of Giants will be announced later this week and that means YOU have plenty of time to make 50 awesome lenses before the next deadline, June 30th 2009.

Why bother making 50 awesome Squidoo lenses? Because of all the great perks you'll receive!

Here's just a few:

1. Access to our (secret) Giant Squids blog, full of first-looks at new features and insider tips.

2. A private email address to reach Megan about Lens of the Day submissions.

3. A Giant Squid shield automatically added to all their lenses.

4. Gold stars on all of their published, featured lenses. Gold stars not only look nifty to your readers, they also give your lenses a littleadded LensRank boost. Learn more about badges and stars here.

5. A shot at making the Giant Squids Top 100 List, a list of the top Giant lenses, sorted by LensRank.

6. A Custom Lens Template Tool for superfast lensmaking.

7. First crack at Squidoo's coolest new tools and features.For example, the Giants got to hear about HeyMonkeyBrain, the new lens layouts, and the new dashboard days before the rest of Squidoo. They even helped test some of it.

8. A special Lensmaster dashboard just for Giants.

9. A chance at being featured on the Giant Squid Community Showcase.

Need some help getting there?

Stop by my Giant Squid Mentor lens where you'll find all the help you'll need!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Giant Thoughts

At some point between trying to keep my Giant status, content writing, trying to launch a new business and raising my Grand kids, it hit me; Don't try to do something you can't. It is much like don't try to be someone you're not but I think a lot of us take on things without really having thought them through.

How many lenses have you in WIP? I have about 5, which isn't bad but if I had my way about it there would be about 15 there. Every week I go through and delete WIPs. Why? Because I know that I will never find the time to do them or I get a much "better" idea for a lens.

I was thinking back to when I was trying to become a Giant Squid. That was pretty much priority with me. I worked very hard on the lenses and I put a lot of thought into them. That is probably why I made Giant Squid. Because of my work on Squidoo, I got a job as a content writer. I write between 5,000 and 10,000 words a day/ 5 days a week. (That is a LOT of writing, folks) and it is for the most part about things I don't give a hoot about. But, it's my job and I am glad to have it. It definitely cut into my Squidoo time, however. Then, I got caught up in all of this internet marketing jazz and quite frankly wasted a lot of time and money at it. I then started a couple of websites. To make a short story long--I am lucky if I spend 30 minutes a week working on Squidoo and that is what I loved the most.

So, after a lot of soul searching and retrospect, I have decided I am going to make every effort to go back to what I love; Squidoo. If I make a little extra money at it, fantastic! If I don't, thank God I have a job! What was the final revelation that caused me to decide this? Yesterday I was talking with (read: Bitc*** at) my teenager about something and I said "If you aren't going to do it right, dammit, don't do it at all". Boing!! I should listen to myself on occasion, I make a lot of sense!

So, my fellow Squid Giants, there are no links to follow here, no fantastic products or brilliant lenses that I am going to link to. There is just some advice; Do what you love and don't try to take on more than you can chew. Some people can do more than others and I, for one have a full plate-How about you?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Online Income - Stop Learning, Start Earning!

Make money online NOW! (This is my new mantra.)

It's been a while since I've posted on this fabulous blog. I've been busy squidooing, learning, angeling and most importantly - building a new online venture with my dear friend and fellow Squid Angel Squidster: - a new online magazine with news, tips, entertainment and resources for Squidoo lensmasters.

(Hang on for a sec - I'll get to the "make money online" thing after the next paragraph!)

Anywayz, I've been posting a lot over there and I've learned a ton about blogging and online marketing. Matter of fact, I've found so many incredible resources on this topic that I thought I'll need several more years to wade through these before I can start making any moolah. Ugh.

And then I stumbled upon these quotes:

“…probably the biggest enemy of achievement of success online…is the notion that you’ve got to learn it all before you begin.”

“The biggest key to succeeding with online marketing is simply being brave enough to get down on the ground and get your face muddy enough times that you’ll eventually stumble into success.”

These pearls of wisdom can be found in a post by Ian Hollander on his blog Karmic Consulting. I wrote a comment on this post here, or if you prefer to ignore my 5-cents-worth you can jump right into this fine article here:

Cash Crash Creation Q & A: Marketing, Meditation and Momentum

Btw, Ian offers a free ebook on article writing and marketing that is packed with his tips on this subject. I downloaded it, and so far Mr. Hollander has been a true gentleman in regard to further marketing mailings (for not-free stuff). Go get it straight from the side bar on his blog.

So, what am I saying here? Well, I say the same as I venture to suspect in my blog comment on SquidLog:

Could it be that my delirious info hunt is nothing but an excuse for not getting ‘down and dirty’ and doing it?

  • Research keywords
  • Pick the product
  • Create the lens, blog, website
  • Promote the hell out of it
  • Repeat
I have too much fun with lensbuilding, twittering, blogging, reading blogs, etc. - this has got to change! I need to manage my time better and think more about which of these activities contribute to online income in the near future!

I need to start applying what I know already. I've learned enough for now. I can do it!

What do you think about this plan?

(The puppy image is from the gorgeous Creative Commons collection of lensmaster Heather Katsoulis.)