Monday, March 23, 2009

Alternatives to Amazon - Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, Amazon is far from perfect. I wish Squidoo would find alternative retail partners. There is little competition to Amazon and so Amazon is unlikely to improve anytime soon. Or is there?

One of my pet peeves about Amazon is that it is not global. Amazon will not ship most products outside of its region. Amazon USA ships almost excluisvely to the USA, Amazon UK, ships most to the UK, etc.

But did you know that there are many companies which not only ship products worldwide, they offer FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING?

Products such as books, electronics and other gadgets, beauty products can now be bought from reputable websites, such as DealExtreme, Book Depository and Cosmetic Times. These websites are not scammy, spammy, counterfeit websites. They are very highly recognized sites which are are competiting with mega-Giants like Amazon.

I have created a new Squidoo Lens about Websites which offer Cheap Prices AND Free Shipping.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Alternatives to Amazon?

I wish that Squidoo would find alternative retail partners to Amazon. While Amazon is the leading online "Shopping Mall", it is just not good enough. Problem is that there is not yet alot of competition. What are the problems with Amazon? Several:

* Commissions are very low. If someone buys from your Amazon module, you will earn a measly 2.5%. Don't believe it? Try it. Clear your cookies to make sure you do not already have an Amazon cookie in your computer. (click tools>internet options>delete temporary files, history,cookies) Then buy something from one of your Squidoo lenses that has little or no traffic and no risk of selling anything. In a few days you should see your purchase register and the tiny commission that you have earned.

* Amazon is not international. Almost half of the visitors to Squidoo are from outside of the USA. But if someone from Canada, The UK, Germany, France, etc visits your lens and clicks an Amazon module, they will be asked if they prefer to buy from their local Amazon (such as Canadian Amazon, English Amazon, German Amazon, French Amazon etc). If they do, you will earn no commission. If they stay on, they can not buy very much, because Amazon will ship very few products, other than books outside of the USA. So, selling to roughly half of your visitors is impossible.

* The Amazon search modules are extremely difficult to work with. If you choose your own Amazon products to display, you will frequenty find that after a month, the product is out of stock or has been changed and your module is empty. If you let Amazon choose which products to display, substitute products are frequently displayed. For example, put in Ugg Boots and you will get not only Uggs and but also brands such as Bearpaw and Emu boots.

* There is no way to search for discounted items. Wouldn't it be nice to offer your visitors products on sale from Amazon? There are such search functions from the Amazon site, but not on a Squidoo module.

Sure you can have affiliate links to hundreds of other retailers and earn higher commissions, but the beauty of working with Amazon is the department store effect. If a visitor to your lens clicks on your Amazon link and does not buy that product, there is a good chance they will continue shopping and buy something else and you will earn a commission. Most online retailers do not offer the wide spectrum of products that Amazon does.

Unfortunately, without competition, Amazon is unlikely to improve. Hopefully, since Squidoo is such an important partner to Amazon, perhaps the Squidoo Team can work with Amazon to implement some much needed changes or better yet, find alternative retail partners.

The good news is that, you as a shopper do have alternatives to Amazon. In my next post, I will give alternatives to shopping from

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Squidoo Trivia

Did you know that the average visitor to Squidoo is likely to be a white, not affluent, childless female?

How do I know that? Quantcast's Squidoo Review has that information and more. Other interesting Squidoo Facts:

* In March 2009, roughly 11 million people will visit Squidoo.
* Squidoo's traffic is growing nicely. Traffic has nearly doubled over the past year!
* 31% of the visits are from regulars (us Squids) and 69% from passers by.
* Nearly half of Squidoo's traffic is coming from outside of the USA.

The last piece of information is possibly the most interesting for me, as many of my lenses are sales lenses and I live outside of the USA. Squidoo's main sales partner is, which is NOT an international sales platform. Most of's sales are stupidly restricted to the USA. When will American retailers realize that the internet is global?

So, if you only have Amazon modules on your lenses, nearly half of the people who will visit your lens can not buy from you! I wonder what Seth Grodin (Squidoo Mastermind, in case you don't know) thinks about that?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How To Earn a Few Extra Dollars On Squidoo

Want a quick way to earn a little more money from Squidoo? Improve your lensrank. Lenses which rank above 2,000 will usually earn over $10 per month. Lenses with rank above 10,000 will usually earn +/- $2.

There are many factors which determine lensrank, including sales, clickouts, ratings, etc. Most of these are difficult to influence. But the factor that seems to have the most impact on lensrank is also the one that is easiest to control: Lens Freshness.

Lenses with high traffic and lenses which are recently updated have the best chances of having a higher lensrank. I have over 100 lenses and it is difficult to keep them all up to date. So, I focus on keeping my lenses with the best traffic up to date. The easiest way to do this is:

  • Go to your dashboard
  • Click on "My Lenses"
  • On the column “Visits” click the arrow until all of the lenses are listed starting from the lenses with the highest traffic to the lowest.
  • Now look at the category “Edited”. Your top ten lenses should all be updated within the past 2-3 months.

    If they are not, take a few minutes to refresh. Add a new module, such as a poll or a debate; make sure that your Amazon lenses are featuring the products you want them to feature. See if there is a good Youtube video to add to your lens.

    Once you have updated, go back in 1-2 days and you will most likely see that your lens has improved in lens rank.

    Keeping your lenses with the highest traffic up to date is your best chances of getting some of your lens ranked in the top tiers and the easiest way to earn a few extra dollars every month.

  • Thursday, March 12, 2009

    How To Celebrate Your Squidoo Anniversary

    I was contacted by Lensmaster, MyChildCreatesowner reminding me that I had a Squidoo birthday coming up. He has created a lens, Your Squidoo Birthday, Lets Celebrate. What a great idea.

    Today, March 12, is my 2nd anniversary as a Squidoo Lensmaster. I'm proud of many of my lenses but my top lens, Are You Polar Bear Aware? was my 1st and still my favorite. It has won top awards for the last 2 years, ranked #1 overall and has been consistently in the top 100 for going on 2 years.

    Some of my other lenses could use a little TLC. So, I'm going to use this birthday as a reminder to re-evaluate my lenses and step up my quality. I'll be looking at each and every lens and asking myself:

    1. What are the real keepers?
    2. Should any be revamped, modified, streamlined? (I'll also make sure that my Lensographies -- I have 2 -- reflect all of my efforts on Squidoo and off Squidoo.)
    3. Should any be sold, traded or given away?

    I'll also check to see if the lens is bear or cat related; if so, link it to Polar Bear News or Cat Care, Breeds and Resources Blog.

    I want to really focus my efforts this coming year making every lens so good that when people visit one, they say, "Whoa. I love this. What other lenses does she have?"

    To me, the goal for a great lens is to get people to come back, tell others about it, donate to my charity or purchase something that supports my charity or my family (could be both).

    How are you celebrating your Squidoo Anniversary?

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Do you build lenses in series?

    Hello Valley of the Giants readers! Thanks for coming by the blog today to read what we have to say! My name is ThomasC, I wanted to talk to you today about making a whole series of lenses based on one general topic. Every since I found Squidoo, I have built series of lenses. I have covered Martial Arts Masters, Recipes, Rock Bands from past and present, Song Lyrics and Music Videos, Hot rods and Muscle Cars, and my latest Playmates of the Year and Playboy Models!

    Building lenses in series has lots of benefits. I always use "Featured Lens" modules to link back and forth to my other lenses in the series, plus I use anchor text links in my text. If someone is interested in the Playmate of the Year for 2006, they may also be interested in the Playmate of the Year for 2005!
    Plus, there is always wiki modules, flickr modules, google blog modules, youtube videos, and tons more of the modules that can used on all your lenses in the series, making the lenses pretty quick to build!

    A lensmaster once showed me this lens about Snakes of Louisiana, and she asked me what she could do to make it better. I suggested she make more lenses about the specific types of snakes in Louisiana. Thats exactly what she did!
    Kingsnakes of Louisiana
    Cottonmouth Moccasin Snake

    So go ahead, make that lens a series! Several lenses is better than just one!
    I have a blog going with some more Squidoo tips if you want to read!

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Becoming a vegetarian: tips for your health

    People become vegetarians for all kinds of reasons. Some are allergic to fish or meat. Others only consider the environmental issues. For most the treatment of animals in modern farming methods plays at least some part. My personal reasons have a lot to do with most of those (not the allergy), but also with another less well known factor: being a vegetarian is supposed to be good for spiritual development. The consumption of meat (especially blood) is said to make a person more aggressive. So if you want to become more peaceful it makes sense to stop eating meat.

    Vegetarians don't eat fish either. If you do eat fish, please don't call yourself a vegetarian. Call yourself a pescatarian or something.

    While a vegetarian diet has the public image of being unhealthy, it is certainly healthier than say a 'McDonalds' diet. On the other hand, there are some things to look out for. I've collected them on my lens: vegetarian health tips.

    But all that aside: did you know there are vegetarian foods that just plain make you happy :)