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I Built my First New Lens in 10 Months

So I did it: I built my very first new lens in 10 months ! Well not really a lens, it's actually a product review lens - or as some lensmasters call these types of Squidoo pages: "lenslet".

I've read so many things about that new type of pages that I decided to give it a try. Before making any lenslet I needed a product to talk about. Found it since my coffee maker suddenly died (yeah, once again, I'm bad luck with coffee machines) and that a friend of mine just bought a coffee on demand machine which I saw in action and fell in love with.

Oh I already had such a coffee machine (the one that doesn't work any more) but it was an old model, tall, wide, too big for the small kitchen. Plus not of a high quality. So when I saw my friend's coffee machine, I decided to put it on my Christmas wish list. Anyways, talking about my coffee maker is not the purpose of this post.

Because I didn't have enough materials to create a standard lens, I gave a shot at lenslets. If there's a $100 award incentive for making such a page, why would I keep off building it? Moreover, there's a book I'd like to talk about as well but never created the related page because of the lack of materials -- lenslets to the rescue in this case too! (if I have some time before flying abroad tomorrow).

So here's my feedback about product review lenses:

* Quickly built lens because it doesn't require too many modules, text blocks, pictures, etc.

* One product lens -- that's something I can do on my own blogs, though.

* The introduction picture and "buy now" button are too big for my own taste; they look like shouts at the readers,

* Must pay close attention to the related products automatically added to the page!!! Yes -- related products are picked from the Amazon product page where Amazon adds some products bought by their customers. Hm... these products aren't always suitable for the product WE write about so we must pay attention to that. Since I know the coffee machine, I was able to remove the related accessories and add at least one that would fit with the machine.

* Without a background, product review lenses look ugly and have a taste of junk. So although they might appear as conceived for lazy lensmasters, they at least require the creation of bespoke backgrounds. Warning: there aren't any background setting options, so if you create a 200 x 200 background you're wrong. You must make at least a 1500 x 1500 graphic for it to be properly displayed.

* These pages don't require many modules. The introduction text is in reality the product itself so it might be hard to find a good way to start talking about the Amazon item you try to sell since you don't want to digress and need to directly refer to your advertised item.

In summary I'd say that many thought that this new lens format would be ideal for those who are able to create a 1 hour or less lens. I'd say that it is true. But the final result, apart from some very smart and creative lensmasters (and there aren't a lot of them) looks like what it is: 

  • A less than 1 hour lens,
  • A page that didn't require a lot of work,
  • A page that's been quickly made,
  • A page that isn't particularly attractive,
  • A page that doesn't look as personal as HQ wants it to be,
  • A page that lacks design, harmony and taste,
  • A "free" page,
  • I can do better on my blog.

From my readings on the Internet it seems that unless we create such a product review page on a highly popular product, it won't generate any kind of significant traffic or sales.

All in all, apart from the book review I wanted to make for so long and that coffee machine I want so bad, I don't think I'm going to make any more product review lens.

But the worst feeling I've had while making this page was that I realized that I lost my Squidoo mojo. Needless to say that the traffic drop experienced one week before the big Halloween Day won't revive the passion I once had for making Squidoo lenses.

That's it for now. Since I'll be abroad for 1 month, I wish you a very happy Halloween and hope you'll see some improvements in terms of Squidoo traffic and earnings in the future.

Posted by Squidoo lensmaster Prosperity66


Quick Halloween Stats Update...

I'm sorry for not having posted these past weeks: I was busy working on my Halloween site and HubPages while also preparing my next three-week trip abroad. 

However this didn't keep me off checking my Squidoo Halloween stats. And here are my "top" Halloween lenses (well if, given the situation, on can even speak about top anything). Remember that the Halloween season is "on" and that traffic should peak since last week.

Halloween Homemade Scary Decorations : 
October 2011    31,441
October 2012    16,588
October 2013      2,352

Grease Halloween Costumes:
October 2011    6,942
October 2012    6,218
October 2013    1,487

Halloween Potluck Party Ideas:
October 2011    11,621
October 2012     9,232
October 2013       957

Addams Family Halloween Costumes:
October 2011    12,808
October 2012     8,425
October 2013       900

Printable Halloween Party Games:
October 2011    1,230
October 2012    4,608
October 2013      568

Homemade Halloween Window Decoration Ideas:
October 2011    5,763
October 2012    5,354
October 2013      760

Scooby Doo Halloween Costumes:
October 2011    4,634
October 2012    2,603
October 2013      527

Halloween Pin Up Costumes:
October 2011    2,303
October 2012    4,019
October 2013      559

I won't blame Squidoo for such a mess. Looking at my stats, I notice that for some I won't even reach 1/10th of 2011 traffic.

Who's to blame, then? Google, of course ! Have you seen the huge number of sites like Squidoo, your sites or blogs, mine... outranked by big brands? Have you noticed that Adwords ads disappeared from Google's search page results? This means they're now just listed ABOVE organic traffic pages.

Plus... Squidoo has lost top position for lots of keywords - and I'm convinced that Halloween + long tail keywords are included in the loss.

Is it still worth working like crazy on the Web when companies like Google ruin your hard work and favor paying big brands that do NOT need top page result place since WE drive traffic to their sites and WE generate sales for them.

I'm not sure that kind of business online has any future and I seriously consider doing something else than writing articles that don't get the deserved traffic. I have to admit that I'm quite fed up working for peanuts these days.

All I see now tells me that NO, traffic won't recover. It's the Internet playground, the games, their rules AND people who have been changed by Big Brother. Unless the average Joe and Jane Doe stop using Google to search the Web we won't see the end of the tunnel. 

Ok so now back to prepare my luggage for my trip. I'll be happy to take that long break from the Internet, my sites, writing platforms and the rest and do what I want for a while. I'll be back on mid-November in order to update my Christmas site. As for the Christmas lenses, I'll leave them as they are: now I know that they aren't worth the hassle any more.

Posted by Squidoo lensmaster Prosperity66


Squidoo Earnings Still Dropping Like Stones

Squidoo payday was early this month. Actually, it seems that payout is, month after month, sooner than it was in the past. Are the lower amount of lensmasters as well as the lower amount of money to be paid out the motives for such a strange change.

Anyway, payday was early. Sadly while early payday is often a good thing, when it comes to the amount of money that's dropping in your bank account, it's not the same tune. I've never seen such a low August payout. At least, and from day 1 I worked on Squidoo more seriously than with the goal of building backlinks for my other sites, I don't remember having got an amount as small as the one I've got yesterday.


Is Halloween Cancelled on Squidoo This Year?

Tier numbers have been posted in the official forums. Squidoo's payout for the month of August have dramatically dropped, once again. Is it the beginning of the end for the site? Is Halloween cancelled  on Squidoo? Are we going to see an end of year season as miserable as the poor people in Victor Hugo's novel?

Despite the stats for the site as a whole  that are increasing a little bit, traffic numbers on an individual basis are still very low. Given the season: Halloween marketing season has set in two months ago, such low traffic numbers aren't a good sign for the whole site.

I really fear the Halloween payout (October) to be as miserable as the entire year.  Not to mention Christmas that might even be cancelled if tier numbers don't increase by the end of the month. 

So some might argue that traffic stats are getting a little better. But they don't seem to recall that the new lens format was made available for Giants this week and that beta-testers built those "lenslets" (that is Paul Ward's word) by the dozens in the past weeks. So with an increase in the number of lenses, there's a logic increase in traffic.

Still HubPages is placed high above Squidoo in terms of traffic !

Now we'll see next month stats as it seems that HQ has done it again and locked entire accounts - especially old, very old timers' accounts. Those that were beta testers in the early days of Squidoo. Those that made the site what it had become. Those that allowed Squidoo to earn a lot of money.

Sales have dropped compared with previous years as well. Although someone not long ago pretended that we all benefited from the huge traffic peak last year, I can say that I did NOT. Absolutely not !

I haven't got more traffic last year than previous years. Instead, last year, when doing a comparison for the same period (second part of the year), I can see a clear traffic loss - around 10% on my whole account - I had 200 lenses at the time.

Now I'm left with 138 lenses, out of them 15% don't get any traffic at all - they are seasonal lenses and always had some traffic but this year, seasonal lenses' traffic is generally zero. This also clearly shows that Google doesn't love Squidoo any more.

Now while we can look at the stats as a whole we must also check the stats on an individual basis. While browsing forums, I noticed that many lensmasters experience a huge loss of traffic on their own accounts. So where do that "good" traffic stats come from? Internal traffic to Rocket Squid and other quest lenses? That also could inflate the stats.

Some lensmasters see an increase in their traffic numbers but they're so few of them. When looking at the official forum posts, I notice that some more recent lensmasters seem to be satisfied with 50 weekly visits that they find a "good number". Hm... They surely never see a lens that would generate 30,000 visits/week. Or as it happened one year, a single lens that brought its owner 1 MILLION visitors/week!

We only old timers know what Squidoo is experiencing nowadays. And to say the truth, while there was once in one forum a thread that would ask some of us if we feared the end of year on Squidoo and while I answered "no"... I say now that I really fear Halloween and Christmas cancellation.

Is there a future for Squidoo?

Posted by Squidoo lensmaster Prosperity66