If you’ve visited my blog lately, you might have noticed a few oddities. I posted eleven blog entries on computer networking-related topics, a couple of Lenses on children’s games and toys, and one post on Valentine’s Day cards. Valentine’s Day cards in the middle of April? What gives?
Well, basically, I’m a member of a site called Squidoo.com, where people who don’t want to go through the trouble of having their own blog can write articles and earn a cut of advertising money based on their performance. Squidoo’s been going through and flagging what it calls “low-quality” Lenses, their equivalent of blog posts, for deletion if the content isn’t fixed. It could be ones with too many affiliate links, which is probably why the Valentine’s Day one got flagged. I didn’t think it was a big deal; in fact, Squidoo used to have tools specifically for featuring Zazzle products like holiday cards. However, stuff changes and Squidoo’s needs are apparently changing, as well. Which means I move my Zazzle-related content along with a few other bits and snabs over to my blog.
Of course, it’s not just Zazzle. Actually, Zazzle is a pretty good site if you’re looking for a unique T-shirt, a customizable birthday card, or a poster featuring your favorite DC superheroes. Squidoo is also cracking down on people who overdo it with their own Amazon Spotlight modules. Those are designed for Lensmasters to feature products that they have tried and now want to show off so that visitors can try them, too. However, if you have more than five or don’t bother to develop good reviews, your Lens might never see the light of day under the new Squidoo rules.
It’s not Squidoo’s fault, really. I’ve been around that site long enough to know that there have been constant struggles with spammers who think it’s okay to plaster their poorly constructed content on that site. You know the usual suspects. It’s probably the same people who send you Spam emails about Viagra or Acai berries. If Squidoo’s reaction seems a little bit like overkill, well, a lot of us legitimate Lensmasters and bloggers think that any kind of firm reaction is long overdue.
If you’re still interested in trying Squidoo or are just looking to start your own blog, you might want to take it from a blogger and handle it wisely. So here’s some tips:
- Develop your own content. I’ll be honest here. I’ve helped other people set up their own Squidoo Lenses for a very fair price. However, my last job had to do with a Lensmaster who had hired a freelancer to develop his Lenses, only to have them flagged for poorly constructed content that had obviously been copy-and-pasted. That’s a waste of time and money. Listen, you aced English 110 at your university, so you know you’re better off writing the content yourself than hiring somebody whose English skills might be questionable at best.
- Make them laugh. Do you have a funny story about a particular product? Well, if it wasn’t too embarrassing, people might be more willing to buy that product if you can share your experiences with the world. You’ll do better both on Squidoo and your own blog if your writing comes from your own experience.
- Analyze other people’s blogs from a writer’s perspective. It’s like those peer-editing assignments you did in college English classes. You’re looking at them from a critical point of view. Are they easy to understand? Do you actually learn something just by reading their posts? Would you be more inclined to buy a particular product they feature from reading their review? You can learn from other bloggers’ successes and also avoid making the same mistakes they do.
- Ignore SEO. That’s right, I said ignore SEO. Google changes its search algorithms so rapidly that it’s not worth your time to follow the current rules, only to lose ranking in their next update and have to revisit all your old Lenses or blog entries. So be sure to write for the humans who are going to read your blog entries and you’ll do better in the long run. Besides, if they like your blog entries well enough and you provide an easy way to do it, they might well share your blog entries on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to help you snag even more traffic.
Do I like having my own blog? Sure I do. In fact, I’m not really mad at Squidoo or anything. The Lenses I have over there are basically content I spent a few years developing. It’s a bit of a hassle to move that content over to my blog, but I like to look on the bright side. It’s becoming a true “Blog About Nothing In Particular,” where you can find useful articles on a variety of topics, and not all of them are as bad as Squidoo seems to think.
A Word From Squidoo’s Founder
Seth Godin talks about getting your ideas in front of an audience.
Because I am a very forgiving person, I am quite willing to feature a few of Squidoo co-founder Seth Godin’s books on my blog so he gets more sales. Am I nice, or what?