Source of Photos of Vintage Items or Crafts

I wanted some photos of vintage feedsack material and of dresses made from that fabric. Although I had the one below that I took at a quilt show, I wanted more examples of feedsack dresses and quilts and fabric.

Quilt pieces from vintage feedsacks.
Quilt pieces from vintage feedsacks.

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but as I browsed around on Etsy, I saw the perfect photos to illustrate my articles. Of course, one can’t just rip-off the photos and use them on your own articles.

I approached three Etsy sellers and politely asked if I could feature their item on my article. All three of them responded in the affirmative, giving me permission to use their photo with a link to their page.

To see how this turned out, you can see the Etsy photos on my pages called Feedsack Dresses and Tea Cup Flower Arrangements. I think they really brighten the pages up. In the past, I had permission from several eBay sellers to use photos of their auction item which happened to fit some of my pages about collectibles.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Ask nicely and if turned down, accept that graciously
  • Keep the email granting permission (in case of future issues)
  • Place the photo on your web page with a credit telling who the photo belongs to. Link the photo to their product on Etsy.
  • Both parties benefit from this. I get a great photo to use and they get some free publicity and backlinks.
  • In the case of photos on Hubpages, you can only use 2 links to the same place. Where I used more than 2 photos from Etsy, I put them in a series with one link for the batch.

My Favorite Tool for Screenshots

Somehow I never figured out how to get decent screenshots from my computer. It frustrated me as I really wanted to use those in tutorials on my webpages and blogs.

Then I found Awesome Screenshots and downloaded it for free. It resides on my Firefox toolbar or shows up as an option when I left-click my mouse.

1850 United States Federal Census - wrong abraham bates
1850 United States Federal Census – wrong abraham bates

What’s so awesome about Awesome Screenshots? The example above is one I used on my Finding Your Civil War Ancestor blog. It’s a screenshot of the U.S. Census from 1850.

I love being able to crop from a website, circle or box things I want to feature, then add text and arrows. It makes it very clear to your reader and looks so professional.

Did I mention that it’s FREE? You can make a donation at the site and I just might do that, as it is a tremendous tool for any blogger or online content writer or just anyone who uses the Internet.

Check it out at Awesome Screenshot.

Don’t Call Me a Spammer

I’m regularly receiving email messages from Hubpages with the gentle caution that one of my pages (called a hub there) might be spammy. I try not to feel insulted. I’m sure the site intends the note to be instructive and to steer me in the right direction as they see it.

Unfortunately, many of the pages that are causing them to turn up their nose are ones that were quite successful on Squidoo. In the past, these received a lot of traffic and yes, quite a few buyers for the Amazon products I featured.

Naturally I’m reluctant to gut a hub by removing all the links to informative pages and to useful products. Hubpages tucks the offensive pages out of sight by making them unfeatured. There they languish until I follow through on their suggestions or remove them to another site where I have more control.

Here’s part of the wording, “It’s possible that your Hub is not Featured because it contains spammy elements. Perhaps it was written for a link, or has too many unrelated or distracting products capsules. Even Hubs that appear to be high quality can be spammy. We recommend that you remove any spammy elements from your Hub.”

I admit that I have a number of hubs on topics relating to my mother’s book. Of course, when someone comes to read about feedsack dresses or having a pet badger, I naturally want to tell them they will find more about that in My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin.

Oops, I just spammed you, at least that’s what Hubpages considers as spam. To me, it’s a huge part of the Internet, providing easy links for readers to find more about a topic.

Why Bother to Edit Hubs?

The first 3 months after the Squidoo content transferred to Hubpages, I made a valiant effort to adjust the articles to match the new site’s wishes. It bothered me to see red skulls signifying violations and bothered me even more to see the gaping holes from missing elements in my transferred hubs.

It was hard work, taking as much as an hour or even two or three hours per hub. Then the day came when Hubpages lost patience with its new acquisitions and overnight set hundreds of hubs (former lenses) to unfeatured status. “What happened?” we all asked, as we had been promised a grace period of 4 months.

We were told that our pages were spammy and low quality, even ones with high hub scores. I decided to soldier on, but must admit I was losing heart.It’s hard to see much reason to keep editing, as the next day shows many of the revamped hubs are still not acceptable. Here’s a screen shot of my recently changed hubs:

These are my recently edited hubs. The big red X shows the ones that went to Not Featured - Quality the next day.
These are my recently edited hubs. The big red X shows the ones that went to Not Featured – Quality the next day.


It seems the few that make it past the editing and remain featured are more personal, family topics. Those are also the ones that are unlikely to earn a penny or even draw much traffic. A couple of sales oriented hubs made it through (Easter baskets and pancake pens). I can’t see that they are any higher in quality than some of the other rejected ones.

It makes me think that the rating process is whimsical at best and probably skewed against former Squidoo content particularly if you have any Amazon capsules in them.

I’ve plunged into creating my own sites, well, only one so far. Also, I’m working on an eBook that will take the content from 5 hubs. As I gain confidence in these new playing fields, more and more of my hubs will disappear from Hubpages. About half of them are hidden right now, so they might as well leave completely and go somewhere that gives them a new lease on life.

I Was Wrong

In a previous post, I shared some upward trending stats on a Squidoo lens. Grasping at straws, I suggested that maybe it was a sign of traffic starting to rebound on the site. I was WRONG.

Here’s the end of Squidoo and in another week, the pages lovingly crafted there disappear. Hopefully people took the lifeline of moving their pages to Hubpages or scrambled to repurpose them for their own web site or blog.

The demise of Squidoo...
The demise of Squidoo…

I’ve deleted manually 37 pages that need not go to Hubpages. Hubpages wouldn’t want my lensographies, Squidoo tips and some personal pages created for quests. Compulsively, I saved even those to my cloud storage with Evernote. Perhaps I can glean a few paragraphs from them to use in blogs. The rest are saved and transfer to Hubpages where I’ll deal with them later.

I feel sad, I feel sorry for anyone depending on the income they’d developed on Squidoo and for all those beautiful personal pages and family history pages that may fall by the wayside. I feel angry that Squidoo tortured all of us for a year and a half before finally setting us free.

If you took your content and escaped last year, consider yourself fortunate. Unfortunately, this is not a new story on the Internet. I survived the debacle on eHow when they killed their Writer’s Compensation Program. We learn a lot for each site and take those skills with us wherever we go online. At least on eHow, they offered a buy-out. I do appreciate the 5 figure check they sent me.

Now, it is onward and upward. There are new opportunities opening for us and new skills to learn. My fingers have been pried away from clutching the rail of the sinking ship. It is sink or swim. For many of us, Hubpages provides a life raft. That gives some of us a little more time to take some swimming lessons if we need those.

Expanding a Craft Tutorial

If the article has photos, the visitor to your page can see how the craft is made. Still you need to make the text as clear as possible so there is no confusion.

Some sites have a minimum word count. Wordiness is not the goal. Clarity and thoroughness of the instructions is what is wanted. Make every word useful to the reader. See the examples below.

Check each step. How could it be clearer? Pretend the reader is a beginning crafter and add information for them. If the step says “glue X to Z,” you can give more detail. Tell what kind of glue to use. Does it need to be in a well-ventilated area? How long should it dry? Adding this level of detail helps your reader.

When the instructions say “use XYZ,” expand it to tell the reader where they can get the supplies if they are anything unusual. You can offer alternate materials or mention a preferred brand that you think works best. Example: Use brown paper bags to cover the base. If you don’t have those, use brown construction paper or brown wrapping paper.

If the INTRODUCTION merely says “Here’s an easy way to make XYZ,” then you are skimping the reader. This is the place to tell the origin of the craft, how you learned to make it, why they will want to make it and any background information you know. Example: My sister made these for all of us. Everyone loved them. I’ve changed it a little, to make it easier. They make great gifts for a club or office gift exchange.

Insert a step at the beginning to explain the supplies needed. Give tips for selecting the right materials and tools for the project.

Add a step at the end telling how the finished craft project can be used or displayed. Tell how to take care of it (is it washable?).

Please Tell Me How to Be a Success on Squidoo

Every so often I get a message through the Squidoo contact button with a plea for help. The wording is usually something like this, “Tell me how I can make money on Squidoo.” I guess they are hoping I know some magic secret that I can pass along to them in an e-mail reply.

I’m sure they don’t want to hear about the 4 to 6 hours a day that I spend making or updating my Squidoo lenses. They also don’t want to hear about how I made only pennies the first year.

The first thing that I recommend that they do is read some of my Squidoo tips lenses.

Then they need to make four or five lenses and try out a variety of modules. By that time, they will have a better idea of the questions they need to ask.

I recommend they start reading all the tips provided by HQ and browsing the Squidoo Tips section of Squidoo. While doing that, they need to make five to ten more lenses. That gives them a chance to try out what they are learning from all those tip lenses.

They need to join some of the Squidoo Facebook groups and hang out in the Squidoo forum. They can post their lenses and ask for critiques. By this time, besides doing lots of reading, I’d hope they will have made another 10 or 15 lenses.

After a few months, they come back to me and say, “When do I start making lots of money?” I tell them they need to make more lenses and give it more time. I recommend that they make some product lenses. Many recoil in horror at that suggestion and complain that they are a writer and don’t want to make sales lenses.

At this point, I get a bit discouraged with helping them find success on Squidoo. They need to figure out for themselves what “success” they want to achieve. If success means money to them, then eventually they need to learn to monetize their lenses. If success means putting their ideas and writing out there and having it read by a lot of people, then Squidoo is a good place for that too.

If you stopped by to find the shortcut to success and riches on Squidoo, I must apologize. I don’t know the shortcut. It takes a lot of work making and updating lenses. As you see what topics draw traffic and what earns for you, analyze those and make more of them.

Best of luck to you on Squidoo.