Patting Myself on the Back

I keep a folder labeled “Compliments” in my email files. When I get a message where someone says kind things about me, I save a copy in that folder.

Now and then when I need an ego boost, I browse those messages. Some date back to my time on the Squidoo website. We had some great networking there and I still keep in touch with many of the great people who wrote there.

Kind Words from My Squidoo Pals:

    • Diane Cass – “Virginia is a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me.”
    • Heather Knight Schulte – “I also agree Virginia needs a trophy (or a crown) for all her helpful advice and encouragement.”
    • Lisa Auch – “For sharing all your wonderful information to making great pages! And for sharing your journey and motivation you give to others! It sure is a pleasure knowing you!”
    • “Virginia, thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do to promote Squidoo and engender a feeling of community amongst the writers. I also want to personally thank you for all of the encouragement you have given me to stay with Squidoo, the helpful tips that have made my lenses better, and being my biggest fan. The great thing is that you do this for everyone…not just me. Thank you so much.”
    • Wordstock – “You, my friend, are the most helpful and the best cheerleader a person could hope for. Thank you for your help in the past and for, I am sure, the help in the future. Without you, I would still be floundering on the beach. Now I am not afraid to swim in the deep water.”

lensmasters work

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.

Is Traffic Rebounding?

The traffic I’ve been concerned about is on Squidoo. After Halloween of 2012, traffic on the site started a free fall. The whole of 2013 might be called the Time of Terror as Squidoo tried reinventing itself causing lensmasters revise over and over all their web pages to meet changing guidelines on the site. Some gave up and took their content elsewhere. Others felt the cold, sharp blade of the guillotine as Squidoo locked their lenses and even locked whole accounts.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014. I hear a few saying they think things are on an upswing on Squidoo. We brighten at any sign of better health. Is it a real recovery or false hope?

Here’s one of my lenses that seems to be back on track again.

This web page is back to its old traffic level.
This web page is back to its old traffic level.

This one is updated fairly often during the summer.



My Squidoo Productivity for 2013

I was off my stride this year with Squidoo, as usually I create more pages than I did in this 5th year on the site. There were big changes, so much of my efforts revolved around rescuing my earlier work and stabilizing it. Each time, I’d say, “Whew, now I’m all set.” Then the next day there would be a new directive or recommendation from Headquarters.

The list below shows the newest ones first and those are mostly in the new product lens format or the how-to format.

For my tracking purposes, I’m listing all 65 lenses (web pages) here that I created on Squidoo this year.

1 Once a Librarian, Always a Librarian Dec 2013
2 Make a Teddy Bear Tree Nov 2013
3 Homemade with Love at Christmas Nov 2013
4 Venison Marsala Nov 2013
5 Cork Display Tray Oct 2013
6 Make a Christmas Village from Cardboard Oct 2013
7 Foot Sanding with the Dremel Rotary Tool Oct 2013
8 Fill a Shadow Box with Treasured Mementos Oct 2013
9 Why I Love My Cobra Oct 2013
10 Label Machine to the Rescue Oct 2013
11 The Ever Useful Rolling Step Stool Oct 2013
12 Comfy Reader’s Swing Seat Oct 2013
13 Add a Fairy to the Garden Oct 2013
14 Everything Is Illuminated – The DVD Oct 2013
15 Stop Freezer Burn with Seal-a-Meal Oct 2013
16 The Best Journal Oct 2013
17 Entertain Your Cat Oct 2013
18 Finding the Perfect Gypsy Costume Oct 2013
19 The Clean Machine – Why You Need a Pressure Washer Oct 2013
20 Halloween Storytime Crafts Sep 2013
21 Ideas for Autumn Mantle Decorations Sep 2013
22 Banned Books Display Ideas for Libraries Sep 2013
23 Junk Pumpkins Sep 2013
24 Remembering Foods from Childhood Sep 2013
25 Fairy Gardening for Creative Kids Sep 2013
26 Exploring the Perkins Hill Cemetery Sep 2013
27 American Girl Doll – Witch Costume Aug 2013
28 Make a Halloween Fairy Garden Aug 2013
29 Collecting Miniature Typewriters Aug 2013
30 Budget Bedroom Decorating Just Like HGTV Jul 2013
31 Become Theodore Roosevelt for a Day Jul 2013
32 Make a Fairy Garden in a Broken Pot Jul 2013
33 Build a Cat Enclosure Jul 2013
34 Albert Vining in World War I Jun 2013
35 Chipmunk Trap Comparison Test Jun 2013
36 Creating a Genealogy Work Space Jun 2013
37 Memories of the Five and Dime Stores May 2013
38 Landscaping with Stone Borders May 2013
39 Facebook for Libraries May 2013
40 Easy Taco Salad May 2013
41 Essential RV Kitchen Supplies May 2013
42 Summer Reading Solutions for Librarians, Teachers and Parents Apr 2013
43 Remembering Summer Time in the 1950s Apr 2013
44 Business Cards for Librarians or Book Sellers Apr 2013
45 Denny’s Easy Paella Recipe Apr 2013
46 Yard Sale Buying Tips Mar 2013
47 Chair and a Half Feb 2013
48 Outdoor Sofa Best Sellers Feb 2013
49 Bestselling Scanners Feb 2013
50 Watch Winders Feb 2013
51 Aviator Style Jackets Feb 2013
52 Bestselling Inversion Therapy Equipment Feb 2013
53 Wine Cellars/Wine Coolers/Wine Refrigerators Feb 2013
54 Storage Benches to Unclutter the Home Feb 2013
55 Bestselling Keyboard Drawers & Platforms Feb 2013
56 Reed & Barton Silver Flatware Feb 2013
57 Fairy Gardens – A Booklist Feb 2013
58 Pinup Tin Signs Feb 2013
59 Ruth Vining McGhee Feb 2013
60 Quilter’s Hobby Cards Feb 2013
61 Making Edwardian Clothing Feb 2013
62 Hall China – Water Pitchers Feb 2013
63 Coral Pillows for a Coastal Decor Jan 2013
64 Virginia Allain’s Squidoo Tips and Techniques Jan 2013
65 Irish Tweed Caps

Just 20, and No More

This spring the Squidoo site advised we should limit our Amazon products for sale on a page to 20 items. Grumbling, I started adjusting the items as I continued the chore of adding more text, adjusting keywords and fixing lenses to suit the new guidelines.

This week, the decree came down from headquarters that the limit of 20 was no longer a suggestion, but would be enforced. Yesterday they rolled out the software that hides the links for any excess Amazon products.

On my list of 660 lenses (Squidoo term for a web page), it flagged 50 that needed to go on a diet. It didn’t surprise me that many of them were Halloween lenses. I’d postponed updating those out-of-season pages, but now must buckle down for some hard work.

Over time, I’d identified some terrific products that fit my varied topics. For example, to trim 10 items from my Barely There Costumes for a Nudist Halloween or Costume Party, for the Eve costume I featured tropical leaves, a rubber snake, an apple and a long flowing wig. I needed to drop some of these, but I hated to inconvenience the shopper.

That’s the kind of decision lensmasters are making as they perform plastic surgery on overly plump lenses. Sigh.. I settled for showing a complete Eve costume and talking about the accessories. No links to those extras. Many Internet users are impulsive shoppers and when they find something they like, they click-through to Amazon and go on a buying spree.

The worry is that although the page may look cleaner, be easier to load and be visually less cluttered, will the reader actually buy if the items I’m recommending are not just an easy mouse-click away?

Lens Count – Going Down, Down, Down

Back in 2012, I bought a whole account from another lensmaster who had almost 200 lenses. That brought my Squidoo account to over 800 lenses which I quickly found crazy-making. Getting the new lenses adjusted the way I wanted was a huge job, so finally I sold off quite a few of them plus some of my own that I’d lost interest in. I gave some away over the years too in my lens giveaway and to entice new Squids to get started.

In the meantime, I kept making lenses on topics, some for quests and some just because they interested me. By February my account was around 600 or so lenses. Then it grew to 666. Is that a bad number??

Recently a few lenses were bumped down to Work in Progress and 1 locked. In my non-giant account (Christmas lenses), 12 suffered locking. Obviously it is worthwhile getting giant status..

As Squidoo more and more discouraged product lenses and frowned on “shopping cart” lenses, I recognized the need to change. Trying to personalize and fatten up so many sales lenses meant I was working nonstop on Squidoo just to keep level. Day after day, new instructions came out to change and adjust lenses. Applying those changes to over 600 pages was a massive chore.

A few days ago I finally saw the light. I’m paring my lens list down considerably. In the last 2 days I’ve deleted 60 lenses. Since I have many personal topics about my family history and lenses that are important to me about library services, the Civil War and my photography, I’m sacrificing many sales pages to protect those.

Recently Squidoo closed some large accounts citing the number of “thin lenses” which is their terminology for sales pages. This purge that I’m doing is to hopefully reach a balance that puts my account less at-risk.

I Love Polls

Today Squidoo popped up with this message, “You are a master poll giver. 23,000 of your polls have been taken so far.” When I first started making lenses, I didn’t bother with polls. I missed out on some good information.

Reading other lenses, I began to realize how useful a poll could be. It adds some interaction with the reader that keeps them on the page a little longer which impresses both Squidoo and Google. It adds variety as the eye skims down the page, breaking up blocks of text or batches of products for sale.

Best of all, it gives the lensmaster feedback that can be used to improve the page over time. Ask questions about what people found most helpful on the page or what they were looking for. Ask them their preference on products (colors, features, price range).

Get some demographic information as far as age or gender to tailor the page to the visitor. Is the visitor a kid looking for cool pics of their favorite toy or is it a parent or grandparent looking to buy?

I adjust my pages based on the numbers revealed by the polls. Once I find that more of the visitors are students or history buffs or casual readers, then I can revise my history topics accordingly.