Sunday, 29 November 2009

Squidoo gets tough with spammers - but gets it wrong

One of the things you absolutely MUST do on Squidoo is to hang around in the forum and see who wants their new lens reviewed.  You can then post a comment which can include a sig. In my case, I put my principal business link - to my Xocai website, my lensography lens, my latest lens, and this blog.

You get to see the best of the best, and to start recognizing the Giant Squids and why they have got such a good reputation but also you get to see the worst of the worst,  that is to say lenses that have one aim and one only, to get you to visit an affiliate page, an ebay item etc and have very little informative value. Typically this type of lens will have the affiliate link repeated over and over in huge type and next to nothing else.

This is, deservedly the type of lens that no-one wants to see and can be consigned to the bin without any great loss. However, as they who must be obeyed at Squid HQ have tweaked this module, some sinister effects have crept in.

My lensography lens mentions all my blogs - like you would - and three of them are here on Blogger. And, as you would expect, it mentions all my lenses too. They are presented in a format encouraged by Squidoo - the featured lens module. When I publish this lens I get a nag saying I have too many outbound links to the same domain - UH???

Till today, this was OK, I could simply hit the 'publish anyway' button and not worry about it. Then I got a second message page saying my lens was suspected spambait or had something that broke the rules, and I couldn't get past it.

I read the rules and realised red-faced that yes it did. Squidoo frowns on gambling in all its forms, even buying a lottery ticket or participating in a business that is linked to a lottery is a no-go area. OK, it's a nuisance not being able to promote VWD along with my other affiliate businesses but it isn't the end of the world.  So I went through the lens with a fine-tooth comb and removed all references to VWD, its website, the tags that said lottery, VWD and win and tried to re-publish. It refused to co-operate, no matter how many times I edited, took out tags or whatever.

So the lens is sitting there with the code in that they don't want and I can't complete the work to correct it. In the meantime I apparently run the risk of having not just that lens locked or removed, but losing my entire Squidoo output. Doesn't seem very fair.

I have filed a Squidoo bug report and will report back on the response. However, it would be nice if a site of Squidoo's size and reputation did 'what it says on the box' and made sure that when they made a change that potentially hits a large chunk of their community, they did their testing with a little more care.

To redress the balance I would like to say a big thank you to Paul Duxbury, a Squid Angel who blessed my new lens today and has got traffic going to it even before Squidoo has promoted if from a work-in-progress to a complete work. He has a good blog which is worth bookmarking and rss'ing

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Squid goes to the movies!

Squidoo gives you a number of options to monetize your lenses. Some of them are shared revenue like Amazon and ebay, but others can bring you direct affiliate commissions.

One of these is Allposters and Squidoo is not the ONLY place that it can make you money - how about this blog for instance.

First step is to sign up with Allposters  then I can put a link to their posters or other merchandise in my lens or blog post.

Allposters expect your content to be broadly relevant to the merchandise you are linking to - here, because I am talking about their site and affiliate program generally, I can link to pretty well anything.

For instance - I could write reams and reams of stuff about my favourite movie 'Casablanca' - the stars, the plot, when and where it was filmed and so on - but today I'm just using it as an illustration - literally. Allposters is a good way of getting some pictorial content into your posts without falling foul of any copyright issues.
What I did today was to get some pics for a lens I wrote recently that features the books I'd take to a desert island - along the lines of the famous BBC radio programme 'Desert Island Discs' - I am sure Roy Plomley would approve though.  Several books have had movies made from them so I got hold of the links to the posters and automatically pulled in the images.

The basic HTML you get doesn't come out quite like the above - it needs a bit of tweaking - this Squidoo lens explains how.

Displaying merchandise is not the only way to make money either - you can give out your Allposters affiliate link and anyone who signs up with you as their referrer will also make you money when they do.

I'm also going to add a sidebar item linking to Allposters, so whatever blog post is on top, it will be available.