Friday, May 9, 2008

Some Tweaks, and Thoughts on Squidoo

Since posting the three Squidoo lenses on May 5 for The Battlefield Band, Capercaillie, and The Tannahill Weavers, I haven't started any new lenses. I never intended to keep adding lenses at an almost daily rate anyway, but I haven't given up adding. I may add lenses for Loreena McKennitt and Enya, and I've looked into other artists as well.

One thing I've done is go back to the lenses already done and create text links to Amazon's MP3 pages for recordings wherever they're available. I got the idea for adding those links after my sister sent me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday. I used it to download two Alasdair Fraser/Natalie Haas albums, and two from Flook. Sticking with lens subjects, I also ordered Nevada Barr's latest book, Winter Study, and a CD/DVD combination, Reunion: A Decade of Solas.

Except for The Battlefield Band, every artist has MP3 versions of their recordings available through Amazon, although not always every recording - Capercaillie, including Karen Matheson's solo works, only had four, for instance. It wasn't too difficult to add those links, which are text links, to the description section of each recording's entry. And the nice thing about those text links is they contain my Amazon Associate number. That means that if someone follows one of those text links to Amazon, I get commissions for anything they might order in the next 24 hours, and I get it without splitting with Squidoo. The CD links still mean splitting, so they get something. Of course, since I've made less than ten bucks so far off of Squidoo, it's not a big deal.

The nice thing about MP3s on Amazon is you can download a whole album or individual tunes from an album. MP3s are a good deal less expensive than CDs, which typically run around $15.98 to $17.98 for Celtic music, while MP3 albums run around $7.99 to $8.99. The highest price I've seen for an MP3 album is $9.99. It's a legal download, and you can burn the album to a CD legally. Individual tunes are typically 89 or 99 cents. The album prices often represent a savings over downloading tunes individually. You don't get the CD case, cover art, or liner notes, but instead of waiting several days to be able to listen, you can download in a few minutes and listen right away. Burning a CD only takes about five minutes.

Now, the numbers might start to rise. The latest payout covers March, and it was something like 63 cents - big whoop. But then again, I really didn't do much during that time with the lenses. Even the April payout, which will be reported in early June, probably won't be too much, since I didn't start the Celtic music lenses until around April 22, and I'm not exactly setting any records for visits. I think turning on the Table of Contents feature in all of my lenses may have helped a bit, but there's no indication it's leading to people following links to Amazon and buying anything. Also, it does take a while before Google starts listing pages.

Even though I've created a lot of pages for Celtic artists and shows in a short time, I'm still doing it mainly because the subject interests me and it's good to let people know what's available. I made the decision to start the series without any big hopes for income from them. It's probably better to be more interested in getting information out than in making money. That being said, if you'd like to start a Squidoo lens or two, or two dozen, use this link (we'll both get $5 when your lens makes its first $15, but let's not hold our breath, OK?):

The Celtic music lenses might become my more popular lenses, and currently my lens that points to the other Celtic music lenses is third in my overall lens rankings. My Spider Robinson lens is my #2 lens, and my John McPhee lens, which has gotten increased hits in the past month, mostly from Google, is #4. I've put a fair amount of work into both. But my #1 lens is the one I made for the Kit Kat Clock after reading an article on the lawsuit brought against the clock's makers by the people who own the rights to Felix the Cat. This lawsuit is recent, even though both Felix and the clock have been around since the 1920s and 1930s. It was something I created on a whim because of the lawsuit and the Kit Kat Clock is an interesting bit of Americana that people can get really attached to. I wondered at the time if it would turn out to be my highest ranking lens, and so far, I've been right. The funny thing is I don't own a Kit Kat Clock. Not yet, anyway.

Even with the clock lens, though, we're talking pretty small numbers. Squidoo assigns rank numbers based not just on how many people visit, comment, or click on links, but also on the lensmaster's changes made to the lens. So I could go into a lens every day and fiddle with something, and it would positively affect my rating. That's why I'm pleased to see the relatively high ranking for the John McPhee lens. I haven't done too much with it since I got all the descriptions completed and made sure the links to Amazon were set so I get more commission, and that was probably three months ago. So its high relative rank comes mostly from people visiting, and mostly from Google. In fact, I just entered "john mcphee" into Google, and my lens is in the #14 spot, which puts it on the second page. I looked further to see what other entries came after it, and found a YouTube video I just added to the lens. It'll make my lens a bit more interesting.

There are several reasons I like doing Squidoo lenses. Their modular construction makes putting together a page relatively easy, with very little coding knowledge required. I can get by with just knowing basic HTML coding for making text bold or italic, and knowing how to create a link by hand. It's very easy to make a change, save it, and see what it looks like, and then get the whole page published or re-published with changes. Thanks to Squidoo, I get higher rankings on Google than I would if I were just putting pages up on my own. Squidoo makes it very easy to create references in one lens to other lenses, and there's some feedback from readers, although on that latter point, I haven't gotten too much yet.

One last word about Amazon: I mentioned I'm an Amazon associate, so if you click through to Amazon from a link that has my associate ID attached to it, I get the full (though small) commission. I also have a website, Have Pun - Will Travel, and there's an Amazon search box right on the front page and just about every other page. So if you buy anything from Amazon, you'd be helping me out a bit, at absolutely no cost to you, if you went to my site and clicked on a search box or any Amazon link on any of the pages. Once you enter through my links, I get commission on anything you actually order within the next 24 hours after that click. That's anything you order, even if I don't have a direct link to the item on my site. I'd certainly appreciate it, even if it won't make me rich. If you like my blogs, my Squidoo lenses, my Robinson's Place forum on Delphi, or my posts, keep me in mind any time you want to order from Amazon. Thanks.

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