Friday, February 6, 2009

And now for something completely different...

...for me, at least. Earlier today I saw a blog post on the Amazon Associates blog which says they're offering associates 10% commissions on video game downloads. The downloads are for PCs and are priced at $9.99 or less. I figured I'd have a go at making a Squidoo lens, Game Downloads from Amazon, using the text modules and text links using the format I'd originally worked out for my Best Sellers lens. The text links contain my Associates ID code, so I'll get the full 10% on any sales resulting from people clicking through to Amazon from my links.

This is an experiment. I'm not a huge game player beyond solitaire and Minesweeper, both of which come with Windows, although I have a better version of solitaire with more games, and I had also played a better version of Minesweeper. When I took a look at the games being offered, I found that most of them are family-type games instead of violent sociopathic first-person-shooter-apocalyptic-unbridled-savagery stuff. So I didn't have any problem featuring the games on a lens. It seemed there was the potential to get some sales from this, and maybe better results than I've been experiencing with all the books and CDs I've been making lenses about since I started with Squidoo. I may make the lens fancier in time, using boxes and backgrounds.

Speaking of adding boxes and backgrounds, that's what I did with my Todd McCaffrey lens yesterday. I started off wondering why I'd used the URL I chose, which ended in "/todd-mccaffrey-dragonharper". I knew nobody else had done a lens on him, so why not just go with "/todd-mccaffrey"? There'd only been a couple of visits, and there were no external links yet, so I started a new lens with the shorter URL and transferred everything over. Then it seemed like a good idea to add boxes and backgrounds. The only catch was that when the book covers appeared on a colored background, there were big white spaces on either side because Amazon has a fixed space for product graphics and it's square. Book covers are not square, hence the white space.

I would have to crop the images, but that meant not using the ones from Amazon, which meant giving up having the covers as links. I didn't want to place the cropped images on Flickr so I could then insert them, figuring Amazon might have a problem with that since someone else could use them. That meant downloading cover images to my computer, then uploading them into Squidoo's default image spot in the text module. But that doesn't play nice with borders and backgrounds without modifications to the image. I had to put a 4-pixel border around each cover image, then use a 4-pixel border around the text. 2-pixel borders would've been better, but that left a gap between the top of the image and the top of the text box but no gap on the right side.

In the end, it looked much better than the first version of the lens. Before I added the borders and background and played with the images, though, I'd sent out a Squidcast about the new version of the lens. They work, apparently, because when I'd finished and republished, I noticed someone had already given the lens five stars and favorited it.

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