Thursday, April 3, 2008

Squidoo - One, Two Clicks on You (and that's about it, really)

One of the hardest things you can do when trying to make anything popular - blogs, webcomics, whatever - is promoting it to people who have no clue what your stuff is about. Squidoo (the love child of Seth Godin and . . . his ego, I imagine) claims that by building lenses (single-page websites that are the go-to for whatever it is you want to know) you can not only deliver more traffic to your own pages and sites you love, you can also make money doing it through affiliate programs (ala promoting related books to your topic) and Google ads.

A promising lure, to be sure, or at least it would be if it didn't involve just as much work as trying to promote the blog/webcomic/etc. that you're trying to promote in the first place.

The amazingly ironic thing that needs to be understood is that the idea of inviting folks to build and keep their topic to a single, all-encompassing page is in fact pretty spiffy (and if you're short on ideas for trying to give people reasons to visit your site, it'll certainly help you fluff out whatever your topic is) and the ability to easily make money off the usual avenues certainly doesn't hurt either. The problem isn't that it doesn't deliver as far as allowing you to create a nice one-stop shop goes ('cause, well, if you've got the content, the pages pretty much write themselves), but that all this stuff isn't the great shortcut it's promised to be.

If you're looking for a way to make quick landing pages that do what they're supposed to (i.e. direct traffic to your site), then Squidoo's pretty good. Heck, use the Ever project (a Squidoo sub-section) to help steer you in the right direction and lock in your bragging rights , because if you can claim you've got the Deadliest Webcomic Ever, or even the Cutest Furry Ever, you'll have that much advantage over everything else, and a well-crafted, thoughtful lens is great stumble-bait. If nothing else, you'll have a clue what you need to accentuate and come up with for a page you can actually control the CSS on.

The best way it appears to use Squidoo to your advantage seems to be as follows:
  1. Make as many freaking lenses as possible. Don't make them ALL the same topic, but it helps to have at least a few that're related enough to each other that once you have a person lured in with one, they'll visit the rest. Unrelated lenses help show off your general prowess. Making a Lensography (a lens about your lenses) is basically the Bingo Freebie Square of Squidoo lenses.
  2. Read up on how to make the best lenses - this typically involves all the good things that go into any good website - polls, interactivity, a few book recommendations, and other useful things.
  3. Use StumbleUpon for Quick Traffic Boosts (and hope it sticks)
  4. ?????
  5. Profit!
I can't give a great recommendation one way or the other about Squidoo. If you're just looking for a quick way to make a page that you know is at least good practice, by all means use it and more power to you. If you can go in with a pack of your friends and quickly clobber the system through sheer group effort, it might work out. If you're willing to put in a LOT of effort for a system that may or not pay off, go for it.

I'll say this much though: It's not a magic bullet, it's not that simple to try (no matter how much it claims to be), aside from the possible Newbie Bonus you might get there's typically not enough traffic you'll get there that you couldn't get just from promoting your own site, and there's very little community to speak of.

Try it by all means, but don't bet the farm on it.

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At April 4, 2008 at 11:07 AM , Blogger JK said...

I love learning about all of these places, methods and techniques to attract viewers. I also would like to see some additional focus on the product that is being marketed. Sure marketing attracts potential customers and sales converts them into actual customers but product quality and the perception of value received are the heart and soul of keeping them as customers after the initial sale. So we certainly don't want to lose sight of the fact that the comic itself is the most important aspect of our ultimate success.

At April 4, 2008 at 12:21 PM , Blogger Rachel Keslensky said...

Okay, okay, I can take a hint when I see it. :-p

Of course there's only so much I can say about the comic crafting process itself when that's usually kept guarded because of the content it reveals. If you've got ideas on how to work around that, by all means...

At April 4, 2008 at 8:11 PM , Blogger JK said...

I don't think you should, nor am I suggesting that you ought to reveal internal content information. I'm certainly interested in your marketing ideas and I learn from almost everyone of your blog posts. I'm mostly just saying that generically there are things that should be topics for discussion in terms of making the best possible comic. Ideas that are important to explore as the best way to build and maintain readership from a product perspective. For example story pacing, the use of the camera, and page layout etc.
Without discussing the content of a specific comic itself, I still believe that there is room to discuss what things can be done to enhance the readers experience for any web comic. To get outside the box or the panels creatively to explore what can be done better. To me that is equally appropriate for this blog.

At April 4, 2008 at 8:32 PM , Blogger Rachel Keslensky said...

Duly noted. When I get back to drawing pages again I'll give it a shot. ;) Stuff like talking camera angles isn't as useful when you don't have example pictures to show, after all.


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