An Alternate Writing Experience

Squidoo is a content management web site that offers revenue sharing to its members. Anyone can join and begin writing for compensation. Although many people make a significant amount of money each month, the majority earn very little. This is due to both the effectiveness of the articles and the peculiar revenue sharing formula that Squidoo uses. The activity generated by a particular topic does not necessary accrue to the author, for various reasons. Still, the Squidoo site can be very useful for those wishing to establish a diversified content portfolio on a number of Internet web sites. With work, the author can take a share of the Squidoo funds.

The Squidoo User Experience
Users who visit Squidoo are greeted with many articles in various topics. Squidoo maintains its own unique branding which relies on amusing cartoon characters and distinctive terms. An article is referred to as a "lens". Each focuses the content towards the goal of the article. Lenses are published by "lensmasters", another term for Squidoo authors. Lens topics are organized into categories with subordinate groupings as well. Education, business and music are just a few of the high level categories. There are rankings of lenses maintained for each category. Obviously, the top few lenses in a category are likely to be visited more frequently than others. In the past, Squidoo lenses have been accused of propagating spam. In an effort to combat this viewpoint, the site administrators have worked to reduce the amount of spam on the site. While this has improved the overall quality of the content, there is still a significant amount of work to be done. Most anti-spam activities concentrate on new lenses; the old spam filled lenses are often ignored.

The Squidoo Author Experience
Squidoo can be a fun site for authors, (lensmasters). There are many achievement awards available from the site. For example, every new lensmaster is given a trophy, (an electronic badge), just for completing the sign up process. Each lensmaster has a trophy case within their personal profile page. Other trophies are gained through various site activities. If a lensmaster contributes enough comments to lenses, they receive a trophy. Writing a lens earns a trophy. More trophies are awarded when the second, fifth, tenth, etc, lenses are published. Each of the trophies are shown as cartoon clipart. There are no monetary awards that accompany any trophy. Similarly, lensmasters increase in site levels as they use the site. Beginners start at level 1 and can progress up to level 81 or more. There are no monetary rewards earned when advancing through the levels. There are certain non-monetary bonuses, however.

Writing Lenses
Lensmasters will find that they can write a lens on practically any topic, subject to some guidelines. These include adult, hate and other topics which may be offensive to many people. The standard informative lens, however, is completely acceptable. This is true for popular topics as well. Even if there are 50,000 lenses devoted to Justin Beiber, for example, Squidoo allows more lenses pertaining to the topic. The main stipulation is that the title of each lens must be unique. As well, content must be unique as well. There are plagiarism detectors which search through the Internet to verify that a published lens is not already live somewhere. This tool can be problematic, however. Some lensmasters report that their work has been blocked from publication despite being original. Included quotes from Wikipedia or other sources may trigger a "false positive" result from the plagiarism detector. There is an appeal process which seems to resolve the problems for most lensmasters. Lensmasters are free to reference up to nine links to any particular Internet site. This is very helpful for back linking purposes.

Lens Components
A lens can be built of many components. Indeed, each lens requires at least five components before it can be published. The standard lens builder established many such components automatically. These include a text module, comment block, author profile and an Amazon sales module. Lensmasters typically add their own unique content to each component. For example, a lens that describes travel tips to London might show various travel accessories within the Amazon sales module. And of course, the text module would be updated with relevant content about London. While the comment block and author profile are useful as is, most lensmasters modify these as well. A specific title is given to the comment block, usually. Something like "Share Your Comments About London", would be typical. The author profile might be updated to show that the author knows about, or is interested in, the lens topic.

Additional Lens Components
Squidoo offers many components that can be included in a lens. There are several forms of Amazon sales components. There is an eBay selling one. There is a countdown module which displays a large clock which counts down to a particular date. This module, like most of the others, is very easy to use. Lensmasters simply update the title to a desired string and enter the date to which the module counts down. Similarly, the Google Map component is easy to use. Set the title and enter a place name into the provided field. Squidoo automatically displays the map in the desired location. The map is interactive as well. Viewers to the lens can zoom in, scroll and perform other standard map functions. All of this is achieved without any programming by the lensmaster.

Squidoo Revenue
As mentioned, the revenue sharing model is peculiar. Each lens is given a ranking against all others. The top 400,000, or so, are included in the main site index. The top 2000 are classified as "Tier 1". Other tiers include the next several thousand lenses. Each tier pays different amounts with tier 1 lenses earning $30 or more per month. While each lens displays Google, and other, advertising, an action by a viewer might not earn the lensmaster any money. This is especially true for a newly published lens or one that ranks at position 400,001 or worse. Rankings are improved through both lensmaster and viewer actions. As more traffic comes to a lens, the ranking increases. This is not the only ranking factor. While the exact rank algorithm is a closely guarded secret, frequent updates of new content is important for improving lens rank.

Squidoo can be a good site for Internet content publishers. The site is established, popular and does have a revenue sharing feature. Even a casual lensmaster will benefit from the site links to their other Internet content.