Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hubpages Update

It's been 3 months since my articles on Squidoo became articles (aka hubs) at Hubpages. In that time I've been hammered with edits to nearly 200 pages in order to prevent them from becoming unpublished.

I worked hard to get those articles into acceptable shape according to HP requirements well before the quality assessment deadling (today) so I was done with the updates and actually see some traffic to thos hubs. The deadline was set for all Squidooers who shifted to Hubpages back in late August and early September. January 15 is the last day of the "grace" period allowed for us to edit our articles to conform to the different - though not necessarily better - rules for written work on that platform.

As of today, I have no "red skulls" and no unfeatured hubs. But it seems with each turn of the calendar page there's a new issue - much as it was at Squidoo - that causes problems with certain articles or topics or tactics.

 For now I'm not concerned about / impressed by incoming traffic, but if my top articles (like this one, which has garnered more than 11K visits in the past 30 days on this troubled site ) get attacked for unknown reasons, at this point I will remove them and bring the traffic to another site.  That article alone used to get far more traffic on Squidoo, even when the site was in Titanic mode.

I've whittled my HP portfolio down to 192 articles, some of which I really have little affection for because they were created in reaction to pressure from Squidoo staff and not my own ideas. I  will probably remove more of my work from the site in the next few months if I decide to narrow my niche topics or there's no improvement in traffic and yes, sales.

It is about money, no matter what they try to preach. And I know more about marketing, writing for your audience and SEO than most of the "professionals" on staff there, so ... you get the picture.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hello World - I"m Officially a Hubber

I've got nearly all my old articles from S*doo tidied up and rocking happily over at Hubpages.

I transferred 197, then deleted a couple more as I worked my way through the list of files, so I have a total of 195 articles there now. These are mainly evergreen topics, written from 2007 through 2013, and updated at least once a month. They don't get stale because I treat them like mini-websites, pruning and planting with new goodies just as I do in my gardens. I have plans to start new articles for Hubpages and Zujava in 2015.

Because I still have a few HP articles with red skulls - probably because of too many links to my free content or to related items Zazzle and Amazon -  I'll get those fixed by the end of the grace period.  For now they're doing okay, they're not high traffic pages at this time of year because they're seasonal and I frankly  don't want to spend precious editing time on them when I need to  take care of my own hosted sites and blogs, and keep my new creative freebies and Zazzle designs flowing and growing.

I'm sure if you're a former Squidoo writer you're wondering about traffic and money at HP. Both are dismal compared to what I averaged before the move, even poor compared to what I earned as the orange squid was swirling in  its predicted death whirlpool. But I'm not giving up yet. Google is always changing, Bing sometimes gets smarter, and there are other fertile grounds for sharing (Pinterest, Polyvore).

There are many contributing factors to evaluate. The referral traffic from Google organic search (not so great) and Pinterest (quite good and growing).  I'm working on making new, Pinterest-friendly intro images for each and every hub/article, and I think that's helping.

Here's a snapshot of my traffic sources grabbed today at Hubpages (leehansen.hubpages.com):


My Bing traffic is right now better than Google on HP, so there's definitely a problem with the domain or subdomain index cred right now. My web site traffic for the same niche topics is increasing, and has been for 6 months. The latest Penguin crawl hasn't hurt my websites this week; it seems to have helped slightly.  I get far more traffic on my web sites than on HP. Far more. But only 1/10th of what I was generating a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Lenses are Now Hubs ...

If you followed my work for 7 years at Squidoo.com (yes, from August 2007 until August 2014) you may not be able to find me unless you look for me at Hubpages.com.

The best of my work from that repository now has a new home. I may be adding to the collection after the dust settles from moving  195 articles and heavily editing each one over the past six weeks.

Follow me on Hubpages.com - Lee Hansen - or if you are looking for my newest coloring pages, clip art and printable paper crafts, just hop directly to my web sites.

LeeHansen.com
ClipArtandCrafts.com

Friday, September 5, 2014

Waiting for the river to run uphill

I've cleaned house over at Squidoo, and am down to 197 lenses. We;re  eager to set up our new home at HubPages.com. How many of those surviving feature stories from the first winnow will make it as hubs depends on 1) their condition after they've been run through the automatic file conversion process and 2) how much work it will take to make them as good as they are on Squidoo.

The conversion/migration will transform lenses into hubs with some potential loss of content. If you aren't familiar with  the jargon lenses and hubs, they're simply the names for the article style format lingo used to describe single pages published on the two platforms. My lenses-turning-into-hubs are original content articles I wrote over the past seven years and hope to continue curating for several more years.

I'm following reports from various online writer friends whose files have already moved from the old to the new publishing platform. I'm estimating I'll probably have 3 to 4 months of heavy editing and reorganization to whip my content files into a new writing style, including removing product sell modules and links to favorite resources because the rules are tighter at HP for outbound linkage and enhanced HTML coding.

Hopefully my best and most popular work (by traffic, not sales volume) will survive the editing process after the conversion/migration. Some articles may move to new homes; others will simply go away to my personal archive.

Here's hoping my online portfolio will be bigger and brighter as Lee Hansen at HubPages.com.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Still Around ... Just Not Blogging Here Much

For those who wonder, or care ... I am still at Squidoo, Wizzley and Zujava, but haven't created new content for awhile. Been far too busy updating those pages and am only making new work for my websites (leehansen.com, clipartandcrafts.com, parenting.leehansen.com) and my Zazzle shops  (Image Factory Graphics, Teacher's Pet, and Bluestone Designers).

I still have 216 Squidoo articles (lenses) that are live ... and am pleased that my best performer is still in the top 100 (Coloring Pages for Adults).

When I'm not chained to the computer or drawing board, I'm busy with home renovations. Right now I have most of the house in chaos as I paint, remove old carpeting, and generally give this 20-year old Cape a makeover before Winter.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Still hanging in there ...

It's been awhile since I blogged about my online adventures with free publishing platforms. I've been busy updating existing articles and haven't written anything new in 2014. I've got plenty of ideas, but am booked up solid just keeping my existing content fresh these days. What free time I can carve out gets allocated to new artwork, not writing, at least for now.  I'm not getting rich, but I'm not broke yet.


Let's just say I'm not counting on anything  for article income except content I publish to own domains, and I'm looking at publishing more of my art at Zazzle and Lulu.  I have thousands of images I can use; I just need to decide how I want to present them and then get the collections published.

This month I published some fun St. Patrick's Day graphics and new Easter art made into adult coloring pages - all available at Zazzle in my Image Factory Graphics or Bluestone Designers shops.

Where to find my articles and graphics:

LeeHansen.com
ClipArtandCrafts.com



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Working through the muck to find the fun factor

Those high-ranking Squidoo articles (lenses) that were trapped in no edit limbo got out of jail finally and have been updated while still making sales. Once the edit bug was fixed, that #21 lens returned to #10 or so and it remains there. After a few days off for Christmas with the hubster, I've been working my way down the list of 216 pages I've authored at Squidoo to add new content and revise tags. Unfortunately, I've just hit a couple that aren't going to get updates because they're just not worth it and several that are worthy of updates, but when opened in the editor they suddenly drop to low quality, so I'm leaving them alone, too. This one deserves new content, as does this one - and I have the content but not hours to spend on each one trying to satisfy the phantom philters.

I'm making plans to move the content to my own pages and remove them from Squidoo at some point. For now, they're static pages (Google won't like that unless they get popular and into conversational connections) but they're still producing traffic so as far as I'm concerned they can remain in my porfolio until I get my other work caught up. Which may take 6 months or more because ...

Over in the real world, I have major tag changes to develop and implement for my own web sites so that I can use a new system of ad slot management. My web sites contain thousands of content pages that will need hand updates, so it's a big chore.  PLUS I have to learn the software/ad management dashboard before I can tackle the revamp. The ad system changes alone will consume most of the first months of this year.

Besides all the tech work and a possible site design revamp and I need to get more of my creative work onto Zazzle  and may be developing more niche shops over the summer. I would love to make some YouTube videos and even publish some of my coloring pages into a book. So, there's no shortage of work here. I'm trying to prioritize and schedule my income-producing activities based on their short- and long-term potential for payback (time=money). And any project I tackle must include at least a bit of the fun factor. If something's not fun, I tend to procrastinate a bit - unless it jeopardizes income. Ideally, I can have fun, be creative and make a living ... so:

Along with making new art and designing new crafts, I will be writing more new articles to go along with my crafting and gardening projects. Life is never boring - I just wish it wasn't cluttered with unnecessary work every few weeks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Best Lens Can't Get an Update

Today I ran into a brick wall when I tried to update my best ranked lens. I can't see anything in the workshop editor when I am logged in and try to edit the page.  I don't even get a ranking, so I am assuming the filters are jamming on the page. I can see the published version fine if I'm not logged into Squidoo, but if I am logged in, the entire page frame that usually appears to surround the content is just gone. Like a simple minded mobile page, but without any Squidoo identity or links or advertising. I've reported this as a weird bug - and of course have tried various browsers and done the usual cache dumps.

Somethings not right ... I can open other lenses and they don't misbehave. So I am stuck unable to update the #21 lens on Squidoo. I hope this gets fixed by tomorrow.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Half a Dozen Lonely Little Stories ... Adrift in the Squidoo Sea

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wrote and published 3 new format articles at Squidoo to requalify as a Giant author. I've since created 3 more, but except for a flurry of activity on the 3 recipes I shared,  those short pages are getting little to no traffic; their earnings are all at $00.00 although they've tripped the link trigger.

Now, mind you, I'm using these primarily as a sandbox exercise, to test whether they're getting indexed in the same manner as regular lenses were formerly picked up,  or simply singing their stories to the choir. I'm also using the restricted format to force myself to write briefly instead of in my usual long article style.

Here's a quick capture of the stats today for the 6 lenslets. Sigh.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Third Time's a Charm, Right?

I'm officially (for the third time) sanctioned as a Giant contributor at Squidoo. The first time I applied about 5 years ago, I was a nervous wreck. The qualifications were daunting - you had to have written and published at least 50 quality articles on the Squidoo.com platform, and your entire account was scrutinized by a quality review team. If your work was good enough and met the standards of the publishing team, you were admited into the Giant Squid Club. I made it and felt honored.

The second time I was required to qualify it seemed a little insulting. I mean, really,  to have to requalify for something I had already done - prove I could write original content and not spam the system - was really  not an honor. The staff created levels of giantness for the second round of qualification. Again, I passed muster, but  from that point forward I was not willing to write dozens of new pages simply to "level up." I'd already created more than 150 pages by then, so I was able to continue writing and enjoying the perks of being in the Giant club,  in the 100 lenses subcategory.

Recently the rules for earning Giant status changed again at Squidoo. That's a good thing, because in the past year or so it became almost a joke to see how easy  it was for a newbie to wear the Giant title. It was just about as meaningless as the Angel program became before it was disbanded.

For consideration to remain in the club,  I had to promise to use the site on a regular basis and pledge (!) to write a minimum number of new articles. I also had to commit to creating 3 new format (some call them lenslets) pages before the end of this year.  These rules are easy for me; I am on the site every day, although I had stopped writing because of the rampant lens-locking and filtering that kept me busy just trying to edit existing pages. The new content creation turned out to be a no-brainer; all I really did was make three new mini-pages using the controlled format templates. Those lenslet articles offer little to no value to me for earning potential unless someone buys the product I've reviewed or finds one of the few related products on the mini-page appealing.  They're easy to read and if you can attract the right target you will probably make a sale.

So long as I can link to my other articles or my web sites and blogs I am willing to write in the new format. The layouts are limited by design, so all I really need to do is choose a topic: (recipe, Amazon product or how-to featurette) and start writing.  They're easy to create but I see some risk for rampant spammers to use these templates if/when they're opened up for general lensmaster use.

Unfortunately none of my new mini pages are getting real Google traction. All the traffic I've seen in the first few weeks is internal to Squidoo or referrals. Less than five hits to each one came from Google.

Singing to the choir isn't going to make any money, which is what it's all about no matter what gets published by staffers/owners as the site's overarching purpose.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Traffic update, week 1

Just checked my web site traffic stats and it's recovered by about 25% over last week. This is aggregate for 3 sites, so it's only a rough benchmark but all 3 sites are doing better. Some of the uptick my be seasonal - school in the northern hemisphere is back in session, August and September weddings.

While it's not a big increase and far lower than it was 3 years ago,  it's an upward traffic trend and that's what I'm looking for. I need a minimum of 10K per day to meet sustainability targets.

So I'll monitor for another week and report back. Analysis over more time may show the disconnect from G+ made a difference - or not. The below graph is from one site only, the past 6 days - Pastiche Family Portal. The traffic dip on weekends is typical for the site.
Traffic Trend Aug 22 to 29 (am) PFP

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Temporary Separation is in Progress

I've decoupled my S-doo profile from my G+ identity, at least on the S-doo end. This is a test to see if my long-indexed pre-S-doo online properties can recover traction that's been lost in the past several months.
That downslide could be a coincidence, or could be related to the P monsters and age of my content, but I doubt it.

The other side of the connection - removal of  links from my G+ profile to lenses - will happen this week. Then I watch the stats at both ends for a month or so.  Not sure if there will be any change, and I realize there are other factors that influence traffic to my web sites and blogs, both seasonal and technical. But at this point, any test provides me with marketing insight.

My S-doo rankings are a bit better, although I'm discovering that if I open a lens that's fine it might not be okay once it's scanned on edit. So, will this get me to do what is obvious the still-there gamers have done (ignore editing/updating lenses and keep stealing lens rank)?  Probably not.

More later on the results of this short-term experiment ...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dastardly Flags

The latest fire drill over at S-doo is dealing with yellow warning flags on lenses. I woke up last week to 32, and over the course of this week have whittled that down to 3. The remaining 3 lenses with yellow flags include two commercial sales-focused lenses created specifically at HQ quest urging, and one in my primary niche (family-friendly arts and crafts).

Both of the "too commercial" articles were written to complete quests. Now they're apparently trash because they have too many product links according to HQ. The links work well with the content and don't overwhelm the pages. Visitors who arrive are shopping - they seek product recommendations.

http://www.squidoo.com/cat-toys-gifts
http://www.squidoo.com/hilarious-halloween-pumpkin-costumes

The two pages below  have been around for years, and offer solid content that's seasonally specific.

The below links are NO FOLLOW so I'll probably get point dings to further lower the 83/84 respective lens  scores.

  • Easy Easter Crafts (http://www.squidoo.com/craftyeaster) was created in 2007, generated nearly 5000 visits in April 2011 alone. It's been SquidLIKED 169 times, Pinned to 41 boards, and has lifetime earnings of $153.09. It's not about making money, it's about content and saving money.  It's a long article with lots of outbound resources and gets monthly updates to remove old content and add new crafts as I discover them. But now this seasonally popular page is considered low quality and apparently  has "too many keywords.". I've edited the page considerably but it won't publish with the changes; I've requested a greenlight and  been ignored so I'm ignoring any more changes. I'll move the article to a better platform soon.
  • Kwanzaa Coloring and Crafts (http://www.squidoo.com/kwanzaa-printables-coloring-crafts) was scored at 84 for too many products and too many keywords. It finally published after I removed hard-to-find Kwanzaa books and decorating supplies, but with a caution that it still has too many keywords. How many ways can you inform people about KWANZAA without using the name? 

Does the anonymous greenlight-awarding reviewer even know what Kwanzaa is?

I think not. I've been doing this longer than they've probably known about email.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No DMCA Today

Sunday I'd had enough of the TOS violation games played by certain LM on S-doo. My work is protected by very clear TOS and US copyright. I debated on whether to ratchet up my polite abuse report to a DMCA letter to Google, but I took an interim alternate path and requested via email that someone pay attention NOW so I wouldn't have to contact Google to protect my copyright on digital graphic assets.

Well, although I got no reply from HQ or the invisible team behind the mask curtain of fair play, the offending page's status changed to "unpublished" - not locked - unpublished.

If I discover my work used without license, credit or hotlinked from any page on any site, I do not hesitate to report the page, regardless of where it's used. I've filed many DMCA complaints, with Google, Zazzle and a handful of other sites. Here's hoping the walk is in step with the talk ...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you repeatedly found TOS violations and reported them but no action resulted? S-doo staff have been very clear on multiple occasions about the proper/legal method for use of outbound links from lenses, particularly links leading to content pages offering graphics or PDFs. When I discover my original clip art, coloring pages or PDF content elements directly linked I request a correction from the author and in the past as an angel offered advice on proper use.

Today I discovered yet another case of rampant direct links to many images (mine included)  on a single thin-content lens that's in Tier 1. I've corresponded in the past with this LM, who certainly knows better but continues to edit and 1) not trip low quality filters 2) not get notified/locked about inappropriate content use.

What would you do if you filed a report and got no action? I've clicked the button and filed the standard abuse report. I got the autoresponder mail even though my report noted copyright violations on my own images. I've written directly to contentconcerns requesting action on the lens in question. If that fails to get the appropriate action - locking -  I will question how the lens is being updated regularly and not hitting the low quality filter or being locked.

If all the above fails, I'll be contacting Google to file a DMCA complaint. I own the copyright to at least one of the images and the site that's being hit by these links to non-html pages is my own for which I pay hosting fees. My TOS state very clearly that hotlinking is not allowed.

If S-doo can play hardball, so can I.

What would you do?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Lens List

Once upon a time, back in oh, 2008, I thought I might be creating up to 50 finely curated pages at S-doo per year.  Even as recently as last summer I was thinking I would be expanding my portfolio for many years. I hired my daughter to be my editor so I could tune up my work after I created more than 220 lenses. I even gave her one of my better lenses, then the doodoo started hitting the fan and I decided to just get off the merry-go-round before I got sick.

So now, instead I've been unbuilding my S-doo portfolio. In other words, I have been deleting lenses I only created in response to quests. It's a long process, and I'm still working at it. It's taking longer than I hoped because of all the upheaval with lens locking, but I'm reviewing each one before making the decision whether to obliterate. After all, it is my work and I did considerable research for each one. On the plus side for me: I was never a big sales lens builder. I followed the original premise, writing about what I know and like, and offering tips for helping my readers find what they need/want/desire.