Step Three - December, 2008
On the eHow forums I heard about Squidoo. At first I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that the pages (or articles) were called "lenses." I put up a lens to promote my classical music blog, added some links to eHow articles I had written on living with multiple chemical sensitivities, and a few eHow articles I had written on coping with cooking and entertaining disasters, and other than that never really gave it much thought. A handful of lenses earned me about a dollar a year, and I just never paid attention to it, until recently.
However, Squidoo was started by Seth Godin, who is universally considered to be a marketing genius. After all, I had read most of what Seth Godin wrote, including his blog, his books, both free and the ones I had to check out of the library, and even tracked down interviews that he had done with other writers and marketers. So I took another long look at Squidoo. I went through and read their terms and conditions, and started looking at other Squidoo lenses that were top-tier (that is, they get a lot of traffic and make a lot of money). In the meantime, they changed the platform, adding levels (some for participating, others for other activities) which were linked to points, which were then linked to new features you could go back and use on your already-published lenses. And new modules had been added, so I went to take a look at those and familiarize myself with what products they offered. Based on what I had been doing the year in between (more about that next week), I went back through and started thinking about how I could start making my lenses make more money for me. I added and deleted modules and text, and started linking lenses together into niches.
This project started me thinking about the features of each site I was writing for more carefully, and now I have a dozen lenses over there, and even the ones I had before are making me much more money now. In addition, my other articles are starting to earn me more through the process of backlinking and link lists. I will go into all that much more, later! For the time being, though, and through most of 2009, I was primarily concentrating my efforts still on eHow, reading the forums for advice (I rarely posted) and figuring out how all this making money online thing was going to work for me. It certainly wasn't easy, and very few people were attempting to make it less difficult. Not only that, but I had my day job, and writing a hundred articles in a year seemed hopeless. Two of my eHow articles got deleted in the infamous "article sweeps," and I learned that you could not depend on one web site as a source of income, because eHow was so unreliable. For that, I am grateful, because I learnt my lesson early about learning to diversify my writing and income sources. To date, I still have 98 articles there, each earning me an average of 30 cents per month. Okay, that doesn't sound like much, but in two years I have been paid back a little more than half the effort I invested.
How do I figure my effort? I figure each article takes me an average of one hour to write, find affiliate links and photos for, and publish. Therefore, by the time an article earns me eight dollars I have made back my investment. Of 98 articles on eHow, twenty have earned me more than eight dollars. Those profits paid for the next 35 articles, bringing my total average earnings to eight dollars per article for the highest 55 earners. As articles get older, they tend to earn more, and so I think that by the end of 2011 most of my articles should be on the profitable side of the average. In 2012 I should go from net negative to net positive -- perhaps even sooner if I have figured out my strategies correctly. And, don't forget, I get a few Amazon sales from eHow occasionally, too, so all in all I consider it a wise investment, though I would definitely never write for them again!
All in all, I don't regret having written for eHow. It was a great platform for learning how to write articles, learning about affiliate sales and how to promote affiliate products, finding public-domain photos (and why I should use photos), and backlinking and promoting my articles. In addition, reading the eHow forums made me aware of the importance of learning the strengths and weakness of different sites, and opened my eyes to different ways to earn money online. Now that I have currently concentrated most of my new article writing at Squidoo, I am beginning to figure out Squidoo's strengths and weaknesses, and I should start to see increased earnings from them.