Janet21, arguably the webs smartest woman (if Squidoo has the smartest women on the web and Janet has firmly held number 1 spot on the Lensrank ladder since knocking my Basic HTML lens off the top spot then who am I to argue!) was interviewed by me, via email, for Squidoo HQ, a long long time ago.
Unfortunately that, and a few other excellent interviews, never saw the light of day. I’ve been posting them here on the Lensroll.com blog. Seeing that Janet was mentioned in a blog post about a month ago, I thought it would be interesting have this look back PRIOR to her successful hostile takeover of the Top 100… Top 10… and Top 1.
Glen: How did you first hear about Squidoo?
Janet21: I had been posting on several Webmaster forums while looking for information on how to promote my image hosting website. On the Digital Point Webmaster forum, I came across a thread regarding Squidoo. I actually saw it posted three times before I made the decision to join. I guess, as they say, three times a charm!
Glen: What is the process you choose to decide on a keyphrase for a lens?
Janet21: I use keyword tools to see what terms people are searching for. I try to select three and four word phrases whenever possible as opposed to one or two word phrases since it is easier to rank for the longer phrases. I also view my stats report regularly to see what visitors are searching for to get to my lenses and will adjust my keyphrases accordingly.
Glen: Is there an ideal number of modules you like to include and why?
Janet21: You are asking the Queen of Huge Lenses! I don’t know if there is an ideal number of modules. When creating a lens, I keep adding content to it until I get to the point where it just feels complete and I have said all I want to say. Then, I am done.
Glen: What success secret can you divulge?
Janet21: I don’t know if you would consider this a secret, but here you go. While I do very well with Amazon sales, I feel that I make the most money from the eBay module. This is because Amazon carries products that are more than likely sold elsewhere. On the other hand, eBay sells many items you can ONLY find on eBay. As a lensmaster, you really should drill deep, find those items and get them on your lenses whenever possible! You may even get an eBay sign-up commission in the process if it is a “must have, can’t get anywhere else” item that a non-eBay user comes across on one of your lenses. I love when that happens!
Glen: What are you doing to generate traffic to your lenses?
Janet21: 1. I post on forums related to my topics. For example, I recently became a member of various parenting forums since I have a lot of lenses that are related to children.
2. I Digg some of my lenses, but not too many of them.
3. I have Squidoo as my signature on all of my personal emails.
4. I just started blogging, finally! I am already seeing some traffic from that so I plan on putting a lot more effort into it.
5. Submit lenses to Lensroll.com, Squoogle and Isle of Squid. I am still working on this, but have been doing a few a day to get all of my lenses submitted.
6. I create a lot of lenses within a niche and receive cross traffic between them. Also, I use my highest traffic lenses within the niche as a springboard for newly created lenses. For example, when I create a new birthday theme lens, I give it a top spot as a ‘Featured Birthday Theme’ on my high traffic Birthday Cake and Birthday Ideas lenses so traffic starts coming in right away. Once the new lens gets established, I will rotate it off and input another new birthday lens.
Glen: How often are you updating your lenses?
Janet21: It really varies. When I come across something I need to add or change to a lens, I update that lens. However, I do try to do a major overhaul on all of my lenses every three months or so. This includes verifying all links and updating any empty modules. I am not always able to get to all of my lenses, but it is something I do my best to accomplish.
Glen: Do you have a favorite html trick?
Janet21: My lenses are fairly basic. I don’t incorporate too many html tricks. So, I will say my favorite would be inserting images within text.
Glen: Do you have any tricks for encouraging your lenses viewers participation through any of the interaction modules?
Janet21: I love the poll module. I set them up on almost all of my lenses. Polls are quick and easy for visitors to interact with. All they have to do is check a bubble! Many times I use the poll results to revise, add or change things on my lens. Polls promote interaction and also help me to create an even more useful lens for my visitors by gauging and analyzing the results.
Glen: Do you start with an idea and then figure out how to monetize it, or start with a product and then figure out how to promote it?”
Janet21: Both. For my birthday ideas lenses, I start with an idea and figure out how to monetize it. With my purely e-commerce lenses, I start with a product and then figure out how to promote it.
Glen: Do you focus on a specific, narrowly-defined keyword or phrase, or do you get traffic from a variety of different phrases and keywords?”
Janet21: My lenses typically focus on a narrowly defined topic, but I tend to get traffic from a variety of different phrases and keywords. I love the long tail effect!
Glen: What’s your favorite white-hat SEO trick?”
Janet21: Writing good content and getting people to talk about and/or link to my lenses.
Glen: What non-Squidoo book or other resource have you found that helps you with your lenses?
Janet21: As I mentioned above, before I started on Squidoo, I was a very active member of a few Webmaster forums. I don’t frequent these forums as much as I used to. I am too busy Squidooing! However, the information I obtained from those forums has helped me with my lenses.
Glen: What common mistake do you see even experienced lensmasters make?
Janet21: This may be more of a pet peeve of mine rather than a mistake. I come across many lenses where the Polaroid image is blurry and distorted. If you chose to use that module, you really need to find an image that will display crisp and clear or else the module just doesn’t have the impact you are looking for. Don’t quote me, but I believe the image needs to be atleast 400 pixels in order to display properly. I know it is frustrating when you find the perfect image to use on your lens only to find out that it doesn’t display as well as you would like. However, you really need to look for an image that works.
Glen: What mistakes have you corrected as you’ve built up your Squidoo expertise?
Janet21: In the beginning, I did not set up alt tags for my images. This included images hosted on Squidoo as well as images I have hosted on Photobucket and display on my lenses. I had to go back and do that. Setting up alt tags only takes a moment when creating your lens and it can help bring you more traffic through image searches.
Glen: What are your three favorite things about Squidoo?
Janet21: 1. The friendly community
2. The ease of use
3. Writing about and sharing my interests
4. The cash
Glen: Do you have a schedule or management tip for managing multiple lenses?
Janet21: No, I don’t have a specific schedule for my lenses. I basically update them as needed and try to create a new lens once a week. As far as managing multiple lenses, keeping a separate ‘To Do’ list helps me keep my thoughts together as well as reminds me of things I need to get done on each lens.
Glen: How do you choose when to make several lenses on different angles of the same topic, or when to just make one very long lens?
Janet21: It really depends on what I am trying to achieve with a lens. I also take the final length of the completed lens into consideration when making that decision. Sometimes I start off with the thought that I will include everything on one lens, but somewhere during the creation process, I decide to break out into several lenses.
Glen: At what point did you realize how much you loved Squidoo?
Janet21: On July 6, 2007, when my Squidoo payout reached three figures!
Glen: What is it about squidoo – be it a person, feature, reason – that has caused you to stick around?
Janet21: Really just everything! There is no one thing, but a combination of factors. However, I will say I like the fact that the people that run Squidoo interact with the lensmasters on a regular basis. It makes me feel that I am part of a team and that my hard work is appreciated and my opinions respected. You don’t find that kind of treatment on many websites.
Glen: What is your own favorite lens and why?
Janet21: I would have to say my favorite lens is my Birthday Cakes lens. Not only because it is my highest traffic lens, but because the feedback I have received on it has been wonderful. It is also the lens that took me the longest to create, but now it kind of runs on autopilot, which is great. I don’t have to do much to it and it continually sends traffic to many others lenses within the niche.
Glen: If you were given a day in the squidoo hq office what would you do?
Janet21: It would be fun just meeting everyone and getting to see first hand how things work behind the scenes. I would also be interested in checking out Gil’s tattoos in person. They look so cool!
Glen: Where do you write the content for your lenses?
Janet21: At home.
Glen: You wake up in the middle of the night if a fantastic lens idea,do you: a) hope you remember it in the morning, b) get up and fire up the computer, c) grab the PDA or notepad and pen thats ready and waiting next to the bed for times like these, d) rouse your partner from their blissful slumber and put the responsibility on him to remember your grand idea.
Janet21: I sleep like a log, therefore, have never had a Squidoo related idea during the night. However, I have thought of ideas while driving and actually pulled over to jot them down!
Glen: What’s your favorite module and why?
Janet21: My new favorite module is the Polaroid. It really pulls the lens together and gives it that extra spunk.
Glen: What’s your favorite television show/s of all time? Have you made a lens on it?
Janet21: Seinfeld. And, yes, I have an Ever lens on it.
Glen: Squidoo… is it an addiction? how has it effected you?
Janet21: Yes, it is definately an addiction for me. There is no doubt about it. The good thing about this addiction is that I am having fun and making money. The negative thing is that I am not able to get other things done during the day that need to get done and I feel that sometimes I neglect my family. I still need to work on setting a better schedule for myself. It is a work in progress.
Glen: If you could spend the day with a fellow lensmaster, who would it be and why?
Janet21: That is a tough question because there are a lot of lensmasters I would love to spend the day hanging out with. However, if I had to chose just one, I would have to say Glen. He is very knowledgeable and straight to the point. He presents himself as a “what you see is what you get” kind of person with no hidden agenda. I like that.
Glen: What’s the topic of the next lens you’re working on?
Janet21: A lot more Birthday Party lenses and Novelty Gift lenses. You know, the same old thing! I like to stick with what works and these niches have been very good to me. I will also be adding some additional lenses to my newly added “Work at Home with Squidoo” niche.
Glen: What three words best describes your fondness for Squidoo?
Janet21: Having a blast!
I’ve just got one more to go from my batch of Lensmaster Interviews. I was going to save the best ’til last but I couldn’t decide between Janet and… this other exceptional Lensmaster. So I flipped a coin to see who’d get to be lucky last. Find out Monday 20th July who it is, and what he… or she… has to say.