The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Lensmasters

| November 30, 2008 More

7 effective lensmaster tipsYes, I totally ripped off the title of a best selling book. And I’m completely unrepentant. Now that I’ve entrapped you, I’ll try not to disappoint and actually continue with the theme of the title…

It’s not hard to make a good lens. I believe everyone is capable of making a good lens. While it does take a talented Lensmaster to dig a little deeper to pull out that something special that goes into an award winning, highly ranked, frequently visited lens, for the purpose of this post, I’m just going to stick to the basics.

Yes, every one can make a good lens. But not every one is.

And surely it can’t be that hard.

So I’ve asked a few Lensmasters what are the seven things that they do with each and every lens they publish.

Will we see a trend? Will all have 7 prominent Lensmasters doing 7 identical things? Lets find out…

7 things Christene always does when creating a lens:

* First I have to be motivated and excited about my lens topic. If I’m not the lens will not be up to my standards.

* Figure out how I want to organize the lens. What will be the most helpful and easily understood.

* Look through all of my affiliate programs, as well as Amazon and eBay for items that fit my topic exactly.

* Put up an intro image and have all of my module titles filled in.

* Make sure I have relevant tags.

* Add a guestbook at the bottom of my lens and set it for comments from anyone with my approval.

* If I know I will be editing the lens for final touches after I publish I will post *This lens is Under Construction* at the bottom of my Intro module so people know I’m still working on it, and, hopefully, come back again to see it.

7 things Cinetech always does when creating a lens:

* Write a outline for the lens.

* Add enough content, so the lens looks finished.

* Support the content with high-quality pictures.

* Support the content with high-quality videos.

* Add high-quality backlinks.

* Check all titles and subtitles so they make sense.

* Verify that all important keywords for the subject are included in the content.

7 (or eight) things GypsyPirate always does when creating a lens:

* I think up a topic and try to talk myself out of writing it. Is it too broad? Is it too over written? What do I already know about it? The argument that I don’t usually have is if my subject is too niche, or that it might not have broad appeal. My subjects tend to be very eclectic, and I am willing to go with the “odd” if it interests me.

* I check Google and Yahoo for images on my subject. (Other sources often crop up for me at this point in the research and I follow those.) If I can’t find enough interesting images that I can use on my lens, I will double think if this is the right time to make it or not.

* I will now Google and Goodsearch for the topic itself to see what info is out there on my subject and what other sources for information exist.

* Now I have to sit here for a while and think of a really really cool title for my lens. I have been known to go with a “lame” one, often because I really want to make the lens and just can’t think of anything witty. But, occasionally not being able to come up with a great title is deal breaker too and the lens goes back inot the pool of ideas to swim around for awhile.

* Once I’ve thunk up my title, I find a good url for the lens. I prefer to keep it simple and relevant. If my first and second choices are taken, I will try to add dashes if I haven’t already used those. If the dash trick doesn’t work, I will go back to my original idea and add the word “about” with a dash before it. If that is also taken, then I will go searching in Squidoo to see what all these other lenses are on my topic and see how I feel about them. Sometimes I find that there is a lens that is so well done I just leave them a congratulatory note and go back to the drawing board. Sometimes what I find is so sad that I am even more encouraged to make my lens as I am sure I can do it better.

* Now that I am this far in I have to pick my template, but I guess that is too easy to count as a step. So, here is where I go to “Add Modules” and select all the really cool modules that will make my lens shine. If I haven’t been in there in awhile, I will also take a few minutes to stroll through all the tabs to see what is new in there. At this point, I also utilize the reorder modules feature to place my modules in the order I think I will want them.

* Now I build. Along the process I also utilize Wikipedia, whether or not I am including the module itself to see what it says and if there are any other sources I can use or learn from. This step also includes the ever important spelling and grammar self checks. (I find that reading text backwards can help me find typos in text I have written.)


* I think this one is just as important as the previous seven – I always always hit “View This Page” and take a careful look at how the finished product looks in the final layout. What modules may not work next to each other? What module headers don’t work due to length or other factors. This is where I check the visuals.

7 (or 5) things thefluffanutta always does when creating a lens:

* Keyword research. Before you even start the lens building wizard, you should find out your chosen keyword is going to get any search traffic. If not, then should should look for a different one.

* Now that the Health Check tool has been included in your dashboard, you can use it to check your unpublished lenses. It’ll catch some of the common problems early on.

* Module titles. Change them all from the defaults, and include variations of your target key phase where you can (without making it look spammy).

* Include a few CSS Tricks to tweak the content, for example straightening the margin of the Intro and increasing the font size. Don’t go over board though, as it can look tacky. (

* Images. Before you upload them to Squidoo, make sure that their filenames describe what they are. A couple choice keywords in your filenames will be appreciated by the search engines.

The 7 things Janet21 always does when creating a lens:

* Write the content including a keyword rich Introduction. Check spelling and grammar.

* Search for affiliate products on eBay, Amazon, Cafepress, Zazzle and my 3rd affiliate sites. Note: When searching eBay, I try to find unique or unusal items because that increases my chances of earning a referral bonus.

* Add a Table of Contents, a Guestbook and atleast one Poll.

* Add images via the following methods:
i) Polaroid module
ii) affilate program
iii) Large clickable product images
iv) Full-sized Flickr images with permission from Flickr members
v) On some occasions, I purchase stock photos.

In my opinion, good images add a lot to the look and feel of a lens.

* Other modules I use frequently: Amazon Search, MP3 Module, and YouTube, Countdown Module, Black Box.

* Add good keyword tags.

* View the layout making sure all of the modules line up nicely and that the lens is visually appealing. If something doesn’t look right, I re-order the modules until it looks good.

The 7 things Loyalis always does when creating a lens:

* add 10-15 commonly used tags. By common I mean ones used by at LEAST 10 other lenses.

* Make sure that module titles and subtitles are both optimized and useful but don’t repeat themselves exactly.

* add an intro picture

* change guestbooks to moderate.

* change plexos to show full description

* go to ‘add modules’ screen and make sure the order of the modules is logical.

* close my eyes, click my heels (twice), and say ‘There’s no place like Squidoo’

The 7 things Bonnie/BDKZ always does when creating a lens:

* Make sure I changed my module titles from the generic title. Get rid of the “New”.

* Check for spelling and typos.

* Make sure my modules are in the right order.

* Make sure that all my modules are functioning properly.

* Make sure my photos are in the right place.

* Add tags.

* Make sure my Payment is set correctly, either for charity or cash.

You’ll notice that not all Lensmasters do exactly the same thing. They don’t all follow the same modus operandi. What does that mean?

There are many paths to success with Squidoo. A blueprint with A to Z instructions will not work for everyone. Be encouraged, be inspired. Learn. And then do it your way.

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Category: Tips

Comments (36)

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Learning From The Best Lensmasters | Captain Squid | November 30, 2008
  2. Copy, Repeat: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Lensmasters | SquidLog | February 7, 2009
  1. Jeff says:

    Great collection of info. Worth a read by the newbies and the veterans alike.

  2. LindaJM says:

    This is one of the most valuable postings I’ve seen on a Squidoo blog! Thanks for doing the research!

  3. Good question and answers. Something for everyone. I learned a couple of things that I’ll add to my list to do.

  4. Joan Adams says:

    Thank you all! This is great information! I found some new ideas — new ways to think before I jump into a lens.

  5. Seth Godin says:

    this is BRILLIANT stuff

    we need to make this into an ebook and also have the meme spread. Giants, send in your lists! I love this.

  6. Megan Casey says:

    the best collection of tips I’ve seen. and from some incredible people. thanks for pulling this together, Glen! — Megan

  7. Juliet Johnson says:

    I’m interested that Bonnie says she checks to put the modules in the right order. Is there a RIGHT order? What makes for the best order?

    Thanks, Glen. You are most kind in your consistent sharing of Squid-tips. I am an ardent, and very grateful, fan.


  8. Chris says:

    Good post with lots of good info. Pictures seem to be the thing considering all the emphasis that is put not just on making sure to have an intro picture, but to seek out quality images.

  9. LindaJM says:

    I did as Seth suggested and wrote a list of seven… where should I send it?

  10. Hmm. Not sure I could do a list of just seven as I think I do all these things. Nice to see the criteria as well by which these guys _wouldn’t_ make a lens. Same as mine – already overdone, keyword research, lack of pictures available. Nice idea for a post.

  11. daria369 says:

    Always useful to hear from masters and How they do it…thanks! :)

  12. Christene says:

    Hey! I only count 6 lensmasters. Who’s late with theirs ;)
    Thanks for including me!

  13. Glen says:

    Thanks for pointing that out Christene. Something has gone wrong, Fluffa’s response was there before. For some reason it’s gone!

  14. Glen says:

    Hmmmm, something went wrong. Fluffa’s post is actually there, but hidden inside a HYPERLINK!

  15. Glen says:


    I left a ” out, and it went all wacky. All I needed to do was put it back in.

  16. LindaJM says:

    Amazing how much difference a quotation mark can make…

  17. Deb says:

    Very very cool :)
    I see all of the same things I do for my lenses here, although not in the same order, and with a few more *bullet point, ‘must-do’s’. I think I spend the most time on looking for unique images, research, and content; actually making the lens is the fun part and least time consuming!

  18. Mark Nehs says:

    This is great stuff. Thanks for all the great tips.

  19. Ron Passfield says:

    This can serve as a great checklist. I must think up my 7 points too – I’ll repeat LindaJM’s question – where will I send my list for Seth?

  20. Glen says:

    I’ve put these, and my own 7 habits (didn’t think to interview myself did I!) on this lens: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Lensmasters.

    Others are welcome to visit the lens and submit their own 7 Lens Habits.

  21. JaguarJulie says:

    Lots of great tips and pointers from these lensmasters!

  22. Charly Leetham says:

    Thanks for the great hints and tips guys and gals. Really enjoyed them and now I’m off to review my lenses and build some more.

  23. Monteath says:

    Great list, Glen! Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share. It’s the kind of list even a seasoned Giant Squid can still learn from!

  24. bet says:

    Thanks for this. We really need it.

  25. Spook says:

    Great tips, it’s always nice to see how the pro’s do it, thanks

  26. Lloyd says:

    This was an absolutely wonderful collection of thoughts!

  27. charlino says:

    You have summarized the best tips from my best mentors. Thanks, Glen. This is a fantastic blog.

  28. dianemcneil says:

    Thanks for the multiple lists in one place. I can’t wait to get started.

  29. jeffwend says:

    Excellent advice. Keyword traffic research really is important.

  30. Karen says:

    What a great help all these tips will be : ))

  31. KarenKramer says:

    Gee! and I thought the book was useful..

    Thanks, I’m heading over to Squidoo to do some much needed tweaking now.

  32. Elaine Garrett says:

    This lens is great not only for the information provided, but as an example of networking within Squidoo.

    It is possible to overlook the networking opportunities on social sites. You’ve done a great job!

  33. Joey Dodge says:

    I read this article about a month ago and applied some of these suggestions to my lenses. A month later, my lenses have quadrupled in traffic.

    Thank you!