Those of you who have been following my blog posts for some time know that two years ago I had set my focus on squidoo and that I managed to write about more than 60 Squidoo articles (to avoid the rather strange sounding word “lenses”). I wrote about classical music, about artists like Michelangelo and Goya. I presented my Zazzle products in several articles and then – I got a kind of Squidoo burnout. The pressure of having to produce one article after another had been just to great, and me and Squidoo went different ways.
After some time I managed to write the one or the other article, but my love and my passion was somewhere else – on the fields of painting, drawing, graphic design and Zazzle. Some days ago, however, things changed. I am on facebook, and a member of several groups which focus on promoting their Zazzle products and supporting each other. Suddenly there was a new group called Squid-Doers – people who wrote articles in order to promote their products. This group is full of supportive, motivating and kind people, and voila – my attitude towards Squidoo – and writing – has changed! I have just thrown a look on some of my “old” articles, and I had to grin and say to myself: “You’ve done a good job there. You could have done better with this or that article, but in general, you’ve done a good job.” And something inside me is prodding me to do it again… I don’t know where to take the time to do it, but ahhh, I’d like be squidoo-ing again…
For anybody who wants to have a look at my articles: Here’s a list of my articles.
It is the 1st of June, and the first half of the year is almost over. It is time to think about things. In the last five years or so I have been active all over the web. I’ve acquired a Flickr pro account, and used flickr not only for presenting my photos but also to show some of my art.
I’ve been blogging regularly, focusing on my creative activities with the one and other thought about daily life in between.
I’ve registered with Squidoo, created over 60 lenses with the focus on art and music and on the products of my latest activity, Zazzle.
For one year I have been very active on Zazzle, creating designs with photoshop and vector software, and at this point of the year I’ve got about 500+ products in my store. May has been a very good month for me, with even some bulk sales.
But up to now I didn’t have a central meeting point, a place where I could weave the various threads of my internet activities together. Today I did the final step:
The website is still under construction, but I will continually add content. Besides the fact that this website shows my various sides (Zazzler, Squidooer, blogger, photographer and artist) to the world around me, it helps me to remember them and to keep them all balanced.
In my last blog post I wrote about what journaling teaches me about me. In this blog post I am going to focus on an other aspect of learning.
Since some time I have been writing Squidoo lenses. “Squidoo lenses” are webpages which focus on one subject – they can be compared with articles for a magazine or a newspaper. The main thing here is to provide facts, and you should try to provide them in a way which makes your readership want to read your lens.
While creating thoses lenses I learn a lot.
- I learn the facts. When you want to write a lens about Mozart’s operas you have to know them – the date they were composed, the plot. I must admit I did not know the plot of the “Magic Flute” up to the day I wanted to write about it. I only knew that the music in it was wonderful. Which information do I get at Wikipedia in English? Are there facts which are important but only given in the German edition of Wikipedia?
- I learn how to get audiovisual material about my subject. Are there any videos on Youtube? Is there any other media material at Wikimedia Commons? One of my last lenses is about a Western trilogy by the famous American Director Howard Hawks. I decided to write about that without knowing that there was only one bad video covering the last film of the trilogy. Wah!
- I learn to “break down” my material to my supposed readership. What are the essentials? Which facts cannot be left out, which can be neglected? Which videos are the best? How do I structure my lens? Which titles and subtitles are best to catch my readers’ attention?
- I learn that I should better write the introduction when everything else is already written (I vaguely remember that we were taught this at university regarding writing a thesis!).
The learning process is still going on, and writing a new lens is always a new learning adventure. And I deeply enjoy it!
No photo today and no quotation this time–I hope you are not too disappointed.
But on Monday, October 12th I was informed that I belong to the number of RocketMoms who successfully finished session #3. I am a RocketMom graduate now.
It could be that some of you are now shrugging their shoulders or shaking their heads. What are RocketMoms and what does “graduation” mean?
RocketMoms are a special group of women who are either moms, aunts (that is what I am), grandmothers. They write Squidoo lenses, and they do it well.
I very well remember the middle of August when session #3 began. I knew that for 8 weeks I would be assigned to write one lens per week. I did not know whether I would be able to do that–with my day job and my three blogposts once a week. It would be quite a lot of writing, and, in addition to that, writing about things I never would have thought of writing about.
The weeks passed. One writing assignment included a product review. It had to be something international. Heureka–what about swiffer? They’ve got it in the UK, they’ve got in Germany and they’ve got in the USA. So I took out my camera, took out my swiffer duster, and produced some photos which could go with the lens. And I wrote the lens.
Writing those weekly lenses stretched my writing abilities. I had to go way out of my comfort zone, not only regarding the content of my writings but also the way of doing it, the planning. In the end it forced me to sit down “and just do it”.
And what’s coming now? I am going for Giant Squid now, which means nothing less than 50 lenses till the end of the year. For somebody of you, my dear readers, it might be NaNoWriMo, for me it is Giant Squid. It may well be that I won’t make it regarding the actual number of lenses. But independent from the number of lenses I will produce I will learn tremendously.
Today I am having a guest post over at Joyful Jubilant Learning. It’s about Summer, Learning and Squidoo.
I have joined Squidoo in June 2009, so I am quite a newbie, but a newbie with her first learning experiences. If you want to read about them, follow me over to joyfuljubilantlearning.com!
What is Squidoo?
“Squidoo is the popular publishing platform and community that makes it easy for you to create “lenses” online. Lenses are pages, kind of like flyers or signposts or overview articles, that gather everything you know about your topic of interest–and snap it all into focus.”
This description I found on a squidoo lense. Squidoo is free, you can built as many lenses (pages) as you like and you can earn money with it.
Publishing my first lense
Having a blog at wordpress.com I haven’t got the possibility to have adverts on it and be part of an affiliates program. And I would not like to do it, even if it would be possible for me. It would not match with the blog’s character.
But why not try out something different? I’ve got some knowledge about Berlin and some nice photos – why shouldn’t I make a lens out of it?
I joined Squidoo, played around with the tools and modules given there, took two spoonfuls of those courage pills (very useful they are, aren’t they?) and published my first lense.
And what did I learn?
Having done that I noticed that there are two important differences between blog posts and squidoo lenses:
- You have to do some careful planning before writing a lense.
When I began with my blog, I had a very general idea what I would be writing about. I wanted to present my photos and I wanted to have some writing going with it – something about the photos or a little story. Now, almost one year later, my blog has developed into something going beyond presenting photos. It is not so much the result of a planning process but the result of constant development.
I wrote my first lense in a similar way. I had a very general idea of how my views of Berlin – both as photos and writings – could be useful to foreigners visiting this wonderful city. So I chose a quite general URL. While working on the lense I noticed that every squidoo lense should focus on one special aspect, which in my case could be the tourist side of Berlin, or the green parts of Berlin, or the waterways of Berlin, or… Note to oneself: next time draw a mindmap, get a picture of the general theme and of the subthemes and then – work on the lense!
- Try to be useful!
Other blogs are focused on “How-to” subjects – how to manage your time, how to work efficiently, how to avoid writing mistakes. My blog is not a “how-to” blog. I am sharing my experiences, views, even moods and feelings. Of course I am pleased if it is “useful” for somebody else, but that is not my primary goal.
Squidoo lenses should be useful – so you have to have that usefulness in mind while writing a lense. As I see it that’s a kind of writing which is quite different to the one I am used to.
- Learning is fun!
The past days I enjoyed a feeling of pure fascination – I have reanimated my knowledge of HTML and CSS, tried it out, made mistakes, looked for help, corrected the mistakes. And I am already planning (Yes, I am planning this time) the next lenses.
And here it is, if you like to have a look: