Friday, September 6, 2013

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Make Smarter Choices, Build Better Lenses and Have More Fun

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 06:30 AM PDT

3738314114_4ce9b5efcc_bIt’s no secret that Squidoo lenses are amazingly diverse in style, topic and scope. Lensmasters have lots of flexibility and a wide variety of options available to them when building their lenses.

A great lens is unique lens, one that shows the lensmaster’s idea of what a lens can be. Making all these choices is usually fun and exciting, but sometimes, the number of choices can be overwhelming, leaving you feeling confused and stuck instead of energized. 

Today I’ll share some information about how we make choices and 4 ideas to help you improve your choices, build better lenses and have more fun.

 

Blocks to Smart Choices

First, I’d like to introduce the concept of Choice Paralysis. This is the state of indecision that results from an overabundance of choices, real or perceived. An excess of choices can often cause anxiety and uncertainty, leading us to make poorer choices than if we had been offered less options. When attempting to make a complex choice without a personal decision making framework, we’re likely to make an arbitrary snap decision or simply remain indecisive.

Attempting to address your indecision could lead you to experiencing Analysis Paralysis: This is an approach to choices where we attempt to analyze every potential advantage, disadvantage and consider all the possible outcomes in the hopes of making the “ultimate” correct decision. What happens instead is we become stuck, confused or frustrated and often find ourselves unable to take any action at all.

As you can see, these two states are very closely related and can often play into each other – the more we analyze, the more complex things become and the harder it is to choose. The good news is with a little bit of preparation, we can beat both Choice and Analysis paralysis before they discourage us or lead us to make less than optimal decisions.

How does this relate to building lenses?

Now that you understand more about why complex choices can be difficult, consider how many complex choices are involved in the creation maintenance and expansion of your lenses. Without a decision making framework that reflects your interests, values, passions and ambitions, you may find yourself focusing time, attention and effort working on lenses that don’t reflect your true potential as a lensmaster. Instead of having fun, nurturing your creativity and making content that’s interesting and unique to you, you could be experiencing the frustration and indecision of over-thinking things that you don’t truly care about or not being able to choose a direction at all. This is no way to make your best lenses. 

4 Ways to Improve

1. Start with content you’re close to

That means creating lenses about subjects that directly relate to your life somehow. It could be a long-standing interest or hobby, a first hand experience you’ve had, a strong opinion you’re willing to voice, or a cause, product or story you are passionate about. You’re looking for a connection that’s deeper than just knowledge about a topic. This kind of closeness gives you a unique position to speak from. When you choose content you are close to, you will be able to communicate complex ideas and concepts, nurture your creative intelligence, connect better with your audience and experience greater personal satisfaction.

2. Experience>Research

In the early 00′s, the nature of the Internet began to shift. This was the birth of the social web as we know it today, where knowledge has value but experience is the most valuable. People go online expecting first hand information and experiences from people they can identify with. You can combine your knowledge and your experience to create the kind of content that readers connect with and search engines love.

Here’s an example of why experience is more valuable than research:

I like to buy new books online, but before I decide on a book, I read reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, written by ordinary people, not book reviewers or literary critics. When I find a book that I think I might want to read, I will generally read between 5 and 15 reviews to help me decide if I’d like to buy the book. However, I can't truly understand the book or make any kind of value judgement about it until I've read it myself. I could write a review based on other people’s research but it would not have the same amount of value, authority or relevance as the review I could write from my own experience. 

No amount of research can equal the authority, relevance and value of experiential knowledge. Create content based on experience, not research. Share your own opinion, not those of strangers.

3. Make simple decisions in advance

You can improve your ability to make complex choices by having clear, defined ideas about what you want your lenses to be before they even exist. Are you an analytical person who likes lots of data or would you prefer a lens that was heavy on the visual information? Do you want to create long lenses that have many sections or would you prefer to divide your topics among many interlinked lenses?

These are all simple choices when made ahead of time. By defining a larger vision for your lenses, you are able to eliminate choices that don’t find and make your decisions easier. If you already know what you want to do before you start, you’ll be able to choose the right tools without agonizing over your options.

3. Analyze when it’s appropriate

Don’t try to avoid Analysis Paralysis by never thinking about what you’re doing or analyzing your methods, content quality or overall attitude. The smart solution is to allow yourself some time for introspection – you’ll be able to spot small sparks before they become fires, find the weak spots in your writing and get an overview of how you are doing. I like to do an assessment of my own lenses and content goals once a week to see how I’m doing and where I can focus my attention. By setting aside the time to analyze and think about your work, you can remove some of the temptation to over-analyze when it’s not appropriate.

4. Pivot for your passion

Last, but perhaps the most important of all: Being attuned to your passions in life will guide you towards creating content you’re close to, give you experiences to share and streamline your decision making. Passion is the most helpful tool you have to guide you through the many complex choices you’ll make when building lenses. The more overlap between what you care about and what you do on Squidoo, the better your content and the more fun you will have.

That’s where the “pivot” part comes in: That means you are always willing to change gears for something that truly excites you. You stay ready and willing to change your focus or divert time and attention whenever you discover something you are passionate about. When you aren’t sure which direction to move or what decision to make, consider your passions and choose the option that resonates closest with what you truly care about.

So there you have it – easy ways to make the smart decisions that set you on the path to making great content and having more fun. What do you think about these ideas? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment below.

Photo Credit: austin.happel via Compfight cc
 

The Passionate Lensmaster

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 06:21 AM PDT

IMG_2561I just got through reading “So You Want to Be a Writer,” a poem by Charles Bukowski.

Of course, it wasn’t written specifically for Squidoo lensmasters… but it fits.

The first line reads:

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.

In other words, if you aren’t passionate about your topic… If it doesn’t move you in some way… If you have to struggle to find additional words to fill in that extra required module…

Don’t make the lens.

Instead, go out into the real world. Take a walk. Visit a friend. Watch a movie. And wait for something that strikes your fancy so hard that it demands you write about it.  Trust me, it will come to you.

Then, and only then… get busy creating your next great lens, like this one and this one and the thousands of other passion-filled writings that you’ll find  here on Squidoo.

And while I have your attention, please feel free to share your most inspired lens here in the comments section.  We’d all love to see it!

Image Source

Introducing esmonaco

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 05:59 AM PDT

Say hello to esmonaco, Sam in real life and new writer on Squidoo. The first thing you’ll learn about Sam is that he’s a grandfather, and a very, very proud one at that. His lens list is growing almost as fast as those grandkids and we’re happy that he’s now a member of RocketSquids, so he’s not planning to slow down anytime soon. Enjoy getting to know him better.

How did you find Squidoo? Actually I typed a search for How to run an affiliate program without a web-site. The top search came up with How to earn money on Squidoo. After reading this I decided to check it out, at first I wasn’t sure because I never thought that I could write anything. After reading several of the lenses and the site rules I decided to join, and now I’m so into the writing I just can’t stop.

You’ve been here a month now and you’ve stayed quite busy writing about several different topics. What can we look forward to reading about next? I’ve joined RocketSquids and love the challenges, so next will be something about Where Were You When. Then I want to do some Italian cooking recipes handed down in our family, I also have a couple of product reviews in mind.

What can Squidoo do for you? Squidoo has already done so much for me, as I said I never thought that I could write anything. There is such a huge community here to help and encourage you, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Squidoo is such a diverse community with so many talented people. I look forward to the continued help of these talented lensmasters.

Lens of the Day: Finest Palace and Landscape Garden in England

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 04:58 AM PDT

The Lenses You Loved From the August Food Club Quest

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 01:59 PM PDT

Congratulations to lensmaster Sousababy for creating the winning lens from our August Squidoo Food Club Quest.  Stop by Celebrate National Panini Month at Home (BONUS: Beer Bread recipe) to see it.  This spectacular lens has been featured as Lens of the Day today and she’ll also receive a $25.00 Amazon.com gift card for all of her hard work and effort.

Our August quest garnered a lot of really great and well made lenses.  Thank you to all of the members who worked so hard to create their delicous lenses and also to those who took the time to vote.  We can’t do this without you.

Visit Squidoo Food Club Quest: August to see  all of the lenses.  I guarantee you’ll find some yummy new recipes to try out.

Here’s a few of the runner ups to get you started:

Sweet & Delicious Watermelon Popsicle Recipes

1. Sweet & Delicious Watermelon Popsicle Recipes

Watermelon is one of summer’s tastiest and healthiest fruits to indulge in and it is no wonder that this scrumptious melon is the object of two national food holidays; the whole month of July is dedicated to National Watermelon Month and Aug 3 is National…

Bhuna Lamb Recipe

2. Bhuna Lamb Recipe

Bhuna lamb is a special Indian dish for me for a couple of principal reasons. The obvious one is the fact that it’s absolutely delicious and I love it when it is made and served properly and well. The second is the fact that it was the first Indian dish I…

National Root Beer Float Day

3. National Root Beer Float Day

It’s the dog days of summer and you know what that means—time to celebrate National Root Beer Float Day. And because it’s so dadgum hot today, by the power vested in me, I’m extending that holiday by another 31 days (or until further notice). You…

Cooking With Herbs Instead Of Salt

4. Cooking With Herbs Instead Of Salt

August 29th is the day to do just what the title says, eat more herbs and less salt. What do you think about devoting August 29th to use more herbs and less salt in your food? After trying this for one day you might like it, and you even might want to make…

Quick and Easy Nutella Smores

5. Quick and Easy Nutella Smores

Smores are almost a camping staple when it comes to the food group ‘dessert’. Nothing tastes better than that ooey gooeyness of warm and melted marshmallows in between 2 sweet honey graham crackers nessled up beside some delicious and nutty chocolate. When…

Grilled Peach Caprese Sandwich Recipe

6. Grilled Peach Caprese Sandwich Recipe

So August is National Peach month, National Sandwich month and National Panini month. What better time to have a grilled peach sandwich? I know it sounds weird, but hot peaches, mozzarella and basil go together so well I’m surprised they’re not the standar…

Grilled-n-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers

7. Grilled-n-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers

When having a barbecue don’t forget to fix some deluxe grilled- n- stuffed portobello mushroom burgers for everyone to have a choice between the two types of grilled- n- stuffed burgers (meat or meatless). This way for those who are vegan they will not fee…

Hot Bratwurst Veggies Stir-fry

8. Hot Bratwurst Veggies Stir-fry

It took me a long time to realize what would be a suitable dish for the August food celebration. Tonight, I finally decided on my selection. It so happens that August is a month when a few food ingredients, which I really like, are praised. Because I enjoy…

Get your Superhero on with goldenrulecomics

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 11:33 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 2.22.50 PMSquidoo is all about sharing a passion for the things you love.

Goldenrulecomics does just that and much, much more. He shares his love of comic books (a collection that started in childhood) with his daughter who does all of the tech work (a superhero job in itself).

So thanks to you both for sharing, educating and entertaining Squidoo readers with your passion for Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Hulk and more.

Me personally…I have a thing for Spider-Man…Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody said it was a happy little tale… if somebody told you I was just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world… somebody lied. – Peter Parker

PS – The photo isn’t goldenrulecomics, just a fun pic from Flickr.

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Review of the 1970s Marvel Comics Series!

1. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Review of the 1970s Marvel Comics Series!

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider- Man first appeared at the end of 1976, and was a comic book aimed at cashing in on the growing popularity of Spider- Man. In fact, with the publication of this series Spider- Man was appearing in three monthly books: T…

Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!

2. Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!

Marvel Essential X- Men collects Giant- Size X- Men 1 and X- Men 94- 119. Giant- Size X- Men No. 1 introduced the new team of superheroes, reviving the X- Men comic. The revival started in 1975 and made the comic book the hottest series for many years. It…

The Fantastic Four Debuts! A Marvel Essentials Comic Book Review

3. The Fantastic Four Debuts! A Marvel Essentials Comic Book Review

The Essential Fantastic Four Volume 1 contains some of the most important stories that Marvel Comics ever published. This book contains the first 20 issues of the original Fantastic Four series, plus its first annual. The first issue, published in November…

Gene Colan, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation

4. Gene Colan, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation

Gene Colan developed such a moody, cinematic style during his six decades as a comic book artist that his work was as easily identified as the art of Jack Kirby or Jim Steranko. He never received the fame that they did, which I think is a real shame, becau…

The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review

5. The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review

The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. He later moved to his own series, which lasted 81 issues over a decade. The collection also includes…

Halloween Tips and Treats From Lensmasters Nightcat, Raveonstudio and JamesXavier

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 09:30 AM PDT

3 New for Halloween 2013 lenses along with tips and treats from the lensmasters who created them.

Restoring the hair on a Halloween mask can be quick and easy but please remember these tips. If the tag read flammable before? Whoo, baby! NEVER display this mask near an open flame. Also if the latex of the mask is torn or degraded (it will look funny or feel odd) please do not attempt to fix the hair. Lastly, faux hair does not grow back! Be gentle and have fun primping up your mask for the big day! ~Nightcat

Halloween Mask Hair a Fright? Comb it!

 Halloween Mask Hair a Fright? Comb it!

Sometimes our Halloween masks do double duty. The one shown here has served faithfully out of doors for years as a stuffed prop. She was always my favorite, well, one of a select few, so she stayed in semi- protected areas. Unfortunately that meant twigs,…

I recall very clearly the Halloween my very small daughter threw her candy in the garbage after a discussion about dental health. It was not a stellar ‘parent moment’ for me, and I learned a lot from that mistake. That is what got me started thinking about what to write about. I always write from experience, especially if somebody else may be able to learn from my mistakes and successes! I found a lot of interesting things while researching my lens, I love that part of lens writing, because it helps me broaden my scope and more importantly, helps me remember other interesting points that I can add in from my own experiences. I love writing about ‘other perspectives’ and I think while this is a different take on the Halloween theme, it will be very interesting to readers, and it will stay relevant for a long while! ~raveonstudio

toothbrush

 Halloween candy, all at once or over time? Read what dentists say!

When my daughter was young , probably just two I think, I tried to impart on her the importance of healthy teeth, and the harm sugar could do. You know, in a gentle way, like how you talk to a two year old. Well, on her first trip out at Halloween later th…

Slider Style… bringing the Boom on Halloween! A fun way to spice up any haunted house/house of horrors! ~JamesXavier

I used to be a Monster!

 I used to be a Monster!

Well in certain Horror Mansions, Haunted Houses, they have things/creatures (actors) also known as sliders. I’ll show you how to make/acquire build the pieces necessary to have your very own sliders in your House of Horrors. And I will define Slider later…

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