Experiments with Passive Income – Squidoo

Before I get into my discussion about Squidoo.com, I’d like to say a few words about passive income in general.  When I first started this blog, one of my primary goals was to examine the ways I could generate passive income (and this is still a primary goal).  Tons of people do it, but you know in the back of your mind that it couldn’t be too easy.  The idea that you can make money without doing any work is more often fiction than fact [insert cliche like “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is…”].

With that said, I think it’s very possible to create passive income streams for yourself by putting in an appropriate amount of up-front work.  Here are a couple examples that you’re probably aware of:

  • Putting out substantial money to purchase an apartment building and finding tenants – after this up-front work, you have monthly rental income with no work required (assuming you’ve hired a maintenance team).
  • Investing in stock – initial investment and time spent doing research, which eventually leads to (hopefully) stock appreciation and periodic dividends

In both of the above examples, there is a considerable risk involved.  Not only do you need to put in a lot of work initially, but you may have a significant amount of money at risk (potentially).  That’s not really what I’m looking for.  I’m well aware of these options, and I plan to pursue them to some extent when I’m financially capable.  I’m particularly interested in real estate investing, but that’s not on my to-do list for the next few years.

What I am interested in right now are sources of passive income that may require an up-front investment of your time but not any significant amount of money.  This brings me to Squidoo.com.  If you don’t know about it, you’ve probably seen it in Google search results.  It’s basically a platform for writers to write articles (Squidoo calls them “lenses”).  These lenses go through some sort of quality check, and then they are put in Squidoo’s massive article database.  Because Squidoo is such a large, popular site, good quality articles can be highly visible within search engine results.

How Squidoo Can Benefit You

I wouldn’t consider myself a writer, but I’m slowly realizing that I enjoy writing.  Whether or not I’m any good at it is debatable, but I think I can write well enough that people understand my message and will remain interested enough to finish reading.  With Squidoo, you write your “lenses,” and you make money based on the ad revenue that Squidoo receives.  Here’s a brief description of how it works, from Squidoo itself:

A more traditional way to understand the money breakdown is this: We put ads on lenses, and offer lensmasters the ability to recommend products they can sell via our affiliate programs with Amazon, eBay, CafePress and others. Revenue that the company receives is split like this: We give 5% straight away to charity. We keep 45% to pay server bills, a few salaries, and keep the site running. That leaves 50% which we give directly to our lensmasters (that’s you) for your good work. You can then either take your royalty payouts in cash via PayPal, or donate your royalties to one of a few hundred great charities. It’s that simple.

Building off this description, here are the possible benefits I see with creating articles/lenses on Squidoo:

  • Income from ads
  • Income from affiliate programs built into Squidoo (Amazon, etc. mentioned above)
  • Free traffic to your website or blog – within your article, you can link to your blog.  For example, if you have a gardening blog and you write a lens about the best time of year to plant tomatoes, you can add a blurb to the bottom of your lens that says something like “For more gardening tips, visit www.yourgardenblog.com.”  From here, you might earn additional revenue from the traffic to your blog.

More Specifics about How Payments Work

Here are some more tidbits  about how Squidoo’s payments work:

  • Payments are paid through PayPal.
  • You can set your payment threshold as low as $1 (so it’s not like you need to wait for a high amount to accrue before you get paid).
  • Ad revenue earned by your article goes into a pool – “Half of the pool distributes out to lensmasters, on a PayRank scale that is based on each lens’s average LensRank and traffic, and the number and quality of lenses in the lensmaster’s account.”  In other words, the better your articles are, the more you’ll get from the pool.  This page goes into a lot more detail about how the rankings work.
  • Affiliate revenue (Amazon, eBay, etc.) is 50% straight to you – it doesn’t go into a pool like the ad revenue.

This is hardly a get-rich-quick kind of thing, but I see some potential.

Here’s What I Plan to Do

It’s clear to me that with something like this, quantity is probably just as important as quality.  While I wouldn’t want to create 100 terrible lenses (you would probably earn nothing), it’s possible that 100 decent lenses will perform significantly better than 5 amazing ones.  Quality aside (let’s assume you write each lens with the same effort and quality), I think you’d want to create as many as possible so that the result is something meaningful to you.

From what I’ve been reading, people who do well on Squidoo will earn up to a few hundred dollars per month.  These are probably people who have taken the time to write a substantial number of good quality articles.  Without trying it, I have a difficult time determining if it’s worthwhile.

The key part of this that really interests me is that these lenses don’t necessarily fade with time. If you write a killer article about gardening, it’ll probably still receive traffic one year from now.  With that in mind, I want to spend a couple months writing lenses, and then “let them ride.”  My plan is to write an average of one lens per day (on varying topics)  for one or two months.  At this point, I’ll have a nice collection of lenses available, hopefully with a handful of high quality lenses that receive a lot of views.  The desired outcome here is that this daily effort for a month or two (maybe I’d spend 30-60 minutes per day writing these) will lead to indefinite passive income and traffic to my blog.

I don’t plan on leaving you in the dark, of course.  If you don’t want to invest the time right now to run this experiment along with me, you don’t have to! I’ll post my results as I receive them and share my full uncensored feedback here.  If I’m successful and you think my results were worth the time and effort, you can create your own account at Squidoo and do the same thing.

How I Plan to Create Daily Content

As you would imagine, I might not be able to think of a new lens topic every day.  Fortunately, information is free and I have the ability to read.  Here are the sources I plan to use to write my articles:

  • My blog content – I’ve already written a number of posts here that could qualify as standalone articles, maybe with a bit of tweaking.
  • Topics from my professional expertise – I’m a CPA/tax consultant, so I have several topics within this area about which I can write.
  • Personal interests – I enjoy TV, baseball, fantasy baseball, football, fishing, and some other random things.  Certainly there are article topics buried within these interests.
  • Things for which I don’t know much about, but find interesting – What?! How could I write articles about things I know nothing about?! That’s the beauty of books and the internet.  No, I’m not going to plagiarize anything.  I can read multiple articles and information sources, synthesize the information, form my own perspective, and write unique articles about that content.  Even if I don’t know anything about global warming, for example, I can educate myself on it and write an article that explains my perspective.  I will never represent myself as an expert on something for which I’m not an expert.

That’s pretty much it.  Maybe after I write a few lenses, I’ll post some examples here so that you can see for yourself what I’m writing about and how I’m going about tackling this plan.  If you’ve written for Squidoo before, feel free to share your experiences in the comments.  I may be way off base in thinking that this might be a good idea, so I’m definitely open to criticism.

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5 Responses to “Experiments with Passive Income – Squidoo”

  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor


  2. Best of luck with Squidoo. I have a couple which earn a little bit of passive income at the moment.

    I just haven’t taken the time to really optimize them yet. I’m torn between directly selling them on article marketplaces, using them for my own blog or placing them on squidoo.

    Obviously if you leave them on your own blog you’ll have the greatest control and benefit overall but Squidoo has a very large community and gains tons of traffic which is a great thing to consider.


  3. Hey Murlu – Thanks for the comment. That’s great that you’ve found success with Squidoo – I haven’t really found it yet, but I’m not ready to give up.

    Care to share some of your Squidoo articles that are making money? I’m always curious to see (as I’m sure other people are too) Squidoo articles that are actually making money – and posting them here will get you free traffic too!

    By the way, I like your blog!

    – Eric


  4. I’ve had one lens up for about a year. I throw a few backlinks at the lens every month and I think I’ve made about $2.60 so far. I’m less than thrilled. I find writing for squidoo a struggle, I don’t like all the different components, to me they are so distracting.

    I sure miss writing for eHow. I have 50-60 articles there, which I wrote over 2 years ago and these articles consistently earn me about $40 per month.


    Eric G. Reply:

    Yeah, I understand – Squidoo really isn’t the best revenue-sharing site out there. Have you tried InfoBarrel at all? I’ve had a lot of success there. I never wrote for eHow, but several people have called InfoBarrel “the next eHow” in terms of earning potential.


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