Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Squidoo a Scam? Who Earns Money at Squidoo?

Another content site bites the dust. Squidoo is no longer. It has been incorporated into HubPages - my own favorite writing site.

Is Squidoo a scam? The simple answer is no, not really. A little deceptive, maybe, but some people do make money and do on Squidoo. Let me explain by sharing my own personal experience and research.

Giant Squidoo. Photo by Citron at Wikimedia

The Squidoo Welcome/Come-on
Squidoo was the first shared revenue writing site I wrote for after I had searched for ways to write and earn money online. Although I was a little puzzled by the silly squid characters and inane squid related phrases (squidlikes?), I was intrigued.  Here was a site that promised to be easy to use, would host my writing, and would share the revenue I created. Says Squidoo: "It's simple to write a lens. And of course, it's free. Even if you build 100 of them! You can also start to earn royalties from your writing, when the pages earn their way up in the site and when readers start interacting with them."

Squid Angels
It was easy to create a lens, especially for a web content neophyte like me. I wrote three "lenses" - articles in the real world  -  using their helpful guidelines displayed on the side of every lens. I had pictures, links, polls, and Amazon and eBay sales capsules. I wasn't sure who would actually buy something from my lens considering my writing topics, but they were required to have a "perfect" lens.
After a week I received an email. The Giant Squids had selected me as a rising star  - or was it a squid - and they wanted to interview me for the site! Wow, I had some talent, eh? I agreed to the email interview and I was named a rising star/squid a few days later. It was exciting to watch my view numbers rising so fast. I was blessed and praised by "Squid Angels" and high-ranking Squids. My most popular lens rose to the rank of 4,000 quickly. This isn't so bad, I thought as I quickly planned out more lenses. Dollar signs were dancing in front of my eyes as I wrote.

Squidoo Lens Payout
As I explored the Squidoo community, I noticed there was a big emphasis on lens rank. I started to research what it meant. It was very discouraging to learn that not everyone is paid for the views they draw to their pages. Payout depends on lens rank. Tier one, the top 2, 000 lenses, get the bulk of the money  - up to $50 or more from what I have read. Tier two is the next level of payout is the next 8,000 lenses, or lenses ranked from 2,000 - 10, 000. They earn $5 or less. The next 80, 000 lenses (this figure varies)  is tier three and they get pennies.

Reality Sets In
The next few weeks I watched as the lens blessings (which give you a boost in lens rank) wore off.  Surely I could stay in the top 10, 000 at least? Nope, by the end of the month my lenses had dropped off into the "pennies" zone, even though they had been picked up by Google's search engine bots. By this time I had started writing for Yahoo and was getting upfront pay and pennies for my views there. And it was mine, no matter how popular my articles were.

Who DOES Earn on Squidoo?
The top 2,000 lenses do earn decent money, but the odds of achieving that level are not in your favor. There are over 4,000,000 lenses all battling to reach the promised land. It is sad, really. All those lenses earning money for the "elite" lenses. There are rumors of a clique at the site that controls who ascends into the upper levels. That may be true, but it also may be sour grapes. I honestly do not know.

Marketing 101
If you have ever explored Squidoo, most of the lenses look more like ads for products then "real" articles. The marketing of Amazon, eBay, and other products is the reason some people achieve financial success at Squidoo. Well, that and the people who write "How to Succeed at Squidoo" lenses.
My writing isn't something which lends itself to marketing. Writing about autism, politics, and animals doesn't lead to sales. I may have to learn though - there IS sunken treasure waiting to be discovered out there in Squidoo-land.
If you write and  market products well, go for it! I wish you happiness and much success. I may even see you there someday - after I brush up on my own sales skills.

Update 4-30-13
It appears the Squidoo community was hit hard by a Google update. People are speculating it is because of the spammy, low quality content of the site. Some people claim to have lost 50% of the income due to the update. Others say they have lost a bit less. Here is one link: http://squidu.yuku.com/topic/2208/Squidoo-vs-Hubpages-the-statistics#.UYBXS7VQGTw
This is a webpage to a real Squid, and her experiences and advice to Squidoo: http://greekgeek.istad.org/

Squidoo has also updated their policies. I have copied some of the content and gave my view of it.

  • We pool that money in order to prevent click fraud -- this is a pretty common solution.

Yes, it is common for some sites to pool the money, but not common to give it to only a select few.

  • We work in a meritocracy, where lenses earn royalties based on how well they perform. We believe in paying our best people, who make the best lenses, more.

And the rest of you undeserving, lowly schlocks get squat!

  • And if a lens has an average LensRank of #400,000, let's say, well, we're making the bet that lens needs some work and isn't that useful to readers on the web. It probably didn't get much traffic or contribute a whole lot of goodness to the whole Squidoo community (and didn't drive any ad clicks, either), so that lens gets 0% of the ad pool.

Um, I bet these lenses are getting views and ad clicks,  you just may not want to share. And I have seem some REALLY bad lenses in the top tier which were little more than full page ads. I'd like to see what the millions of lenses that "aren't contributing" earn every month. I bet it's a nice chunk of change which goes to the top tiers.

  • Our goal is to pay out best lensmasters, the most. As more lensmasters make better and better lenses, it might make sense to shift the tiers in the future.

So, with over 7 years and millions of lenses, there STILL  aren't enough good lenses to increase the 2,000 top tier payout scheme? What about Squid Blessings that add a little "up rank"  juice to lenses? Isn't it possible there is a "clique" that likes the payouts just the way they are?

  • Where the real money can come in for you is using Amazon and eBay and your own strategies to monetize your lens, without waiting for a handout from the ad pool. (Emphasis is mine.)

Really! People are writing lenses hoping to make a little money, and you think they are waiting for a handout?!? Wow! Words escape me.

Update November 2,  2013

The new payout amounts for Squidoo were released:
Tier 1:  Ad Pool $12.24
Tier 2:  Ad Pool $2.08
Tier 3: Ad Pool $0.10


  1. Thanks for the article. Won't be using Squidoo then.

  2. Thank you for this analysis - fascinating. I've been researching the best social media share icons to hard code into my website. All the best to you.

  3. Guys there is another site wikinut like squidoo. Read my review of wikinut here - http://www.bubblews.com/news/5458754-how-to-earn-money-online-on-wikinut-for-witing-articles
    or join wikinut - http://www.wikinut.com/in/yjfceb/