Writing on Squidoo has been an interesting experience and, if I hadn’t come across a similar site, I probably wouldn’t be contemplating leaving, after little more than a month. As it is, I’m coming very close to removing my work from Squidoo and revamping it for Wizzley. It probably sounds as if I’m just thrashing around and wasting time that could be better spent on my fiction, but writing nonfiction has always been part of my creativity, even when I try to evade and ignore it.
Finding a site for my nonfiction is important for two reasons. The right site will allow me to write on subjects that don’t belong in either of my two blogs. It will also provide me with backlinks to this blog, so my website, and to my books on Amazon and Smashwords.
Wizzley is a comparatively new site (about two years old), that encourages strong, competent writing. It also allows you to earn money through ad-revenue sharing. In this, it’s like many writing sites that have stopped paying writers directly. An ongoing criticism of such sites is that they get content for free, making writers depend on Adsense for payment. On sites without much Google clout or advertising, the writer is indeed working for very little or no return.
Squidoo and Wizzley are different in that they also give writers the opportunity to make money via product sales: Amazon, Zazzle, Allposters, etc. Wizzley doesn’t have as many outlets, but it makes up for this in other ways, and here is where Squidoo’s fatal flaws come in.
While both sites have quality standards, the truth is that Squidoo exerts very little oversight. Poorly written or spammy lenses may or may not be noticed and removed. The site is huge, which means that it would take a much larger staff to monitor new work. I’ve always had a problem with my writing being displayed alongside work that is sometimes barely literate. And I see way too much of that on Squidoo.
Squidoo’s other flaw is competition. Because the core of the site is making money, everyone is scrambling to keep their ratings high. Squidoo’s rating system determines how much of a share your lenses get from the site’s advertising revenue. Only the top 200,000 or so lenses stand to make more than pennies per month. Your own sales are what bring in the real money, but as soon as a lens falls in rank to worse than 400,000 it becomes a work in progress. It no longer appears in the search engine and won’t come up in Google, so it might as well not exist. A good deal of the effort on Squidoo is simply keeping your lenses from falling into invisibility. Ranking is based partly on Likes, so there is a very active segment of fiverr.com that sells Likes. Shell out five bucks and buy so many Likes to get your ranking up.
Wizzley has ratings, but they seem to be more to encourage people to do their best than to force them to compete. Most important, the quality of content really does matter. Not everyone there is a top-notch speller and grammarian, but the overall quality is among the highest of any site I’ve seen. It isn’t even necessary to report spammy articles because they’re removed within hours.
Until you’ve written five good articles, your work will be subject to moderation. Those five will also not be searchable in Google. In other words, anyone who’s just trying to win SEO placement is actively discouraged.
I thought it would be nice to have two sites for my work, both of them able to earn a little cash and provide backlinks. I’d planned to differentiate the two with different types of topics. But I didn’t know about Wizzley when I started with Squidoo, and I didn’t expect Squidoo to come off so badly in a point to point comparison.