How to Get Much Faster At Building Lenses

I hear it just about every day now… “How did you do this so fast??”. The first answer of course is practice practice practice. After you do 2, 3 or 400 lenses you’ll be doing them quite fast too. :) Especially if you are doing lenses that follow the same template.  (meaning they have the same or similar modules and outline)

The second part of that answer is getting organized. My little organizational system (which YES! I’m going to share with you today) cuts tons of time off creating a lens. I’m not very organized around the house, but when it comes to work, I love to build little cheat sheets, and templates that help keep me together. I only have a few quiet hours a day to get this all done!!

1. Identify all the html code you’re going to need for your lenses.

For the lenses I do I usually need 3 pieces of code.

1. my affiliate product link.

2. the code to make the boxes for the reviews

3. the code to make the visual call to action.

Hunting down code doesn’t take very long ~ but when you have to keep doing it over and over again, it really adds time to any project. Especially if you have to go hunting down the website to find the code each time. I don’t do that anymore.

I have now created a text document. (I just go to my screen with the icons (desktop) and right click my mouse and choose “new” then text document and it opens a new one ~ then I save it right on my desktop to get to it quickly and easily.

Now I just use this one doc for all my product based lenses. I have the html for the reviews and CTA at the top and I just add in each new product affiliate link as I go. I now only have to open one document ~ it just stays open but minimized at the bottom of my screen and I have all the code I need ~ no more hunting around.

To help you out ~ I’ve put together the code I use in my text doc  here. It has the review box code and the CTA code in it.  You will have to copy/paste it into your own text document, but it’s all there in one place. :)

2. Determine which modules you’re going to use in your lens.

I figured out which modules I’m going to use, and I made a list in alphabetical order, that way I can go to the all modules area of the “add modules” section and just grab what I need very quickly from the right letter area.

Here’s my list:

1 big arrow module
1 Guestbook module
1 Poll module
1 RSS share your blog module
2 text modules
1 The most important thing module
1 Youtube module

Once I have added them all in I go to the sidebar and rearrange them in the order I want them in.

Intro ~ but it’s already there and you don’t see it in the sidebar.
the most important thing
big arrow
RSS module
guest book (sometimes I switch those last two around)

Now listen ~ just because this is the order I do my lenses in, and the modules I use doesn’t mean you have to do it just as I do, the point here is to create a system. Once you have  a system you can begin moving through the steps quite quickly without always having to think “umm… what do I do now.” You have a system, you know exactly what to do next.

(also ~ not ALL of my lenses follow this template ~ but it is my affiliate product based template)

3. Start at the top ~ don’t make it complicated.

Intro module: I just want to let people know the product I’m going to be talking about. The fact it will make a great Christmas gift, and the fact people will be really happy to get it as a gift.

This does not take research, this does not take a lot of time and effort. Really ~ it’s 3 or 4 sentences. Just make it up.  You can certainly imagine why someone might be happy to get whatever it is you are promoting as a gift right?? You can think about what kind of person on your gift list might like the product you’re promoting. Right? Don’t make this complicated ~ it’s a few sentences, made up by you. :)

Click the discovery tool tab and turn it off. I do not want other lenses very related to mine coming up on these product pages. I leave the discovery tool on if I have more than one lens on a related topic, then I can put my own lenses in as well and that makes it worth it to me ~ especially now that they have moved it over to the sidebar.

First text module: This is where I usually talk about different features of the product. DON’T just copy the bullet point list of features off amazon ~ seriously. I do this a couple ways ~ sometimes I ask a question and then answer it. Sometimes I just point out features of the product. Again ~ this is NOT complicated. The best place to get this information is in the PRODUCT REVIEWS. They will tell you exactly what ROCKS about this product. Read them ~ but don’t spend all day. :)

When I do the question type feature area I like to bold the questions. You can do this by adding <b>before your question and </b> after ~ that will make just that sentence bold. (it’s not working here because I’m in text editor to be able to show you the actual code) So for the Ironman lens I might have done something like this:

How much weight can it hold? The Ironman Gravity 4000 is made of a tubular steel frame. It can hold up to 350 pounds, so it’s great for even larger people.

This information was in the product info area ~ but I’ve made it unique content by making it conversational and in my own words. If I am a big person with a back issue I will probably be asking that questions so it speaks directly to the reader/purchaser.

I do 3 or 4 of these type questions and then link back to the product telling them they can find more features there.

The most important thing: This is where I put my visual call to action. I like to have it near the top of the lens because it really gets people’s attention and calls them to action. You’ll find this can be a great way to get people to click. If you put this all the way at the bottom of your lens you’ll risk it not having the power it has up near the top. But make sure you have some content before it, you dont’ want to yell take action at the VERY beginning. :)

Poll module: I like to have a poll module in my lens because it takes off some of the “sales edge” and it also helps people get involved with you and the lens. The more involved they get the more likely they are to click through. You can do a poll about the “must have feature” people look for when buying your product, who this product would be best for on their list, etc etc ~ again ~ you’re just making this up. Use your imagination. I used to make clickable links in the poll module ~ I don’t do that much anymore, but you still can if you want. If there’s one feature that really stands out for the product in the poll I may link that one answer to the product page, but no more than 1 anymore.

2nd Text module: This is where I do reviews. I will grab the code for 3 boxes out of my text document. I will paste it into my lens after a paragraph talking about why reviews are great to read when you making a buying decision. Then I go to amazon and find 3 reviews that I like. I usually try to go to a later page of the reviews so people don’t see the same ones when they come to amazon from my site. This is why it’s great to choose a product with many many reviews. :)

I then highlight the “your text goes here” in the code and then paste in the review. You can get fancy and add a little something at the beginning of the review ~ like the title of the review at amazon or the person’s name. You can use the <b></b> inside the area you’re putting the text to make the beginning sentence bold if you want.

Youtube: Here I like to add a video ~ a video that reviews my product, or is directly relevant to helping my reader make a decision about buying the product. If there is a website in the description I usually go to the edit area and take it out. For some reason it doesn’t always “stick” so I have to do it a couple times for it to work. Just one of those things.  I don’t worry about addresses in the video themselves, or them saying a website address ~ it’s much easier to click a link on the page you’re on than it is to open a new window and put in a whole new address that you have to remember.Key here is relevancy. It MUST be relevant.

Big arrow: This is my last call to action. If they’ve made it this far I want to have something seriously encouraging them to click out to my sales page.  Big arrow does a nice job of that.

RSS module: This is a last ditch effort to get them to click through to one of MY pages instead of on a google ad or another ad on Squidoo  that doesn’t make me any money.

Guestbook: This is one more place to get your keywords in the title, get some conversation going on your lens, and one last place to put a link to your product page. If you don’t have a guestbook you can’t get an angel blessing. I’m not sure how big a deal that is, but I’ve gotten a few and my rank goes up a bit. It’s worth it to just add the guestbook.

Don’t leave the default text in your guestbook. Talk to them about their decision ~ did they decide to buy the product? Are they giving it as a gift? If so, come back and tell us how much the person liked it, or what their response was or something ~ you want to create a relationship with your reader ~ engage them.

4. Final touches.

Fill in your bio area ~ make it specific to each product, and have a link to the product in your bio area. It doesn’t have to be complicated. My favorite thing about the holidays is finding just the right gift for everyone on my list. the yada yada would make a perfect gift for the “whomever” on my list this year.

Make sure you have an image of your choosing in your bio area and not the default squid.

Add tags to your lenses ~ you dont’ have to research these, but if you noticed when you were doing kw research some related keywords that are relevant to your lens write them down and throw them in as tags. Otherwise just look through your lens and write down related words. Use smaller versions of your product name ~ so I used these for the Ironman lens:

Don’t spend a bunch of time on this ~ use commons sense. You shop, what might you look for if you were looking for this product?

If you save your payout settings in your main profile area you don’t have to worry about that on each lens and it saves time there as well.

That’s pretty much it. Click publish and then “view lens” and check it out. Go through all your links, hover over them and make sure your Amazon url shows up at the bottom of the page ~ if it doesn’t the link’s not working and you need to go back in and fix it so it does.

The keys to getting faster at this is pretty simple.

1. Have a system.

2. Stop making it so complicated. There’s no need for tons of research or anything. If you’ve chosen a product with some reviews and good product description you’ve got everything you need right there. Just use it to get your ideas flowing.

3. Loosen up and have a little fun ~ you’re really just making this up and you can’t do it wrong. You CAN do this!! Believe it and you will be surprised how quickly you prove yourself right. :)

As always if you have questions feel free to ask them in the comment section. I’ll do my best to answer them.

Have an awesome day and keep taking ACTION!!!

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  1. My CTA’s are ending up too big, I feel, because the photo is too big. I am pulling the image from Amazon and that is the size they arrive at. Although I want the CTA to be distinctive, it is TOO big. How can I adjust the Amazon photo so it doenst take up as much space? Cropping just makes it look weird!

  2. Melody Best says:

    Hi Jackie,

    If it’s our first lens, I guess we should wait until our blog is completed to do the RSS module. But once it’s completed except for that, it’s still okay to publish, isn’t it?


  3. Hi Jackie
    I have been recieving your e-mails and reading your blogs for a while now and thought it was about time I let you know how incredibley helpful I find them. This one is probably the best yet – I am a bit slow making lenses, so getting more organised and following your plan is my new plan.
    Thanks heaps for all your help
    Have a groovy day
    .-= Andy´s last blog ..Communicating with Toddlers updated Thu Mar 18 2010 9:39 pm CDT =-.

  4. you can come play with me on facebook if you want: I’m not all business over there though. mostly not business. ;)

  5. Hey Tina,

    You can target 2 keywords in your backlinks ~ that’s fine. Just check the new keyword is within limits regarding competition.

    I posted a link to your lens on my facebook page and now everyone is talking about what color they have. :)

    Hi Lisa ~ Great work!! Just keep it up. The more you do the better your lenses will do. About the high dollar items ~ if you’ve done the research ~ they have search volume, and competition is minimal enough to get to the first page you should be able to make sales. Especially if you look at the product and there are reviews (so you know other people have bought from there). The thing about selling high priced items is you only need to sell a FEW to make the same if not more as selling a LOT of lower priced items.

    with that being said ~ you might want to check amazon’s TOS because I think there is a cut off on the highest amount that can be paid in commission?? Or I may be crazy but I think I remember seeing that somewhere.

  6. Hi Jackie,

    What a big help this is! You have me so organized I am cranking out lenses and articles faster than ever! My lenses are slowly but surely moving up in rank (at least over half of them). My article writing is getting easier and easier, I come up with ideas for relevant content much faster without researching for an hour before I can even find something to give me an idea.

    Still no sales (besides the original 3 that made me $10) but I know they will come in time.

    I have a question about really high dollar items on Amazon ( I am talking 6 figure items). I started a lens some time ago before I started Christmas Cash. I just happened to check it and I am ranking #6 on page 1 for my keyword with decent search volume and first page PR of 15. Today I put out a couple articles and some social bookmarking using other keywords that I am getting traffic from google with.

    Have you ever tried this? I am assuming that the conversion rate is very low on items like these, but not impossible to have one or two sales a year. I am not planning on wasting too much time on this lens but I figured if I was already on page one why not try a little. What is your opinion on items like these?


  7. Thanks for the encouragement, Jackie! I won’t give up on it! I knew it would take time, but I’m impatient.

    The poll was fun, but time consuming. I enjoy that kind of thing, but I must keep the goal in mind. I was trying to find the original code source to share with you, but I don’t remember where it is (too much surfing). I uploaded all the images to PhotoBucket and then grabbed the HTML code and placed it in the Poll Response Options of the Poll Module. I had to resize the pictures in the code so they weren’t huge. After the image code, I typed the words I wanted to show next to the picture. It looks like this:
    Almond Cream
    Hope this helps. Let know if it needs more clarification.

    I can’t figure out how to link to the individual sales page for the colors. When I go into Amazon and select the different colors and then get the link, they all are the same.

    As far as keywords, I did some more research and found that KitchenAid Artisan Mixer seems to get more searches per day than the kw I originally built the lens for. I wanted to rank for both. Should I just stick with the original words? I don’t want to mess things up.

    Thanks for your help, Jackie!

  8. Hey Tina ~

    That lens looks pretty good. ;) I LOVE the pick your color poll!! How did you do that?? Is there any way you can link those to the particular sales page for that color? That would be killer.

    Anyway ~ 1 thing ~ make sure you use the exact keyword you’re trying to rank for in your backlinks ~ not sure if you are trying to rank for kitchenaid artisan mixer or the exact kw it appears you’re targeting in your lens ~ if it’s the lens kw make sure you use that in your links. :)

    Getting clicks and no sales is totally normal. While these lenses seem to convert a little higher than other pages it still takes some clicks. Average conversion rate is 1 to 2% so I wouldnt’ be concerned until you’ve had at least 100 click throughs and no sales. It will happen. :)

  9. IF you’re links take you there don’t worry about it Russell. IF you used the code they gave you at amazon you’ll be credited. Your screen may be set up differently than mine. At the bottom of my screen I can see the address I’m going to when I hover over a link. Here’s a picture:

  10. You do such a great job at teaching all this, Jackie. Please don’t stop!

    I have 10 Christmas lenses out there. Not a great number, but it’s a start. I am getting clicks, but no sales. (I’ve had 17 clicks this month so far.) Is this usual?

    Thanks again,


  11. Thanks Jackie for another of your great “loads of information”!
    I’ve now got two lens up and running with Amazon products.
    But on your Post you say to publish (which I’ve done and now got the Green Star).
    I’ve checked all my links to Amazon and they all take me straight there.
    But I can no sign of “my Amazon url showing up at the bottom of the page”.
    So I am confused. What do I need to fix?
    And how do I confirm that I’ll be credited with any sale?
    Look forward to your clarification on this one.

  12. Under the image of my desktop there’s this sentence: “’ve put together the code I use in my text doc here” Click the word here in that sentence.

  13. Jackie,

    Thank you for making it simpler. Where do I get “the code to make the boxes for the reviews”?


  14. Hey Cass,

    Congrats on taking action ~ of course you have to take action that works with the time you have available but NOTHING changes if you don’t take action of some sort!! Congrats. :)

  15. Wonderful, as usual!
    I liked the part about the copy and paste for a quick easy way to grab code (HTML). You have no IDEA of how hard this is if you have no clue about code! Or maybe you do! Dang if you don’t make it all look so easy! And sure enough, I am putting together lenses about 1 a week now ( I am still making it complicated) this is going to hel me SO much!
    I was afraid to even start one before, that it may take up too much time! I don’t beat myself up on it because I have a 40 hour a week JOB.

    I’m a big fan, keep up the great work!

  16. Thanks for this. You made building the lenses a very quick and repeatable process.

    Thanks to the other tutorials as well. I found some very highly searched products with very little competition and already have lenses up.

    I have found that it takes a while for google to get them ranked up, but indexes them initially within 24 hours.

    Thanks Again.

    Gary D.

  17. WOOO HOOOO Congratulations~~ That’s fantastic!! Keep taking action and more will come your way!!

  18. omgomgomg!

    I just got my first sale off a Christmas blueprint lens! They didn’t buy ‘my’ item, but they bought something, and that’s the important thing!!

    Thank you so much, Jackie!!

  19. Thank you Jackie that video made it clear. You make it look sooo easy. Today is my Friday so after work and after taking care of my daughter’s library study time, homework time, and dinner I’ll get back to “work”. Thank you again,

  20. @Kelly that is a great idea to use the big picture text module for that. I have the same problem with it cutting into my square. I always forget that module is there!! I definitely think I’ll start doing that too!!

    I save all my images and get them ready before I start, but I do the CTA last ~ no reason, it’s just the way things have worked out. :) Thanks for the reminder, that’s a great module that I didn’t even know about until Frank mentioned it a while back.

  21. I had a problem a couple times in my 2nd text module – the photo in the module would bump into the text boxes i was using for the reviews and caused some weird aligning stuff. So I started using a Text with Big Picture module for my reviews, no more problem.

    I’m pretty much doing things just like you’ve outlined it here – I feel so smart. ;) I’m still so darned slow though – I guess it’s just going to take more practice. I also get all my images saved and my CTA made and ready to go before I start the lens.


  22. @Jane, Just make sure the kw fits all the criteria before you grab the url ~ but that’s a great idea.

    @Angela ~ it’s a call to action ~ it works. The people at squidoo do a lot of testing to see what works and what doesn’t before they put stuff out there for everyone to use. They do a lot of testing with Giants so you can be sure when they make something a certain size it’s for a reason. :)

    When you add your RSS feed from your blog it gives people the chance to click through to your blog (instead of a google ad or the back button) Once they are on your blog you have another opportunity to get them to click through to a sales page or to another one of your lenses/sites. It’s designed to move people to YOUR blog. :)

    Thanks for following me on twitter. Don’t forget to tweet this post. ;)

    @Ivona ~ glad I could help ~ I got the code from a great html lens at Squidoo. There’s plenty more code there too.

    @Beatrice ~ there are tons of places to get free images. Check out this post of 250 places to get free images. I also just grab the images from amazon when I’m doing these product images. No need to make it difficult trying to find clipart. The point is to sell the product, no better way to do that than to show images of the product.

    For clipart I just bought a CD of clipart at Office depot or some similar place.

  23. Hi Jackie,

    Great post, and very helpful.

    My biggest difficulty at the moment is a free place to get the pictures and some decent clipart.

    Could you suggest some?


  24. Thank you very much Jackie. Are you a mind reader? I was working on my lens today and was wondering how you made these color boxes for your reviews. Now I know! Thanks again, this makes it so much easier with all the tips you gave us.

  25. I’m on your mailing list and I’ve also been going through your website. It’s fantastic! You make things so easy to understand and provide great tips. I never cared for the Big Arrow module on Squidoo – I think it’s TOO big, but perhaps I’ll give it a try. I’d like it to be about half the size it is.

    On the RSS module, you say, “RSS module: This is a last ditch effort to get them to click through to one of MY pages instead of on a google ad or another ad on Squidoo that doesn’t make me any money.”

    Can you explain how to use this module to direct people to your own page?

    Thanks! I joined Twitter recently and just became one of your followers.

  26. Jackie — This is exactly what I needed. Thanks!!

    I’ve even found that when I am pressed for “quiet time” I can do the research for products on Amazon and I keep a notebook with all the info I found next to my laptop. Then, when I can concentrate, I can work on the lenses. Oh – and once I find a potential product, I go in and grab the URL from Squidoo right away before someone else grabs it. Just a couple of thoughts.

    Jane (MoneyMom)

  27. also it takes time to for google to find the links, and then it will take time for them to show up on whatever tool squidoo is using ~ stop worrying about the number of links you have and just worry about where your lens is in the rankings. If it’s not where you want it to be ~ build more links. (weekly)

  28. IF you don’t have it yet ~ grab the mind map I created. It gives a list of many places ~ also check the backlinking category in the sidebar. That will give you a lot of information.

  29. Thank you for the step by step lens building..this helps alot!!!

    What are the places you use to give your squidoo lens backlinks besides ezinearticles? When I check the backlinks within squidoo they keep saying I have zero backlinks.

    Thank you Jackie

  30. @Sunshine ~ Hey! Nice to see you around here again!! Yes, there is a live example you can take a look at. I’ve done this example Ironman Gravity 4000 lens you can see both of those things live and in person.

    Also if you click on the link for the call to action you’ll see how I make those and why in another post.

    @Les ~ I can do a how to get faster at your christmas blog post ~ I’ll put that on the schedule for Wed ~ will that work? To answer your question today though I did a little video to show you how to find your RSS.

  31. Hi Jackie,

    These tips will definitely help boost my productivity. Two quick questions for you:

    What will the finished review code and CTA code resemble. I’m a tad confused about when and why this would be used. Is there a live example to view where this code is used?

    Thanks for this wonderful lens prep resource.

  32. Thank you soooo much Jackie for all you do for us! I finished my first lens but am having a hard time with the Christmas blog, but I’m trying. Could you do a How To Get Much Faster At Building A Christmas Blog? Actually I’m stuck with what is a RSS thing. As I write this I am looking at your RSS symbol below this box, what is it? I got it in Squidoo because you showed us how but I don’t know how to do one in the Christmas Blog. Thank you again from a very slow learner.

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