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Getting the “Best Of” Your Lenses

file7901236552504Whether you’ve had a lens selected as a Best Of or you’re still a hopeful candidate, today I’ll give you some  tips and advice to help you get the “Best Of” out of your Squidoo experience. Being in charge of a creative project like writing and maintaining lenses give us the sense of freedom that’s essential to doing our very best work and continuing to develop and improve as writers. I want to encourage you to think of your lenses as a constantly evolving portfolio of what you’re capable of creating. Don’t leave your old lenses to stagnate and focus only on the new. Instead, think of every lens as having a shot at being your “Best Of” and try out some of these ideas and tips to get you there.

1. Refine and re-design

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the web is in a constant state of re-design. Every relevant page on the internet today is under construction and your Squidoo lenses are no exception. I think of a static page as a dead page – much like last week’s newspaper, the information it contains still has value but today’s paper will always be a better read – even if they cover the same stories in both.

That’s not to say you need to change the information in your lens. If it’s good, it’s good, but some housekeeping or small refinements to your text are always a good idea. No change is too small – even a reply to a comment or a switched out Amazon item can keep your lens relevant and signal to readers that you’re actively involved with presenting them the very best lens you have to offer.

2. Keep everything…or don’t

I often see lensmasters wondering if they should keep an old lens or scrap one that’s not performing as well as they’d like. You can read my thoughts on this situation is my blog post “Save or Scrap”. My advice for lensmasters gunning for a Best Of, official or just your own personal best is to keep everything that you create. There’s rarely a lens that’s beyond repair or not worth having on your account. That said, if you’re tired of looking at it and don’t want to invest any more time or energy into it, scrap it! The power is yours.

3.  Banish passive voice

Writing in passive voice isn’t exactly the worst thing that you could be doing. While passive voice isn’t necessarily wrong, it can be vague. I write in the passive voice often, especially when I’m writing first drafts or journaling. Check out my second sentence for an “in the wild” example. See that “can be”? It adds ambiguity to my statement and is less direct than if I’d said “Passive voice is more vague than active voice.” It’s a habit that’s proved difficult to shake but thankfully, a quick edit lets me convert instances of passive voice into the more direct, clear and attention-grabbing active voice. Here’s an example of sentences written in passive voice and their active counterparts.

Passive: ”My garden was invaded by moles”

Active: “Moles invaded my garden”

Passive: “The old car was restored by us”

Active: “My son and I restored the old car”.

Writing in active voice results in tighter, less wordy sentences that get straight to the point. Compared to passive voice, a sentence written in active voice is clearer about the subject of the sentence, whether it’s the “what?” (MOLES!) or the “who” (My son and I).

I hope these tips help you get the “best of” your lenses, new, old and everything in between. I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment – how do you get the “best” out of your work?

Photo: Morguefile

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/RenaissanceWoman2010 RenaissanceWoman2010

    I really like “no change is too small.” It energizes me. I can do one small thing in the next two minutes. That is doable. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/HakunaMatata19 HakunaMatata19

    Thanks for the advice! I just started and it’s good to get some insight.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/melaniekaren melaniekaren

    Thanks! Ugh – I naturally write in a passive voice all the time. I keep working on it. -glad to see it written about here :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/WriterJanis WriterJanis

    Good point about the passive and active voices. i’ll have to work on that.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/EditorDave EditorDave

    Arggh! I’m constantly tweaking my lenses … always revisiting my ancient ones and tweaking and fixing them … as well as going after my low-performers. Never-ending job. The only thing that makes it all bearable is that Squidoo is actually *fun* (for me, at least). :-)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Anonymous831 Anonymous831

    Great tips. I need to work on the passive and active voice.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/adventuretravelshop adventuretravelshop

    It’s good to hear that no change is too small because it’s hard to change the new style lenses like recipe lenses. I am finding keeping 102 lenses updated is a lot of work! Goodness knows what I’ll do when I hit 200!!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/burntchestnut burntchestnut

    I like these tips. I do go through my older lenses and sometimes wondered if it was a waste of time, but I’m finding Amazon products no longer available, or see that some of my modules aren’t in the right order, or even some of them need to be removed or changed. And I really need to work on my tags!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/favored1 favored1

    There is always something to work on no matter the age of a lens. Even changing tag words makes a difference or keying off of comments from visitors.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/poetvix poetvix

    Thanks for sharing useful tips. Number three bites me in the behind all the time. I appreciate how you included some examples for fixing sentences.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/esmonaco esmonaco

    I’ve benn trying to update on a regular basis, I update little things here and there, change out product and check the comments to make sure I haven’t missed any. I never gave a thought to passive and active writing. Thanks, as always for the advise.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/drbilltellsexcitingstories drbilltellsexcitingstories

    Excellent suggestions. Thanks! ;-)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/starryeyedlady starryeyedlady

    I’m guilty of writing in passive voice. I’ll try to work on it!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DaveStone13 DaveStone13

    Helpful stuff. Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DeniseMcGill DeniseMcGill

    That is really great information on passive and active voice. Not I feel the need to go back through my lenses and see if I have been guilty of falling into a passive voice rut. Thanks!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/partybuzz partybuzz

    Moles invaded my yard…and they are winning. :) I have several old lenses that need re-doing. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Titia Titia

    Great tips Tom, now I only need to find the time to go over my 100+ lenses. Problem is I just have too many hobbies and too little time on hand.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Arachnea Arachnea

    Excellent info. Passive voice is a problem for me more often than not. I have to read something several times before I see it to make changes.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/grammieo grammieo

    Great advice for all of us newbies and olderbies! You can always learn something new!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/KateHon KateHon

    Your words motivated me to go through all of my lenses, editing and updating them. Then, I found myself still thinking about my lenses and I was inspired to begin going through them again, tightening, tweaking, bringing them closer to what they should be. I doubt I’ll ever be done, but the process has been good for me, thanks to your nudging.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/d-artist d-artist

    Excellent advice!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/graceonline Kathryn Grace

    Thanks for this, Bonnie. Like RenaissanceWoman2010, I am glad to be reminded that no change is too small. I have some older lenses that I am completely revamping, as time and energy permit. Back in the day, it seemed that long lenses were in favor. I’m working on breaking some of them up into smaller, more focused pages, because those are the pages I like to read. Tips like these are helpful.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Snakesmum Snakesmum

    Yes, changing the text in minor ways sounds like something I should do on the older lenses. Thanks for the idea.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kellylakelly kellylakelly

    Love number one, I was thinking I had to get rid of a lens that I wasn’t so proud of, now I know I can reinvent as I go along…. thank you

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/veryirie veryirie

    Glad to read these inspiring words. I think I’ll pay a visit to some of my older lenses and see what kind of freshing up they may need. :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Mickie_G Mickie_G

    Some of my very best work was done a few years ago. I make my work better every time I revisit a page. Thank you for noticing that I have kept my very best pages from going to the trash.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/jsr54 jsr54

    I enjoy your reminders to go back and relook at some of our older work. I find that I can always tweak something to make it more fresh and as a result, better. Love the active voice tip!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/campingman campingman

    Thanks for the great advice. Fine tuning is indeed the secret

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Deborah-Diane Deborah-Diane

    This was really helpful. I go back and check on my old lenses at least once a month. At the very least, I check the products that are advertised, since frequently there are a few that are no longer available. I am sometimes guilty of using the passive voice, too, so I am going to have to work on that. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/nancycarol nancycarol

    I like the passive voice tip…that’s one of my biggest problems. There isn’t enough time in the day to go through all my lenses, but I find that if I keep moving, I get a bit more done! Thanks Bonnie!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/TheTravelGal TheTravelGal

    I know the active voice is something I have to work on. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/smine27 smine27

    Great tips here especially the passive voice thing, which I’m guilty of myself.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/AlexD79 AlexD79

    Sometimes active voice seems very journalistic.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kiwinana71 kiwinana71

    Thanks, good advice. About a month ago I nearly deleted lens that weren’t getting anywhere. But after approaching the forum for advice i decides to update and keep them. Glad I did, in the future they may get some views, here’s hoping.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/tim-bader-982 tim-bader-982

    I hadn’t really thought about active versus passive voice. I shall have to go back to my old lenses and check them out. Thanks!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Scindhia Scindhia

    Good advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/davdlynch davdlynch

    Sometimes I’ve wanted to scrap some lenses but never have. From time to time I update lenses. Thanks for what you have written here.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Andromachi Andromachi

    Thank you for the great tips. I will surely be putting them into use.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/mutter mutter

    I would like to thank you for sharing- NO- Thank you for sharing-! Great tips as usual!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/katiesnow katiesnow

    thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/StephenJParkin StephenJParkin

    Thanks Tom I think I am guilty of using the passive too often too!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Debs Debs

    Love the passive vs. active voice advice…a great way of rewriting material to freshen it up. Brilliant gem of advice…thank you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/TheCureForYouthMinistry TheCureForYouthMinistry

    Great advice. Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/bettymartin7 bettymartin7

    Thànks

  • http://www.extra-cash-online.com/ Robert Connor

    Thanks for the tips!

  • jmchaconne

    Everything you say is important. Sometimes we can forget, writing from the heart can make up for a lot of shortcomings.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/artbyrodriguez artbyrodriguez

    I’ll be checking my lenses for sure! Thanks for the good tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Upon-Request Upon-Request

    Definitely need to go review a few for passive voice! Good tips

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DownToEarthLiving DownToEarthLiving

    Thanks Tom. The tips on passive voice are a good place to start for me.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/vikksimmons vikksimmons

    Great points to consider.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/rogeralyn rogeralyn

    Since I am new (only 2 lenses under my belt) oh and (this is going to be my 1st completed Quest) I appreciate all the advice I can get. I am sure I would not have even paid attention to “Passive” vs “Active” voice, but I will go back and proof read my next lens before I send it. Thanks

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/knowledgetoday knowledgetoday

    Thank you. I want to keep improving and this information helped me. Thank you again.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/zola-workman zola-workman

    These tips were great. Thank you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Ladymermaid Ladymermaid

    I usually write very personal articles so I tend to write in the first person. Nice to be encouraged rather than discouraged on that point : )

  • SmartChica

    Active voice is so important for motivating your readers to act and to purchase.

  • cercis70

    Tom, I am always figuring out how to get the “best” out of my writing. Some people knit or do woodworking for relaxation; I write and do photographs.

  • elynmac

    One of my lenses was okay but not making much progress, but now it is in the top 1000. Sometimes it helps to just wait…

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Scottzak Scottzak

    Hi, Every One Please help me, And some advice my lens. How can i Refine and re-design my lens and get more visitors?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/MaggieMoo12 MaggieMoo12

    Thanks for the tips the passive vs active stuff was interesting for me

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/WordChipper WordChipper

    Very helpful Thank you. I wasn’t really aware of passive and active voices. Definitely something to keep in mind.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Wednesday_Elf Wednesday_Elf

    Glad to know small changes can make a difference. Very helpful article.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/teriann teriann

    ‘I am enlightened’ vs. ‘I found that information helpful’….note taken. Thanks for the light bulb moment, now time to run with it.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/scheryar-saqib scheryar-saqib

    Your article is motivating can’t wait to publish my new one on angelfish keep up the encouragement

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/MarcellaCarlton MarcellaCarlton

    I’d like to rearrange some of my writings. Could be making some changes soon.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/RubyHRose RubyHRose

    Learning to write better titles in the first place so I don’t have to do the whole thing over again.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/im2keys im2keys

    thanks for the advice and encouragement!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/crystalwriter crystalwriter

    I love the newspaper analogy, and your examples of passive voice (very bad habit of mine) and active voice are helpful. Thanks.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kayenta kayenta

    Great advice. I would have to pay more attention to how I write my lenses now!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/nikole-floyde nikole-floyde

    Get now free cheats for all games http://freepoitnsforyou.com/

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/manlalakbay manlalakbay

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I love them! :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/sandyspider sandyspider

    Thanks for the advice.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/flinnie flinnie

    I like no change is too small, I find it easy to do small changes to my lens.

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