We know that Squidoo is an international community but, let’s face it, Squidoo is primarily an American site and those of us who are not resident in The States have to accept that we are writing primarily for an American audience and market.
I would say that most of the time there’s no huge differences between what I would publish here, in the beautiful part of England where I live and what I would write if I were not a British National. However, there’s lots of small differences that really do add up.
Oh boy, you Americans really do not like to add a “u”, when there is an “o” do you? As in:
I spell it: humour. You spell it: humor (and already as I draft this post in Word, my auto spell check has given humor a squiggly red underline)
I spell it: colour. You spell it: color (yep, there’s the squiggly red underline again!)
And what about z instead of s?
As in, I say it’s optimisation and you say it’s optimization. Customisation is customization and so on.
Now, this is where it could get accidentally offensive on both sides. Over here we have two words in common use, the h word and the d word. However, fortunately before I even started writing on Squidoo, I was already aware that you guys use heck and darn, so I never did put my foot in it. Although one of my fav expressions does not sound quite the same when converted to Heck’s bells, so I tend not to use it!
And I must admit that us Brits never could understand what the problem was with that “Rhett Butler moment” in Gone With the Wind!
Turning it around the other way. You guys seem to have f***y in common use to mean butt – it’s even used in My Friend Flicka. I read the book when I was 11 or 12 and I was hugely shocked and terrified my Mum would see it and then ban me reading the book (and oh, how I loved that book). You see over here it is a term used to describe another part of the anatomy (female, below the waist) and is definitely NOT in polite use!
Then there’s p***ed – another one my American friends use to describe someone being angry at something. Over here it has several meanings:
- another word meaning to urinate
- an expression to describe someone who is drunk
- p***ed off – as in very angry
It’s an expression I would use only in adult company! Errr….yes, I have been known to cuss occasionally. And there you go, over here I would say “I have been known to swear occasionally”.
When I first started to write on Squidoo, I found I had to make a conscious effort to “think American” but now I don’t have to think about it at all – they say you have become fluent in another language, when you find yourself thinking in that language and I guess that is what happens to me too these days.
Although, I must admit, I do deliberately use very English phrases sometimes because it is part of my English identity and a way that I can retain my personality, particularly when my audience is unable to see my body language.
There’s other terms in everyday use where there can be some confusion between my American and British contacts.
Another example is purse. Over here it means a woman’s wallet that she would keep in her handbag. But American women refer to purse when they mean handbag.
Then to confuse it further Joan Adams told me on Blog Talk Radio once that she refers to her handbag as a notebook, which we would use to refer to a small book that we keep notes or addresses in, that sometimes we keep in our handbag. Phew!
The disadvantages of being a Brit on Squidoo
Once we have remembered to be conscious of the language and cultural differences, there’re some other differences for us Brits when we Squidoo and one of them does affect our affiliate sales. I am talking about the Amazon Modules on Squidoo lenses, where we are at a huge disadvantage.
Both the Amazon Lens modules on Squidoo take you to Amazon.com, which is the American site. If you land on Amazon.com, you will see an option to click on through to the British, Canadian and other Amazon sites. If visitors to your lens do that, then any sales made as a result of those clicks WILL NOT EARN ANY COMMISSION.
The other huge disadvantage is that non-American lensmasters don’t earn a discount on their own Amazon purchases. No, as an Amazon affiliate you are not allowed to earn commission on your own purchases, but in the case of the Squidoo Amazon Modules, it is Squidoo that is the affiliate, not the Lensmaster. This enables Squidoo to legitimately earn Amazon Commission, which it then splits 50/50 with the Lensmaster who has made the sale.
Because Squidoo only has an Affiliate arrangement with Amazon.com and because other Nationals can only buy Amazon products through their own country’s Amazon websites (through which they cannot directly earn Affiliate Commission for their own purchases), then we lose out on a very handy 4% discount on our purchases.
To try to capture affiliate commission from Amazon.co.uk, us Brits have to work just that little bit harder. We have to become an affiliate on the British site and we have to set up banners and links directing our British visitors to that site, in addition to using the Squidoo Amazon modules. You can see how I do it on my lens: Best Rabbit Hutch.
Does being English affect the topics I write about?
Generally speaking I find that most of my topics appeal to the same audience, regardless of nationality. For example, two of my most successful lenses: Bullying at Primary School and Auditory Processing Disorder are about a problem and a condition that can affect anyone in the world.
What about products that are not popular or available in the States or British personalities who are not well known internationally?
Eighteen months ago I published a product review about the Philips Satinelle Epilator. (With four females in our household, epilation is VERY important )
When I bought the epilator in our local town, I thought it would make a good topic for a product lens, but when I checked Amazon.com, I found to my disappointment that although it is available at Amazon.co.uk, the exact same product is not available in the States.
So I decided to conduct another of the experiments (as I like to from time to time), to see what works and what does not work for me on Squidoo. I made the lens anyway. I featured the product by making my own product image that linked directly to Amazon UK. I also made a banner enabling visitors to search for similar products at Amazon.com.
Have I made any sales? Yes. Has anyone commented on the lens? No. Has anyone “liked” the lens? 4. But…..currently the lens is well established in Tier 3, having had hardly promotion from me whatsoever. It is keyword optimised, oops I mean optimized, and doing well on those keywords.
Over the next few months it could earn me more commission than one sale on Amazon. But who knows if I get around to actually promoting the lens and getting it a few more backlinks, then it may do even better AND I may make some sales.
However, I do have a faBtastic example of a primarily British lens that has did brilliantly despite Paula Atwell never having heard of the personality involved!
Robbie Williams Wedding is all about err…….Robbie Williams Wedding.
Who the heck is Robbie Williams? He is one of the most successful UK solo artists in the British Music Industry and in August 2010 he got married. In fact it is rumoured… oops again, sorry, I mean rumored, that Hello! Magazine paid £1m ($1.5m) for the photos. All this was great news for my lens, that I first published in November 2009, following rumours news that Robbie Williams had just got engaged to Ayda Field, an American actress of Turkish descent.
I was left with a dilemma about what to do with the lens, when a few days after the initial press frenzy, Robbie Williams announced on his blog that his proposal was a joke. I have a policy of never deleting a lens, once published. So I made a few changes to the lens, linked to Robbie Williams blog saying there would be no wedding and left it.
Since 06 August 2010, when the rumours rumors resurfaced that a wedding was imminent, (the wedding took place on 07 August) the lens has had over 8,200 visits in five days, most of them from the UK.
Proof that a predominantly British topic CAN get traffic, providing the lens is properly optimized for the Search Engines – it got to #2 on Google for the phrase Robbie Williams Wedding and eighteen months after the event it is at #10.
Long term, who knows what will happen, but what I am saying is that sometimes those of us who are not American can forget that we have the potential to build an audience in our home countries too, if we go about it the right way.