This is actually a really easy question to answer. I joined Squidoo because of ArtRage.
Oh dear. Now I’m going to have to explain what ArtRage is. Just like I did at least once a week on DeviantART, every time I uploaded a painting and somebody asked ‘what’s ArtRage?’ or ‘What Photoshop brushes did you use?’ or ‘what did you use to draw this?’. And then I’d have to explain that I used this fantastic, wonderful, fun painting program called ArtRage, which didn’t use filters or Photoshop brushes, designed by this awesome little team actually based in New Zealand, within a couple of suburbs of my house, who nobody had heard of because they didn’t advertise much so as to keep the price down.
And I’d have to talk about what ArtRage does and why it is better than Photoshop for painting. And even if it wasn’t, it’s a fraction of the price (it is better, by way). I’d been using it for about a year at that point (I joined DeviantART in mid 2007 and had been painting in ArtRage for a few months before that – this is my very first painting).
And it became very repetitive and my fingers became quite tired. I did learn some valuable things, such as Photoshop editor whizzes hating the messiness of ArtRage, and traditional painters loving the colour and mixing and freedom, where they hated Photoshop. But the questions kept coming.
And then I wandered into Squidoo; I’m not sure how. I think I was actually searching for a place to write online and getting sick of reading ‘you need an AdSense account’, ‘you need to be in the USA’, so when I found Squidoo it seemed too good to be true. I carefully read all the payment FAQ and a fair few lenses on the subject (I paid absolutely no attention to the userpic and name, but they were probably some of the same ones being offered up now to new people), and then I read the TOS and nodded wisely at section 10 and another one that’s now gone. I fully credit those bits in the TOS for persuading me that this site was fun and real and worth my time.
And then I continued avoiding my assignment, sitting in the university Biology computer lab, and opened an account, wrote a general lens about me as a ‘here is my art, here is my Zazzle, this is a bit about me’ page, and wrote up a beautiful long introduction and tutorial for ArtRage, and finally put together a series of (now terribly old and out of date) pages featuring the few artists on DeviantART that also used ArtRage, both as an attempt at creating a community, a shout out to all the people who think they’re the only ones who have heard of ArtRage and to show new people all the things you can do with the program. I stuck my ArtRage lenses into my signature on DeviantART and received far fewer questions henceforward. The few questions I did get were usually from people who had missed the signature, or were nice and specific.
And then I abandoned the site for a few months until I got surprise money into Paypal. And then I went “oooooooh. I can actually make money at this?” and had great fun for the next few months earning money for my DeviantART and Livejournal subscriptions (I made enough to run competitions for people on DeviantART and give gift subscription things to friends). In all, I made five lenses that first month (October 2008) and didn’t make more until April the following year, after which I steadily continued creating (I actually got the surprise money in February or March, but I was overseas at the time and had to wait until I came home to start again, by which time I was full of ideas!).
And then I finally started making real money, discovered the forums, and basically became too busy to keep up with all my different sites and moved over to Squidoo as my main site.
Over a year after that, I told my parents that I was earning an extra pay cheque a month ^_^
So. That’s how I ended up on Squidoo. Looking back, it’s a pretty clear cut case of having a passion that I knew well, which fitted very nicely into a tiny niche that hadn’t been covered properly (I had nothing to link people to, hence my frustration and having to constantly write it all out). I had fun writing it out, I knew the topic very well, and I had that additional missionary zeal to spread the word which meant I wasn’t worried about making money at the beginning. Which was lucky, as most people download ArtRage straight from their website, so I never made any direct commissions from all the people I sent to them! But on the flip side, if I was going to spend all that time writing up resources, I wanted it to be somewhere that would actually benefit me at least a little. So the money was a deciding factor, just not the most important one.
ArtRage has come out with a new version since then, and I’ve written a lot more lenses. My tutorials and such have fallen behind a bit, sadly, but that’s partly because I was still learning the newest version inside out before I felt willing to write about it, partly because Artrage has become much better known and other people have also written about it (there’s even an iPad app now!)
You can see all my ArtRage lenses collected here http://www.squidoo.com/all-about-artrage
And that very first lens about ArtRage is here http://www.squidoo.com/artragepainting
The ArtRage/ Ambient Design website is at http://www.artrage.com
And my DeviantART account is here http://flynn-the-cat.deviantart.com/