These days, the hardest part about starting and maintaining a blog isn’t setting up your domain and designing and maintaining your site – it’s getting discovered by the right audience and developing a loyal following. Luckily – to borrow a phrase from Forrest Gump – blogs go with StumbleUpon like peas with carrots. After all, StumbleUpon is in the business of discovery.
In fact, we get a lot of feedback from webmasters whose sites have been discovered and even gone viral on StumbleUpon. Recently a Stumbler and webmaster thanked us for growing the following for Planet-Tokien:
“I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for the service you provide…You drive a huge amount of free traffic to my website every day, which results in lots of new members and fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works who otherwise wouldn’t find my website…The past two days, our free visitors from StumbleUpon have almost doubled and I have no idea why or what I have done but I’m very grateful. Perhaps you could advise as to the cause of the huge increase in traffic? I would also like to know if there is anything else I can do as a webmaster to optimise my website further, so that we can get more stumbles? Once again, THANK YOU to all the StumbleUpon team. You may not know it, but you’ve made a huge difference to my little website which has been running for more than thirteen years now.”
We wanted to address this Stumbler’s questions on this blog for anyone who may also be wondering how to tap into a top source of social media traffic in the US to get your content in front of thousands (or millions!) of interested Stumblers. As Julius Caesar might have said if he’d used StumbleUpon, “Veni, Vidi, Vici, et Stumble, Follow, Discover.”
1. STUMBLE like you mean it.
To engage Stumblers, you need to become one yourself. In case you’re new to StumbleUpon, to “stumble” means to click the “Stumble!” button in your web bar or StumbleUpon browser extension to browse pictures, videos, articles, other blogs and much more that StumbleUpon recommends just for you based on your unique mix of interests, preferences, and friends. To increase your blog’s exposure on StumbleUpon, you’ll need to stumble in topics relevant to your own content and “curate” — a fancy word we use to mean “thumb up or down” — content according to your preferences. StumbleUpon will identify other “Stumblers” — i.e. StumbleUpon users — with similar rating and usage patterns to you, and will start to suggest your favorites, including your own blog content, to these users. As these initial “like-minded” users rate, review and share your content, it spreads virally outward across the community to more and more users. Before you know it, you’ve got an avid following of interested readers!
To get started, check out our over 500 topics and think about in which ones your blog’s core audience is most likely to be found. For example, if you write a parenting blog where you post stories and advice for fellow parents, you might find that the Kids, Married Life, and Relationships topics are the best places to start stumbling — and might even provoke additional ideas to write about!
2. FOLLOW like-minded Stumblers.
What makes StumbleUpon unique among other social media sites is that its users are clustered together not only by explicit categories or groups but also by implicit connections. Let’s face it: you may not actually have that much in common with everyone who says they’re interested in photography on a public profile. You might like a very specific type of photography that perhaps you can’t even fully describe in words. But StumbleUpon can match you with people who have similar photography tastes by looking at what you thumb up and thumb down, among many other factors. As a blogger, this will connect you with people who think like you do about certain interests and who would be eager to engage with what you write about. If you and this like-minded user discover and thumb up similar content, StumbleUpon will likely begin to show your blog content to this user if you’ve submitted it to our index.
When you stumble upon a site that you really adore, click the speech bubble to the right of the topics box in the web bar or Chrome extension or the “Info” button in the Firefox add-on. This will take you to the Review page, where you will see who first discovered that page – i.e., submitted this page to the StumbleUpon index – in the upper righthand corner.
Click on that Stumbler’s avatar or username to go to his or her profile. Check out the similarity meter towards the bottom of the page to see whether the two of you think similarly. You can also click his or her “Tags” tab to see which categories loom large in their tag cloud – a visual representation of their StumbleUpon interests. Stumble this person’s favorites by clicking the yellow “Stumble>” button towards the top of their profile page.
If you like what they’re into, return to their profile page and click “Follow.” For a tutorial on how this process works, check out this article from our help center.
3. DISCOVER interesting web pages – and not just yours.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to promote your own content on StumbleUpon, but there is something wrong with using StumbleUpon only for self-promotion. Because the StumbleUpon ecosystem is dependent on real human beings — not web crawlers — continually identifying and submitting the very best content and information out there, we watch closely for and may restrict the activities of users who we believe may only be promoting their own agendas.
So, make an effort to discover pages not created by you, and submit them to the StumbleUpon collection. This will not only keep you in good standing with our Terms of Service, but will also help you understand what resonates with Stumblers who share your passions and interests. As you discover and submit content, check the “Discoveries” tab on your profile to see which of the pages you submitted to StumbleUpon get the most views. This is a great way to gauge your “coolhunting” skills and will also help you understand what content from your blog might resonate most with your audience.
We’ve hopefully prepared you to successfully get your blog discovered by becoming an active, bona fide member of the StumbleUpon publisher community. We also offer a number of tools to help content creators promote their own web pages and increase the chances their blogs will be submitted to the StumbleUpon collection and seen by thousands of users. Thursday’s post will explain these options, including a new customizable badge API. Don’t miss it!