StumbleUpon is a great social sharing service that has great potential for getting more traffic to your blog. However, if you’re like me, when you first start up on StumbleUpon, it can be a hit or miss process. You write your blog articles and submit them to StumbleUpon and hope that other stumblers will like your article and share them with other stumblers. But in the beginning, you’re still figuring out what kinds of articles other stumblers might like.
It’s definitely a mystery worth figuring out. If you can hit on a topic that other stumblers will share, you could get a veritable flood of traffic to your blog. So, you write and you stumble your articles, you visit other blogs and stumble their articles to expand your network. Every once in a while, you’ll have a popular article and get 50, 100, maybe a couple hundred views. Sometimes, your articles get only 1-2 stumbles. Does this pattern sound familiar?
Of course, you know that they key to gaining any popularity is writing good content. I won’t say that oft repeated phrase about content… You know that one that relates content to royalty….
But it goes without saying that the key to getting your blog shared is to write content worth sharing. But even this is a blanket statement that’s hard to pinpoint. What is that magical formula of style, wit, and information that equates to getting stumblers to share your content?
Recently, I’ve had a popular post on this blog that’s gotten over 2353 stumbles from StumbleUpon after being published. After a couple of weeks my post is still sometimes getting over 100 stumbles a day.
Overall in just about 2 weeks, my post has accrued over 3072 views and continues to get more daily.
To be honest, I didn’t know when I first wrote the post that it would become so popular. However, after seeing so many hits I went back and studied my post to see if I could pinpoint some of the elements that may have encouraged so many stumbles. I not only reviewed my post, but I kept an eye out on other blogs for posts that were equally popular to see if I could spot some common trends.
After reviewing other articles and comparing them to mine, I did spot some common elements that I believe makes a difference in getting more traffic from StumbleUpon.
Here’s what I found:
Ok, I know I said this earlier up above, but I can’t reiterate this point enough. Virtually every post that I saw that got a large amount of stumbles contained great content. These were posts that weren’t simply 2-3 paragraphs with 300-400 words. Posts that tended to be stumbled contained a large amount of usable information.
Just as a quick example, take a look at one of my favorite bloggers, Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income.
His most popular post is his backlinking guide, which amassed a staggering 815 comments. Talk about engagement!
What is it that makes this post so popular?
Let’s take a look at the content.
Pat included all of the following elements in this post:
- A step by step strategy to how to backlink
- A video outlining his strategy
- Infographics that help the reader visualize how he uses this strategy
- Examples of tools that he uses as well as another video on how that works
- A list of article directories that the readers can use
- Lots of links to useful resources
It’s evident that he took a lot of time and effort to put together this post. It contains real information that the readers can actually use and tons of examples to back it up.
This is the kind of content that attracts interaction and engagement.
If you contrast that with a short one or two paragraph post that you often see around in other places, the difference is obvious. And when you look at the comments sections of those other posts, you can see that they don’t get the same results.
Just surfing around the net, you can see that deep content really is the keystone to great success.
People Love Numbers
On my quest to see what kinds of posts get stumbles, I was particularly keen to look for posts that got 1,000+ stumbles. Of course, a well shared posts always had great content, but a few posts stood out with a tremendous amount of stumbles.
Take a look at these two examples below:
This was the stumble page for one of the popular posts over at Blog Tyrant’s blog.
Here’s another post that comes from Tristan Higbee over at Blogging Bookshelf that got over 1500 stumbles:
Of course, I’m happy to have my post also join these ranks:
Like I said earlier, I really had no clue that this particular post would draw so much attention. However, I did notice when I compared it with other posts that got 1000+ shares, that it did have one thing in common in the title of the post.
Can you spot what that is?
I noticed that each of these posts had numbers in the title. And not just small numbers, they had pretty big numbers.
Selling a blog for $20,000 in 8 months are a couple of numbers that really stand out when people think about new blogs. It’s a significant accomplishment that draws the eye and makes people want to read how it was done.
If you read about different types of popular posts, often you will hear that lists posts are often recommended. For some reason people like reading lists posts. And of course, what do all list posts have in common?
They all have a number in the title. 10 ways to… 7 tips about… 15 ideas for… etc…
Now, Tristan came along and created a 61 tip list post. 61 is a pretty big number for a list post! And what do you know, it gets over 1000 stumbles within days of publication.
Being able to point to a number adds an element of social proof to an article that people like. A number gives a sense of authority. It tells people right off the bat that there is actual evidence that you can point to about your topic.
People are curious by nature, when you can point out in your title that you have some actual evidence about the topic, they want to read more. They want to know what you know.
It’s a common thread that good creative titles can draw more readers, but if you can also back your creative title up with an actual number, it adds that element of social proof that draws more attention.
Tell a Personal Story
Now, I didn’t just stop at reading some titles. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of the blog articles and see what other common elements they had.
Learning to be a better writer also means doing a lot of critical reading as well.
One thing I noticed is that popular posts quite often contain a personal story from the writer.
Ever since the dawn of mankind, storytelling has been a key way to communicate ideas with each other. going back to the cave drawings of ancient humans, you can see that they are attempting to tell a story. It’s ingrained in our DNA to tell and listen to stories.
Again, a personal story about your experience on the topic adds an element of social proof.
Once you begin telling your story, you draw the reader in. It’s hard to leave a blog post in the middle of a story.
The second part of telling a personal story is that it adds a level of engagement to your post. You are telling people a little bit about yourself.
Let the reader know about some of the struggles that you had in the past and how you overcame the obstacle. It tells them that you had the same experience they did. That way when you discuss how you overcame that hurdle, your reader is more likely to have some faith in your method and share it with others.
Create a Good Tutorial
Beyond just giving some social proof with numbers and telling your personal story about how you overcame some obstacle relating to your blog topic, you want to give your readers value.
Virtually every blog post that got a large number of shares gave value back to the reader. More importantly, for the most part, these posts didn’t just discuss theory and philosophy. These posts gave instructions on how to accomplish a goal.
You’ll often see people refer to writing a pillar article for you blog. A pillar article is simply a tutorial about how to do something. It’s a “pillar” article because a tutorial often has a lot of longevity. A good tutorial about something can be useful for several years. So, in a sense, it is like the foundation for the rest of your blog. People can always turn to those articles to get basic information.
Pat Flynn’s article about how he creates backinks is a good example of a pillar article. It contains a ton of great information that people can turn to for years to come.
Those kinds of articles almost always draw a lot of engagement. Now if one is able to draft a creative title that draws attention with some numbers and other social proof elements, you can draw some attention to your article. Draw the audience in with a persona story so that they know that you are speaking from some experience. Now, you can start to see the makings of an article that people would love to share with others.
Images Say a Thousand Words
Pictures that relate to your article add that extra social proof to show people that you actually have some evidence to back up what you are saying.
In addition, you are interacting with people visually as well as in writing. People enjoy being engaged. In addition, having a visual demonstration may help people understand your article better.
This is one common element I also see in almost every popular post. A picture says a thousand words, and popular posts often make good use of images to drive the point home.
When you use images, make sure that you avoid using copyrighted material in your posts. There are a number of sites that allow you to purchase royalty rights to images if you have a specific need. A good place to find some royalty free pictures that I like to use is over at morgue files.
They are free and allow use of their work without attribution as long as it’s not standalone and you don’t claim ownership of the pictures. Perfect for blogging use.
Here’s a sample of some of the images you can find:
There are so many places where you can find images as well as using your own screenshots for your tutorial articles that there’s really no reason not to include images in your blog articles.
It’s a wonderful way to add some life to your article and give more value to the readers.
More value means more sharing!
The above tips were mostly about creating shareable content for your blog. But after you get all those elements in place, you still need to get the word out on the blogosphere. In this case, getting the word out on StumbleUpon.
In order for people to share your work, you need to have stumblers visit your blog!
This is one of those things that just takes a little time and effort on your part. Nothing social is a one way street.
In order to get noticed, you have to get active first on StumbleUpon.
Fill out your account profile as best you can. Pick your interests, fill out your profile and find people to follow.
Your profile is where you start telling other people a little bit about yourself. You can give a brief description with a link to your website so people can find out more about you.
One of the most important elements to StumbleUpon is that you have to start stumbling.
If you simply share only your own work, you could be sitting around for months with each article only getting the one stumble.
But when you start sharing articles that interest you from all around the internet, you will start seeing more people share your articles as well. That’s just the nature of StumbleUpon. You simply won’t get stumbles in a vacuum.
One thing I do recommend to make the stumbling process easier is to install the StumbleUpon toolbar.
This is a simple addon for your browser that you can get from StumbleUpon. It looks like this:
As you can see, it is a simple toolbar that gives you options to give articles the thumbs up or thumbs down. The stumble button on the left also takes you around to random websites so that you can read some articles you might not otherwise have found on your own.
The button also has a simple sharing option. This one toolbar gives you all the tools you need to make use of StumbleUpon and start sharing.
Now, getting stumbled doesn’t happen overnight. And I won’t lie to you. Even after you have a good amount of StumbleUpon readers, you won’t get a lot of Stumbles on all your posts. In that sense it is hit or miss. However, the tips that I wrote about in this post are things that I find make a blog post shareable. If your post is worthy of being shared then at least you are giving yourself the best chance of getting that traffic.