7 Tips for StumbleUpon Success

Ian Lurie

If you want to learn about StumbleUpon and what it is, read my previous article about Stumbleupon traffic quality..

StumbleUpon is my friend. In a weird, they-just-showed-up-and-were-nice-to-me kind of way.
I’ll write an article about, say, The Plague that is Powerpoint. Nothing happens. I shrug and move on to the next piece.
Then BAM, weeks later traffic goes ballistic:
Pretty dang cool. I have no idea who started that Stumblefest, but thanks!

No manipulation

First: I am not manipulating StumbleUpon. I don’t have 50 accounts so that I can stumble my own stuff. In fact, I no longer stumble my own stuff at all. I got banned once, went through a Kafka-esque ritual to prove my innocence, and am now really conservative.
But there are a few things I do to maximize my Stumble-ability.

Make yourself a Stumble target

  1. Use an image. Always make sure you have an image that will grab a Stumbler’s attention:
  2. Make the image catchy. The typical StumbleUpon user just clicks the ‘Stumble’ button every 10 seconds or so. You need to make them stop clicking long enough to read. That’s what the photo is for.
  3. Write a good headline. This one’s been beaten to death, but write a cool headline. “Why Powerpoint is bad” probably won’t do it. Call Powerpoint a plague, though, and you’ve got something.
  4. Write something funny/useful. I don’t have to explain this, I hope.
  5. Make the page scannable. It has to be easy for someone to zip down the page, take in what they want, and then decide if they like it or not. I broke the Powerpoint post up with lots of images and sub-heads, as well as a few bullets.
  6. Don’t write too much. This one pisses me off, but it’s true. I write long, detailed posts about canonicalization issues and no one cares. Write a short post with a dead body at the top, though, and you’re SET.
  7. Keep blogging. If I stopped writing for a month every time I wrote a dud, I’d write once a month. Keep posting, preferably daily. Take the time. Old content establishes authority. Then one day a piece of new content grabs attention, and folks start going back through your old stuff and suddenly realize, “Hey, maybe this guy can write after all!”

Related reading

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Hi Ian,
    Although I understand your point how StumbleUpon can bring in web traffic, but why did you leave Digg, Reddit or Delicious behind. Is there a reason you feel that StumbleUpon brings superior or more traffic than other bookmark tools. Frankly I have only used social bookmark services occasionally so far and am not able to differentiate one over another. In fact Digg has worked better for me. Any thoughts?
    The idea of using a catchy image was helpful, thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  2. @Jessica I’ve had some luck with Digg (GREAT luck with Digg actually), Reddit and Delicious but all 3 are pretty much ruled by groups who decide what wins and what doesn’t. In a world of manipulated public opinion, Digg, Reddit and Delicious are the worst.

  3. What if it’s not a blog post?
    I’ve always wondered about how to drive traffic with Stumbleupon. My traffic from there has a huge bounce rate, but I guess my site would only interest other webmasters or bloggers.
    Maybe I need to enter my site into a more specific category, or is Stumbleupon only good at driving traffic if mainstream users might be interested?

  4. Thanks for the great article…I’ve been ramping up our blogging lately and network-specific tips like this are gold. I hate reading articles that seem to think every social network/news/bookmarking community is essentially the same. They all have their own quirks and knowing what works and doesn’t with each is key to getting the quality and quantity of traffic that you want. Thanks again!

  5. @Buzzlord SU only drives traffic if it matches interests with the user, and if the site has already gotten some stumbles. Also, marketing content and overt sales pitches tend to get devalued, I suspect.

  6. Awesome article Ian. Couldn’t agree more on point 6 :). Will definitely try out some of these tips and see if I strike any luck with SU. Thanks once again.

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