StumbleUpon, StumbleUpon, StumbleUpon. I should confess that StumbleUpon (SU) often totally baffles me. Some posts go over well, others die a very quick death and I don’t really know why. I hear from so many of you that you’ve seen no traffic from SU and that you don’t really see the point of using it. I cannot promise that you’ll ever see any traffic from SU. There I said it. But I know that for me, anywhere from 10-75% of my daily traffic is generated because of SU.
With that said, I have learned a few things about using SU that I think will help you. I’ll give these tips in list form! And! I’ll give these tips in three, easy to follow levels! (Please note that SU has recently updated itself and I’m still learning the new format. I’m trying to provide as accurate of information as I possibly can!)
Part 1, StumbleUpon Kindergarten
Let’s start at the beginning. For those of you who are not SU newbies, scroll on down to Part 2 and Part 3 of this post where I’ll give some more intermediate tips.
1. First of all you have to set up an account at http://www.stumbleupon.com. You’ll be asked to choose a name, try to choose one that best fits your brand (links to a blog tip post that’s not yet been updated) . Next, you’ll be directed to “Join and Download Now.” The “download” part means that you’ll be downloading the SU toolbar into your browser, which is vital to getting the most out of SU.
If you use Firefox as your browser, you’ll also need the SU Add-on. I’ve heard that SU and Safari don’t play well together. That’s too bad.
2. You need to set up your preferences once you’ve received your password via email and have logged into your SU account. Along the top right of the page, you’ll see the word “Settings.”
Next you’ll see some more tabs: Account Settings, Customize Profile, Manage Interests, and Profile Picture. Go ahead and complete the information in each of the sections.
In the “Customize Profile” tab, you can write a little blurb about yourself, your blog, share your interests, and customize the look of your SU page. My blurb says, “I’m Jennifer, nice to meet you! Come visit me at my blog http://playgroupsarenoplaceforchildren.com!” You can write whatever you’d like, although I’d recommend putting your blog address, as this is the only place on your profile where you can do that.
Make sure you’ve hit the green “Save Preferences” button at the bottom of the page!!!
3. Start subscribing to other’s StumbleUpon pages. This is entirely different than subscribing to a blog via a feed reader, as you will access their pages from your personal SU homepage. (Though you can subscribe to these pages via feed reader, but you really don’t need to do that.) Subscribing is basically the same as adding friends, a feature that recently was discontinued on SU.
Click the word “Stumblers” at the top of the page. Allow SU to search your email address book for people who are already SU users, click the green “Find Friends” button on the right hand side of the page.
4. Begin to understand the toolbar you’ve downloaded. The following is a step by step guide on how to use it.
* To stumble a post click on the title of the post so that you’re on the direct URL to the post you wish to stumble.
Rather than stumble an entire site, stumble specific posts on a site.
* Hit the “thumbs up/I like it!” button.
* If it hasn’t already been stumbled, then a box will appear where you’ll write a little review (explanation below). You’ll also be asked to put it in a category. Choose your category WISELY. Then add as many tags as you can, the more the better. (Sometimes, SU screws it up, though, and puts it in an incorrect category despite your best efforts.)
* If the post HAS already been stumbled, then when you hit the “thumbs up/I like it!” button, it will change colors. When it does, hit the little “speech bubble” button and write a review and add tags. You certainly don’t have to write a review for EVERY site you stumble, but the more reviews you write, the more weight your stumbles carry…(yes, the explanation is below)
And now you are ready to graduate to 3rd grade! You’re such geniuses that you get to skip 1st and 2nd grades!
Part 2, StumbleUpon Grade 3
So now what, right? Now that you’ve subscribed to some other’s SU pages, also known as their SU blog, AND you know how to use that fancy schmancy toolbar, you are ready to learn more about stumbling.
Let’s start stumbling! Here are my favorite ways:
1. Just read a post or found a website you adore? Stumble it! Hit the “thumbs up/I like it” button on your toolbar and write a review.
2. Go directly to your friends’ SU pages and see what they’ve most recently stumbled upon.
On your SU toolbar, look for the icon of two people together. See it up there? Clicking this allows you to discover the sites stumbled by your SU friends/subscriptions.
3. From your own SU page, look for the “Discover” tab and see what has most recently been stumbled by different friends.
4. You can even simply press the “Stumble” button on your toolbar.
Okay, next, let’s discuss writing a review and what I mean by “writing a review.” It’s very simple, grasshopper.
After you clickity-click that “thumbs up/I like it” button and either the box appears OR you click the “Speech Bubble” button you’ll write a review for the site.
“Recipe for peanut butter and fudge pasta.”
Or you can copy a key sentence from the post for your review. In Firefox, if you copy a section, it’s magically pasted into your review.
“From the post: ‘Obama and McCain are running for President of the United States and this is who I’m voting for.’”
BEWARE! Stumbling upon sites is addicting and can cause you to realize you’ve been stumbling for the past four hours while your children ate crumbs off the kitchen floor for lunch. Or so I’ve heard.
Okay, smartypants 3rd graders! It’s time to graduate to HIGH SCHOOL!
Part 3, StumbleUpon High School
Now that we can use the toolbar and we know how and what to stumble, let’s talk tips to drive traffic in your direction.
First and foremost, approach SU unselfishly. Look at it as a way to send traffic to your friends and highlight their really great work. Karma will hopefully eventually hunt you down and return the favor.
1. StumbleUpon frowns upon you stumbling your own site.
If you think you have a really fantastic post, ask someone to originally stumble it for you. You can always give it a thumbs up and review after them. The rumor is that you can only stumble one site fifteen times. I think this rumor has something to do with a time frame. You can review the same site MANY times over the course of months/years, but if you review the same site everyday for a month, you’ll get yourself banned from SU.
2. Write reviews when stumbling! They help up your status over simply just giving a site a thumbs up. The more reviews and sites you’ve stumbled upon, the more weight your stumbles carry. It also helps to subscribe to many people on SU and have many people subscribed to you.
For example, if you’ve only written a few reviews and given a handful of thumbs up, when you stumble a post it doesn’t carry as much weight as someone who has stumbled AND REVIEWED 3,286 sites. Getting a thumbs up from someone that has reviewed many sites and has many subscribers, will get your post noticed by more people.
3. Stumble often and stumble a variety of sites. DON’T ONLY STUMBLE YOUR OWN POSTS. BAD!!!
When I originally tried out SU, I only stumbled my own site and saw NO visitors. Once I figured this out and starting stumbling LOTS of sites, whenever I had a new post of mine that had been stumbled (by someone else), I saw more traffic driven to my site.
It’s also nice to just be generous and send traffic to sites you admire. If you’ve just read something that you just KNOW other people should read, too…then STUMBLE IT! It’s always nice to send a little traffic to your friends in the blogging community.
4. SU users love lists, pictures, humor, and well written posts.
According to different things I’ve read, SU users DO NOT LOVE slow loading sites, blah blog designs, long posts, typical “mommyblogger” posts about poop and what your kids didn’t eat for dinner.
5. The more tags you give a site, the more exposure it will get. Choose those tags wisely!
For example, if you choose just “Parenting” as a tag, you’re missing out on LOTS of potential visitors. Also choose “kids,” “family,” “babies,” “for-kids,” “homemaking…” Those are merely examples, but the point is…the more tags the better.
6. Review your friends’ SU blogs.
The term “blog” in this instance does not mean their actual BLOG that they write posts for, but rather the collection of sites they’ve stumbled upon. Your SU blog is your SU homepage (mine is http://playgroupie.stumbleupon.com).
To review your friends’ SU blogs, go to one of your friend’s SU page/blog, and click the “thumbs up/I like it” button on your toolbar. Write your review (“Love his stumbles, such a variety!”), add the tag “stumblers” and you’re done!
The more reviews you write and receive, the more weight your stumbles carry.
7. Take advantage of the StumbleUpon’s Photoblog It! feature. This feature adds the pictures you’ve stumbled upon to your page/blog.
When you stumble upon a photo that you’d like to review, you can right click on the image, scroll down to the bottom where it will say “StumbleUpon Photoblog It!” Click that, write your review, add your tags, and done.
8. DO NOT ONLY REVIEW YOUR OWN SITE. Yes, yes I know that I’ve said this like three times already. But I really need you to HEAR it. I mentioned above to approach SU unselfishly and I cannot stress enough how important it is to stumble and review OTHER’S sites.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with stumbling your own site occasionally. However if you stumbled your site today then before even CONSIDERING stumbling yourself again, you should go out and stumble 10-20 OTHER sites. Seriously, it drives other stumblers insane to see a person’s SU blog and the only things stumbled are things from their own website. Not cool.
I realize that this all seems like a lot of work. It is, but there are rewards. I think that SU can generate quality traffic, meaning that I’ve noticed after a high traffic day on SU, I’ve seen an increase in subscribers the next day. If you have any additional tips or corrections to what I’ve said, please include those in the comments section.
I’m certain that there will still be questions about StumbleUpon. Feel free to ask away! However, please remember that what I’ve said here today is based on MY experience with SU. So many of you repeatedly tell me that you see no benefits from SU, but the thing is, I can’t make SU work for you, you gotta make it work for you. Okay?