A Guide to Getting Your Blog Stumbled

Interesting pictures help you attract visitors to stay longerI’ve been stumbling around the blogosphere lately, on a mission to find good posts on new and low traffic blogs and bring them and their writing talent into the spotlight using StumbleUpon. Several bloggers have posted the results from my mission, such as Jamie Harrop, Eric Socia, and Ivy Tan. Here’s how I’m conducting my mission and how you might improve your chances of getting stumbled by me or someone else.

I Have To Find You First

There have been two main ways I’ve found the sites where I’ve been the original stumbler and both have to do with how social the blogger in question is.

First, I read comments on the major, A List, blogs looking for good comments. I don’t just look at the top couple of comment either. I work the list from top to bottom. I discussed this technique earlier in this article, Long Tail Prospecting For Bloggers. I click on the link for the commentator and take a look at their blog, seeing what they have to offer. If I like what I see, I stumble it.

My second method is to use the new Blogging Zoom social bookmarking service and a few other second tier or niche services like it to find new sites. My approach there is the same, visit and if I like what I see, stumble it.

The bottom line is to promote your site socially. If you don’t, nobody will find it beyond someone searching Google with very long tail search criteria.

Content, Content, Content

Of course, promotion will only get someone to your site. You have to also have good content to get them to stay, read it, and recommend it. Ivy Tan has some good suggestions on how to write your content to appeal to first time visitors so instead of me repeating what she said, just click her link above.

Good User Experience

The last thing is that the site has to be a good user experience. This means that the theme’s font and color scheme makes it easy to read. Small fonts and bad color combinations run visitors off. Don’t make them struggle to read your content.

Advertising is fine although having a big Adsense block before the article begins isn’t a good idea. Having sound that automatically starts, very pushy flash or animated ads, or popups of any kind is a definite deal breaker. However, if I find the ad placement tastefully done I’ll usually click an ad or two to open in a new tab, particularly if it looks like something I might be interested in.

My last pet peeve would be if a site didn’t allow comments or required registration to comment. I’d probably pass in that case as well.

Well, that’s my criteria and how I determine which sites I stumble. Do you have some thoughts or additions to this? If so, leave me a comment.


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Comment by Eric Socia
2007-11-07 11:46:51

thanks for the link, Frank! :)

StumbleUpon has done wonders for me thus far, and the hits keep coming. that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really valuable traffic, but some of it seems to be.

anyway, thanks again for stumbling my post(s)! :)

Comment by jfc
2007-11-07 12:27:00

You’re welcome Eric,

You’ll get a lot of one time, come and gone, hits like Jamie mentioned in his post. However, I’ve found that you get a small percentage that stick around and either subscribe to your feed or become regular visitors with each wave of traffic. Pretty soon you have 100+ unique visitors a day and growing.

You’ll see the same kind of effect from Digg or Slashdot although the crest of the wave is higher and the trough is lower since the traffic is less targeted.

2007-11-07 14:31:14

Good points Frank.

I’m enjoying reading your blog and watching it grow. Good to see you getting out there on both SU and Blogging Zoom and the other social sites.

Off blog optimization is often overlooked and the approaches you advocate do definitely pay dividends over time.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-07 14:49:17

Hi Maurice,

Effective use of social bookmarking and other networking methods makes a huge difference. My other blog, VB Notebook For .NET, saw very little traffic until I started doing this. That’s why I used these methods from the start here.

2007-11-07 15:10:18

Stumble is something that I have yet to use real effectively. I do get some traffic from it, but not as much as many like you claim.
I will be spending a lot more time on this in the near future though, and get using more of the social networks properly.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-07 15:21:59

Hi James,

It seems to depend a lot on the person(s) doing the stumbling and the number of people giving a page the thumbs up (and down). For example, one of my posts got stumbled early on by a couple of top stumblers. I had significant waves of traffic from that, about 800 hits a day over the course of several days. Other stumbles have been smaller waves, usually about 100-150 views or so.

The nice thing about SU traffic is that it can be brought in by one person who likes your site rather than needing 200+ to reach critical mass like on Digg.

Comment by Court
2007-11-07 15:24:11

This is a great guide Frank! I’ve been seeing OpTempo around a lot lately, it seems like you’re growing a lot!

Comment by jfc
2007-11-07 16:10:34

Thanks Court,

Your writing certainly has been informative and an inspiration to me.

I’ve been working hard to see how quickly I could develop this blog. It’s hard to believe it’s only been active 31 days.

Comment by Ivy
2007-11-07 19:36:16

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your flattering words and for mentioning my blog. You have interesting ideas, and I’m glad I found your site.

Like Eric, StumbleUpon has sent me huge waves of traffic, but the percentage of that traffic that subscribes is small. I think website design could be the key to changing that. If you look at top stumblers, they have great photos and visuals and people in StumbleUpon just love that. Other tips I gathered from people who had had Stumble Traffic are people also using “StumbleUpon” as headlines or to populate it in your first paragraph. Look which post you found me by ;)

Comment by jfc
2007-11-07 21:28:35

Thanks for stopping by Ivy,

First off, I’m sorry I got your name wrong. It’s corrected now. That’s what I get for being in a hurry.

Visuals are certainly something I want to work on here. I’ve got a few ideas but nothing set yet.

Comment by Todd Morris
2007-11-08 03:45:35

Hi Frank,

I’ve been trying to stumble more posts as a way of getting other bloggers attention. I hadn’t considered your idea of looking through the comments on popular blogs (right now, I’m mainly commenting on blogs that are in my reader). Interesting.


Comment by jfc
2007-11-08 06:57:23

Hi Todd,

It’s certainly a good way to find some interesting blogs that you might overlook. While you’ll sometimes see “blog echo chamber” posts you will also see some different insights into blogging, often ones you can identify with better. Eric Socia’s post would be an example of this.

Comment by Markk
2007-11-09 00:36:59

I’m a little bit late to drop by but here I am to say thanks for leaving a comment. I see you around BZ often. It’s a good place to get noticed. BTW, you got an interesting blog here after reading most of your posts. I’ll be dropping by now and then. I’ve subscribed to your email and RSS feed. I like your method of stumbling which reminds me of Caroline Middlebrook who is now very much on the radar screens of bloggers.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-09 01:42:30

Thanks for stopping by Markk and thanks a lot for your comments.

Comment by Mislove
2007-11-09 16:17:47

I just got a new stumble for the first time on my site and my visitors jumped from around 40 a day to 155 the day I got a stumble thumbs up… I was so excited… Thanks for the great information!

Comment by jfc
2007-11-09 17:12:50

Thanks for stopping by Mislove,

You’ve got a good site. You’ll probably get some more traffic soon.

Comment by Carla Chadwick
2007-11-09 23:30:59

I’ve been a Web content writer for years, so writing my blog has been the easy part. Now I need to catch up on the marketing end. I’ve been studying the best places to promote my blog, but I have to admit the process has been pretty overwhelming. It occurred to me this evening that maybe I should be doing more on Stumble. Your article confirmed that, so I appreciate your providing a steering current. :-)

Comment by jfc
2007-11-09 23:49:02

Hi Carla,

I’ve been learning a lot of the ends and outs of marketing sites myself over the past year or so. I’ve programmed web sites since 1998 but I didn’t handle the marketing of them. There’s a lot more to it that just building it and hoping visitors will show up, that’s for sure.

Comment by tAxX
2007-11-10 12:34:18

good post with good advice :)

Comment by jfc
2007-11-10 13:26:14

Hi tAxX,

Interesting little tax mini-site you have there. Not a bad job of a MFA site. My suggestions for it would be: Throw in an About page perhaps with an offer to a tax help ebook, fix up the text formatting a little to keep it from looking too MFA, consider adding text link affiliate offers for tax help (there are several with really good payouts) and change the “Your Site Name” in the footer to something meaningful like “Dewey, Cheatham & Howe - Tax Attorneys”. :)

Comment by Chanya
2007-11-11 14:13:35

Agreed. A good portion of my traffic comes from StumbleUpon. It’s a very active social community. Also, most of them spend time at my site once they arrive.

Good article! I found you on, where else, StumbleUpon!

Comment by jfc
2007-11-11 20:29:04

Hi Chanya,

Thanks for stumbling by.

I liked your Oompa Loompa article. Funny stuff.

2007-11-11 18:26:59

Just stumbling around & found you. Now I TOTALLY want to be stumbledupon…
Can someone stumble my blog? It would give me a Starbuck’s-triple-shot-like kick.
Great Blog BTW. Thx.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-11 20:33:18

Thanks for stopping by Deanna,

I liked your article on Costco. ;)

Comment by Jordan
2007-11-12 20:12:48

Being competitive online is a challenge. Staying competitive on Stumble Upon is even more challenging. You have to grab the reader in about three seconds! Excellent post. :)

Comment by jfc
2007-11-12 21:20:39

Thanks for visiting Jordan,

That’s true. When I’m stumbling I try to give sites a little longer than 3 seconds but slow loaders and spammy sites get the stumble button pretty quickly.

Comment by Caveman
2007-11-15 14:30:51

I with you man. I have been programming web sites forever, but when it comes to marketing I’m a lame duck. I’m embrassed to say that only recently have I even discovered StumbleUpon.


Comment by jfc
2007-11-15 16:04:45

Hi Caveman,

As a programmer also (VB.NET, C#, ASP.NET mostly) it’s easy to build web apps for a company and miss what else is going on around the Internet.

2008-07-02 04:17:46

This is an eye opener for me. I am still struggling with using stumble to effectively promote my blog. Thanks for sharing.

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