Stumbleupon has been around for a while now (since 2001), so it’s surprising to see how many bloggers still aren’t taking advantage of it.
It’s one of the easiest, cheapest ways to see an explosion of traffic on your blog practically overnight.
The best part is, once your submission goes viral you’ll get a pretty steady flow of traffic to that post for as long as the content remains relevant.
Don’t be mistaken though, it’s not for everyone. If you’re selling something in your post, it probably won’t convert well.
But if you want to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible and gain brand recognition and new mailing list subscribers, it’s a great way to go about it.
Here are 6 ways to go viral and drive a ton of free traffic to your blog using Stumbleupon.
1. Make it convenient
Download the Stumbleupon toolbar.
It’s compatible with Firefox, Explorer, and Chrome. Plus, it saves you a lot of time since you won’t have to browse over to Stumbleupon’s site whenever you want to rate or submit new content.
You can also use the toolbar to add or remove interests and leave reviews or comments. You can even use it to share stumbled pages directly to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Anytime you come across something you’d like to share, just toggle the toolbar on then click the thumbs up button, and the link will automatically be added to your favorites on your Stumbleupon profile.
2. Be Social
If you want your own blog posts to get Stumbled by readers who find your site organically through search engines, make sure you include a prominent Stumbleupon sharing button at the top and bottom of the post.
When you visit your Stumbleupon homepage, you’ll see a list of recommended people to follow on your right sidebar. Browse their profiles follow them if you enjoy the content they’ve recently favorited. Content that they’ve rated will also be shown to you when you’re stumbling. If they return the favor and follow you back, they’ll also be exposed to your favorites.
3. Give more than you take
There’s a lot of ambiguity as far as the exact algorithm Stumbleupon uses to determine how often your content gets displayed to other users, but they will ban your domain if they feel you’re spamming the system.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say you should NEVER stumble your own content, it should be a very rare occurance. No more than one out of every 20-25 submissions should be content that you’ve produced.
It is a community, which means those who get the most benefit give as often as (or more often than) they take.
4. Be insanely useful
If you want to go viral, your content has to be the kind of stuff people can’t resist sharing.
This boils down to being wildly useful, wildly entertaining, or a combination of the two.
Sales pages and dry articles will get zero momentum. The same goes for link bait. A gimmicky title might make someone stop long enough to browse your page, but if they find that the article wasn’t worth their time they’ll just give it a “thumbs down” and move on.
The more negative votes you get, the less your page ends up being shown to users who are currently stumbling. The opposite is also true; the more favorable votes a submission gets, the more people will be exposed to it.
So, what kind of content works best? There are always exceptions to every rule, but the most popular posts on Stumbleupon tend to be visually striking photos, infographics, amusing list posts, innovative tutorials, and high-quality how-to videos.
My most recent viral post was a comical list post and averages over 30,000 visitors a month from Stumbleupon alone.
Two days after it was submitted by a reader, it went from 0 to over 600 page views overnight. Two days later it was up to 10,000 views in a day, and two days after that it finally peaked at almost13,000 daily views. Now it’s cooled off to a respectable and consistent 500-1000 per day. Again, this isn’t even considering traffic from other sources like Facebook or Google.
5. Give it a kickstart
If you’d rather not wait for your submission to pick up momentum, Stumbleupon also has a pretty affordable advertising program called “Paid Discovery”, which is their way of letting you legitimately promote as much of your own content as you’d like.
Paid Discovery allows you to target users by demographics such as interest and location and pay according to how many people see your page (cost per visitor) or how many people click thumbs up/down (cost per engaged visitor).
You can use it to get a jumpstart and see if your post has what it takes to become viral content.
6. Turn “accidental” visitors into regular readers
Bounce rates can be high for Stumbleupon traffic, meaning that people usually don’t stay long and often won’t visit other pages of your site once they’ve finished reading the content they’ve stumbled onto.
That being said, it’s a good idea to get right to the point.
It is free traffic, so don’t let the prospect of high bounce rates scare you away. Your ultimate goal should be to convert first time visitors into regular readers. Make sure you have a prominent subscription form above the fold with a call to action for readers to join your email list and get updates from you in the future.
After all, if a reader liked your post enough to give it a thumbs up in the first place, they’re probably also going to be interested in other things you have to say, as long as your blog has a consistent voice and a clear message.
If you don’t have a Stumbleupon account yet, you can sign up here.