Programming Blog

Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

How to Succeed With Stumbleupon

By: Jeremy Morgan

Stumbleupon is a great tool to bring new people to your site, and works great for branding. But most of the time you read about it on forums and in social media people are bashing it. I’m convinced that many of the people who are bashing it haven’t figured out the key to getting good traffic from it. I’ll attempt to help with this short post.

What is Stumbleupon?

Stumbleupon is one of those neat little tools that came out in the mid-2000s that was a great idea that was pretty much ignored by the masses. It’s an idea that’s still good, and hasn’t really been copied but it’s starting to take off.  The idea is you have a toolbar in your browser, and when you go to webpages you like, you “stumble” them, which is essentially just bookmarking them. You keep a list of pages and sites you like and you can go back later to check them out, and share the bookmarks with your friends. What’s great about Stumbleupon is the ‘stumble” feature itself. You can click “stumble” and it will try to find the type of pages and sites you like, based on your own stumbles. It gives you pages other people have stumbled and you can “like” it or dislike it.

Is it a good marketing tool? 

The answer to that is yes and no. It’s a good marketing tool if you have something really good, and people are interested in it. It’s much like Digg was in it’s heyday. If you are simply spamming Digg with pages nobody is interested in you won’t get much traffic. But if you build clout within the community and Digg useful, unique stuff it sends lots of traffic. Stumbleupon is no different.

The Good:

  1. When it brings traffic, it brings lots of traffic. Sometimes thousands of hits per day.

  2. There is a community factor to it, so if you get the right person to stumble it, it will grow quickly.

  3. It’s actually useful as a user as well, you can find a lot of relevant stuff that’s very interesting.

The Bad: 

  1. If you post too much of your own stuff, you’ll get buried and nobody will see your stumbles. (Good for the users, bad for marketers).

  2. The attention span of this group is very short and people quickly skim pages.

  3. May affect your bounce rate negatively if people are stumbling quickly (Like channel surfing)

  4. If it doesn’t fall into a niche people will ignore it.

How do you succeed?

This answer is simple and complicated at the same time. The simple answer is “give stumblers what they want”. The hard part is creating that. Stumblers tend to really like certain things, such as:

  • Photoshop Tutorials

  • Programming Tutorials

  • Photography

  • Design Articles

  • Humor

  • Videos

  • Unique Content.

These things get stumbled a lot. If you have a funny article about a celebrity it will blow up. If you provide a long article talking about the details of a marketing strategy they wont. If you’re trying to directly sell a product, it will be ignored. Stumblers are looking for something unique, or a how to article. They want something new and fresh that will keep them entertained. They don’t want to be sold anything. So if you’re running a site such as, stumbleupon is great. People want articles and how tos, and want to read my stuff, so generally when I stumble it I can expect at least a few thousand new eyes from there. If you want “stumble” every page of your online store or a landing page selling a product you can expect very minimal hits.

How to succeed at Stumbleupon

So as a general rule:

  1. Make it “sticky” or unique.

  2. Provide something interesting.

  3. Give a “how to” or explain how something works.

  4. Give an interesting article that informs or entertains.

  5. Give them something funny, or an interesting video.

  6. Photography or Photoshop stuff is always a big hit.

  7. Get their attention in seconds, not minutes. Keep the interesting stuff at the top of the page.

If you do this, you can expect some pretty good results. You’ll get a good influx of traffic and a percentage of them will bookmark you and come back. You’ll also find they stumble pages for you. If you want to spam the site, don’t waste your time. Their anti-spam measures are good and the audience votes so you’ll be spending a lot of time for nothing.

I will elaborate more on this later, but I hope this helps. Go check it out and start stumbling!