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Nov 17, 2008

How to Get StumbleUpon Users Into Your Blog

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The potential for StumbleUpon to send traffic is often under-estimated, particularly by new bloggers. Unlike digg and, an item doesn’t need to become popular before you see immediate results. One or two votes can bring a hundred or more readers — more than a new blog might see in a day.

StumbleUpon users are, however, notoriously fickle. The service describes itself as allowing you to ‘channel-surf the internet’ and I think it’s a very appropriate description. Users flick through websites like you might flick through channels, often making a decision on whether to stay or leave your site before it has even had time to finish loading.

In this post, I want to suggest some quick tips you can use to draw StumbleUpon users into your site before they stumble away.

Channel-surfing the internet

We’ve all flicked through TV channels back and forth, waiting for something to hold our attention. The decision to stay on a channel or surf elsewhere is usually made in a second or two, and the principle is the same for StumbleUpon users.

With so many other potentially great sites available to them at the click of a mouse, you need to make it immediately clear why your site is worth their time. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

1. Make your blog’s core mission-statement unmissable

A core mission-statement as I define it is a one or two sentence description encapsulating what your blog has to offer. A good core mission-statement describes the kind of content you provide and broadly what your blog is about. It should communicate a lot of information in only a few words.

If a stumbler can see straight away your blog is about something they’re interested in then they’re likely to stick around.

2. Insert powerful visual cues

When channel-surfing the decision to stick with a channel or move on is often largely determined by visual cues. Even with the sound off you can tell a drama from a news program, a travel show from a cartoon, because visual elements provide clues as to what kind of show you’re watching.

The same principle applies to blogs. If your blog’s header contains an image of a pile of cash, we can reasonably assume the blog is about money (or making it). That’s a lot of information communicated instantly by a single image.

3. Push your content above the fold

StumbleUpon users often judge a site by what is offered in the above the fold area — the area of your site which appears on screen before any scrolling occurs.

I think this blog is an example of how to do that well. Not only do headlines and the first few paragraphs of a post appear above the fold, but other content of interest is showcased in the header area. StumbleUpon users immediately see a site packed with value.

You can use the top part of your blog’s sidebar, its header area and the post area to showcase your content. In doing so, you’ll straight away show StumbleUpon visitors why they should stick around.

4. Be unique, be pretty

While it’s difficult to judge the quality of a blog’s content in just a few seconds, people are much more hasty with aesthetic judgments. A gorgeous or interesting blog design encourages a stumbler to stick around and see whether the content is great too.

Of course, a great design is a lot of work (or quite a bit of money). The next-best thing is a unique logo or header image, an interesting color scheme, and so on. There are a number of small changes you can make to create a blog that looks unique and sets you apart from the crowd.

What we’ve done

The emphasis in all the above tips is on instantly showing visitors who’ve stumbled across your blog what it has to offer. This should help you make the most of StumbleUpon traffic and turn more stumblers into readers.

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