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Run a StumbleUpon Advertising Campaign For Your Blog

Today’s task in the 31 Day Project is aimed at driving new visitors to your blog by running a mini advertising campaign for your blog using StumbleUpon.

Note – This task will take a small budget (unless you get creative and find another website willing to give you some free advertising – which isn’t just a bad idea, perhaps you could do an ad swap with another blogger) but it need not be much. One of the methods below could drive at least 100 new visitors to your blog with just $5.

One of the things that I do from time to time is set myself a small budget for advertising my blog. I do it as a little bit of a challenge – to see what ad systems work best and more importantly to see what I can learn about branding and promotion. The bonus is that it also drives some new visitors to your blog.

Where can you advertise?

If you’re just starting out with advertising your blog I’d suggest experimenting with different types of advertising to see what works best for your blog – but today I want to suggest an easy and relatively cheap way to get started.

StumbleuponStumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a growing social bookmarking service that is used by many people around the globe. It is a service that many bloggers target to drive organic traffic to their blog – but one that also offers a means to advertise a website upon it. StumbleUponAds allows you to submit a page on your blog to be shown to StumbleUpon users as they go Stumbling. The cost is 5 cents per impression so for as little as $5 you can have 100 SU users see your page.

The beauty of StumbleUpon is that it is relatively cheap, you don’t actually need to create an ad (just a page to send people to), that you can target your page to be shown to different categories as well as specific demographics (age, location and gender) and that you have the chance of your page being Stumbled up the rankings in SU naturally.

SU lets you set daily budgets and limits to how many impressions you want on any given campaign. The payment is via PayPal or Credit Card.

If you pick the right page to submit in this way and throw a few dollars at the campaign it is not uncommon for organic stumbling to happen and to end up with many more impressions than you paid for. The key is to pick a page that SU users will like and vote for (more on this below).

The StumbleUponAds interface gives you a report on how many people saw your site, how many voted your page up and how many voted it down. This enables you to test different pages that you want to advertise and to adapt those pages to see what different versions of it work best.

Stumbleupon-Advertising

How to Make StumbleUpon Advertising Work Best

The key to making a StumbleUpon advertising campaign work for your blog is to do two main things:

1. Make Your Content Appealing to SU users to get Organic Stumbles – While 5 cents per impression isn’t that expensive (it’s a lot cheaper than some other forms of advertising) it’s more expensive than natural traffic from SU. Your goal should be to start the campaign off with paid visitors and then let the natural voting up of content take over. To do this you need to create content that is appealing to SU users. A couple of days ago I published a guest post here at ProBlogger that talked about some of the principles that draw StumbleUpon users into a site. This would be a useful starting point for designing the page that you want to advertise.

2. Make Your Page Sticky – The other way to get extra value from a StumbleUpon advertising campaign is to get the visitors who come to your blog to come back again and become loyal readers. This is one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face with advertising using any means – but particularly on a service like StumbleUpon where users have their cursor hovering over the Stumble Button ready to surf on to the next site. Of course the best way to hook someone onto your blog is to create compelling content that they can’t live without – but also consider other ways of making them loyal readers by prominently offering subscription methods, driving people deeper into a blog. Most of what I cover in my latest video post on Stickifiying Your Blog applies here.

3. Test and Tweak – The key with StumbleUpon is not to throw big money at a campaign straight away. Get your landing page/post ready and then set a small budget (a few dollars) to see what results you get. Once this is spent – do some analysis of how many people voted the post up and down. If there were more downs than ups you might want to change something about the post (title, add a picture/video, change your opening paragraph etc). Then run another small campaign to see what impact the changes have. Do this until you have a page that is consistently getting voted up and then turn up your budget a little. Keep in mind that you might only need to get a relatively small number of up votes before SU will start sending you organic traffic so be ready to pause your campaign once this starts to happen or you could waste your money.

What NOT to do

While you might think that the front page of your blog is the best page to send traffic from an Advertising campaign to – I would highly recommend that you don’t. Instead – use a single post as the landing page for your campaign. Pick a post that relates closely to the category and demographic of StumbleUpon users that you are targeting and pick a post that you could see becoming viral (whether as a result of it being entertaining, useful, controversial etc).

Give it a Go

So set yourself a budget and give StumbleUpon advertising a go. It’s actually quite fun and if you keep your budget to a reasonable level it’s not that expensive to do. You’ll drive a little traffic and hopefully learn something about the way people interact with your content through the process.

Other places to Advertise Your Blog

There are many places that will sell you advertising space for your blog. Other blogs and sites in your niche can be a good place to start but so can ad networks. Two that I’ve had some success with are BlogAds and Google AdWords. Both are worth experimenting with – but both take the same sort of ‘tweak and test’ approach as outlined above.

– (aff)

Have you tried advertising your blog? Let use know what you’ve learned about it in comments below.

Update – read my follow up to this post at More on Advertising on StumbleUpon.

How to Draw StumbleUpon Users Into Your Blog

StumbleuponThis is a guest post on How to Draw StumbleUpon Users Into Your Blog is by Skellie who writes tips and tutorials on creating better content at her blog, Skelliewag.org.

The potential for StumbleUpon to send traffic is often under-estimated, particularly by new bloggers. Unlike digg and del.icio.us, 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.

How to Use MySpace to Build a Blogging Audience

Myspace
This Guest post on the topic of Using MySpace to Build a Blogging Audience was submitted by Kevin Palmer from Buzz Networker.

The preconceived notions that the blogging community has about MySpace and other social networking sites couldn’t be any more wrong. These social networking sites are valuable resources that allow you to target market to your specific niche. When I talk about MySpace with bloggers, most of them look down on the site with disdain. They feel that MySpace is a site designed for teens, sexual predators and that spending any time on there would be a waste to them.

If you look at MySpace’s demographics , you’ll see that the user base isn’t just a bunch of teenagers, with 36% of users being between the ages of 35-54. Each day there are about 500,000 blog posts published on the site covering diverse topic including politics, entertainment, technology, and a plethora of other topics. There is an audience reading these blogs that you can obtain. With a little effort and an understanding of how to target a market on MySpace, you can create word of mouth about your current blog or build a strong audience that you can transition off of MySpace when you are ready to launch a new blog.

Use Original Content to Build an Audience

I have seen a lot of bloggers post a static page on MySpace that acts as giant link to their blog. After having their page up for a few weeks they will complain that they aren’t generating any traffic from it. There are a couple of reasons for that; users are typically reluctant to leave MySpace when they first encounter profiles with all outbound links. To a lot of users, MySpace is a one stop shop. They don’t even realize (or perhaps equally like, care) that there is a blogging community outside of MySpace. You need to take the time to write original content at least once a week and engage your MySpace readers. By doing this you will create a loyal reader base that will follow you to your blog away from MySpace, creating a quality and consistent source of traffic.

Take Advantage of MySpace’s Powerful Search Features

The other reason why bloggers don’t see a return from their MySpace page is that they don’t take the time to target market. MySpace has search features that allow you to target people based on their location, age, gender, keywords, interests, and numerous other demographic information. These powerful search features aren’t limited to individual profiles – you can also scour the site for groups based on various keywords.

Take the keyword “Photography” for example. When searching for Photography groups, the first three groups have a collective 117,000 members. That is the huge audience that MySpace gives you access to! Right there is a large starting group to which you can offer blog invites and friend invites to, as well as posting within the bulletin board of that group.

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Building Your Personal Brand – One ‘Straw’ at a Time

“Customers build an image of a brand as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon.” – Jeremy Bullmore

I heard the above quote from Bullmore a couple of months ago and since then have continued to mull it over as I think it applies to bloggers pretty well.

I received the following email from a reader last week (slightly modified for anonymity):

Hi Darren, I’ve just subscribed to your ProBlogger blog after a strange line of coincidences that I thought you might like to know about.

I first heard of you via a family member who lives in Melbourne (I live in Sydney). They suggested I check out your church blog as we’re thinking about similar issues to you.

Three weeks later I saw an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that was a profile of your photography site.

A few days later I was searching Google as I was researching the purchase of a new camera and your site came up as the number 1 result.

About a month ago I stumbled upon your facebook profile as you are one of my friends friends. I added you as a friend.

Two weeks ago I saw one of your photography articles on the front page of Digg. I decided to subscribe to that blog that day as I thought it was a bit of a coincidence.

Last week I was chatting to a friend about my blog and he was telling me about some Aussie guy who was making a full time living from blogging. He gave me the URL of the site to check out. Imagine my surprise when I saw your photo on the site. Up until this I didn’t realize that you wrote about blogging.

After finding you in six different ways already I decided I should probably subscribe to your blog.

PS: Is there anywhere else that I’m likely to bump into you? You seem to be everywhere! For example I just discovered your Flickr account and Myspace page. Where else are you?

It strikes me that Jeremy Bullmore’s quote has a lot of truth to it and in this case it’s pretty well illustrated.

Every online interaction you have, every social networking or bookmarking site that you participate in, every comment that you leave on other blogs, every interview that you do, every decision you make about your own blog, every comment that you leave on a forum, every guest post that you write on another blog – all of these things (and more) add to your own personal brand.

Combined these ‘straws’ build an overall brand that people assemble in their own time, order and way.

Why StumbleUpon Sends More Traffic Than Digg

I was digging around in the Google Analytics stats for Digital Photography School this afternoon and did some analysis of some of the most popular pages on the blog over the last month.

One page that has done exceptionally well and continues to bring in reasonable traffic even six weeks after it was written is 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography.

The post has had just over 93,000 page views from around 70,000 visitors since I posted i on 18 May. Here’s how the traffic was spread out over this time (you’ll want to click it to enlarge the graph in a new window):

Traffic-1

The Spike – Days 1-7

You can see very clearly that there was a real spike of traffic in the first couple of days. The day after I posted this tutorial hit the popular page on Digg. Here’s how the traffic came in over the first week (i’ve rounded these numbers to the nearest 50):

18 May (the day I posted) – 6,400 page views – largely from direct traffic (via RSS). StumbleUpon generated 405 page views.
19 May – 30,000 page views – 21,000 from Digg, another 2500 from RSS and regular readers, plus another 6000 or so from other sites like Delicious, Popurls and other blogs/sites linking up. StumbleUpon generated 575 page views.
20 May – 6200 page views – Digg sent 1550 of them, another digg like site (Wykop) sent 1200, direct traffic was around 900, other sites still sent a bit and StumbleUpon hit 1050 page views. (note, Google started sending a little traffic on this day).
21 May – 6600 page views – Wykop sent 2500, Digg sent 1100, direct traffic was 700, Google sent 200 and StumbleUpon continued to rise to 1300.
22 May – 3350 page views – Digg was down to 600 page views while StumbleUpon was at 953. Other sites and Google made up the rest.
23 May – 2250 page views – Digg sent 300 page views and Stumbleupon 800. Other sites the rest.
24 May – 2000 page views – Digg sent 150 page views and Stumbleupon generated 550.

OK – so that was the ‘spike’ and while StumbleUpon has generated more traffic than Digg in the last few days – Digg is still the clear winner after the first week:

  1. Digg – 24,410 page views (43% of all traffic to the post for this period)
  2. Direct Traffic – 8634 page views
  3. StumbleUpon – 5599 page views (9.5% of traffic to the post)
  4. Wykop – 4661 page views
  5. Delicious – 2523 page views

The Tail – Days 8-43

It’s usually at this point that a blogger would stop tracking how successful an individual post is going (in fact I tend to lose a little interest after the first 3-4 days) but out of interest today I decided to see what happened to traffic to this post since 24 May. It’s been 5 or so weeks – so how much traffic has the post generated and where did it come from?

Here’s how the traffic graph for this five week period looks (click to enlarge): [Read more…]

What Social Networking Sites Do You Use? How Do they Benefit Your Blog?

network.jpg
I’ve noticed over the last month that the numbers of requests to connect (or become friends) on social networking sites has dramatically increased. Every morning when I go through my inbox I find I’m approving more and more of these requests from Facebook and LinkedIn and even when I head over to MySpace I’m finding more and more friend requests (those links are to my profile pages if you’d like to connect).

What interests me is that while Facebook is on an overall growth surge at the moment that LinkedIn is sending me just as many connection requests this month – if not more.

I’m interested to hear what social networking sites people use, how they use them and if they’ve seen any tangible benefits of doing so – particularly for their blogging.

I’ve had a few low level benefits of being involved but am yet to see many tangible results.

One technique that I’ve seen a few friends using on LinkedIn is asking their connections questions through the ‘answers’ feature. While most of the questions I see asked are fairly basic, I wonder if there is some scope there to draw people together in some way that might benefit the blog. I’m still thinking that one through.

Keen to hear the experiences of others.

Social Bookmarking and Networking – How Involved Are You?

Belle from Working Blogger wrote me an interesting question last week on social networking and bookmarking communities that I thought might make an interesting topic for discussion for the wider community. She writes:

“What on earth is a blogger to do about all the various social networking communities. I do love StumbleUpon because it’s just so easy to use, but things like MyBlogLog and FaceBook and MySpace and the gazillion and one new social networking communities that seem to spring up all over the place – how do you know which one to spend your energy on? And then there’s Netscape vs. Digg – sometimes it seems to me that keeping track of what’s going on among all the various communities is a full-time endeavour in and of itself.”

I would love to get the ProBlogger readerships perspective on this one – please leave your thoughts in comments below.

  • Do you use social bookmarking and networking sites?
  • If so, which ones?
  • Do you find that they actually help your blogging? If so – how?
  • How much time do you spend on these sorts of activities each week?
  • What does being involved in them effectively involve for you?

A few reflections from me:
My own feelings on social bookmarking and networking sites is mixed. I do get involved to some extent. Some of those that I have accounts with include (I’ve linked to my profile pages for each if you’re interested in connecting):

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ProBlogger Readers Do it Better…. than Digg Users

Wendy writes a great post today in her introduction to Social Media Strategy and Socially Driven Content.

In the post she talks to bloggers about why they should learn about social media, what results they can get and how to start out in it.

What caught my attention was right down the bottom of her post where she did a little comparison to how Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape and delicious readers interacted on her site over a 7 day period in terms of visitor numbers, page views per visitor and time spent on her site.

She then did a little analysis of ProBlogger readers over the same period (54 visitors). The visitors came simply by writing quality comments on my posts here (and she does write insightful comments).

The results speak for themselves.

While social bookmarking sites can potentially send a lot more traffic:

  • ProBlogger readers stay longer per visit (you stay 18 times longer than Digg users)
  • ProBlogger readers visit more pages over that visit (2.5 times as many pages than Digg users).

Wendy writes:

I’ve grown to really appreciate the Digg crowd (even though they are mean as all hell sometimes), but if I had to pick, I’d take those 54 ProBlogger visitors over a big Digg any day.”

I guess that goes to show what quality readers you all are!

Seriously though (and you are quality readers – but there’s a lesson here) it’s also a good illustration of the power of different types of traffic.

While Digg can send you a heap of visitors in a short period of time they rarely stay long, rarely go deeper within your blog and rarely comment. On the other hand traffic from another blog on a similar topic (even if it’s just a from a comment) can drive a different quality of traffic.

Not only will they stay longer, comment more and view more pages I suspect they’ll also subscribe to your newsletter and RSS feed in higher numbers but they’ll respond more to your income streams (ads and affiliate products).

More reading on different types of traffic:

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Reader QuestionsKumiko asks – ‘I was studying John Chow’s traffic patterns through Alexa and noticed that his popularity really surged after four of his articles were listed on Digg and his traffic went through the roof. He was ‘discovered’ through these and his traffic levels have never really looked back. And receiving a link in one of your posts has done wonderful things for my own traffic!

What were landmark posts or actions that you did in order to receive the traffic that you have now? Was there a single post or link that sent your traffic sky-high and made you a ‘pro-blogger?’

Good question – although not the easiest one to answer as there have been many such moments in the 4 or so years that I’ve been blogging.

Before answering the question from my own perspective let me make a more general observation.

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Every blog is so different and for some the process of ‘being discovered’ that you write about above is definitely a factor (usually after a big blog or social network site links up).

On the other hand there are also many popular blogs out there where the rise to success was much more slow and steady.

For this second group it is the accumulation of good blogging over a sustained period of time that gets them discovered – one reader at a time, one day at a time and one post at a time. I suspect this second group represents the majority of bloggers.

Speaking Personally

If i were to plot my own blogging experience on the spectrum between being ‘discovered’ and the ‘slow and steady’ approach I’d have to say that it’s differed for me from blog to blog. Here’s how it’s been on three of my own blogs:

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