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Using Stumbleupon and Squidoo Advertising to Promote Blogs

This post is a summary of the advertising experiment I have been trialling. Although all the tools are there and costs aren’t always super high, it is rare to see a blog promoted with advertising. The main reason of course is because the income from many blogs either is not at a level to support advertising, the income is not certain, or the income is already sufficient that the blogger does not see the need.

I know there are a couple of blogs being promoted with Google Adwords in both search and content. I won’t “out” them because it could drive up their clicks and waste their budgets. From client work I have a decent understanding of how the PPC market works so I wasn’t really interested in using this channel. When I come to rolling out my campaign proper I shall more than likely put a percentage into Googles coffers but not right now.

To get a good return on investment you have to have a goal in mind and send advertising traffic to a place that converts. So for a traditionally monetized blog you might send visitors to a page that is guaranteed to produce adsense or affiliate clicks for example. On my blog the “offer” is my free ebook.

The two advertising schemes I tried were Squidoo and Stumbleupon.

Squidoo Squidoffers

You can see my Squidoffer live if you click the links in my vote-begging post. My early assessment wasn’t too glowing though I was willing to give it a try. There are two main problems with Squidoo for advertising

  1. There is no reporting, you have to trust your own referrer stats to see if it is working
  2. Squidoffers don’t send traffic. Squidoo gets traffic but the ads don’t so much. OK, it could be my offer, I am willing to concede that. But with three offers going, all in top-5, my best day sent me 91 clicks in total. To put it into perspective, Stumbleupon sent me 224 visits before I had paid for it.
  3. To get my offers seen I had to beg for votes. That’s right, even though I had paid my money that does not mean anyone will ever get to see the ads. To be seen you have to be voted up. To be voted up you have to be seen. You do the math. Does anyone else think this is likely to lead to abuse?

Stumbeupon Advertising

Stumbleupon advertising is a strange one. You don’t create an ad, just tell them where you want to send the traffic and what sort of people should see it by category. For example “programming”, “sports”, topics people are interested in so you only get visitors who ought to be interested in what you have to show them. When your URL is approved (takes 24 hours) then you load up with cash from your paypal account and they start sending people to you. You can limit how much can be spent or how many visitors. It costs $0.05 a visitor, so it is favourably comparable to Google.

One of my doubts with Stumbleupon is I am often sent to the same location numerous times. I am not sure how many times the same person will be sent to your paid URL, I do hope they don’t waste budgets with duplicate visitors.

Stumbleupon works very well with free traffic, especially if you work to be a top stumbler. Unlike Digg the traffic tends to be real people with an interest, and these people tend to be more polite than their Digg counterparts too. Paying for stumbleupon traffic is basically a shortcut. The guys at NorthXEast used this method to kick-start their launch of FreelanceSwitch. This along with some killer content helped them rocket the new blog to 2000 subscribers in 12 days! As well as getting visitors you might even get reviews and votes, these have lasting value long after your money has dried up.

Now one thing I am not sure of with Stumbleupon, are you better sending people to a conversion page or your homepage? After all, Stumbleupon is about discovering new sites, right? Perhaps I should try both …

How well does Stumbleupon compare so far? My campaign has only been running over the weekend, and I do tend to get a fair amount of Stumbleupon traffic anyway so it is probably too early to tell but I have a good gut feeling about it. Right now I am leaning towards “worth the money”. Especially for a blog that does not already get Stumbleupon attention, I believe this would be well worth it.

Summary

For advertising blogs, Stumbleupon gets my vote. Squidoo needs some wrinkles ironing out before I would recommend it to anyone. Stumbling just works.

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Comments

  1. I’m also currently running a small Stumbleupon program to build readership for my blog, and I like the system a lot. It’s a great way to get new readers that might never have otherwise found your site, and the feedback/rating system lets you see if people actually like what you are giving them. As with most things, I just wish it was cheaper…

  2. I’m also currently running a small Stumbleupon program to build readership for my blog, and I like the system a lot. It’s a great way to get new readers that might never have otherwise found your site, and the feedback/rating system lets you see if people actually like what you are giving them. As with most things, I just wish it was cheaper…

  3. Cool, I hope it works out for you :)

  4. Cool, I hope it works out for you :)

  5. I’ve actually been running some tests using StumbleUpon advertising too. I haven’t tried a conversion page yet — at least not one designed specifically for StumbleUpon. I think the thing you would lose there is that your rankings would be tied to that page, but I’ve been thinking about testing it.

    What I think does work well is to setup campaigns for the home page of a blog, and then also for individual posts that are, as you’d put it, related to your flagship content.

    With the home page, I rev up the advertising when I’ve got a particularly interesting post leading off on it to draw people in, and then turn it off when I don’t. Seems to work well.

  6. I’ve actually been running some tests using StumbleUpon advertising too. I haven’t tried a conversion page yet — at least not one designed specifically for StumbleUpon. I think the thing you would lose there is that your rankings would be tied to that page, but I’ve been thinking about testing it.

    What I think does work well is to setup campaigns for the home page of a blog, and then also for individual posts that are, as you’d put it, related to your flagship content.

    With the home page, I rev up the advertising when I’ve got a particularly interesting post leading off on it to draw people in, and then turn it off when I don’t. Seems to work well.

  7. That seems a very sensible way of doing it :)

  8. That seems a very sensible way of doing it :)

  9. Thanks the for the analysis of the Squidoo offer system. When I checked your offer it was at the very top of the list, so if you weren’t getting many clicks I doubt anyone was.

    It sounded like a good idea when Godin first explained it, but I wonder how many advertisers are willing to pay for an ad that might never get seen. How many people care enough to vote on ads?

    The only way it works is if you have business competing with great offers that people really want to see.

  10. Thanks the for the analysis of the Squidoo offer system. When I checked your offer it was at the very top of the list, so if you weren’t getting many clicks I doubt anyone was.

    It sounded like a good idea when Godin first explained it, but I wonder how many advertisers are willing to pay for an ad that might never get seen. How many people care enough to vote on ads?

    The only way it works is if you have business competing with great offers that people really want to see.

  11. Exactly, I see little evidence that squidoo users (real ones, not people who are helping me out ;) ) actually vote …

  12. Exactly, I see little evidence that squidoo users (real ones, not people who are helping me out ;) ) actually vote …

  13. You know, I was looking at the sidebar where they would be doing the voting and I think Seth has made it pretty unclear about what someone is actually doing there. It looks like it would be a little intimidating for the casual browser.

    Plus, the descriptions get truncated — so how is there really enough information to vote? I think a little flyout needs to be added that contains more information.

    I will say that all of those run of category links you have look awfully nice :-) I hope nobody rats Seth out to Matt Cutts ;-)

  14. You know, I was looking at the sidebar where they would be doing the voting and I think Seth has made it pretty unclear about what someone is actually doing there. It looks like it would be a little intimidating for the casual browser.

    Plus, the descriptions get truncated — so how is there really enough information to vote? I think a little flyout needs to be added that contains more information.

    I will say that all of those run of category links you have look awfully nice :-) I hope nobody rats Seth out to Matt Cutts ;-)

  15. I’m discounting them in my mind as I am pretty sure a no-follow condom or robots.txt will be slapping them down pretty soon …

  16. I’m discounting them in my mind as I am pretty sure a no-follow condom or robots.txt will be slapping them down pretty soon …

  17. Yup — but really this is exactly the kind of case where I think Google is off their rocker going after paid links. The links are highly relevant and the audience has participated in whether or not they are seen. It would be nice if Seth held his ground on this one because it is an excellent example of how there really isn’t an easy litmus test for paid links.

  18. Yup — but really this is exactly the kind of case where I think Google is off their rocker going after paid links. The links are highly relevant and the audience has participated in whether or not they are seen. It would be nice if Seth held his ground on this one because it is an excellent example of how there really isn’t an easy litmus test for paid links.

  19. Didn’t you know all paid links are evil (unless sold by Google)? ;)

  20. Didn’t you know all paid links are evil (unless sold by Google)? ;)

  21. Well, I just got started promoting my website, and I found this quite thought provoking. I would’ve thought that Squidoo would had won this vote, but from what you’re saying, that’s not the case with advertising.

    Gives one a lot to think about.

  22. Well, I just got started promoting my website, and I found this quite thought provoking. I would’ve thought that Squidoo would had won this vote, but from what you’re saying, that’s not the case with advertising.

    Gives one a lot to think about.

  23. Thanks for writing this up. I have been thinking about using Stumbleupon since very long to promote my blog. Your post has helped me get closer to make a decision in their way. I may setup a campaign pretty soon.

  24. Thanks for writing this up. I have been thinking about using Stumbleupon since very long to promote my blog. Your post has helped me get closer to make a decision in their way. I may setup a campaign pretty soon.

  25. Chris, nice to meet again with such a nice subject/experiment. I haven’t been doing much with SU lately but all my experiences are pretty good regarding the traffic SU sends.

    This case is a good reminder to keep an eye on SU! Thanks!

  26. Chris, nice to meet again with such a nice subject/experiment. I haven’t been doing much with SU lately but all my experiences are pretty good regarding the traffic SU sends.

    This case is a good reminder to keep an eye on SU! Thanks!

  27. I did an experiment with Stumbleupon recently and blogged about it Here

  28. I did an experiment with Stumbleupon recently and blogged about it Here

  29. @Judith – I think they both serve different purposes, I have found both audiences fickle to say the least :)

    @Raj – just test it, each persons result with be different. I have tried both sending to the homepage and specific page and on certain days the results from the homepage are shockingly different (thumbing down rather than up!)

    @Markus – up to now my results have been 100% positive from SU but paid results have been very informative

    @Ogletree – Interesting about the alexa aspect, your link is broken but I searched and found it
    http://www.ogletreeseo.com/144.html

  30. @Judith – I think they both serve different purposes, I have found both audiences fickle to say the least :)

    @Raj – just test it, each persons result with be different. I have tried both sending to the homepage and specific page and on certain days the results from the homepage are shockingly different (thumbing down rather than up!)

    @Markus – up to now my results have been 100% positive from SU but paid results have been very informative

    @Ogletree – Interesting about the alexa aspect, your link is broken but I searched and found it
    http://www.ogletreeseo.com/144.html

  31. Oops thinkgs.

  32. I mean thanks

  33. Oops thinkgs.

  34. I mean thanks

  35. Well, I just finished a Squidoo lens on social bookmarking. I doubt it’ll be a great draw to my main website, but it was fun to do. So now I know how it works. Now I’m going to try a second one with products relevant to my industry. Figure if I screwed it up, it would barely point to me. LOL!

  36. Well, I just finished a Squidoo lens on social bookmarking. I doubt it’ll be a great draw to my main website, but it was fun to do. So now I know how it works. Now I’m going to try a second one with products relevant to my industry. Figure if I screwed it up, it would barely point to me. LOL!