Logo of StumbleUponAlright, so in an attempt to fully take advantage of this social-networking-blogging-21st-century thing, I’ve jumped on the StumbleUpon bandwagon (probably later than most, but hey, you gotta start somewhere). It took me a few days to fully figure it out in between work & life & etc., but I think I’ve got a decent grasp on it now. Here’s what I did and how I plan to use it. Hopefully you’ll find this useful, because it took a lot of Googling for me to figure everything out (or at least as much as I know now).

What the heck is StumbleUpon & why would I want another social network?

From what I can tell, it’s a lot like Twitter, but a lot less social. You’ll have an account which you can customize by defining a bunch of your “interests.” You’ll subscribe to other people’s accounts and they’ll subscribe to yours (sounds a lot like following/followers). But here’s the fun part: You’ll click a button—either “Discover” on the StumbleUpon web site, or “Stumble!” on your browser—and fun things will start happening!

Basically, by defining your interests, the site gets an idea of what you like. Then, by thumbing up or down sites as you visit (or “stumble upon”) them, it learns more and more about you so it can recommend better web sites. Scary, yes, but we’re in the Internet-age and the Internet is supposed to know more about you than you know about yourself. That seems to be how the world works. I’ve read that the site’s been compared to having a remote control, but a more apt description may be that it’s like the “seek” button on your car radio, except that it’ll only find radio stations you’ll be interested in. I’ve mixed up the analogies, but you get the idea.

Either way, it’s here to stay and you can definitely get some good use out of it. There are a ton of amazing web sites out there that you probably wouldn’t ever come across without the randomness of a StumbleUpon find.

Step-by-step guide to get started:

  1. Go to stumbleupon.com to set up your user name & account. For consistency purposes, I recommend using the same name as your travel blog (which hopefully matches or mimics your Twitter account, too).
  2. Next, you’ll want to install the in-browser Firefox add-on (download here). Of course, if you don’t already use Firefox, you’re a fool because you should be. So, get on that already.
    The Firefox add-on
  3. After you’ve got an account and an easy way to Stumble with your Firefox add-on, you should set up some preferences. You might be lucky and when/if you click the “Start Stumbling” button (or “Stumble” if you’re already logged in), the first screen that appears will ask you to select the topics you’re interested in. Do that. If you don’t see that screen, login and edit your settings.
    • Account Settings: Be sure to select “Show age on my profile” because it’ll make you seem more real to your subscribers. Plus it gives your subscribers a better idea of the type of travel interests you’ve got (sorry to stereotype).
    • Customize Profile: Be sure to write a bio in the “Introduce yourself” box. This is key to getting subscribers. You can insert some HTML coding in here as well, so I’d suggest adding a link to your travel blog.
    • Manage Interests: This is the fun part! Start checking off boxes. This basically defines your soul in as few categories as possible.
    • Profile Picture: Put one up or else you won’t seem legit. Probably should match your Gravatar/Twitter pic for branding purposes.
  4. Now that you’re all set up, start stumbling! Open a new tab in your browser and click “Stumble!”

Play around for a few days/hours/sleepless nights while you surf the net finally with some control. By clicking “I like it!” you’re basically adding the site to your Favorites feed. You should add reviews as often as possible because it means you’re actually taking time to look at sites, not just clicking like a monkey.

“Alright, great. Now what about promoting my blog?”

Britain Going Blog Crazy - Metro Article
Photo Credit: sepblog (via Flickr)

As far as I can tell, this can be tricky. Don’t go stumbling all your blog posts and pages just yet. If you do, StumbleUpon will find out and then find a way to punish you. Probably by reporting you to Google (aka Internet police) and then they take your Internet away (hyperbole here). First things first, let’s see if you can get some of your readers to stumble your travel blog for you. That’s more reputable, right?

  1. Hopefully you’re hosting your blog with one of the major content management systems (WordPress, TypePad, Blogger etc.). You probably want to include a “Stumble” badge at the bottom of your posts. If you aren’t already using a plug-in that already automatically does this for you, StumbleUpon graciously provides the code for you. The link is kinda hidden on their site; I couldn’t find a link from the home page, but you’re just looking for the buttons found here. Follow the steps and it tells you how to insert the code based on your CMS. (Quick caveat: I couldn’t get this to work for me. I ended up having to modify the code because it was missing the <img alt=”StumbleUpon” src=”http://www.stumbleupon.com/images/…” border=”0″ /> line of code which inserts the image, not a text link.)
  2. Now you can stumble 1 or 2 of your favorite posts, but not all at once. Again, do not stumble your site very often. From what I’ve read, Stumble downgrades your status and will send less Stumblers to your posts. Best to do it every few weeks and just hope your readers do it for you!
  3. Best way to get people to stumble your site? Make sure you’ve got a button on every post and occasionally ask (or just cross your fingers) for readers to click it. How can you beat those odds, though? Go and subscribe to other travel bloggers’ stumble sites. Like mine! Again, it’s similar to Twitter in this way, so see who other people are subscribed to and then subscribe to those stumblers as well. This is where using your same Twitter user name comes in handy because you can search for your favorite Twitter followers by their user name more often than not. Branding’s pretty useful, isn’t it?

Wait! There’s more ways to use it to your brand’s advantage!

More? Yes. StumbleUpon is actually a pretty robust feature. Here’s a few more ways to get the most out of it.

  1. Remember that Firefox toolbar from earlier? If, while on your own blog or a random site you found through Stumbling, you decide you’d like to share your sweet finds and/or blog posts on Twitter or Facebook, there’s an incredibly easy way! Just click “Share > Facebook/Twitter”. The first time you do this, you’ll have to authorize either or both of those accounts to access the su.pr application.
  2. With the su.pr application, you can share your stumbles on Twitter & StumbleUpon at the same time. But that’s not even the best part. You can schedule when to post the tweet to your Twitter feed. I don’t know about you, but I think this is extremely useful. I find myself communicating with different people in different time-zones all the time and managing all of that on my own gets tiring. Being able to schedule a handful (don’t overdue it) of interesting tweets (whether links to my own blog or interesting sites I come across gets me more exposure. And that’s a good thing.
  3. BONUS! If you’re ever on a computer where the StumbleUpon toolbar isn’t already installed, just go to the web site: http://stumbleupon.com/su/ which allows you to log-in and share using the same features.

Okay, so that about covers my knowledge of StumbleUpon. I’m sure there’s more to it and I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, why don’t you stumble this article, or subscribe to my stumbles.

Related Post

Travels of Adam - It's a blogLooking for a place to stay? I use HotelsCombined.com where you can easily compare hotel room rates and prices. Please note some posts do make me some money but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

25 comments

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  1. Thank you for this. I opened a Stumble account a few weeks ago and have so far done nothing with it because I haven’t had time to work it out yet! I am so grateful that you have done it for me!

    I will Stumble this article now :-)

    • Adam

      Thanks! Have fun with it – it can suck away hours of your life!

  2. Candicewalsh

    Thanks for this, Adam! I was generally under the impression that if someone else Stumbles your blog post or writing, it’s okay to stumble it yourself. Will try your approach from now on.

  3. Mikeachim

    Nice guide. :)

    Yes, obnoxiously Stumbling your own stuff can lead to either a wrist-slapping or even an outright ban. Technically speaking, it’s not for promoting your own web material, but nearly everybody does that to some degree. It’s just a question of how.

    I’d say, as a rule….

    – don’t send messages like “Thumb this up and I’ll do the same for anything you send me”. That’s tacky. Don’t ask people to automatically like your stuff – just make them aware of it, and let them make their own minds up.

    – don’t Discover nothing but your own stuff (and ideally, don’t Discover *any* of your own stuff)…

    – interact with your Sharers and Sharees – make the effort to respond, because it’s friendly and fun and good relationship-building…

    – don’t Thumb up anything you think is crud, and don’t mass-share anything spammy. That will ruin your reputation.

    – Leave Reviews, but not just ones that repeat what’s in the post, or say something bland like “This is good LOL”. Engage with the material at hand What do you really *think*? Have fun. Go off on a rant. (But always be respectful).

  4. Adam

    Yeah, su.pr's got excellent tracking features. I was using it for a while but I find it a little annoying sometimes. Trying to just use it on the posts I actually want stumbled—which isn't always everything.

    And it'd be great to meet up! I keep meaning to plan a Boston travel tweetup sometime soon. I'll let you know!

  5. Thanks for the tips Adam and good luck on your RTW Trip! Maybe we'll cross paths along the way. I'm learning to use SU as we speak. As of lately, it's been sending SO much traffic to my site. I have found that using su.pr is a huge help to as you can actual track your link statistics.

  6. Adam thanks so much for this post, I'm definitely stumbling it :)
    I had no idea you weren't supposed to stumble your own site, great tips here.

  7. Adam

    You're welcome :)

    Let me know once you've got your page set up so I can be sure to become a fan!

  8. Adam

    Thanks! Hope you've found it useful.

  9. Great tips, i think stumble really have potential in my site one day they bring me more that 1500 visits in half an hour, they just passed by, but increase your alexa rankings.

  10. Thank you for all the instructions. I am starting right away. I have been having problems trying to link my Facebook with my blog, but with all the instructions, I believe I can manage. Thanks again for all these info.

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  12. Yea, I am trying to stumble a lot more of my favorite travel sites and other sites that I like. Every once in a while someone will thumb up one of my pages and I'll get 50 or so hits on it, but thats it. I figure I should do like 5 or 10 sites a day for a month or two and see where that gets me then sneak in one of mine once I start my trip in August. Some of the posts I tried to stumble aren't very content heavy either, but I am not sure if they screen them for quality.

  13. Adam

    Hey Jeremy,
    From everything I've read, you should definitely not stumble your own site (or other people's) regularly. My best guess (and what I would do) is to simply not stumble your own site for at least several weeks, but keep using SU regularly to find and stumble upon other travel sites. This would show SU that you're interested in & looking for travel sites, so that later on, when you feel it's safe to start stumbling your own site again, it won't be suspicious.

    Let me know how that works out, though. It's such a cool internet feature, but it's definitely complicated. And I'm by no means an expert (not yet at least!).

  14. I over stumbled my site and now it wont stumble it anymore which kinda sucks. I was getting hundreds of hits a time when it did stumble. It says that I have to stumble more sites to show that I am not spamming in the FAQ section. This could be tricky. Any thoughts?

  15. Adam

    Oops! I'm not sure if I ever replied to this. Did you ever get SU to work? E-mail me if you need more help and I can see what I can do.

  16. Adam

    Oh great! Thanks for sharing.

    It's weird that the “official” code from Stumble itself doesn't seem to work. I figured out the workaround for WordPress but I'm not as familiar with Blogger. This is helpful!

  17. Adam

    Thanks Suzi Let me know if you come up with any other tips, too. It's a really powerful tool and I can't claim to have figured it all out yet.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Suzi

    Very interesting & informative article – I'm definitely going to give your ideas a try! Thanx & Happy New Year

  19. GREAT post. Help me! I can't figure out how to add the Stumble Upon to my posts in Word Press. I've got all of the coding, but don't speak HTML.

  20. Adam

    Ok, here you go:

    Login to your Dashboard and click on Appearance > Editor. This should allow you to edit the HTML.

    Then find your php file called single.php. Once you click on that, you'll see the editor box open and then you can find the line that looks like this:
    <?php the_content('

    Read the rest of this entry »

    '); ?>

    After that line, insert this:
    <a href=”http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=<?php the_permalink(); ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>” target=”_blank”>

    <img alt=”StumbleUpon” src=”http://www.stumbleupon.com/images/stumble7.gif” border=”0″ />

    Then you should be good to go. E-mail me if you need more help!

  21. Adam

    Ok, here you go:
    Login to your Dashboard and click on Appearance > Editor. This should allow you to edit the HTML.
    Then find your php file called single.php. Once you click on that, you'll see the editor box open and then you can find the line that looks like this:
    <?php the_content('

    Read the rest of this entry &raquo;

    '); ?>

    After that line, insert this:
    <a href="http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=&lt;?php the_permalink(); ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>" target="_blank">

    <img alt="StumbleUpon" src="http://www.stumbleupon.com/images/stumble7.gif&quot; border="0" />

    Then you should be good to go. E-mail me if you need more help!

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