StumbleUpon: My Stumble Your Own Stuff Experiment

On 15/01/10 I stumbled my article “My First Recurring Income Online …”. I also delicious bookmarked it, shortened it with and posted it to twitter. Every day, for a whole month, I stumbled and rated websites around the internet for at least 20 minutes per day. Since that month I’ve been an active user of StumbleUpon and the results of this experiment have blown me away. This is a review of what happened.

The Experiment

At it’s most basic element, my experiment was to see what effect – if any – my consistent participation in the service StumbleUpon has on how well my articles go on StumbleUpon when I stumble them myself.

When I started this experiment I was actually quite pessimistic about how successful it was going to be. But like most things, it just kind of came to me one day and I decided to roll with it.

I’m not usually in the habit of stumbling my own articles. I read somewhere that stumbling your own articles too often is bad and actually inhibits your effectiveness in the StumbleUpon system, eventually leading to no traffic at all if you do it all the time.

Now that I have some perspective, I think it has something to do with the ratio of how many links your favourites have to one particular domain as to what your vote weight is for that site (or any site you favourite perhaps).

I’ve actually been a member of StumbleUpon for quite a while. I have buttons on my blog, but I rarely promoted my own stuff, or even used the service as it was intended. After about a month or so of use back when I signed up, my account was rarely used.

Nowadays however, I’ve become a bit more of an active user of the service (here’s my StumbleUpon ID if you’re interested in connecting).

Traffic Activity (Before Actively Stumbling)

As far as traffic goes, my articles don’t really get stumbled all that often by my blog’s visitors so the ticker in Google Analytics hardly moves at all for traffic from the StumbleUpon domain. Here is my traffic stats for visits from StumbleUpon for Dec/Jan:

StumbleUpon Experiment Before

It had been a while since I’d stumbled anything from my own site so I guess I was starting from a pretty blank state. If I had my chance again in this experiment I would have created a whole new StumbleUpon account to get a more accurate representation.

Because I was starting from such a blank slate, I thought it would be interesting to stumble one of my blog posts as an experiment in how much traffic it brings in over the next couple of days.

My idea was to then participate in the stumbling process for a predetermined period of time per day, stumbling and rating articles for my enjoyment for around 20 minutes. At some point in the future I would then submit another article or two of my own to StumbleUpon and see what the difference was.

Needless to say (by the picture above) submitting that first article made absolutely no difference to my stats. There was no rush of visitors, not even a small one. Confidence was high!

How Long Did I Actually Stumble For?

I stumbled on average for 20-30 minutes per day for that first month (pretty much all of February).

After that I got a little lazy, but my stumbles were now more about discovering new content (stuff that hasn’t been stumbled or reviewed yet) or rating things that I knew had already been stumbled (but not actively using the stumbling interface to bounce around the web).

For new discoveries I would write a small 20-50 word review and be on my way. I’ve done this sporadically over Feb and March.

All in all since the first stumble on the 15th of Jan, 2010 I’ve been actively using StumbleUpon for around 2 and a half months (today being the 02 April).

Latest Stumbles Of My Own Content

Over the last few weeks I thought it would be a good idea to start testing stumbles on my own content again to see if there were any results.

I’ve made the following Stumbles of my own content recently:

StumbleUpon Stumble My Own Stuff ExperimentStumbleUpon Stumble My Own Stuff ExperimentStumbleUpon Stumble My Own Stuff ExperimentStumbleUpon Stumble My Own Stuff ExperimentStumbleUpon Stumble My Own Stuff Experiment

I’m not sure how accurate the numbers are here, but the last two were the most surprising because in Google Analytics they created two very large spikes (large for my site, anyway).

StumbleUpon stumble traffic after

I’m sure we can all agree the spike in traffic is interesting, but what I find most interesting is that the quality of StumbleUpon traffic compared to what most people assume it to be: rubbish.

Unfortunately, I think the generalisations are actually pretty close to the mark. It’s not the kind of traffic that lingers around, or even clicks around.

In addition I didn’t see any similar spikes to my feed count or any other statistics that I’m monitoring, it was pretty much just the pages that were successful that received the traffic injection and that was that.

I’m going to monitor how much traffic is sent to me via StumbleUpon over the next few weeks, but in general it’s been increasing ever so slowly over the last two months. Not including the spikes, the traffic has roughly doubled, although that could just be from the added articles. We’ll see how that one goes in a follow up article maybe.


So what do you think of StumbleUpon traffic? For a lot of people it’s one of their biggest traffic sources, but then what are your rates of adoption like? Do stumblers people subscribe for example? Do they buy your stuff? Let us know in the comments below.

I’d love for this experiment to put some factual data against some of the preconceptions people have about StumbleUpon and the quality of it’s traffic. Personally, I’ll be playing a much more active role in StumbleUpon. I think that for a small site StumbleUpon remains one of the best ways to grow your traffic streams.

If you liked this article, maybe you could stumble it? 😉

Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a software entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. He spends most of his time helping e-commerce store owners. This is his personal blog where he shares his thoughts and other tidbits on online business and life in general.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Dave Doolin

    Yeah, it’s good, I just started back into it.

    I’ve got an email coming your way.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Ten four, thanks Dave – email received.

  2. David Hutchison

    I don’t have hard figures, but my experience was about the same as yours. I also tried a StumbleUpon campaign, putting something like $20 into it to see what would happen.

    Traffic goes up a bit, but now my site gets enough traffic that SU numbers are inconsequential. I would also agree that folks leave as quickly as they arrive.

    The site I did it with is a real niche piece though….hockey goaltending…so that might also be why people don’t stick around.
    .-= David Hutchison´s last article: Kuemper debuts with poise and a win =-.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey David – yeah I figured I was going about things the hard way doing it without a StumbleUpon Campaign, but I was also curious if natural participation was the key to having lasting success with StumbleUpon.

      That’s bit disappointing to hear you had similar results with the campaigns though because that sort of service is really made for the really niche stuff. I guess for a new site though, $20 is really a small amount to pay for 500+ visitors in just a couple of days, any exposure is good exposure at the start!

  3. Mario Kluser

    I did not put too much energy in it as I didn’t see the real potential. Some articles were stumbled by others but didn’t drive much traffic to my site.

    The change came when I connected with a very small amount of other Stumblers. Now I share every new article with them via the Stumble bar and let them decided if it’s worth stumbling. The result is that my traffic grew rapidly.

    At the first glance this traffic doesn’t stay long, just as you experienced it, but after a while I see that every month more people are coming back to my blog and more people stay longer.

    The results are still not sky rocketing but they are tangible and there is a progressive growth.

    I did not stumble my own stuff but so now and then I will consider it as I think this is the only way to show to all users where I stand for.
    .-= Mario Kluser´s last article: Fasten Your Seatbelts: How To Draw Cars Fast And Easy =-.

  4. Thanks for the helpful piece.

    A bit like you we’ve just started using stumbleupon to stumble other people’s stuff and to mingle in our own – this has resulted in a lot of traffic. For example a two month old blog post brought us the most traffic we’d ever had on a saturday last weekend! Still not quite sure what makes a post take off, but generosity certainly pays.

    .-= Silicon Beach Training´s last article: 4 ways to grow your business =-.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Definitely Natasha, thanks for your comment. I agree, generosity really does seem to be one of the principles guiding StumbleUpon. My most popular articles on StumbleUpon are generally the more mature ones, usually the ones that get stumbled immediately get a rush of traffic, but after that it seems that good content is what scores the consistent likes.

  5. Lynda Giddens

    Josh, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I think I’m in love with you.

    I’m participating in Problogger’s 31DBBB with TheSITSGirls and yesterday’s task was about promotion. So many people said they got mad traffic from StumbleUpon, but for me it just sent a cluster of hits over the course of an hour or two and very few of them resulted in multiple pageviews, comments or return visits from what I could tell. It seemed pointless for anything but increased pageviews.

    I put the buttons on my blog and found other people were stumbling my stuff, but the traffic still seemed to do nothing but pump up the pageviews a little bit.

    I found your article by searching for “where can i find my site’s stumbleupon stats” To say I’m blown away by your experiment is an understatement. I’m an analyst by profession and I just love statistics, especially when it’s about something as near and dear to me as my blog. You’ve given me a lot to think about, for sure! I’ve just started liberally stumbling articles and this definitely inspires me to continue that!

    Thank you! I stumbledupon this article, followed you on stumbleupon and subscribed to your RSS feed. 🙂

    By the way, I love the Estimated Reading Time at the top; that’s Aces. Also, you have a typo in the first sentence under the heading The Experiment. The possessive of it is: its.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks for your kind comment Lynda and also the link!

      I kind of agree with the reports you’ve recieved of StumbleUpon traffic. Many people are quite wary of it because of the limited value it seems to bring in the long run. I experience the same stats bulges when you first submit an article aswell. I find the statistics on this really fascinating which is why I wanted to do this experiment in the first place.

      Keep stumbling and you’ll get more and more value out of it. I do know that anyone who gets any sort of regular traffic also participates in the service themselves or just have such large audiences that they don’t need to, but we’re not all there yet 🙂

      Yeah my its and it’s and itsies need work 😉 I just can’t get it through my thick head – I think the problem is my hands type before my brain engages.. 😛

    2. Hey Josh and Lynda,
      I’m tagging my response to Lynda’s comment because we’re participating in the same challenge- Problogger’s 31DBBB with TheSITSGirls.

      I’m a big fan of StumbleUpon. I agree with you and others who set aside 15-20 minutes to sit at the computer and hit the Stumble button to see what pops up. I love this feature! I find cool, funny stuff – often stuff that ends up sparking ideas for a new blog post. That’s a huge benefit for me.

      What that means is that my customer behavior varies from how I do a CommentLuv blog, for example. Unless I’m really intrigued by the blog, I see that page and hit the Stumble button again. I give a thumbs up or down to let Stumble know whether I want more or less posts like the one they’ve shown me.

      That means I’m not offended when people read and run on my blog. The second benefit to me has been mad blog traffic – for certain posts. I’ve seen other blogging buddies have a post “stumbled”. We’re always delighted to have that happen. Famous for a day!

      No, it’s not long lasting. But that’s not the promise.

      Mario (who commented above) has the right idea with banding together and group stumbling. There is power in numbers. If we can’t generate a pop, then there’s no point in playing the game.

      Try a StumbleUpon journey and notice your own behavior. It’s all good 😀

      Look! I stumbled and commented and I’m about to add you to my personal bookmarking service called TGIF Links as my last official act before I shut down the computer for tonight.

    3. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks for the awesome comment Cheryl!

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, that’s really what StumbleUpon is designed for. It’s a very me-centric service in that what you like and don’t like effects the way they serve up the data. For bloggers like us that means we get spikes in our traffic, especially if it’s just one or two stumbles here and there.

      Good luck with the 31DBBB!

  6. Tracie

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing the actual numbers and stats from your experience. I’m new to stumble and still trying to figure it all out. I think making a daily routine of 20-30 minutes is a very doable thing.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks Tracie, appreciate the comment! Actual numbers are everything and in my opinion there’s a lot of heresay around these types of topics.

      You’re very right, 20-30 minutes is very doable. I usually do it on my lunch break!

  7. Dan Bonser

    This was a great little experiment. All in all, its worth it to toss your own content up every now and then, and be a participant. It might be luck of the draw, but it gets your website seen in another venue.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Even though this article was written long ago, it’s actually even more relevant today than it was then. StumbleUpon have really tightened up their algorithm for this.

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