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How to Use StumbleUpon to Improve Your Blogging

Stumbling boosts inspiration, traffic and more

stumbleuponStumbleUpon is an online community built for users to discover and rate web pages and is a personalized peer recommendation tool. StumbleUpon exists as a toolbar in a user’s web browser and they click “Stumble!” to be presented with a site that has been “discovered” or “liked” by other users and fits within the interest preferences the stumbler has set.

How can this improve your blogging? StumbleUpon is perfect for blog inspiration, being well informed in your niche, building your community as well as traffic (which is a great reward, no?).

Getting set up:

First, set up a profile on StumbleUpon and fill it out as completely as possible.

Second, in order to begin “stumbling,” you will need to install the StumbleUpon toolbar for your web browser. StumbleUpon should recognize your browser and install instantly by clicking here, but if not:

Anatomy of the toolbar:

stumble toolbar(click image to enlarge)

  • Stumble! button– click it and you’re off to the next web page that is served up based on your preferences indicated and upon it being selected by other StumbleUpon users. It can be addicting, be warned!
  • Thumbs up– pushing this turns the thumb green (and a second click can undo it) adding it to your favorites for later reference and trains the “recommendation engine” what you like to improve stumbled results. When you’re the first person to thumbs up a page, you “discover” it and by writing a quick review or summary, it is entered into the directory to be stumbled by others interested in that type of content.
  • Thumbs down– this too trains the engine about your preferences. Pressing this arrow next to it allows you to tell why you don’t like it… either it’s poorly targeted to you, it’s a repeat result, it’s redundant or you can block that specific site from your stumbling altogether. Reporting abuse is important for the well being of the overall community.
  • Send to– allows you to share your discovery via email, social networks or share with your StumbleUpon friends.
  • Reviews– this button shows you what other StumbleUpon users have said about the web page.
  • Channels pressing any of these buttons refine your search. You can stumble only things your friends have said thumbs up to or you can refine it to only photos or even only video.
  • Favorites– this shows you everything you’ve said you liked via thumbs up.
  • Friends– allows you to subscribe to your friends’ stumbled content.
  • Tools– is where you can change your preferences and various options from the toolbar.

Using StumbleUpon to your advantage

Downloading and using the toolbar gives you a massive advantage not only for bookmarking sites to check out later but you reward the site’s author (especially if you comment) and build your community on StumbleUpon as well as across the blogosphere as you learn from others, expand your RSS subscription list as you discover new content, reach out to others in comments and interact.

Set up your preferences to recommend applicable content to you- avoid focusing on “interesting” albeit useful sites (no matter how fun kitties are), and put energy into stumbling content about your city, local events, news and statistics and shore up your hold on your market.

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Prepare your site for StumbleUpon

Is your site stumblable? There are some simple things you can do to make sure:

  • Insure people can share your blog articles even if they are somewhere they cannot use their StumbleUpon bar and install a “share this” button or a “StumbleUpon button.”
  • Configure your content to be stumbled keeping in mind that you have a very brief window of time to capture someone’s attention. Make sure your titles are relevant, clear and have a call to action (which is always a better idea than going for clever anyhow).Images are critical and clip art must be avoided at all costs, so use bright images that capture the eye. Avoid long paragraphs and break them up for ease of skimming and reading. All of this equates to a simple reminder that good web design is more than just fun, it is part of your brand and appeal- you want it to be shared, right?
  • Acknowledge StumbleUpon users with a greeting- if you have a WordPress blog, a simple plugin called “WordPress Greet Box” will let you customize messages based on where a viewer came from (so if it’s from Stumble, you can say, “Thanks for Stumbling us, we work really hard to earn your thumbs up, so whaddya say?!?”).
  • Configuring your site for StumbleUpon and using it yourself will help you broaden your understanding of the peer recommendation engine which will improve your advantage.

Strengthen your influence on StumbleUpon

Despite my lack of affinity for the word “influence,” I mean it not in the “pressure others to do drugs” sort of way but in the “lead other by example and by organically growing your network” way. Influence in the StumbleUpon community means you have given the thumbs up to a lot of material that others have found useful, you have made connections in the form of StumbleUpon friends and you share content back and forth, and you are active in the community.

Here are some ways to strengthen your influence:

  • It shouldn’t have to be spelled out, but just in case you’re a whambam type, I must emphasize that you should fill out your StumbleUpon profile as completely as possible. This allows other users to connect with you on more common grounds, plus it’s hard to see someone as a valuable authority if they are too lazy to even upload a profile pic.
  • StumbleUpon offers various groups where you can find fellow stumblers with similar interests and dig deeper into their stumbled content and make connections. Users can have up to 200 friends.
  • Stumble frequently and more importantly, give a thumbs up to anything you come across that is useful or relevant to your interests. Any time I read a real estate related article that I enjoy, I give it a thumbs up and frequently, I get to “discover” it, meaning no one has thumbs upped that article yet and I get to be the source of the stumble and everyone who sees the article will see my name up top. TIP: if you only stumble your own articles and never anything else, the algorithm will recognize it and will not serve up your articles to other users as a result.
  • When you discover content, make sure your tags are relevant and use tags repeatedly to categorize your found content. Focusing your tags on a specific set of interests strengthens how StumbleUpon sees your finds.

StumbleUpon is targeted traffic to your site and to others based on peer to peer recommendations and if you’re ready, you can take full advantage of that as well as reward others in your community.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 27, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    @laniAR here’s my issue with stumbleupon, you get tons of traffic when you do stumble posts (note: should not stumble your own stuff) – but what kind of traffic is it? Is it your audience? people interested in your services? like everything else, I use in moderation….have not seen really great traffic coming from it, but maybe someone can prove me wrong (I hope)

  2. Lani Rosales

    October 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    It does take work to refine your use (as outlined in detail above). Properly minding tags, actually stumbling others’ work, etc. teach StumbleUpon what your preferences are the same way others’ uses teach the algorithm their preferences which is why being local and tagging content locally (real-estate, miami, florida, realtor, etc. are all relevant) is important.

    If done willy nilly, you’re right, it’s not very useful. 🙂

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 27, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Damn Lani – you always make me work! 🙂

  4. Ken Brand

    October 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    How to Use StumbleUpon to Improve Your Blogging

  5. Portland Real Estate

    October 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    StumbleUpon is completely addictive, and I could lose hours on the internet on it. Luckily, I have broken the habit for now. Though, I do make sure to jump in and click the Thumbs up whenever I have a new blog post published, it does create a little flurry of traffic along with the Twitter and Facebook posts.


  6. Mario Trejo Romero

    October 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    RT @SDRealtors: How to Use StumbleUpon to Improve Your Blogging: How can this improve your bloggin

  7. BHG Real Estate

    October 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    How to Use StumbleUpon to Improve Your Blogging

  8. Sue Adamo-Carpenter

    October 28, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    How to Use StumbleUpon to Improve Your Blogging

  9. William Campion

    October 29, 2009 at 8:44 am (via @familyhomes4you)retweet. Enjoyed reading about Stumbleupon. ..thank you.

  10. Rob McCance

    October 31, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Hey, great informative post. I’ve never used it nor known even a little bit how it works.

    Now I still won’t, but do, respectively.


  11. newmedialab

    November 3, 2009 at 2:17 am

    How to use StumbleUpon to improve your blogging:

  12. Hal Lublin

    January 20, 2010 at 3:58 am

    RT @LaniAR: how to use stumbleupon to improve your blogging: (Great article Lani!)

  13. Tracy Mueller

    January 20, 2010 at 6:16 am

    This post from @LaniAR just convinced me to finally try StumbleUpon: how to use stumbleupon to improve your blogging:

  14. Joe Doyle

    January 20, 2010 at 6:32 am

    RT @tracymueller: This post from @LaniAR just convinced me to finally try StumbleUpon: < can't wait to read tomorrow.

  15. Joe @ HCB Health

    January 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    RT: @tracymueller This post from @LaniAR just convinced me to try StumbleUpon to improve blogging: < good read.

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