Some Solopreneur courses are long, complicated, and time intensive.  Others are small, simple, and fast, like this one.  Every once in a while I seek out new ideas on how I can get more visitors to my website.  When I was reading through a few posts on the Smart Passive Income Community Facebook group I found this story:

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It seemed a little fantastical to me, but so did the Four Hour Work Week before I tried it.  So I put it into action, and tested it myself.

Solopreneurship Mini-Course #3: Posting Your Pages on StumbleUpon:

If you have never used StumbleUpon before:

Sign up for an account.  Add interests.  Start stumbling and liking pages (~30 is a good number to start with).

Adding pages from your website:

Here is how I added my last page to StumbleUpon

How I add my pages to StumbleUpon

I like to use the StumbleUpon bar for Google Chrome.  I go to the page on my website I want to add, highlight a paragraph of text, and click the thumbs up button on the StumbleBar.  It then takes you to a page with the text “Submit this page to StumbleUpon and add it to your likes”.  I tag the page with a few ‘Interests’.  Usually the highlighted text causes relevant interests to show up, but if they don’t, just search for them in the search bar, and post your page once you’ve added a few tags.  DO NOT tag your page with irrelevant topics, it will lead to your page getting voted down and ranking lower in the Stumble algorithm, meaning you won’t receive as much traffic.

Adding relevant interests to the last page I posted to StumbleUpon

Adding relevant interests to the last page I posted to StumbleUpon

Between adding pages:

I read that you should like ~15 pages that you haven’t submitted for every page you add to StumbleUpon to prove you aren’t spamming the website.  I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it really only takes a minute or two, so I make sure I like 15 pages I find stumbling right before I submit a new page.

And just like that, 5 minutes later, you’ve completed the mini-course.

Now, as always, I will review this mini course.  I think the most important thing to notice is how mindlessly quick and easy doing this is.  I’ve built it into my article posting routine, because although it’s unclear if it is making a huge difference for my website (it probably isn’t), it has the potential to help, and it doesn’t require any resources.

How much traffic have I received using this incredibly simple method?  More that I might expect.  StumbleUpon is the second largest referrer to my website, and by only a small margin.  Considering that it takes much longer to write a thoughtful tagline for a Facebook post, ensure that my images are embedded properly, and that my posts are released at a time when people are most likely to click on and read my long articles, if we’re going strictly off of quantity of traffic (calculated using (#unique visitors)/(time or effort spent) ), StumbleUpon has been the most efficient method for getting more people to view my website.  It is also basically my only source of international visitors, which is interesting and probably helps me rank higher on search engines (I could be totally wrong about this).  The most fascinating part of the StumbleUpon experiment was when my As a Man Thinketh page started trending, and got hundreds of views in a few days.  I guess all it takes is a few likes for your page to be seen by a large number of people, and I’m sure if you continue adding high quality pieces of content to StumbleUpon, you’re likely to eventually experience a traffic spike.

Stats showing how the significant impact StumbleUpon has had on my page views in 2015 (left) and 2016 (right).

Stats showing how the significant impact StumbleUpon has had on my page views in 2015 (left) and 2016 (right).

One concern that was posed in the comments of the original post from the Smart Passive Income Community was about the quality of the traffic.  This is specifically referring to how many of the people visiting your site are quickly stumbling in and out of your page, and how many of them are actually reading, engaging with your content, and possibly turning into sales.  I haven’t looked too deeply into this because I know for certain that I actually made money off of StumbleUpon users clicking on my Amazon Affiliate links.  Receiving revenue from Amazon is still a rare occurrence for my website, so I wouldn’t be unjustified in assuming that >10% of my revenue has come from StumbleUpon traffic, which assures me that from a strictly financial standpoint, the StumbleUpon traffic is high quality (or at least high quality enough for me to continue adding pages).  However, I have yet to receive a single e-mail, comment, or piece of feedback from a StumbleUpon user, but it’s hard to blame them for that.  The vast majority of the feedback I receive is from people I personally know, and it tends to come via Facebook messages, something that is a little too intimate for a random StumbleUpon user.  It’s difficult to reach out to people online anyway, and there so many writers who I admire, and have built websites that have dramatically changed my life (Ryan Holiday, Scott H. Young, Cal Newport, Tim Ferriss, Brian Koppleman, …) and I have yet to send any of them a single e-mail, even when they encourage their readers (me) to do so.  I probably should, now that the shoe is on the other foot, and I understand how meaningful and motivating it is to receive encouragement, criticism, questions, or best of all a short message saying “hey I tried your suggestions, they worked!”, letting you know your work has made a difference in someone else’s life, but it’s still anxiety inducing, and something I rarely ever get around to doing, so I don’t feel bad when I go a week without hearing any feedback (which thankfully hasn’t happened in a while 🙂 ).

StumbleUpon also holds a special place in my heart.  I used to be a heavy user, and while I’m not anymore I still remember learning chess and monopoly strategy, discovering (which eventually became the inspiration for the Software Engineering Course, and a major inspiration for my entire Graduate Unschool Project), the Study Hacks Blog (which is what gave me the confidence to experiment with different learning methods in college, and exposed me to the idea of deliberate practice, which I think is the best well established theory on learning and skill acquisition, which I still use everyday), and (which you can hear in the background of my podcasts, and I spend ~5 hours listening to everyday).  Maybe someone will find one of my pages while Stumbling and become inspired to: create their own learning experiment, learn how to be less stressed and get better grades on tests, dive into their emotional issues, or discover a new book.  If it worked for me, it can probably work for someone else.

This course is undoubtedly a success.  If anyone asks for my advice on the fastest, easiest way to get more traffic to their new website I’ll tell them to do one thing, “add your pages to StumbleUpon”.

My international traffic stats ;)

My international traffic stats 😉