Today’s task in the 31 Day Project is aimed at driving new visitors to your blog by running a mini advertising campaign for your blog using StumbleUpon.
Note – This task will take a small budget (unless you get creative and find another website willing to give you some free advertising – which isn’t just a bad idea, perhaps you could do an ad swap with another blogger) but it need not be much. One of the methods below could drive at least 100 new visitors to your blog with just $5.
One of the things that I do from time to time is set myself a small budget for advertising my blog. I do it as a little bit of a challenge – to see what ad systems work best and more importantly to see what I can learn about branding and promotion. The bonus is that it also drives some new visitors to your blog.
Where can you advertise?
If you’re just starting out with advertising your blog I’d suggest experimenting with different types of advertising to see what works best for your blog – but today I want to suggest an easy and relatively cheap way to get started.
StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a growing social bookmarking service that is used by many people around the globe. It is a service that many bloggers target to drive organic traffic to their blog – but one that also offers a means to advertise a website upon it. StumbleUponAds allows you to submit a page on your blog to be shown to StumbleUpon users as they go Stumbling. The cost is 5 cents per impression so for as little as $5 you can have 100 SU users see your page.
The beauty of StumbleUpon is that it is relatively cheap, you don’t actually need to create an ad (just a page to send people to), that you can target your page to be shown to different categories as well as specific demographics (age, location and gender) and that you have the chance of your page being Stumbled up the rankings in SU naturally.
SU lets you set daily budgets and limits to how many impressions you want on any given campaign. The payment is via PayPal or Credit Card.
If you pick the right page to submit in this way and throw a few dollars at the campaign it is not uncommon for organic stumbling to happen and to end up with many more impressions than you paid for. The key is to pick a page that SU users will like and vote for (more on this below).
The StumbleUponAds interface gives you a report on how many people saw your site, how many voted your page up and how many voted it down. This enables you to test different pages that you want to advertise and to adapt those pages to see what different versions of it work best.
How to Make StumbleUpon Advertising Work Best
The key to making a StumbleUpon advertising campaign work for your blog is to do two main things:
1. Make Your Content Appealing to SU users to get Organic Stumbles – While 5 cents per impression isn’t that expensive (it’s a lot cheaper than some other forms of advertising) it’s more expensive than natural traffic from SU. Your goal should be to start the campaign off with paid visitors and then let the natural voting up of content take over. To do this you need to create content that is appealing to SU users. A couple of days ago I published a guest post here at ProBlogger that talked about some of the principles that draw StumbleUpon users into a site. This would be a useful starting point for designing the page that you want to advertise.
2. Make Your Page Sticky – The other way to get extra value from a StumbleUpon advertising campaign is to get the visitors who come to your blog to come back again and become loyal readers. This is one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face with advertising using any means – but particularly on a service like StumbleUpon where users have their cursor hovering over the Stumble Button ready to surf on to the next site. Of course the best way to hook someone onto your blog is to create compelling content that they can’t live without – but also consider other ways of making them loyal readers by prominently offering subscription methods, driving people deeper into a blog. Most of what I cover in my latest video post on Stickifiying Your Blog applies here.
3. Test and Tweak – The key with StumbleUpon is not to throw big money at a campaign straight away. Get your landing page/post ready and then set a small budget (a few dollars) to see what results you get. Once this is spent – do some analysis of how many people voted the post up and down. If there were more downs than ups you might want to change something about the post (title, add a picture/video, change your opening paragraph etc). Then run another small campaign to see what impact the changes have. Do this until you have a page that is consistently getting voted up and then turn up your budget a little. Keep in mind that you might only need to get a relatively small number of up votes before SU will start sending you organic traffic so be ready to pause your campaign once this starts to happen or you could waste your money.
What NOT to do
While you might think that the front page of your blog is the best page to send traffic from an Advertising campaign to – I would highly recommend that you don’t. Instead – use a single post as the landing page for your campaign. Pick a post that relates closely to the category and demographic of StumbleUpon users that you are targeting and pick a post that you could see becoming viral (whether as a result of it being entertaining, useful, controversial etc).
Give it a Go
So set yourself a budget and give StumbleUpon advertising a go. It’s actually quite fun and if you keep your budget to a reasonable level it’s not that expensive to do. You’ll drive a little traffic and hopefully learn something about the way people interact with your content through the process.
Other places to Advertise Your Blog
There are many places that will sell you advertising space for your blog. Other blogs and sites in your niche can be a good place to start but so can ad networks. Two that I’ve had some success with are BlogAds and Google AdWords. Both are worth experimenting with – but both take the same sort of ‘tweak and test’ approach as outlined above.
Have you tried advertising your blog? Let use know what you’ve learned about it in comments below.
Update – read my follow up to this post at More on Advertising on StumbleUpon.