Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How A Single Post Drew Over 20,000 Hits In One Day

Boy did I feel like celebrating! Imagine how I felt waking up that morning with my cup of coffee and logging on to my stat counter to see that by 9am I already had over 10,000 hits! I was blown away. I've never had this happen to me. It must have been a mistake, I thought. But sure enough, it was real.

In retrospect I realize that I unknowingly did a few things that helped my how to make butter post gain traction, and this is what I want to share with all of you today. It really was incredibly simple, which is part of the reason I was so surprised to get the amount of traffic I did....I never expected that a little bit of work would translate into a traffic bonanza.

First Things First - Setting The Stage

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about how to make butter. It was sort of a throw away post. I really liked the content, but I wasn't really feeling the writing and the photo totally sucked. In the end, I wrote a very short intro, and I re-shot the photo three times. I wasn't exactly feeling extra confident about the post but I published it anyway. So what made the post so popular?

Descriptive "How To" Title

I think one of the things that contributed to the post's success was the title I chose. I titled it "How To Make Butter In Less Than 5 Minutes!". I wanted to communicate how easy it is to make butter at home so I added the "..Less Than 5 Minutes!" to convey that it really is simple...I mean, who doesn't have 5 minutes?!

Send Post To Stumble Upon Friends

Next, I sent the post to a few of my Stumble Upon friends and asked them to review or Thumbs up the post if they liked it. I've recently been re-thinking this strategy since there are some reports that Stumble Upon penalizes your post if it gains in-organic stumbles, but I decided to do it anyways.

The traffic for the post was very light, and Stumble Upon wasn't giving me much love. Foodgawker and Tastespotting both rejected the post, and I pretty much gave up on it, vowing to re-shoot yet again in the future, with the hopes of getting on to one of the food porn sites.

Three weeks later the post magically becomes Stumbled by a random reader and that sends the post into regular Stumble Upon rotation. The post received 700 hits from stumble upon in one day...not bad for Stumble Upon traffic. I was super happy that the post saw some good traffic and it actually continued to get really great traffic for a solid three weeks. When stumble upon likes you, it REALLY likes you.

Send Post To A Huge Site For Consideration

Here is where it gets really good. I'm a huge fan of Lifehacker. I read it religiously. It wasn't until recently that I noticed that they regularly feature food related posts. They tend to be in the DIY vein, and upon reading one of these posts I thought, "Hey, my butter post would fit right in with these Lifehacker food posts". Most of these big sites have a "Send us a tip" type page, so I found it and sent them a quick email.

In the email I introduced myself and mentioned that I was an avid reader. I also mentioned that I had noticed all of the food related posts and thought that the editors and their readers might like my butter post. I included a link and sent it off.

I wasn't expecting a response, so when I received a thank you email from one of the editors of Lifehacker, I was joyed. They didn't publish the post however, but still, I was happy. I figured it was the start of a relationship and I planned on sending them another post in the future...

Fast forward three weeks later WHEN THEY PUBLISHED MY POST! Again, I wasn't expecting it, but they published a post mentioning my butter post and the traffic went through the roof.

Add Stumble Upon Button

I quickly added a stumble upon button to the bottom of the post figuring that Lifehacker readers are really tech savvy and given that the post was previously popular on SU I thought that I could give it an extra push by adding the button, at it really did. Tons of Lifehacker readers clicked the Stumble This button, driving further traffic from SU.

And that's how it happened. The most helpful thing I learned during this entire process was that sending relevant posts to big sites sometimes does pay off. I don't recommend sending EVERY post you've ever written...I probably won't send Lifehacker another post for a couple of months. But when I do, I'll make sure that the post is relevant to their philosophy and hopefully I'll get lucky like I did this last time.

UPDATE:My friend Darya of Summer Tomato also had a post featured on Lifehacker recently. Check out her post and notice how it's also a "How To" type of post. Lifehacker is a site dedicated to tips and how to's....they really like DIY and hacks, so if you submit a post, make sure it's more than just "how to make french toast" or something.

Get Healthier with a (surprisingly tasty) Pasta Substitute - Lifehacker

Any of you have experience sending posts to other big sites?


  1. Wow, this is a great post, I never thought about the LifeHacker thing--fabulous idea!! I mainly use TasteSpotting, FoodGawker and Photograzing and I'm trying to get Stumbled Upon : ). Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thanks for sharing all the steps that led to the success of your post. And congratulations!

  3. What a great story! That's really great you got such a huge exposure :)

  4. getting big traffic is such a thrill! i can't even imagine 20k in one day but it's my new goal! thanks for all of your awesome posts!

  5. thanks for sharing! what a great tip :)

  6. Thanks for the words of encouragement everyone!

  7. Danny, Great post, thanks for sharing. I am regular reader of your blog. Wondering how it works out for a particular cuisine, in this case Indian. Does life hacker accept it? please visit my site

  8. Thanks Pavani. I think it all depends on the post. They tend to publish posts that are more oriented to tips, how-to's, DIY, etc. Take a look at some of their food posts and decide whether it fits....I'd say that just a recipe wont cut it...it needs to be more than just a recipe.

  9. So awesome. Same thing happened to me last weekend! Hooray!!

  10. It was a double whamy Darya! Was your experience different than mine? Any thoughts to share about the process?

  11. Big Congrats to you Danny!! I've never thought in Lifehacker for food themes :D



  12. I was watching my google adsense stats yesterday when *WHAM* ... suddenly i had the same amount of traffic as i do when i have something new on tastespotting. but i didn't have anything new up! turns out it was the stumble upon domino effect :D I just wish there was a way to get stats on the stumble upon traffic like you get with google analytics.

  13. thanks for this! the info is very helpful!

  14. i hit the lifehacker jackpot a couple weeks ago too! it was a wonderfully unexpected birthday present to suddenly find my traffic hit 10k in one day... but that was due to an article that consumerist.com wrote about my site... just when i thought it couldn't get any better, lifehacker picked up the story from consumerist and BAM 20k+ hits in one day :D lifehacker is magic.

  15. Hi Danny, Lifehacker picked up one of my posts today (on Homemade Big Macs) and I owe it to you for the great idea! Thanks so much! :)

  16. Allison,

    Great news! Congratulations! I'm so glad it also worked for you!