While it’s true that the vast majority of stories on Digg come from an “elite” few, the truth is that they know how to submit a story in an eye-catching, informative, and interesting manner. I am going to teach you this skill. As an added bonus, this happens to be an important skill in crafting good emails, blog posts, and anything else that has a title or subject.
1) Submit titles that are clear, concise, informative, and yet, leave more to be desired. In short, spend 80% of your submission time thinking about the title because 95% of the time, it will be the only thing a person will use to judge if the rest of your submission is worth reading. This means:
- Don’t ask questions as a title. Make statements in question form (How to mow lawns, Why I rock, etc)
- Don’t be long winded with multiple sub-clauses. One clause.
- Don’t use passive voice. Use passive voice and present tense.
- Don’t leave out the critical information. The keywords you use are extremely crucial.
- Don’t use URLs as a submission title. Ever.
- Don’t just copy the title because sometimes the article title sucks.
Here’s the story title that made the front page on the DRM/EMI topic:
Press Release: EMI Music launches DRM-free downloads.
Here’s a list of stories that did not make the front page on the same topic:
- Deal or no deal: EMI and Apple’s DRM-free premium music? (question format)
- EMI Music Launches DRM-Free Superior Sound Quality Downloads (wordy)
- Times Onlines take on EMI Dropping DRM (huh? Onlines? What?)
- EMI unlocks their music! (didn’t mention “DRM”)
Focus your attention here. A bad title is pretty much a torpedo to your submission, no matter how great the content is.
2) The description usually doesn’t matter, but if you do include one, a bad one can actually hurt. The best and most recent example I know if this post (thanks for submitting though!!). Descriptions:
- Should be short and sweet. But this is only the case when the title is very informative.
- Don’t paste the first paragraph of the story. Paste the most interesting and juiciest piece.
- Piece together the best parts if no one sentence stands out as exceptional.
In short, if you write a bad description, people may actually become deterred from reading the rest. If the article has nothing juicy, keep your description to a minimum to avoid making potential readers bored before they even click. Then again, if the article is that dry, it is probably not worth submitting at all. An example for this article would be to piece together the first two or three bolded points. Alternatives would be to paste just one item in the list that you found to be counter intuitive or exceptionally interesting. As I previously implied, most of the time, people won’t even look at the description before deciding if the article is good or not.
3) Use power words. Words that make your audience feel special or privileged are the most effective. Examples:
- The secret to the stock market
- How to avoid Internet scams (“avoid” and “how to”)
- The easiest cheat to winning at everything
- Why rainbows are circular
- Five reasons you should know about Kung Fu
- Top reasons to stay in school
4) Use lists. Your audience is often working people, and everybody loves to save time by reading bullet points and lists. Thus, titles that imply that type of content also fair well (as well as content with lots of lists). Any type of list with a quantifiable amount is already ahead of the game:
- Top 10 most expensive Google Ad keywords
- The 5 most popular brands of cookies
- 7 things to know about traveling to Vietnam
Note very similar lists without the numbers, and see how much less “presence” they have:
- The most lucrative Google keywords
- The most popular brands of soda
- Things to know about traveling to China
It’s a subtle but powerful difference.
4) Submitting without friends is suicide. If you really want to get stuff to the front page, you need at least one or two Digg friends, minimum. Well, I’d say the true minimum is 10 or 15, but the point is that without some other people to get the ball rolling, many times your submission will die with one or two Diggs. This is how the big fish get their stories on the front page over and over. If you have friends that read Digg, get them to register, and get them to befriend you. If you Digg solo, you have no chance. By the way, my user name is DiggMichi. I haven’t gotten anything Dugg on that account though.
5) The time of day matters. Don’t submit it at 2AM. Submit it during regular hours to ensure regular readers see the article. But at the same time, don’t submit during the peak morning hours (9AM PST) because you will have intense competition. From my observation, the best time to submit is around noon, PST.
6) Submit technical stuff to Reddit at the same time. Reddit has a much more technical crowd. If you find yourself submitting articles from this site that are technical in nature, submit it to Reddit first. This is because the site is far less competitive and has many dual users with Digg. A user from Reddit that likes your story might vote it up on Reddit, thus getting more users to come, as well as Digg the story. But keep in mind that Reddit is a much more technical crowd, and submitting anything else might not go as far.
How I would Digg This
As a closing example, I thought I would present a few options in how I would name this story, if I were submitting it to Digg:
- 6 easy secrets to getting Your stories Dugg
- 6 must-know tips to avoid getting buried
- 6 Do’s and Don’ts of submitting to Digg
- The 6 obvious reasons why 99% of Digg submissions are junk
I only spent a minute thinking about this: you can do better. I try to keep my blog titles from being too cliche, which is why I don’t follow my own advice all the time (but look back, and you’ll see I do it on some articles). But this is another reason why I emphasize you not simply copy-and-paste titles of articles. Authors have different audiences in mind when writing their content. For example, I cater to technically versed readers, whereas Digg is a “general” news site. In summary, think about your audience when crafting your submissions.
P.S. Thanks to anybody that’s ever submitted my articles anywhere, even the guy that pasted the URL as the title.