Most who give advice about Digg say that the fastest way to get to the front page is by being active, picking out the right friends, digging all of their submissions, and waiting until they add you back. Once you have enough friends, look for strong content to submit and VOILA! you hit.
For most, this is the most valid plan. It can take time and effort, but it’s possible to take an account that isn’t very old and get it to the front page within a couple of weeks. There is another tactic that’s faster but requires Instant Messaging in bulk (ie, semi-spamming) to get to the front page. This is a valid way as well and an entire post can be written about the proper use of IM as a Digg front page strategy.
Today, we’re going to bypass the work and make it simple. There are a few sites that have a tremendous chance of hitting the front page – so good in fact that they are always posted to Digg within seconds of the content going live. This is the strategy that we’re going to discuss because someone who is brand new (or at least a couple of days old) on Digg can make their first submission hit the front page regardless of their current number of friends.
The first question that always comes up when I discuss this strategy with people is, “What’s the point? I don’t care about those sites, so why would I submit them?” The answer is based around credibility. Once you have broken your “front page cherry” it becomes much easier to build the account by getting more friends. Some Digg users will look at your account to see how many stories you Digg, how many you submit, and whether or not you’ve hit the front page. If you don’t fit the right “structure” on your profile, they won’t add you back. With this strategy, make your appearance on the front page first, then start to build your account the right way.
Getting Your Digg Account Ready
As strong as the sites below are when it comes to hitting on Digg, it is still a good idea to have your account slightly built up before submitting. Whether it’s new or old, regardless of whether you have friends yet or not, if you’re not getting 20+ natural Diggs when you submit from just about any source, it’s good to start here:
- Find users who are active and Digging a lot more than they are submitting. You can find them on the front page – users who are hitting the front page will most likely have a stats similar to the one pictured here. Notice that the user is relatively active with hundreds of Diggs in the last 30 days. They’ve dugg a lot more stories than they’ve submitted and they’ve hit the front page with a good amount of success.
- Digg this user’s most recent submissions, at least 5 and as many as 10.
- Add them as a friend.
- Continue doing this until you’ve Dugg around 200 stories for the day, then rest until tomorrow.
- When you’re ready the next day, Digg all of your friends’ recent submissions until you catch up with what you Dugg yesterday.
- Go back to step 1 and continue to add more quality Digg friends. Don’t worry if they haven’t added you back after a few days – some only add new friends once in a while. Hopefully they will notice that you’ve been Digging their submissions and they will add you back.
- Do this for a week. Longer is better, but since this blog post suggests that you can get your first front page in a week, we’ll go with that. By the end of the week, you should have 30-50 friends who have added you back and will be looking for your wonderful first submission.
The Digg-Super-Whitelisted Sites
Now that you’ve build up a week’s worth of friends, it’s time to submit something. With Digg, it’s not a matter of submitting just anything. Certain sites are able to hit over 50% of the time. A few hit over 90% of the time.
XKCD – this site is the epitome of clockwork on Digg. While it doesn’t hit every single time, it’s extremely reliable and has a set time for its posts: Midnight EST Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, several users sit and wait for XKCD to drop in hopes of being the lucky recipient of its high-percentage front page success.
The key to being the lucky one is in speed. XKCD uses a numbered URL structure. Find out the URL of the previous post and add 1. The URL for the image to the right is http://xkcd.com/607 so we know that the following post will be http://xkcd.com/608 – not hard.
The hard part is in submitting it quickly. There is no time to look at it, read it, or chuckle at it. Some don’t even open it. They have the URL ready and as midnight EST approaches they start pasting it in the submission, select image, and submit. It will say that the URL is invalid until it is actually posted. Keep pasting and hitting submit until it “sticks”.
Once the submission process starts, you’ll know that the newest comic is live. The race is on. While it’s Digging through your submission on your computer, it’s doing the same thing on other computers across the world. Several people are racing for it so you have to be fast. Skip past the dupe checker as quickly as possible (it’s never a dupe). Once you’re on the page, it should populate the title. You don’t need a description as long as you submitted it as an image. Select “Comics and Animation” as the category, nail the captcha, and press go.
A few seconds later, you’ll see the result. Either your name will be listed or it will show someone else submitted it seconds earlier. That’s it. It’s challenging, but someone has to get it. With a little luck and some quick fingers, it may be you. Chances are very strong that you just got your first Digg front page.
TorrentFreak – For less competition but more of a challenge, Torrent Freak is another high-percentage front page site. The difference between Torrent Freak and XKCD is that the posts are much more frequent on TF, the URLs aren’t numbered, and the chances of hitting the front page are lower. Still there are more opportunities and less competition, so it’s still a valid submit for the first front page.
You’ll need a page-refresher. There are plugins available and programs that you can buy – not going to list them here. You’ll want something that refreshes the page every second or two and pings you when a new story is added.
Once you hear the ping, the submission process is pretty much the same as with XKCD. I would at least scan the dupe checker very, very quickly to make sure that it hasn’t been submitted from another site before. Otherwise, the race is still on as there will surely be plenty of people submitting it while you are.
Don’t submit “The Most Downloaded” stories that normally post on weekends. They won’t hit. Otherwise, if you can get that as your first submission, you have an excellent chance of hitting the front page with it.
Other Digg-Whitelisted Sites
XKCD and Torrent Freak are the best for new submitters as they give you an incredible chance of hitting, but getting them is extremely difficult. For a little less challenge while still submitting from over-50% front page sites, you can also try:
APOD – The Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA posts once a day, every day, just after midnight EST. The URL is date-based, so you can know what to submit just like with XKCD. Treat it just the same, only submit under “Space” rather than “Comics”.
Cracked – While APOD is the poor-man’s XKCD, Cracked is the poor-man’s Torrent Freak. Different URLs, different times posting (though they will go through spurts where they post everything at 8:00 am EST), and usually 3 posts a day, it has a better than average chance of hitting if you can grab it.
SixRevisions and SmashingMagazine – For those who can grab these design powerhouses when they drop, the chances of hitting the front page are exceptional. Getting them submitted is a bit tougher as there always seems to be people “ready” to submit once they are made live.
Why Not Do it Forever?
These sites and a handful of others are crutches. They give new users a chance to get their name on the front page. The problem with users who submit these sites continuously is that it becomes more and more challenging for these users to get other sites on the front page. When a “power user” starts getting addicted to getting these sites to the front page, they soon find that nothing else seems to hit for them.
Use these sites to get on. Build you account well. Find strong content and make friends. Hitting the front page with sites that you like is just a few blog posts away… (to be continued)
* * *
Read more about social news on this blog.