For the past month, I’ve been using document sharing sites Scribd and Slideshare to promote one of my websites. Want to see the results?

Note: This is a dense article. I recommend reading the whole enchilada, not just skimming it. You don’t want to miss anything.

What are Scribd and Slideshare, and what was I trying to do?

I’ll get to the results and stats in a second. First, I want to explain what what these two services are and how I used them.

According to the company itself, Scribd is “The World’s Largest Online Library. Read, Publish, and Share Documents and Written Works.” And in its own words, Slideshare lets you “Upload & Share PowerPoint presentations and documents.” Both of these services are free for basic use.

[Note: I also tried Calaméo, which is pretty much a European version of Scribd. I got essentially zero views from Calaméo (literally three views total on three documents after three days), so I stopped testing it. Now, three weeks later, all three of those documents have a grand total of… four views.]

These two services are ones that you see thrown around in every “50 Free Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website” blog post and ebook that has ever been written. They’re usually up there with the likes of Yahoo Answers, which I’ve personally found to be pretty worthless for traffic generation purposes. But last month I was brainstorming new ways to get traffic to my free Kindle book website, fkb.me, and I remembered about Scribd and Slideshare.

I’d toyed around with both Scribd and Slideshare a couple years ago but hadn’t really given them a fighting chance. But last month I figured hey, they’re free. What do I have to lose?

What I did

So like I said, the goal was to promote fkb.me. Every day I make lists of the best free Kindle books and post them to the site. What I ended up doing was simply copying and pasting those blog posts into a Word document, then uploading that one document to both Scribd and Slideshare. (Yes, Slideshare is best known as the site where you can upload PowerPoint presentations, but you can also upload regular documents.)

To make things easier for myself, I created a template in Word that I used every day. It had the fonts and sizes and everything right; all I had to do was paste the blog posts in. I also created a Google Doc where I had the title, description, and tags ready to go for each upload each day. When you upload files to both services, you have to enter in those three fields. So when I was uploading a document, I’d open up that Google Doc, copy the tags, and paste the into the tags field. Hopefully that makes sense.

But wait, there’s more! I obviously wanted to measure the results of this experiment to see if what I was doing was effective. For this I made a Google Spreadsheet (I link to a screenshot of it below) that I updated every day. Here’s the data I recorded daily:

  • The time at which I uploaded the document to each site
  • The number of views the document had on each site at noon-ish
  • The number of views the document had on each site before I went to bed that night
  • The total number of Scribd views my account received for the day. This includes all uploaded documents, not just the new one.
  • And in the last few days, I started recording right after I woke up how many views the whole Scribd account received. I wanted to see how many views occurred at night.

The results

This is the most important and interesting section. It’s wordy. You need to read the whole thing. Don’t skim it.

Like I said, I was measured success by number of views the documents got on Scribd and Slideshare. I won’t bore you with exact numbers (though here’s a screenshot of my Google Doc if you want to see the exact numbers; the blank spaces are when I forgot to check the numbers or didn’t check them for some other reason. Also, there were a few days where I was on vacation and didn’t upload any docs.), but here’s what I learned:

  • Overall, my documents on both of these services got more views than I thought they would. I’m pleasantly surprised.
  • The number of views varied WIDELY on any given day on either service. For Scribd my worst day was 2 total views on that day’s uploaded document. My best day was 194. For Slideshare my worst day was 1 total view on that day’s upload. My best day was 241 views.
  • The average number of daily views on Slideshare was 35. The daily average on Scribd was 36.
  • But the total number of views for all documents on each site are a bit different. As of when I’m writing this (which is a few days before this post is actually published), my Scribd account’s documents have 3,017 total views. My Slideshare account’s documents have 2,586 reviews. Different, but still surprisingly similar.
  • A lot of views (in fact, the majority of views) to a document come in days after the day I uploaded the document. In other words, the majority of views do not come on the day that the document is uploaded. Views continue to come in for every single document in the days and weeks after it has been published. This is true for both Scribd and Slideshare.
  • My Scribd account has 3 followers (subscribers). My Slideshare account has 0 followers.

It’s important to remember that I did absolutely nothing to promote these accounts. I didn’t announce them to anyone. I didn’t tweet about them or post them to Facebook. This is all 100% organic traffic that is 100% passive after that initial upload. Every single document I uploaded is the same with regards to title (except for the date), description, and tags.

I honestly have no idea why a doc on one day got 1 total view but a doc that is essentially the same thing got 250 views on another day.

What else? Well, Scribd and Slideshare both have built-in analytics features. Scribd’s is free. Slideshare’s cheapest option is $19 a month, which I did not pay for. But after taking a look at the Scribd stats, I can say the following:

  • The United States is where most (66%) of the document views are coming from. The rest is a long tail list of other countries.
  • Google is sending more traffic to the Scribd documents than Scribd is. This really surprised me. It’s long tail traffic coming from a variety of keywords, not one big thing like “free kindle books.”

Again, I don’t have the stats for Slideshare (if someone wants to PayPal me $19 I’ll take a look at them and share them), but I assume they would tell me much the same thing as the Scribd stats.

And looking at Google Analytics for fkb.me, I see that I got

  • 35 referrals from Scribd
  • 52 referrals from Slideshare

I’m fine with these numbers, since the goal of the documents that I upload is to send people to Amazon via the affiliate links in the documents. The goal is not to send people to the fkb.me website.

So I guess the real question now is did I make more money last month via the Amazon affiliate program than I did the month before? Yes. How much of this is due to the Scribd and Slideshare campaigns? I have no idea. I was doing some other new traffic generation techniques at the same time, so I don’t know how much came from those campaigns versus the Scribd/Slideshare campaigns. But based solely

Now what?

I’m going to continue doing exactly what I’ve been doing for the last month. I’m not going to make any changes. It’s been working great and it takes less than ten minutes every day to create the Word document and upload it to both Scribd and Slideshare. The result has been almost 6,000 eyeballs looking at my stuff on these two websites. That’s pretty darn awesome, especially for free.

Here’s my advice to other people who would like to use Slideshare and Scribd for marketing purposes. First, just try it, and try it for a significant period of time. Don’t just try it for a day or two. If you’re getting views, awesome! Keep doing it. If not, move on to something else. This is not something that will work for all niches. But it’s still worth a try.

  • Do you have any questions or comments regarding my findings here?
  • Have YOU used Scribd or Slideshare? What were your results
  • Are there any sites similar to Scribd or Slideshare that you have had success with or have heard good things about?
  • What other services or traffic generation methods would you like me to try for a month and report back on?