Writing for Reddit

This entry is part of the Group Research Project sponsored by Wendy Piersall at emomsathome28 Internet Marketing and Home Business How To’s.

Writing blog posts that do well on Reddit can be a powerful tool for marketing your blog. From the beginning, Reddit has been an integral part of this blog’s audience and is one of my top three social media sites – Delicious and Stumble Upon being the others.

This is some of what I’ve learned about Reddit over the past 10 months:


  • Predominantly Male
  • Highly Intelligent – however this seems to be changing (sorry guys, but there seems to be more trolls and inane comments than a year ago)
  • A large number of users are on college campuses – many of them Ivy League
  • Large numbers of activist Atheists
  • Libertarian or Socialist leaning audience – little conservative presence. Posting something positive about GWB or Christianity will go nowhere – even if it is well written.

Topics that do well:

  • GTD – Productivity
  • Writing Tips
  • Financial Advice – “How to save money on X”
  • Psychology
  • Intelligence
  • Education
  • Sex
  • Science
  • Programming
  • Drug Policy
  • Anti-Corporate – “How I got screwed by Circuit City”
  • Anti-War
  • Libertarian Politics
  • Socialist Politics
  • Conservative Bashing
  • Religion Bashing

Topics which rarely fly:

  • Blogging
  • Family/Parenting: one exception – 10 Things I Learned from my 4-Year-Old did well – not sure why.
  • Marketing – SEO
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business Advice
  • The Law of Attraction
  • Spirituality
  • Pro-Religion
  • Conservatism

Read the Dos and Donts on Reddiquette. Here are a couple of items that make Reddit unique among social media sites.

  • sometimes bad timing, a bad title, or just plain bad luck can cause an interesting story to fail to get noticed. Feel free to post something again if you feel that the earlier posting didn’t get the attention it deserved and you think you can do better.
  • Old content and self-promotion are okay, because Reddit is a meritocracy

From Reddiquette discussion:

davidmccabe: Just so it’s clear, is it alright to resubmit one’s own submissions with an improved title? If so, how long should one wait before doing that?

akkartik: Just don’t flood the new queue. If the old one doesn’t have any comments consider deleting it before resubmitting. Aside from that I think anything is fine.

If one of your posts makes the front page of Reddit (especially if it climbs above #10) it will likely result in dozens of link backs, possibly hundreds of delicious bookmarks, and often is a catalyst to landing on Digg’s homepage. Popular and powerful social media users monitor Reddit for material and submit it to other social media sites.

Once a post moves from the new category into the main content area, making it to the front page requires getting past the first round of downmodders. No matter how good your content, bots or trolls will downmod everything that makes the main content area. It appears some users think that downmodding everything except their stories will result in better odds of hitting the front page. I have no idea if the downmodding strategy works. In any case, it violates the spirit of the community, so don’t do it. Most posts are downvoted immediately, which means they can disappear quickly. Luckily, I have some fans in the community that usually help me past those first few downmods so the bulk of redditors get to see the post. From there it lives or dies.

Reddit is a meritocracy so your post cannot be buried by a minority of voters like it can on Digg. A post can still do well even if 40% of voters hate it.

Remember if you use Reddit to promote yourself, please support the community by submitting stories other than your own, leaving meaningful comments, and voting for others submissions. Use your presence to contribute to the quality of the Reddit community.

35 thoughts on “Writing for Reddit”

  1. I believe your post on what you learnt from your 4 year old child did well because it relates to intelligence/education. Usually it’s the other way, isn’t it? Older people are more intelligent and teach the younger ones. I didn’t really consider it as a Family/Parenting kind of topic.

  2. Steve – A great breakdown. I’ve had very little success with reddit for some time, but seeing your analysis of categories/topics that work well and those that don’t is giving me plenty of food for thought.

  3. Thanks to this post, I wasted an hour this morning. Interestingly, I found that I really liked most of the articles that made it to the front page. I don’t know that Reddit will like me as much as I like it though. I don’t think I fit.

  4. Very nicely done, Steve. Like Ben I’ve had not had much success with Reddit, although every once in a while something would “catch”. Your doping things out here captured what was happening very clearly. What a great service you have done for us here! Thanks.

  5. Reddit has been my launching pad for social media success. It has the rare combination of having large audience, but not being totally dominated by power users — I can submit my own articles and make the front page — an impossibility on Digg.

    One thing to take advantage of (but not abuse) is the ability to delete and resubmit. This gives you the chance to test different titles. I’ve had some articles go nowhere at first, but then do extremely well with the right title.

  6. @Zero – I hadn’t thought of that. But I bet you’re right. Thanks!

    @Ben – Reddit is not a business friendly audience, so Marketing, Business, and Entrepreneurship usually bomb. It’s academic and political – generally. So for a die hard entrepreneur like you, I don’t know if it is the right place for your stuff anyway. Most business stuff I see on Reddit is about how bad everything is and how rotten business are. If you look closely at my posts that have done really well on Reddit (some have climbed to #2), they bash Walmart, the Education System, the Drug War, Corporate America, the Republican Party, Fear of Terrorism. To be honest, everything I’ve written from my heart, but I have misgivings about writing for the Reddit audience because I find myself going negative and I don’t want to indulge that side of myself. I’ve backed off from writing for the Reddit audience in the last couple of months and my traffic has suffered, but I think it has given me a chance to reflect on where I want this blog to go. A perfect example of a blog that does well on Reddit is Violent Acres. I enjoy it, but that isn’t a direction I want to go.

    @Bloggrrl – I think some of your stuff could make it. I’ve seen stuff do well that is irreverent, funny, clever, and a bit sexy. Kinda like your blog.

    @Laura – There might be a few of your posts that have potential for the Reddit audience. But I think your audience is different, more mature, not many college guys. Am I right?

  7. One more thing…

    I can still write for a young male audience because there is a big chunk of me that is still 14 years old. :-P Forever stuck in the stupidity and fun.

    I mean, I still listen to Iron Maiden at about 400 decibels, play violent FPS video games, and watch South Park. I am thinking about starting another blog to indulge that part of me. We shall see.

    I feel strongly that young men (and some young women) are getting totally screwed by the system nowadays. Boys just being boys are treated like mental defectives and drugged or jailed. Young people absolutely must be allowed to take risks, even if it is dangerous for them and for us. We’ve got to stop trying to eliminate risk. Our focus on safety is perverse. But that’s another story.

  8. Thanks for the info..great post. I’ve been looking for an article like this for a while. What I’m really hoping to find is a case study on what’s worked with Reddit, Digg and other social bookmarking sites and what hasn’t with some good concrete examples. It sounds like you’ve had a great deal of experience posting stuff to Reddit–have you ever considered doing a more detailed case study of what worked and why?

  9. Nice list of topics. “Anti-Corporate – “How I got screwed by Circuit City”

    Now that’s a topic I can probably come up with original material for all the time!

  10. It’s important to know your audience. This is very insightful post and will certainly help me make a better contribution to Reddit, know that I know who I am talking too.

    Is there a source of stats on the other Social bookmarking sites?

    That would highly useful to be able to target those audiences with the right message.

    Thank you for a great post.

    John Clark

  11. I have been meaning to get involved in writing articles for these types of websites. I am apprehensive doing this because I am not sure how I would be able to promote them on all the different article sites around.

  12. I enjoyed reading several of your posts, Steve. You convey your insights in a very ‘absorbable’ sort of way- it seems you really connect with your readers!

    This next question might aggravate some, but keep in mind it’s just a curiousity of mine. Drum roll…… you mention that spirituality and the law of attraction (and comparable topics, I would think) don’t do so well on Reddit. You seem to be a well liked, open minded and respected blogger, and it seems as though you at times allude (sp?) to these LOA & spirituality- others too.

    Anyway, at 38 I’m still learning who I am (I think we always are). To illustrate, I always thought of/ defined myself as more of a conservative. I’m finding out now that that’s merely what I was always telling myself. I thought it was the ‘right way to be’ -(‘right’ – get it?! haha). Since I began meditating/questioning myself/looking within, my true nature is more on the liberal side. * I bring this point up, as I’m looking for a blog/online environment where I ‘fit’. Your insight, and others, will help me determine if I do, in fact, ‘fit’ here.

    I’m also finding that LOA (creative visualization, meditation, all the new age stuff) really vibed with me (although not in the ‘neurotic’ way it has for other LOA fans- nothing ‘hocus pocus’ about it. It might sound silly, but I think the so called ‘magic’ is something we all do every day-subconsciously. Once something as grandiose is brought to one’s attention, well, it sure seems like magic.

    IMHO, intuition and LOA (and realistic positivity, meditation, creative visualization, etc.) can go hand in hand. What are your thoughts on this?

    *****I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It is honestly not my intention.
    Also, please excuse how long this post is. I’m very intrigued with this topic. I’m looking forward to reading some reactions/ responses!


  13. Tracy,
    We are very similar, same age too. I’ve called myself a conservative in the past, and I’ve been told by conservatives that I’m a liberal. Today I strongly object to being labeled a conservative. I am not trying to hang on to a mythical past and never was. But I am not a liberal in the American sense of the word (socialist), I am more of liberal in the European sense of the word. More of a classical liberal if you know what that is. I believe that the smallest government possible is the best government. And i also believe that most of us are self-policing, in other words we are good to each other not because of laws but because our nature is basically good. The more of us that realize this and act on it the less government we will require. It is actually government and other large dogmatic institutions that tend to pervert and twist our good nature.

    Today, I decided I am what I am and I won’t attempt to adhere to any dogma and I reserve my right to change my mind at any time.

    Yes, I believe in the LOA in much the way you do. I don’t believe in it in a magical way, but in a way I’m not sure I can describe to you in words. Well, I don’t have the words right now anyway. I believe we create our future within certain universal limitations. And yes I consider myself to be a spiritual person. I also pray with my children every night and I believe in God.

    And everyone is welcome here regardless of political or religious beliefs. We may disagree, and we should, but I try to do it in a civil and respectful way.

  14. Very interesting rundown on Reddit, and definately will sae me a ton of time I would have wasted there, most definately not for everybody.

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