I have no idea if there is a secret number of shares or likes that make a blog post count as “viral.”
But, I’m guessing that since this one was picked up by The Huffington Post, Elle.com, Redbook.com, Today.com, featured on Good Morning America, and I keep being asked to do tv and radio appearances, it is safe to officially use the “v” word now.
My social media following has quadrupled over the last few weeks and my pageviews shot up into the hundreds of thousands over night. I’m trying my best to respond to every email and Facebook message personally, but there have been thousands, so I really am very sorry if I have missed a few.
I don’t know if this post will be of any interest to my regular blog readers, but I know there are other writers out there who are curious about exactly what happens when a blog post goes viral. I can only speak from my own experience, but here is my list of Ten Things I Learned When My Blog Post Went Viral:
- Get Yourself A Good Hosting Company: Now. My blog crashed several times during the first few days that the post was starting to gain popularity. I had previously been on a shared server and the extra traffic kept crashing it. I cannot thank A Small Orange enough for all of the time they spent on the phone with me, transferring me to my own VPS hosting, helping me set up CloudFlare, and just remaining patient, calm, and working fast behind the scenes while I freaked out.
- Set Up Google DFP or join a network like The Blogger Network. I don’t care what your page views are. I don’t care if the “experts” say to wait until you have at least 200K views per month. Just go ahead and set up DFP right now. I did have AdSense Ads on my blog, but I literally lost thousands of dollars because I did not have DFP (DoubleClick For Publishers) set up before I went viral. It’s a giant pain in the butt and it takes a lot of time, but just do it. Ironically, I had tried to hire someone to set up DFP for me before, but he told me that it would be a waste of his time and my money until my pageviews were higher. Guess who was wrong? Yeah, that guy. Just do it now.
- Choose Your Words Very Carefully. I used the word “partnership” in that blog post because Target did, in fact, offer to work with me as a consumer. Although, they did not put me on their pay roll or make specific promises to change any designs, only to take in feedback from me and my audience. We had several phone calls, they gave me a direct line to their PR department, they offered to set up a phone call between me and one of their designers, and to send samples. In my mind, “partnership” is a perfectly decent word to describe that situation, and I was thrilled that they were willing to be open to a relationship with consumers. In the minds of large retailers, not so much. I don’t think they were thrilled that I used that word. (Actually, I’m quite sure they weren’t thrilled.) I’ve had to make several statements since to the tune of “I am NOT working FOR Target.” I’m not working for anyone, actually. And, for the moment, I intend to keep it that way so that I can continue to address this issue without any sort of conflict of interest.
- Most People Are Really Nice. Of the thousands of emails and comments I have received, the majority have been overwhelmingly supportive. Thank you all so much for taking the time to reach out and make me feel like I am making a difference! This has been my favorite part of this whole experience.
- Some People Are Not So Nice, And Some Are Just Plain Ol’ Crazy. I don’t mind when people disagree with me respectfully and use well thought-out arguments. I will happily publish comments that offer differing opinions. However, this space on the internet is mine. I pay for it. I own it. So, yes, if your comments are attacking me, my children, or other readers, and I see them, I will take them down or just not publish them in the first place. If I wouldn’t let you say it to my face in my house, I’m not publishing your comment on my blog, and I will ban you from my Facebook page. Not sorry. See below for an example. (I apologize for the language. This was a relativity mild one. I’d also like to note that I actually did publish the first one, so the new more hateful one wasn’t even necessary.)
- People Do Not Understand Copyright Laws. The words and pictures on my blog and everyone else’s are protected by copyright. I created this content, I own it. You are welcome to take a few sentences of someone’s blog post, quote them, and link back to the original post. It’s even fairly common practice to share one picture and give that person credit for their work. But, please do not take my entire post, copy it, and paste it into your own blog because you “love it so much.” It penalizes both of us in terms of search engine optimization and it’s illegal. So, just don’t do that, please.
- You Never Know Which Post Will Be “The One” for You. When I walked into Target and pulled a tape measure off the shelf, I had NO IDEA how much attention that post was going to get. There was no way I could have known it was going to be on the national morning show in Canada, or translated into German, or that I would be hearing from parents in Australia and Ireland. I have been blogging for 5 years on this little corner of the internet. In two weeks, it blew up and all of the sudden I was “The Mom Who Took on Target” and Good Morning America was in my living room. It has been a crazy ride.
- Do Not Stop There. Have An End Game In Mind. Once it becomes clear that something you wrote has struck a nerve, don’t just stop. Since my new audience seemed so interested in finding more modest clothing options for their daughters, the very first things I did were to start this Pinterest board and the #ModestMavens hashtag and Stamp of Approval. There is also a bigger project in the works, but I’m not allowed to tell you about it just yet. Soon, I promise. For now, I am reviewing clothing from large and small retailers, but I am not accepting any sort of monetary payment for these reviews because I want those reviews to stay fair and unbiased.
- Let Your Writing Speak For Itself No matter how many nasty comments come up on pages like The Huffington Post or other large websites, do not jump into that conversation. Just stay out of it. Detach yourself from the comments and discussions, unless it is just to offer a quick “Thank you so much for sharing my piece!” on someone’s Facebook page. Other people will jump in to defend you, your job as a writer is just to start the conversation. Besides, polarizing views can actually be good for you. Whether people are sharing your piece because they think you are brilliant and you touched their hearts, or because they are asking their friends, “Can you believe this idiot?” they are still sharing it. And that is ultimately good for you.
- Surround Yourself With People You Can Trust. This is true in pretty much any aspect of life, but be very wary if you are standing in the middle of a media blitz and people start reaching out and asking you to do things. Some of these opportunities might seem amazing, but take a minute to step back and reflect and talk to people you have known for years, who are familiar with this business, and can offer you solid advice. And remember, “No.” is still an acceptable answer.
I’m still not entirely sure that it has been revealed to me yet why exactly all of this is happening to me, but I am grateful that it is and I hope that this post and the others here on the blog are able to help all of you in some way.
Thank you again for all of your support in this crazy journey!