The ongoing benefits from a viral blog post

Responding to several requests, here’s a follow-up: one viral post on writing tips has made my blog more popular, improved my search rankings, and given me the confidence to take the next step in my journey. Here’s what I learned.

Viral blog posts taper slowly.

Here’s a chart of the traffic on my blog for the last month.

viral blog post

While it looks like the surge is over, in fact, it’s still happening. At its peak, the post in question received 50,000 views in one day and accounted for 90% of my blog traffic. A month later it’s getting around 900 views per day, which still represents 44% of my traffic. (The writing tips post has now accumulated a total of over 330,000 views.)

This seems somehow magical. As a someone who studies social media, I understand how people spread things by sharing. But the continued sharing a month later defied my expectations. Based on the links to popular news items that I see resurfacing again and again in my Facebook feed, I think this extended tail of sharing is typical. A viral post is the gift that keeps on giving.

The greatest gift is the search ranking.

I’m astounded that my post is now the number three link in a Google search on “writing tips” and number four for “psychology of writing.” Search engines are now my second largest referrer, after Facebook but ahead of Twitter.

Several other blogs — Design Taxi, Swiss Miss, and Appellate Advocacy — referred significant traffic as well.

The ping-pong between Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest, and other people’s blogs will die down some, but the search ranking will continue to generate traffic for months.

The traffic has generated long-term value.

You asked me to assess how the post benefited me. Because it’s intimately tied up in what I do (and intend to do), it has paid off significantly.

This blog now has 800 subscribers, up from about 150 before the post went up. (I could have boosted that with a pop-up for subscribing, but I don’t think that’s a great reader experience.)

My Twitter followers rose from 19,100 to 19,800.

In the month of May, my site got 52,000 views that were not from the viral post. Of these, 23,000 were for pages on the site (like my principles), and 29,000 were for my other blog posts. The most popular posts were the ones linked at the bottom of the writing tips post.

As an experiment, I published a planning tips post that copied everything that made the writing tips post successful. It accumulated about 1,000 views, above average but not viral. You can’t make lightning strike twice.

Finally, I’ve gotten a steady stream of inquiries for consulting regarding clarity in writing, corporate positioning, and helping people to acquire the courage to say what they mean.

This surge in traffic has given me the confidence to write my book proposal. So that’s what I’ll do next.

2 responses to “The ongoing benefits from a viral blog post

  1. Congrats on those ongoing benefits, Josh. I’ve also learned about your blog and subscribed to it through that viral blog post when a colleague of mine shared it with me.

    A small clarification – “In the month of June, my site got 52,000 views … “, you meant May?

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