So, you may or may not know this about me, but in addition to this blog, I regularly publish at my online ezine, QueenBeeing.com. These days, my traffic is inching closer and closer to 100k visits per month, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
When I mentioned that to a colleague of mine, she wanted to know exactly how I did it. So I’m working on a series of posts that will offer you a blueprint of my journey from a bashful beginning blogger to a successful publisher who built her business from the ground up – with literally zero startup costs.
Here’s a secret you might not know. If you ask me, it all started with a viral blog post. And then another and then another…and you get the idea.
How I Went Viral
The first time one of my posts went viral, it felt a lot like a fluke. But I did my research on that post and worked on figuring out how and why it went viral. And then I set about working on how to repeat that level of success.
What had happened is that I had found a topic that touched my readers in such a way that they felt compelled to share, comment and interact around the post and in social media forums. People discussed it, and it was, for a long time, the top-read post on my site.
More recently, I’ve seen my posts go viral on the regular, and many that keep on producing visitors every single day. The top one of all time was written in August, and at the time of this writing, has more than 18k (that’s 18 THOUSAND) shares to Facebook, nearly 100k visits and thousands of tweets, Pins and other various shares.
In this case, the post is in a very specific niche, and it’s one that I also sell books in literally every single day – and if you ask me, it’s in great part because of the viral factor of that post.
Blueprint for Blogging Success: The Components of a Viral Blog Post
I have had several posts go viral over at QueenBeeing.com, and while you can’t ever really predict how it will happen, there are certain components each viral post shares. They are as follows.
The Seduction Factor
You know how you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? Well, I’m here to tell you that as humans, we’re wired to do exactly that. And that means that we’re going to judge a headline by its sexy factor.
What is a sexy headline, exactly? It’s simple: it’s a headline that draws you in and nearly seduces you into clicking it. It makes you WANT IT – even if you’re too busy to read that article right now, you bookmark it because you’re so very into that title – it makes you want to know more.
Those are the kinds of headlines you want to write.
You’ve got to recognize that 99.9 percent of the people who could potentially read your article will always see the headline first. That’s why a headline that almost begs to be clicked is so important.
Here are a few tips to make your headlines sexy.
Make a promise you can keep.
A headline is sort of an advertisement for your blog post, if you will. It’s the first thing your reader’s going to see. Start by promising them something for clicking through – and then deliver in the post.
Introduce your post.
Don’t call a blog post ‘Top Ten Ways to Ruin Your Life’ if you’re going to write about how to plant a garden. This is obviously an exaggerated example, but the fact is that trying to be very mysterious or too “clever” with your post title is going to turn people off. So be sure you let people know what you’re writing about.
Write the title after you write the post.
As I’m sitting here, writing this post for you now, there is no headline. It is untitled at this point because I write my blog post titles after the post. This allows me to write the most effective title possible since there’s no question of the direction the content takes.
Use a Winning Headline Formula
There are so many “tried and true” blog post title formulas that actually work that you would be shocked. A few of my favorite headline formulas:
- Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
- The Ultimate Guide to [blank]
- Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
- How to Survive Your First [blank]
- What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
- How to Permanently Stop Your [blank], Even if You’ve Tried Everything!
- Top 10 Ways to [Blank]
The Meat: Inside a Viral Blog Post
Once the headline draws them in, it’s your job to keep them there. Start by writing on topics that make you feel passionate and inspired. And then watch which ones appeal to your audience – which posts get the most clicks and shares? Those are the ones in which you’ve done something right. Study them and see what you can do to reproduce the results. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Care about what you’re covering
I have noticed that the posts that go viral most often for me are the ones that I sat down and wrote in a hurry – at least the first draft.
These are the posts that cause me to wake up in the middle of the night and type furiously into my phone before I pass out again. Or the ones that come to me while I’m in traffic and I have to voice text the idea to myself so I won’t forget it later.
Related: check out the ‘tools of the trade’ – these are the tools that help me keep up with my ideas and plans for my blogs.
Connect to their emotions
The fact is that emotionally-charged content has a higher percentage of social shares and gets much more interaction than it might otherwise. This is especially true in non-technical blogs – but if you think about it, didn’t you click through to this post because you felt something when you read the title?
Even excitement and curiosity count as emotions in this case. And so do less desirable feelings, such as disgust, anger and sadness.
Give them something valuable (that you could charge for)
In my case, the posts that most often go viral are those which not only connect with people on an emotional level or offer them insight into a shared experience, but also those which offer TRULY USEFUL INFORMATION.
You cannot expect to regurgitate everyone else’s stuff and get results. Even if you’re going to link out to another blogger’s post, you need to put your own unique spin on it, and you need to offer something useful.
If you’re expecting the post to go viral, you might want to give them information that you’d actually charge for – say in a book or webinar.
Don’t worry that they won’t want to buy from you later – the opposite has been true in my case. The more blog posts I publish in my niche, the more books I sell. There’s got to be a correlation there.
Create an original image and include your URL on it
I used to only use royalty-free images on my blog, until one day I read a tip somewhere that suggested that images could bring more traffic to your site. These days, I find myself creating a custom image for each post – and I include my URL on each as well. Take a look at the one at the top of this post for an example.
You can use your post’s headline, or do what I do sometimes – use an alternate headline or use the pic to ask a question that makes people want to know the answer. Other times, I’ll just use a powerful quote that relates to the post.
I believe the custom post photo works for a few reasons.
- I enter metadata on my site when I upload this pic. This includes an optimized title and site credit, as well as permission for distribution. This leads to the photo becoming indexed by Google.
- The photo is then a perfect way to help draw attention to your social media marketing on the post – there are stats everywhere these days telling you that pics are more often shared than straight links on nearly every social media platform.
- When a photo is eye-catching and the headline is sexy, you’ve got a one-two punch that’s got viral written all over it.
Think Positive (Posts)
Despite the fact that everybody loves a good sob story, statistics tell us that the most-often shared posts are those that are positive in nature. Then again, we all know a good rant post that went viral for whatever reason – so just feel your audience out if you’re not sure.
Be Real. Be Outrageous. Be You.
Here’s my final tip: if you want to go viral, expose yourself a little bit. Let your reader inside your head, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sometimes if you can allow yourself to be genuine, vulnerable and real, your readers won’t be able to like it fast enough. And when you’re a real person, who really communicates with your readers? You can’t lose!
Okay, now it’s your turn! Are you a ‘viral veteran’ too? What are your best tips for making a blog post go viral? Share them in the comments section.