After a year of blogging, I have finally written something that grew wings and learned how to fly.
I knocked one out of the park. Ok, it’s not as big as what some people might consider viral, but it’s earned me a lot of attention in a short period of time. And it’s helped me cross some milestones I had off my list.
$49.87 won’t change my life, but it has definitely opened my eyes to what’s possible.
3 Steps to Better Blogging: Keep It Simple to Make Something Powerful, has earned just shy of 50 bucks and has been seen a little over 2,200 times. What’s most important is how often it has been highlighted by readers, and how many people responded to it. It was useful and helpful to my audience. That’s the real goal, right?
You want a piece to to earn a lot of attention? That’s great, but it isn’t a goal. Not yet. It’s an ambition. To make it a goal that you can actually follow through on, take things back to their basics and figure out what steps need to happen first.
It’s been an eye-opener for me at the opportunities that exist. Now, if we’re being honest, I’m wondering how the hell am I going to be able to repeat the process.
Maybe this isn’t how you define a viral article. But it is definitely viral for me and where I’m at in my writing journey.
This has led me to try and figure out what I did right and how to replicate my success. I’ll keep you posted, in the meantime, there are a few things I think are universally true that just might help you.
The big writers all agree, you really can’t plan for the things you’re writing to take off. You might have some ways to predict what will and won’t do pretty good, but it’s all a crapshoot at the end of the day. So, why waste your time on what you can’t control, and have little to no influence over? Let’s look at some things you can control and how you can write articles that just might take off too.
Hope without a plan won’t get you there
Which is better? A goal of earning a million bucks or a system to repeatedly earn a hundred?
I’d argue that having a goal of earning a specific amount is no goal at all. It’s a daydream at best. It’s hope without a plan and hope alone won’t get you there. Passion alone won’t either. You have to make choices and put in the work to get the things you want.
Guess what that requires? You having a say and influence in the results.
You won’t make it if your vision isn’t clear and your goals aren’t grounded in things you have control or influence over. You may not have complete control, but that’s OK, you only need a little to do a lot.
Instead of feeding fantasies, build the systems you need.
You want a piece to earn a lot of attention? That’s great, but it isn’t a goal. Not yet. It’s an ambition. To make it a goal that you can actually follow through on, take things back to their basics, and figure out what steps need to happen first.
This is called first principles by the way, and any writer or blogger wanting to make it ought to give it a closer look. It’s not just for entrepreneurs and startups but creatives and writers as well.
So, take the time to review your efforts and the goals that drive them. Are they concrete goals or daydreams? You can’t build something on a wish alone.
Think like a scientist
This might seem a bit strange at first, especially for writers, but you have to learn how to think like a scientist. If you want your work to gain some serious traction, you not only need to figure out what you control and have a direct influence on, but what things you don’t as well.
This follows the logic of the scientific method pretty closely. You make a prediction (hypothesis), you set up a scenario to test the prediction (an experiment with a control and variables) and you proceed to test the prediction. Then you closely observe the results and take note of what happens and whether the prediction proves right or wrong.
Now, to translate this to your writing:
- Your predictions are the things you’re writing and whether they’ll connect with readers and add something valuable to their lives and give them important takeaways.
- You figure out what you have control and influence over, which translates to how many blog posts and articles you write, how often you share them, where you share them, and how you promote them. Everything you control.
- Then you establish your variables, the things you don’t control, this might be reads, click-throughs, exact earnings, and how many times a piece is shared.
- Then you test the value of your piece by smashing the publish button and putting it out there in the world and reviewing your stats to see what connects and where.
This is a pretty loose comparison in some ways, but the principles are sound. You want to create content through your writing and creativity that is so important and interesting to your readers that they can’t help but read it all the way through and share it with their friends. The question is how do you do that and how do you repeat the process when you do?
This becomes your experiment in creating viral posts (valuable and important content that is so good they can’t help but read, comment, and share your work) and your hypothesis in doing so.
Confidence is sexy
Let’s hit pause for a moment and have a bit of real talk between us. This is something I haven’t seen nearly enough and to be perfectly honest, it isn’t easy to be as vulnerable as I’m about to be.
There’s a bit of imposter syndrome that tags along with any level of success. Especially when you knock it out of the park and achieve a goal you’ve been chiseling at for a while.
It’s like you forget all the early mornings, late nights, and the practice sessions you’ve put in. You have a moment where you forget who you are, where you’ve come from, and what you’ve done.
Don’t worry, this is part of the progress. It’s just another turn in the journey of writing. Every challenge is a teacher if you take the time to look for the lessons.
Even as I write this, I feel a sense of real struggle. Not necessarily a struggle to get something written down. Thank God for my systems, my processes, my practice, and a year or so of steadily growing the habits that I have. But there is real resistance to the whole thing that I haven’t felt for a while.
But you know what? Confidence isn’t the absence of doubt, it’s having grown enough courage to face it and enough discipline to overcome it and to outlast it.
It’s pressure. Plain and simple. My mind is a squirrel and trying to figure out how to write another piece that will be picked up, loved, and re-shared like this one has is the nut my squirrel mind keeps chewing at. How the heck can I pull this off again? Do I even have it in me?
Sure, I know the answer. I can. I will. In time and with continued effort, I will do this again and each time I do it will get easier. But right now, the size of the success is casting a shadow I haven’t had to navigate before.
It’s all part of a lesson and the reason I’m sharing it with you is so you’ll know to expect it when it happens to you too. You’ll know that success has a weight to it, and new worries will always be waiting for their turn. Don’t forget who you are, and what you’ve done to get here. Deal?
There really are no guarantees in life, blogging, and creating viral posts especially. But earning 40 bucks or so on a single post — and having it seen by over 2,000 people — that’s an eye-opener. Every success is.
But the best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to writing something that people will love and that might even go a little bit viral is to forget going viral altogether. Just do the work. Put in the effort, learn your lessons, stay disciplined, and keep showing up.
Find what you control and focus on that. That’s the real lesson. Just keep showing up, doing the work, and if you’ve built a good process, then trust it to help you get to where you want to be as a writer. Forget going viral, focus on what will get your work read and loved instead.