It's amazing how an individual can share their mind with the world needing only a few key resources. You can take whats in your head and spread that vision to hundreds, thousands maybe even millions of people.
You only need a few tools at your disposal:
- You need your mind.
- A computer.
- Access to the internet.
- And an immense amount of patience, grinding and content production.
More specifically, how do we take those four tools then and completely bust our vision wide open?
In two months, I went from typing aimlessly on the vast abyss of the interwebs to refining my strategy to reach half a million views.
It's simpler than you think.
With the simplicity, however, it is going to take a true hustler's approach of grinding everyday.
Picture pushing through to generate a viral article(s) like a running back in football pushing to get through the trenches and find an open running lane:
The running back arguably takes the biggest punishment during a football game. He grinds with every run. Sometimes he needs to block with the oncoming violent advances. Every time he gets the ball, he's going to get hit. He takes it, runs forward to meet the ensuing rush, looking to bust through a hole. Most of the time, he won't bust through. He'll get gang tackled, he'll get stuffed, he'll get pushed out of bounds. Ever so often, however, if he keeps pushing, something might open up. Some hole might form and it gives the runner an opportunity to break a nice run. When he hits the hole, he can make a gain but again, will still probably be tackled. The goal is always to find a hole, run through it and ultimately score.
Again, in writing viral articles, you are the running back.
Now that we know what role you need to envelope when writing viral articles, let's uncover the strategy in order to do so:
***This How-To is broken up into two sections- Changing your mindset and The tool-kit used to streamline your efforts***
Write about what is important to you- share your experience and be vulnerable.
There’s the old saying I used to hear when I worked in a sales boiler-room:
“People don’t buy things, people buy people.”
Same goes for writing viral content.
Sure, people find information valuable and people love absorbing new things.
What people really connect with, however is a personal story of triumph or perhaps fear.
People want to vicariously feel what it was like to experience the victory/failure.
In my first viral article I opened my life up and shared about the experience of my life changing through my father sharing some key advice with me. The advice absolutely altered my life. At first, it was completely defeating and depressing. It made me lost a lot of hope in the world. After I let the advice soak in, however, it completely changed the paradigm of what I thought to be possible in the world. It actually helped influence me to follow me dreams of becoming a published author.
People resonate with what’s real and moving.
In order to create viral content, open yourself up to the world.
Believe that you’re an expert in your field- and then write about it.
“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts and smart people full of confidence.” -Charles Bukowski
If you’re going to take this writing seriously, you need to believe that you are an expert in what you’re writing about. This has to happen, there’s no other way.
This was extremely hard for me to grasp in the beginning. In this connected world, I was always comparing myself to the other successful writers around me. I thought the market was too saturated and I missed the boat. I thought there was no way I could ever catch up with these people.
That philosophy will always hold you back. If you hold that to be true, you will never be successful in writing.
Believe that you are the expert and then write about it.
Some of building that belief will take reading an extreme amount of books and information on that pertains to your niche.
So be it.
If that’s what it takes, you are going to need it.
Write Every Day.
"Eighty percent of success is showing up" -Woody Allen
Anything worth doing is going to be hard.
This is paramount in creating viral content.
The myth of the one-hit-wonder is simply that- a myth.
The truth of the matter is, you are going to write a lot of less than quality content. A lot of the content may not connect with threaders. The content may be too dense. And perhaps it doesn't get the message across as well as you think.
Writing every day allows you to practice this content. This was a hard thing for me to grasp my head around. Growing up, I always thought you were either born with talent, or you were just going to be okay at best. I gave up on a lot of things in life because I subscribed to this false narrative. I look back on a lot of my old writing and sometimes, my jaw drops. Hell, sometimes I look at the work I have written recently and still, my jaw drops.
The combination of quantity and quality works in your favor here. The more you write, the more chances you have not only to have your work go viral but also the chances that your work is getting better.
When I looked inward and really started to obsess on how to create viral articles I setup a weekly routine in article writing:
- Monday-Friday: One article (at least per day). In the beginning this was super hard. The first day was easy, I had a great amount of energy and motivation to get typing away on the keys. The next few days were rough (especially because I wasn't gaining too much traction). Again, I was committed however. I was pushing out content even when I didn't feel like it.
- Saturday: Research day. Saturday was my start to winding down from the thousands of words I was hammering out. If you are always on over-drive, you will run out of gas too soon. Saturday became my day for gathering research on a variety of my writing dimensions: How do I construct titles? what are common traits of viral articles? What are similar content creators writing about currently? etc. I obsessed at what the keys to viral articles were.
- Sunday: Rest day. Sometimes you need to step away from it all and recharge. Like I said, I was (and still am) obsessed. I feel that to be a necessary trait in creating the content. We all need time to step back and recharge, however.
Creating this everyday mindset is key in producing the quality amount of content necessary to go viral.
Now all I needed was the right set of tools to take me to the promised land.
Abandon Your Blog
- This pertains to people who haven't yet published viral content yet have a blog that they regularly post on.
I'm happy that you invested in yourself and created a blog- I really am.
I know I did it.
I sank hundreds of dollars in two different hosting services (wix and squarespace). I then spent more money in their respective SEO tool kits hoping to take my content out of the dark abyss and into the limelight.
I changed my domain name twice.
I promoted my content on social media.
And time after time, I came up with nothing.
I kept thinking to myself, why? This is good stuff! I'm getting traction on my page analytics (I was in the low thousands of visits/month). I plateaued quickly, however.
People weren't sharing my stuff.
So I implore you, if you haven't purchased the domain and all the bells and whistles that go with it- DON'T.
There’s a better way to establish your content and further your personal brand than starting your own blog.
Turn to Quora
If you're not on Quora, get on there yesterday.
Quora is what Yahoo answers should have been. It is a community of bright individuals asking and answering questions. People from all over the world are asking and answering these questions.
If you have started a blog or host on your own website, I have just one question.
Why are you putting yourself in the biggest digital ocean possible with nothing but a make-shift raft to keep you afloat.
Quora is a sea where people are asking questions and looking for you to lend the answers.
What kind of information do you excel at? Did you go to school for biology and are looking to influence people on the advances of the human genome? Are you into philosophy and love writing about how it can improve the human condition? Are you into comic books and would love to share your wealth of knowledge on scores of akin aficionados?
Quora allows you to follow topics that pertain to your area of expertise.
When you subscribe to certain topics, you are built a news feed of the various questions and answers that are being asked and answered in those given areas.
After subscribing to a score of topics where I know I am a thought leader, I wrote countless, quality articles pertaining to the specific field. My first viral article was published after only a few weeks (link to article at the end of this article).
In just over two months, I have near half a million views and counting.
Not only does this give you an idea of what is being talked about in your area of expertise, but it also gives you and edge in formulating content ideas.
When I was starting out writing, I generally spent no less than 15 minutes staring at the blinking cursor, draining my psychic energies in thinking what the hell I was going to write about.
With the questions on Quora, the prompts are right there in front of you. It is like the writing muses are right in front of you, whispering in your ear and giving you the content topics served medium-rare on a polished silver platter!
Now, what took 15 minutes to come up with 1 topic, I have 30 topics laid in front of me in the same amount of time.
***BONUS*** Quora Feedback:
Another great tool with writing on Quora is the feedback you get from your articles. Quora works with an upvote feature. When Quorans (users of Quora) believe your article worthy of being seen by others, they give it an upvote. What that does is tell the algorithm that other users should see this content for it is of value. This lets you know what content of yours is working and what needs some more refining.
My first viral article received over 8k upvotes in the first 24 hours resulting in over 125k views (over 200k a month after that- 13k upvotes)!
Great, but I want to still leverage this content on my blog and get published in major periodicals…
And you can do just that.
A great facet of Quora is its moderation system.
When you have an article go viral, generally, they will email it out to thousands of people (depending on its success) to the Quora Digest. This is a further way to get people to see the content who already haven't.
Also, within Quora, there are moderators that work in conjunction with major publications. Every week/month these moderators scan the vast sea of articles and pitch the work to various outlets.
If your article can be seen to work with a various outlet, who knows? You may have yourself your first big break in being credited with a reputable publication.
**BONUS*** Self Promotion/Branding
Quora has some pretty rigorous spam prevention in their moderation system. They don't like when you answer questions necessarily to promote yourself or perhaps your business (at least within the answer).
There are ways to still promote yourself and your work within Quora.
Your profile page allows for you to describe yourself in rich detail.
Tell your audience what you're up to.
Let them know of the tools you may have for them.
Give them a glimpse of your expertise.
(You can see in mine I have posted my FREE Guide, My most viral article, a bit about me- so they can connect on a personal level, and my social media).
Make yours fun and engaging.
What are you an expert in?
What are you passionate about?
Are you able to provide them with any useful utility?
The path to creating viral content is simple.
That doesn't mean that it isn't going to take much work on your part.
You are going to run into walls in your writing. You are going to have days and weeks when you feel you aren't making any progress. You are going to want to throw in the towel.
All you have to do is first change your mindset to recognize what creating viral content is really about. There are fallacies that fill the airwaves that say creating viral content is a product of luck and perhaps Deus Ex Machina.
What it really takes is approaching the work everyday- not matter what.
Writing from the heart and writing what you're an expert in.
When you have that mindset laid out. You turn and develop your content using a structured approach and tool belt:
Don't get lost thinking that you are special and people are going to find your blog just because you're you.
Give yourself the yacht you need to navigate the sea rather than the raft to drift aimlessly in the ocean.
Before too long, if you are writing quality content consistently on networks such as Quora (Linkedin and Medium work as well). You are sure to find a hole, bust through and score a touchdown.
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