One Blogger’s Story of “Going Viral”

by Kira @ Her New Leaf on July 18, 2012

How It Began

One day in January, I was surfing one of my favorite blogs, Making It Lovely. Nicole posted some photos of a fun and happy keyboard makeover by Malaysian artist and illustrator Eng Gee Fan, known online as Minifanfan. It was a simple idea – she had decorated her Macbook’s keyboard with brightly colored washi tape. I was immediately drawn to this graphic project and started plotting my own version with pretty pastel-colored tapes.

I took to Etsy and found the perfect raw material for my project: washi tape by-the-foot from Le Box Boutique. It arrived in the mail several days later, and I gleefully tore open the package and began snipping away and affixing tiny squares of the Japanese tape to my laptop’s keys. My boyfriend thought I was crazy. I snapped a few photos, put together a blog post for the next morning, and went to bed.

Picking Up Steam

In the next few days, I got a few comments here and there but nothing out of the ordinary. But then my little post started circulating on networks like Pinterest, Facebook, and Stumbleupon, and I started getting comments from brand new readers. My post made it to the front page of Craftgawker (a curated gallery to which bloggers can submit DIY tutorials), and I watched as my photo moved closer and closer to the top of the page as it gained popularity. I was thrilled!

As my pageviews ticked higher and higher over the next several weeks, my excitement did as well! But the real excitement began when my project started getting featured on some amazing blogs I had admired for a long time, like Little Chief Honeybee, Kyla Roma, and oh, hello friend, as well as blogs in other countries all over the world. One day I woke up to a Google Alert informing me that I had been mentioned on the HGTV blog! I was totally amazed and honored at all of the attention my little post was getting.

Text about my blog in Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, Portuguese, and German

What does “going viral” mean exactly?

Going viral definitely means different things to different bloggers, but I’ll share with you my numbers. After posting my washi tape keyboard, my daily pageviews grew by 10 times what they were in the previous month. I had a one-day high of 23,012 pageviews. That post has been viewed over 200,000 times to date (I do have other posts that have more all time pageviews than this, but this post achieved its success in a much shorter amount of time and was much more widely circulated, which is why I chose to feature it). On Craftgawker, my post remains one of the top 100 most favorited and most gawked projects of all time.

Make It Happen

I’m sharing this story with you not to brag about my popularity, because as every blogger who has enjoyed a little bit of success knows, it can often be fleeting. I’m telling you about my experience so that you can learn from it! I want to show you that if you continue putting out quality content, unique ideas, and beautiful photos, your blog will get noticed! It can be frustrating to feel like no one is reading, but I promise that if your blog is full of quality, unique, and beautiful content, it will pay off eventually.

So why did this post take off like it did? I can’t say for sure, but here are a few reasons that I think it became so popular.

• The Photo is Eye-Catching

I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but there really is no substitute for good photos on your blog. You don’t need to invest in an expensive DSLR, but knowing how to use the camera you do have is essential.

• …But it Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

This may seem a little counterintuitive, but I think a reason why my keyboard covered in washi tape got so many clicks is that you can’t tell what it is right away. The photo intrigues you and its caption tells you what it is.

• The Idea is Unique and Simple

Once the photo draws you in and the caption explains the project, not much more of an explanation is needed. I believe this is why it translated so well into many different languages and was so appealing to so many different people.

My post is going viral… Now what??

That’s so great! The most important thing for you to do when your blog is gaining popularity is don’t stop posting! Keep writing that quality, unique content on a consistent basis to keep your new followers around. Also be sure that your blog is easy for readers to navigate and discover content that is similar to your popular post. You can do this by adding a related posts widget such as NRelate, adding a feature like a post gallery, and making links to your popular categories easy to access.

Have you ever had a post “go viral”? How did you convince your new readers to stick around?

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Gran July 18, 2012 at 6:09 am

Great post, Kira! Very inspiring…

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arod July 18, 2012 at 6:25 am

great post thanks for sharing I’ve never gone virial yet but here’s hoping
have a great week

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Lindsay - Shrimp Salad Circus July 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

Great explanation and experience, Kira!

My chevron nails tutorial (http://shrimpsaladcircus.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-sday-chevron-fingernails.html) and antique spoon plant markers (http://shrimpsaladcircus.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-sday-antique-spoon-plant-markers.html) have both gone viral – been featured on The Beauty Department (Lauren Conrad’s blog), HGTV, and even Fossil, of all places… It’s the most exciting thing when something suddenly catches on! I will point out that my stamped spoons didn’t go viral until long after I made the tutorial, so there’s hope still – even for an “old” project or post!

I’d say that to keep your readers around, you need to responsive and recognize that if they stopped by to see that particular project, they will probably prefer similar projects. Responsive content keeps readers interested and engaged.

Loving your reader appreciation week, and thanks for posting the reader ads yesterday!
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Kira @ Her New Leaf July 18, 2012 at 8:56 am

Yes, consistently posting similar content is key to getting people to stick around! I think those two posts you mentioned have the same qualities – they are eye-catching, simple, unique ideas that you want to click!

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Lindsay - Shrimp Salad Circus July 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

Oh, and I’ll second your suggestion of NRelate for keeping people on the blog longer. I actually use LinkWithin, not NRelate, but it’s a steady source of high traffic and keeps my bounce rate down for sure!
Lindsay – Shrimp Salad Circus recently posted..$125 custom pet portrait giveawayMy Profile

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Kira @ Her New Leaf July 18, 2012 at 8:57 am

I started with LinkWithin but I find that NRelate does a better job of choosing posts that are actually related.

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Lindsay - Shrimp Salad Circus July 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

I’ve heard good things. One of my friends (Katie of Lemon Jitters) wrote about it awhile back, so maybe this is the push I need to just pull the trigger and switch over.

I love their widget that pops up another post on the side when readers get to the end of the current post, but it’s only for Wordpress currently.
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Mary Q. July 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

So I figured I’d give NRelate a try after using LinkWithin for years, but one thing to note there is that NRelate seems to have trouble with my video posts. It kept pulling a broken image whereas LinkWithin is smart about it and pulls my main image. Just an FYI in case you ever want to include videos in your posts… LinkWithin might be the better option there.
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jenn~the stylish housewife July 18, 2012 at 7:22 am

i have been reading your blog for a few weeks now (via bloglovin)…it was the static post for fb that hooked me. =) i LOVE finding new ways to engage my readers. this story is so inspiring! and of course, now i wish my keyboard looked like that. ha ha!

xoxo, jenn
the stylish housewife
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Liliane July 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

I didn’t even know that that picture of the Washi tape keyboard was from you!
I came across it and the other one from Minifanfan on Pinterest and loved it! So cute :)
Thanks for sharing your tips and story on going viral. Great read!
(and funny to read something in my own language, Dutch ;) )
Liliane recently posted..Musthave Monday: PlayhouseMy Profile

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Kira @ Her New Leaf July 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’ve actually had friends run across it on Pinterest before they knew it was mine, that’s always so funny!

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Ruthy T. (@DiscoveryStreet) July 18, 2012 at 7:51 am

such a great post…really enjoying your tips and step by step explanations. :)
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Jummy July 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

Thanks for sharing your tips for success with us. I’ve never had anything go viral but I do agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve shared.

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Esther July 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

So great to hear your success story. Hope you have that keyboard with the washi tape framed somewhere! :P
I was lucky enough to have a DIY ‘Freshly Pressed’ on the Wordpress homepage a couple months ago. It was exciting to have all these strangers visit my site and comment. It was especially inspiring to read one dad’s comment about how he had a lot of fun with the tutorial (he’d never been much of an arts/crafts guy).

So yup, it’s exciting when your post makes it big. But I think the key to this whole thing is to write about things you care about…and when you do, it shows! Congrats again!

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Kira @ Her New Leaf July 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

Oh yes, Freshly Pressed offers some great exposure as well! I actually had a different post get Freshly Pressed shortly before I moved to self-hosted – it brought a lot of totally different readers than those who would normally find my blog and was a great experience!

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Stephanie July 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hi Kiri! I’ve just stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest and I am in LOVE :) You’re site looks fab! You’re hard work definitely paid off!! I’m just getting a new blog Pin Busting off the ground and your insights are great! Come visit sometime :)
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Sarah July 18, 2012 at 10:04 am

Great post Kira – and to think I’d never heard of your washi tape makeover before :)

Sarah
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Stephanie@meetmakelaugh July 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

Great post! I have seen your washi tape keyboard all over pinterest, and it is nice to hear about how it came about. I definitely want to try the project! Keep up with the great posts! Love following your blog.
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Katie July 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

Thanks for sharing your story Kira! How exciting it must have been for you. I wish you lots of success in the years to come :)
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Becky Bedbug July 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

Fantastic post! I’ve never had a post go viral although I hope that one day I will!
I have some tutorials planned for the next few weeks so you never know!

Becky
xx
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Sweet Mama M July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Huh, I had totally seen that picture before and not realized it was you! Fabulous idea though and it definitely deserved the attention it received!
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Mary Q. July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Very interesting… I wonder what other types of things go viral, since it seems that you and Lindsay of Shrimp Salad Circus both had DIY post successes.

The power of images is definitely amazing! I haven’t had anything go viral, but one of the things that I got a lot of visitors from was Google Image Search – apparently a lot of people search for double eyelids?
Mary Q. recently posted..Shopping styleMy Profile

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Adina | Gluten Free Travelette July 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Thank you for sharing Kira! I haven’t had any posts go viral yet, but hopefully someday! It’s so incredibly helpful when bloggers share their stories of success, so thank you again!
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joanne July 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm

so SO awesome!!!!!
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Marina July 19, 2012 at 7:23 am

Hi Kira,
I’m pretty new to blogging.. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve actually used your widgets.. Check them out.. In any case, what’s the difference between LinkWithin and NRelate? Thanks for all of the great posts!

-Marina
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Kira @ Her New Leaf July 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

Marina, they both do basically the same thing – display related posts at the bottom of each post, they just use different algorithms to determine which posts are related. If you’ve just started blogging, though, I would definitely wait until you have a good, solid base of posts, like 40-50 posts, until you use either of them. Otherwise they will just be showing the same thing over and over!

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Marina July 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Great thanks for the tip!
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Tiffany July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

First of all, congrats! You should be very proud!
Secondly, thank you for all those tips, they were very helpful and inspiring :)
xx Tiffany
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kjpugs July 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

This is so interesting, and very cool to hear from the viral blogger’s point of view!
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Elle September 14, 2013 at 10:33 am

Great story, thank you so much for the tip on NRelate I always wondered how that was done. One question, not to be mean or anything at all, but did you feel guilty that your post went viral because it wasn’t original? The other blogger had done it before you. I was always under the impression that stuff that went viral was original content. Your photos were much better so good photography does pay.

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