Life via Blog: January

I’ll remember this January as the time my blog broke. It broke and it was amazing.

I had my first ever “viral” post.
blog january 2015

What’s funny about that was that it was actually a post from December. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute (and if you’re the impatient type you can skim on down the page), but for now let’s recap January:

Words on Wednesday posts (including book lists):

Other blog posts from January:

The most popular post written in January was the 2014 in Review and my favorite was probably the 12 Booklists from 2014.

So, obviously we did a lot of looking back in January.

Which brings me to the subject of that viral post.

when your blog post goes viral
I published this post: 4 Things Children Don’t Need, on December 17, 2014.

It was actually a re-working of something I wrote back in 2007. I re-wrote it, added a graphic, and published it. I didn’t think it was that different from my other posts.

But apparently, it was. Because people started commenting. And sharing. And sharing again.

Then this happened:

dec 17 - jan 17 analytics
On Monday, December 22, my page views were around 100. On Tuesday, December 23, they picked up to 3,365.

Then they dropped back down in the 1,000 range.

I was thrilled with that. 1,000 views a day was better than I had done before.

If that could be my new normal, I would be happy. That lasted about a week. I was busy with holiday things, traveling, and such.

But at the beginning of January I started noticing something and if you look at the image above you can notice it too.

Nearly 100,000 pageviews in ONE DAY? Oh, my.

Now, I’d love to write you a post like “How to Write a Blog Post That Goes Viral” or “From 100 to 100,000 Pageviews in a Week”. I’ve seen blog posts like that and I bet you have too.

But I’m not going to write that post.

Why? I don’t really know how to explain what happened. And the secret I have learned is this: the “experts” probably don’t know either.

The basics are easy:

Write a post with good content.

Share it.

Promote it.

But I’m guessing we all do that most of the time.

Why do I think this particular post did better than some of my others?

A few reasons might be: It was timely (right before Christmas). It evoked childhood memories (which we usually perceive as a simpler time).

Other than that, I don’t know.

You shared it and I love you for it.

I get the impression that there’s something magical or indefinable when a post does really well.

Maybe it’s similar to what Hollywood people call “chemistry”. We know it when we see it on a TV show or a movie, but even the best casting directors can’t make it happen.

Now, I realize the big dog blogs would probably sniff at my 78,000+ pageviews on January 4 and say something like, “I get that many in my sleep,” or, “You have to have a million hits to be truly ‘viral’.”

Maybe so.

But it was pretty amazing for this little nobody blogger who likes to read, write, talk about books and homeschooling and how to thrive in a life with 5 kids (and a baby on the way).

So what did I learn, if I haven’t quite figured out “The Secret to Popular Blog Posts”?

Write what you love.

Definitely Write what you believe.

Keep writing. And sharing. Keep trying.

Sometimes it won’t take off. And maybe sometimes it will.

If you’re a writer, then you write.

And if 100 people show up to read it, or 100,000 people stop by, well, it almost doesn’t matter.

Just keep writing.

Keep working at it and getting better. Study it. Read those posts about how to make your blog “successful” (whatever that may mean to you). Try something new, by all means, but keep writing.

And now, for the broken part.

This is what those posts about “How to Go Viral in 7 Easy Steps” don’t tell you: your blog could shut down. Gulp.

See, blogging costs money. Having a domain name costs something. Hosting costs something. (If those words mean nothing to you, don’t worry, I am basically tech illiterate but I’ve had to learn a bit in the past couple of months.)

My blog host contacted me and told me that my blog was taking too much server space and I’d already used all my pageviews for January. (Panic time: it was only January 6!) They were recommending I move this blog to its own server which would cost (double gulp) $88 a month.

Well, I’ve made a few bucks of Amazon affiliate money sometimes, but up to this point I haven’t even made $88 a year, much less a month. What now?

My husband (also my “tech guy”) changed around my hosting, without paying for a dedicated server. That’s working for now.
(Which is why I’ve managed to keep blogging this month.) It’s costing me more than the bargain basement rate I was paying, but it isn’t $88.

Having a popular post also opened up some other opportunities.

I was invited to do an interview on national radio. I told my husband that sounding like an idiot on a national stage is pretty much my WORST NIGHTMARE EVER. His response: “Punch fear in the face.”

I told him that if I’d wanted to marry Jon Acuff, I would have. (Because yes, he was quoting from Jon Acuff’s bookStart: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matterswhich we had both recently finished reading. Having a well read husband can be annoying sometimes.)

In the end, that opportunity didn’t pan out.

But there have been other things open up because of my “improved” blog numbers. I’ll see where some of those take me in the next few months.

So, long story somewhat shorter: going viral is awesome. And kind of scary.

But what I really wanted to say here is: Thank You.

Thank you for reading. For sharing posts you love or found useful. Thanks for commenting or emailing. Or for finding me on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

People like you are what make blogging fun.

My primary affiliates for this month (which will help keep this blog up and running!) are:
Simplified Organization
My friend Mystie has put together a fantastic course for anyone who’s ready to get organized. Beyond the ecourse, there are other resources available at her site that you’ll want to check out.

Notebooking Pages Free Resources

As always, you can see more affiliates in my sidebar. And one thing I promise, no matter how many hits (or how few) I may get: I only promote books or services that I use and believe in myself. I’d like to make a little money blogging. I’d like to see more readers. I’d like to see what opportunities some “blog success” would do for our family (and our budget). But I’d also like to be able to look in the mirror every morning without feeling like a corporate shill or sell-out.

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  1. That’s awesome! I would love to take credit for making your post viral, since I added it on Stumble Upon, but I see that’s not where the traffic came from. ;) I have never had a post on my blog go really viral. 100,000 is huge!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing the post, Jessie (and for all your encouragement with this blogging thing)!

      Most of the traffic came (and continues to come) from Facebook. My sister still sends me screen captures of when it comes across her feed from people I don’t know. Whatever happened, it sure made for some exciting days. :)