It started innocently enough. I wrote an article, in response to a general request put out by Jill Smokler, founder of Scary Mommy, for something funny about how incredible Kate Middleton looked a mere ten hours after having given birth.
I was surprised, and excited, when Jill chose to publish my article, because I knew there were several other submissions as well. That was my ‘high’ for the day,I figured. I headed out to run some errands, and when I came back, I checked the article to see how it was doing.
Yes, I’m one of those writers. I check the stats on my articles, sometimes a bit obsessively. I’ve heard some writers don’t bother at all, and I figure they’re either a billion times more confident about their writing, or they lie. It’s got to be one or the other.
I was completely shocked to discover that, in a couple of hours, it had over 200,000 Facebook shares. What the holy heck?! Even what I considered the ‘best’ article I had on Scary Mommy only had 100,000 in total. What was going on?
I kept watch. The numbers grew. And grew. And grew.
At one point a good friend of mine called, and we took turns refreshing our screens. “It just grew by 5,000 in the last three minutes.” he informed me.
Jill was the first person to say it. “This has gone viral!” I’m honestly not sure who was more excited by the response, her or I. I’m going to say that I was, simply because I’d never had such a thing happen before. By the time I went to bed, it had been shared over one million times on Facebook.By the time I went to bed, it had been shared over one million times on Facebook @2TheImp Click To Tweet
That wasn’t the only thing that happened. I received an email, via my own site, from someone claiming to be from CNN International. I thought it was a scam, or prank. I considered ignoring the email, but then my curiosity got the better of me. I called the number.
When it finally dawned on me that no, this wasn’t a prank, this was a real, honest-to-God editor I was talking to, I made an ass out of myself. “So, would you be interested in doing the interview?” she asked. “Sure!” I blurted, “Just as long as I don’t wet my pants or pass out!”
Oh, good freaking grief. Way to sound professional. If I could have set myself on fire, or vanished through the Earth, I would have.
Thankfully, she didn’t hold it against me, and we checked out the Skype connection. Strike two, I figured, since I was still in my footie jammies, with hair a disaster. But, that went well, and we agreed on a time.
Then, CTV news emailed. They also wanted an interview. That ended up happening within the hour. One thing nobody tells you about? Check the camera angle. BIG TIME. I watched the video, and all I could see was The Boobs That Ate The World filling the bottom of the screen. Awesome.
CNN ended up cancelling due to breaking news in Tel Aviv. I’ve since discovered that canceling isn’t unusual at all. News is always subject to change, so unless and until the interview is over, there’s zero guarantee of it happening.
Another thing I didn’t know about was, how do you capitalize on something like this? Personally, I still have no freaking clue. I watched my Facebook stats grow, and almost doubled the number of folks following my blog page, but honestly? I’ve continued to do what I’ve always done, if for no other reason that I don’t know how, or what, I should be doing differently. I’ve always just been ‘me’, so I figured I’d stick with that, until someone comes along and gives me some lessons in what a ‘real’ blogger should do.
And that’s the thing too: I don’t feel any differently. Somehow, I always thought that going viral would mean a BIG CHANGE in, well, everything. And it hasn’t. My kids and husband still ask me what’s for dinner, no agent has crawled out of the internet to offer to take me on as a client, and the money? Nope, hasn’t come pouring in either.I always thought that going viral would mean a BIG CHANGE and it hasn't @2TheImp Click To Tweet
The weird thing is that (and it may just be me), I feel more pressure than before. It’s completely internal, but the urge to try to prove that I didn’t just get lucky and that I’m actually good, thrums through my head. Then the reality hits: Going viral is like being struck by lightning. It’s a freak event, nothing you could ever have planned, anticipated, or predicted. It was wonderful, fantastic, and awesome, but it doesn’t come with any sort of manual, of ‘Do’ or ‘Don’t’. You could be the best writer on the planet, and never go viral. If I hadn’t had the post on Scary Mommy, but on my own blog instead, it wouldn’t have done anything. I simply don’t have the reach, at least, not yet, to be able to garner that size of audience. That’s been my motivation to guest post: to reach a larger audience than I have on my own site. With luck, I may pick up a few readers here and there, and build my site, a bit at a time.
Maybe one day, I’ll go viral on my own site. Maybe. But, until then, I’m considering getting myself a tiara to wear around the house.
After all, over 2.75 million Facebook shares is worthy of a little something. Even if it’s just a dollar store tiara, right?