On Going Viral

Many of my new followers, and much of my new traffic these days, are coming from a post I wrote a month ago. Some of you may know that in my last life I taught middle school math for eleven years. Relatedly, I really like data. Disclaimer: This post is long. And it has lots of numbers. And no pretty pictures (though I did throw in a graph!). But it's my story of how my post went viral. I find the whole process fascinating. Basically, I'm awestruck.

For many months while I was in the process of putting together the room (and even for the nearly two years before that) I talked about it a lot. Many friends and family members knew the plan and were eagerly awaiting news about how The Boy liked his Secret Room. They would ask, "so has he gotten his room yet?" in hushed tones when he wasn't close enough to overhear. After the big reveal, I wrote my blog post to share the story including before and after pictures with friends and family. I'm completely overwhelmed by the response.

A little more back story. I've been blogging for almost 8 months now. A month ago I had a handful of blog followers. I was networking within the quilt blog world. My typical blog traffic had crept up to 20-40 pageviews daily when I was posting regularly, and my very few high traffic days (with a max pageviews = 272) came on days I shared a quilting post in a quilting Facebook group.

Late in the day on August 5, I posted about The Secret Treasure Room. I shared the link to my friends and family on Facebook and I tweeted my post URL. My husband also tweeted about my blog post. His tweet got retweeted 20 times. This caused the most pageviews I'd ever had, 325 that day and 526 the next day. Wow! August 7 was back to normal. Okay, that was fun.

August 8, I noticed a little jump in traffic and found out I'd been linked to on The Radish. The following day I was linked to from Metafilter, resulting in a total of 3,149 pageviews for August 9. Wow!! This was what I considered "crazy traffic."

August 9, I was contacted by Robbie Gonzalez, a senior editor at io9.com asking permission to republish my whole blog post. The io9 page went up on August 10 which caused another 3,000+ pageview day on my site. (there have now been 266,661 pageviews on the io9 page.) Over the next two days, traffic trended down toward "normal." Again I thought, this was fun!

On the morning of August 13, I woke up and checked my email. I had 5 new blog subscribers by email and 4 comments on my blog. Yay! Then I realized... this isn't normal. I took a look at blog traffic, and at 8am I had already over 5,000 pageviews. Before noon it was over 10,000. The post had been picked up on Viralnova. In total August 13 and 14 averaged over 36,000 pageviews a day. I also started to see it in my feed on facebook as friends shared the viralnova post of the room that my friends' friends had reposted. The whole thing was very surreal.

All the while, many other smaller sites were linking to me as well, but overall traffic died down until August 21 when I was linked to from the Fox 8 Cleveland site. Following that, Scott Gustin, National Content Editor for Tribune Broadcasting (consisting of 40+ sites in many major cities) contacted me about running the story on their other sites. (Side note: Having a lot of web traffic is a little like going over on the minutes on your cell phone plan.) I gave permission for them to use my photos and credit me, but asked that they not link back to my blog, because we just couldn't handle that volume of traffic.

Nine days after the post, linkback traffic started coming from sites in languages other than English:

The month preceding the post (July 5 - Aug 4)

  • 2,106 pageviews
  • referrals from 45 sites

The month following the post (Aug 5 - Sept 4)

  • 176,998 pageviews
  • referrals from 188 sites
  • Here's the overall traffic in graph form:
from Google Analytics
from Google Analytics, August 5, 2014 through September 4, 2014

Thank you to all my new blog followers and to everyone who has visited my little corner of the web.

8 thoughts on “On Going Viral

  1. Ginger

    Fascinating! I didn't realize there was this large network of news and meta-blogs looking for interesting things around the web to post. It makes me wonder about the usage of the web as a whole and the people using it.

    Reply
    1. sarah

      Post author

      It's also amazing to me how many smaller sites just ripped exactly the blurb written by other sites. It's like when you search for "how to" do something and a dozen sites have exactly the same directions.

      Reply

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