Norah Myers is a freelance publishing consultant for BookMachine. She is currently writing a business book for a marketing company, practising Pilates, and eating too much flourless chocolate cake (and it shows). Her Twitter and Instagram handles are the same: @bookish_norah.
Stop trying to go viral.
Aren’t you sick of the phrase by now?
‘My TED talk went viral.’ ‘My blog went viral.’ ‘My article went viral.’
It is now possible to ‘go viral’ for two days, one day, and four hours.
People do stupid things on YouTube and Facebook live trying to get views, shares, likes, and to go viral. People share content just because they want to get twelve million views or eight million shares. They want to be Insta-famous or a YouTube star.
When something ‘goes viral’ it’s actually rarely intentional. It often happens by accident, not design. Did Zoella ever dream that she’d end up with nearly twelve million YouTube subscribers? Nope. Did Jessie Burton write The Miniaturist with the intention of becoming a bestselling superstar? Probably not. Both of these women simply made work that was important to them that they wanted to share with the world. They didn’t set out to be famous or even dream of the meteoric success they’d achieve.
If there were a ‘way’ to go viral, a formula, anyone’s work could go viral.
If something is meant to go viral, it will.
Instead of focusing on likes, shares, views, clicks, and all of that other malarkey, focus on your content instead. Produce quality content consistently and persistently. When you focus on content, you also take pressure off yourself. Spending too much energy worrying about likes and shares can make you frustrated and disillusioned. If you focus more on content creation, then your energy can go toward making your work better, challenging yourself, pushing boundaries, and exploring new creativity. You won’t waste as much energy or time trying to get more likes on your Instagram picture of the latte you drank this morning (though we’ve all been there, I think).
I’ve adapted these tips from vloggers Stefan Michalak and Fleur de Force, who both focus less on subscriber count and more on content quality. Fleur started her YouTube career whilst still a student and it became her full-time job after a year of consistent posting and blogging. Stefan and his wife Hannah capture their everyday lives and upload a long vlog every Sunday. The time, patience, energy, and devotion that The Michalaks and Fleur put into their work shows that they aren’t in YouTube for the fame or the subscriber count, but because they genuinely care about producing good material.
1) Establish your why
Whether you’re working on a book, a podcast, a blog post, or a YouTube video, establish your real reason for creating it. Do you want to help other expecting mums by vlogging your second pregnancy? Do you want to take great photographs for a cookbook? Focus on that and let it drive you. Coaches tell the same to athletes: you actually get a better result doing physical activity if you focus on what you are doing in the moment rather than on the outcome you want. Applying yourself fully to your art helps you stress less about the outcome and devote more energy to the work itself.
2) Be consistent
Post a blog post on the same day every week. Upload a video every weekend. Have your email newsletter ready every Thursday. When your subscribers know when to expect you, they’ll be more likely to stick around.
3) Be persistent
It can take months and years to build a following. Overnight success rarely happens and, when it does, it can be difficult to cope with and it won’t always last. Be patient, hardworking, persistent, and work on growing your audience organically. Followers can be purchased but real engagement is more important.
4) Be yourself
YouTubers and bloggers will say that it’s easy to tell who is doing it for the money or notoriety and who makes content because they genuinely care. Don’t be who you think other people would like to see, or affect a persona that you think will make you more money or get more exposure. Be yourself and connect genuinely with your audience. Vloggers say that if you don’t relax and be yourself, the process will become frustrating and tedious.