It’s Tricky to Predict Virality, But You Can Predict Consistency
“Writing online requires an unrelenting commitment to consistency. Writing online means tolerating the fact that pieces you spend hours slaving over are going to go unnoticed, while pieces you write in twenty minutes are going to go viral.” — Nicholas Cole
Virality is near-impossible to predict. Sure, there are some general principles that will improve your chances — strong title and subtitle, attention-grabbing featured image, easy to read formatting — but in general, virality is random and inconsistent.
What you describe as your “best writing” rarely ends up getting the most engagement or views. Because of this, chasing viral articles will lead you down a dark and unfulfilling path. Consistency, on the other hand, is predictable. It’s concrete, easily plannable, and a much more feasible way to strive for articles that gain attention, exposure, and maybe even virality.
Use consistency to create virality
Consistency is how I wrote an article that went semi-viral — getting more than 35,000 views and 383 cumulative reading hours.
When creating this article, I didn’t write with the goal of going viral. Instead, my goal was simply to hit my daily writing goal and stay consistent. I wrote for my reader and followed the principles I mentioned above — but other than that, my intention was to share information that I thought was helpful.
What’s important is that I didn’t write specifically to go viral. I wrote because of consistency, and as a result, the article went viral. This is why Gary Vaynerchuck once said:
“The biggest thing I can tell you is that you have to make as much content as possible.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
The more content you can consistently put out, the better chance you have of going viral. The truth of the matter is, what you think is your best piece of writing is usually not how your readers feel.
The article you spend 3 days on could flop instantly, while the article you write on the bus to work in 20 minutes could go viral. The trick then is to consistently put out more and more content. Write more, more often. The more at-bats you have, the better your odds at going viral.
Endure the duds to experience the doves
To experience articles that get thousands of views (the doves), you have to be willing to accept the ones that get almost no views (the duds). Every article you write will not be a hit, just as every article you write will not go viral.
If you can push past the initial failure (the duds) and continue to write consistently, you will eventually share something that goes viral (the doves).
Before I wrote my 35,000 view article, I wrote a lot of duds. Articles that got just a couple of views, very little attention, and made me just a few cents. Don’t be discouraged when an article gets almost no attention. This just means that you are in the process of writing that “one article” that is going to blow up.
The only sure-fire way to not go viral is to give up. If you never stop consistently writing and you stay in the game, you’ll always be ready to potentially hit a home run.
Define your “consistent” and then follow through
Consistent means something different to everyone. For a full-time writer, consistency might mean publishing a piece every single day. For a side-hustler, consistency might mean writing an article 3 times per week.
Regardless of your situation, you first have to define what consistent writing is to you. Identify a concrete number of articles (and words per article) that you want to post per week. One article, three, seven — the number itself isn’t as important as making sure the goal is something you’re actually able to stick to it.
Once your goals are ironed out, follow through on your word and get to writing. Instead of attempting to write a “home run” or viral article every week, simply focus on meeting or exceeding your weekly writing goals. If your goal is to write three, 500-word articles per week, write three, 500-word articles every single week.
Don’t make excuses. And don’t give up if it gets hard or uncomfortable. Force yourself to write — even if you don’t want to. This will develop your writing muscle and improve your technique. The longer you stick with writing consistently — however you define it — the better chance you have of ultimately hitting that “home run” article.
Everyone wants to go viral. However, other than a few simple principles, it’s incredibly difficult to predict what will actually make it happen.
Instead of focusing on writing viral articles, concentrate on writing consistently. Virality is a numbers game — the more content you put out, the greater chance you have of going viral.
Don’t be discouraged by articles that flop. Continue to write consistently, share content that matters to you, and eventually, you will experience the virality you want.