Sometimes you work at a small endeavor–perhaps it’s just a hobby–that is not widely seen or known. Then sometimes, that blows up and makes you hugely successful.
Dealing with that sudden success can be a difficult process. This how-to guide (which is based on widely acknowledged principles and not at all to my own initial reactions to this blog suddenly reaching a wider audience) will teach you to handle that new-found success.
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s pick a random scenario that could lead to this kind of guide being necessary. Let’s say you write for a little-known blog with a very small audience that’s been growing quite modestly, and yesterday it gets featured on Freshly Pressed, where editors of your blog’s platform promote posts they like, which causes your readership to grow by leaps and bounds.
I know, it’s a far-fetched idea that would likely never happen, but let’s go with it.
Step 1: Be Excited
One of your posts has just been promoted! Finally, you knew if you worked hard, you would be recognized. And the hits are just rolling in! Before even half an hour has passed, you’ve exceeded your previous record high views for a day.
You try to keep your expectations reasonable, telling yourself it’ll only be a small boost, but you keep eagerly refreshing the stats for your blog, and the numbers just keep going up. But you haven’t been this excited since you found out about the existence of rocket cats.
Your greatness has finally won out. You never did a whole lot to promote your writings, besides maybe mentioning it to family and friends on Facebook and on Twitter. This is perhaps because you view yourself as an artist, and self-promotion is beneath you; you’re doing this out of love of your craft, not to try to hound strangers.
Or perhaps you’re just lazy.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter. People are now reading your blog, they are clicking the ‘Like’ button, they are following your blog, and you didn’t do anything but be yourself. You always knew you were great. Now everyone else does too. If those guys from Finding Bigfoot could become famous while hiding their true genius, it was only a matter of time for you.
Step 2: Feel Overwhelmed
Holy crap, those views do keep coming in. More and more people are liking your post, and you still have your notifications set up so you get an email every time. While it was fun at first, now your inbox is drowning and you can’t keep up. It’s like the first time you had to deal with snow.
Speaking of which, now people are reading about your life. You’re letting them in on secrets about you. Complete strangers!
And they’re coming from all over. Before, you had the occasional visitor from outside your usual audience of the US and Canada. But mostly they were like the person in Japan who found your site after doing a Yahoo search for “germany softcore.” Chances are that person was quite dissatisfied and left without doing much reading, and they’re never coming back.
This time, though, there plenty of readers from countries across the world. You’re global! And you are bad at it. Now people can find out how little you know about them. Remember when you wrote about solving the bullying problem in New Zealand but knew nothing about New Zealand, and were called on it? Or when you freely admitted to not knowing anything about cricket, which was central to your blog post about tensions between Pakistan and India? People from those places are now visiting your site!
So you have a much larger audience, and people from all over the world, and you’ve only been writing for your own amusement and the entertainment of the people closest to you. How are you going to provide content to keep all of them happy and coming back? Where are you going to get the content?
You had been toiling away in obscurity before. Now the spotlight is on you and you have no idea what to do.
How can you even hope to handle the fame? Success goes to people’s heads in a bad way. Canada is the most polite place on Earth, so what chance do you have when fame can even turn nice young Canadian girls into gigantic douches?
This whole thing is falling down on your head! Panic! Run! Hide!
Forget all that nonsense! You’ve overcome plenty of problems in the past, and you can deal with this too. Maybe in the same way that you figured out how to deal with all that snow. And you know how to connect with people.
You’ve decided you want even more success. You’re getting lots of visitors now. A fair number of them are liking your post that was promoted. A few are leaving comments. Every now and then, one will find other posts, read those, and like them. A decent amount are deciding to follow your blog so they can read all your new content.
That last group is the one you focus on. Why wouldn’t everyone follow your blog? Clearly it’s great. Sure, those likes give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but that’s temporary. The comments are just adding content that didn’t come from you.
You want an audience for everything you produce, and all of your content is worth it. (Well, maybe not all of it. There was that time you just posted something quickly while on vacation that talked about dirty words being added to the dictionary.)
You don’t have to worry about changing now that you have a wider audience. Everything about you is perfect the way it is. Just keep being you, and the teeming masses will be in awe of your majesty.
And you want those teeming masses as your audience because it feeds your ego, but more importantly because you’re starting to think about how to monetize this. Should you buy a premium upgrade so you can put ads on your site that you receive money from? Perhaps you could make your site membership only. Should you quit your job and try to get hired as a writer, perhaps in TV? You hope a business contacts you about selling out for them–you’d do that in a heartbeat.
You sit back and picture your imminent millions.
Then the onslaught of new visitors begins to slow. Then it’s just a trickle.
No! What you had been expecting in Step 1, and what you had been hoping for in Step 2, is now happening, and you don’t want it to. You have to get more, more, always more, and now you have to figure out how.
Step 4: Fight Exhaustion
This has been a long day with a roller coaster ride through your emotions, with no lap bar to keep you safe in your seat.
You’ve handled the deluge of emails. You still feel kind of overwhelmed by being in the spotlight and you feel all these responsibilities toward your new audience, but you’re also still definitely greedy and trying to figure out how to keep it growing.
You know you have to create new content. This is a fragile time for most of the new people following you. You can’t let them get bored and wander off.
But man, what a long day. You’ll create that content soon. You just need to have a few drinks. You don’t want to push yourself too hard, after all. Your heart can’t run forever; you’re not a rabbit. And the technology doesn’t exist to turn you into RoboCop–yet.
So just slow down, relax, and…
Step 5: Deal with the Reality
Oh crap, did you fall asleep!? Quick, write something! How about a long post where you provide plenty of links for people new to your site to get caught up on some of your greatest hits? Don’t think about it, just do it! Churn it out!
How could you fall asleep? We were just talking about how this is a fragile time in the life cycle of new followers, and you waste an entire day just watching the stats go up and dreaming about making millions?
Okay, what does the internet like? Lists? Make a list post! And throw in a Justin Bieber joke; the internet never gets tired of those.
It looks like you’re almost done. Good. We can put this up at any old time, and since most of these followers are new, they won’t realize it’s a post going up at an unusual time for you.
Now just keep doing this forever. (Or until you make those millions.)