This week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of their most popular posts.
The most popular post in our magazine was the article “Adobe Photoshop Tutorials – Best Of” which was published in October 2008. It is one of the many tutorials round-ups that we’ve done then. Overall, the post has now almost a 1,000,000 unique visits.
2. Where did the traffic mainly come from?
Most traffic came from Google, followed by social media, in particular via StumbleUpon, Twitter, Digg and Reddit (in this order). Since we are paying a huge amount of attention and time investment into preparing well-researched, high-quality posts, it is very likely that stories published on SM are going fairly well in social media. After all, almost every story needs over 25 hours to be completed. Another reason for our popularity in social media is the simple fact that we don’t post too often – at most 2 articles per day appear on Smashing Magazine.
About a couple of months after the post was published the organic traffic via Google etc. started to catch up, so at the moment we (on average) have much more traffic from search engines than from social media. All the social media together are still only a small portion of the traffic coming from Google.
3. Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?
We never push a story hard to reach some critical mass of diggs, votes or tweets. The post did well, because many designers found it useful and bookmarked it or recommended it. That’s the basis and the requirements for a good, successful, popular post.
4. What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?
The quality of the content defines the nature of post’s popularity over months and years. The more time you invest into preparing a post, the more quality it will deliver to the reader and the more appreciative your readers will be. The latter will deliver your blog organic growth, traffic and solid readership. That’s as simple as that. Deliver quality and you’ll be rewarded with good reputation and good traffic.
5. I notice you’ve got a book coming out soon – how did it come to be? Got any tips for aspiring bloggers wanting to do a book?
Yes, we are currently in the final stage of publishing our “Smashing Book” – a printed book about best practices in modern Web design and development. Books are still valuable, because they are more solid and permanent compared to bits and bytes. The idea to create a book came because we wanted to explore how we can strengthen Smashing branding in further traditional media. We decided to create the community book, a book that is based upon ideas and suggestions of our readers, involving them in basically every step of the process.
Publishing a book is easy these days is easy – with digital printing and numerous layout applications one can create an e-book in hours. The process is also fast and relatively cheap. But this is not what we decided to do. The Smashing Book is printed the traditional way. We aim to the masses. This is possible because we have a huge audience and we are selling to them directly, bypassing common bookstores and shops. To do this we need plenty of money to pay for paper, layout and printing. But there is a traditional solution to go around this, the pre-sale phase. We have started the pre-sale to gather money and estimate the circulation (yes, it’s a secret). In exchange for customer’s trust, we are offering a big discount of 20%.
Since we wanted everybody to be able to afford the Smashing Book, we have decided to introduce something that we call “social shipping”. The idea here is that we offer customers from US and Germany free shipping, but since shipping costs are extremely high to some parts of the world, they can voluntarily pay more for the shipping of their copy. And, of course, selling around the world needs some serious logistics. There are literally tons to move. An e-book would be more much more comfortable, but we hope that our readers will appreciate our efforts to create a physical piece that can be put on the shelf. The printed Smashing Book will appear in the end of this year.