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50,000 Views On A YouTube Video And All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post

A Guest Post by Jordan Cooper of Not A Pro Blog.

As a blogger, what one thing would you consider to be your “holy grail” of success?

For a stand-up comedian, this defining moment was an appearance on the Tonight Show. A longstanding tradition of being the platform of so many big breaks back in the 70′s and 80′s, the most coveted spot was right beside Johnny Carson on the couch. Your short 5-minute routine would be seen across the country by millions. As soon as the next morning, your phone would ring off the hook with entertainment industry bigwigs looking to turn you into the next star. In just one instant, this indeed was a comedian’s proverbial slingshot to fame and fortune.

No longer is this the case.

The hey-dey of the Tonight Show was at a time when viewing choices were limited. With only a handful of options available for entertainment consumption, Johnny Carson’s late night talk show was pretty much the only game in town. The springboard was inevitable since you could get a highly condensed, highly targeted and highly watched showcase of your talent.

In today’s time, the options are just virtually endless for people to consume content. The attention of the general pulic is fragmented to the point that no single platform can have a massive one-time effect. Between the myriad of networks, cable channels, studio and independent films, terrestrial broadcasting, satellite radio and of course, the internet – we never again will reach the density needed to produce “one hit wonders” that invariably sweep the nation out of nowhere.

Working towards a single “holy grail” moment is no longer a path to success.

On the day after the Super Bowl, I posted a Google commerical parody that went on to get over 50,000 views, featured on several major websites including Mashable and saw my blog’s traffic spike almost quadruple the normal levels – all within a few days. Obviously, the video was created to do just this. My brilliant plot to have a piece of content go viral was indeed glorious. But was anything really accomplished that would tangibly further my overall goals?

Once the aftermath was over, views on the video settled down, comments calmed to a trickle and the fanfare wore away, I was still essentially left in the same position in which I started. Sure, I likely picked up a few more blog subscribers, Twitter followers and had a few more clicks than usual on my affiliate ads… but for the amount of sheer exposure gained from the experience, the return was extremely neglible in the grand scheme of things. It was only a small fraction notched on the measuring stick of ultimate success.

It’s true that lightning strikes once and does damage, but…

Blog posts aren’t lightning bolts, so don’t treat them this way.

As a blogger, you need to have this damage happen countless times over the course of your journey in order to gain traction. Whether it be a video shared on YouTube, a front page on Digg, an explosion on StumbleUpon, a retweet virus on Twitter or even a guest post a heavily trafficked blog (wink wink) – no one single event will decide your success. It’s a matter of repeating this effect over and over again until it slowly snowballs into into a body of work that can stand on it’s own.

Achieve your goals with a series of accomplishments in a continued pattern.

It’s matter of following a break through moment with another one and yet another one after that. Utilizing multiple platforms and mediums to showcase your work. Getting yourself in front of different audiences for exposure to expand your tribe. Producing content that’s worth talking about time and time again until it becomes the expected norm for you.

Your inevitable success won’t have a date attached to it. You won’t be able to really calculate when it happened. It will be a culmination of many victories over the course of your journey. Eventually, you’ll wake up and realize “wow, I’ve reached my goal!” – yet not have a single solitary clue what the tipping point was in achieving it.

For the stand-up comedian today, an appearance on the Tonight Show is still a huge stepping stone towards his or her success, but it isn’t the be-all end-all that is was in time’s past. Going from unknown and undiscovered to superstar overnight – that “holy grail” doesn’t exist anymore. So don’t aim for it exclusively… or you’ll just be left with your next lousy blog post.

Jordan Cooper is a professional stand-up comedian who showcases his sarcastic humor with videos and written rants about blogging, social media & marketing at Not A Pro Blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Arijit Das says:

    Ya! traffic is not all the time winner….. Sometimes it happens that we keep targeting on a particular site like digg & Youtube to recieve huge amount of traffic and forget about out valuable content…

    I used to think like that in my early stage of blogging! but now realized… :)

  2. BryanG says:

    Sure we all love that viral video for the moment but how often do you remember the persons name or website etc… For Reebok, Terry Tate was a huge campaign and was all over the web. But did it really make a difference to Reebok, the last time any of us bought Reeboks were when they cam in the black hi-top variety. Going viral may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

  3. This is SO true, and – for one thing – flies straight in the face of the social media fairies. That one big Digg probably isn’t going to do much more than crash most people’s servers for a day.

    Personally, I think slow and steady wins the race – more so now than ever. Just build good stuff and know how to get traffic from the right sources, using the right methods (and the right method really isn’t that one thing that goes viral as it’s now forgotten about in a New York minute anyway, it’s probably got a lot more to do with SERPS and MAYBE feeds etc, as well as – from a long term perspective – branding).

    I’m certainly no expert, but that’s what seems logical to me anyway.

    And go ahead and try using you’re little “Tweeter” to make it big… Fifty million people screaming in each other mouths and nobody listening (unless they already know you well, of course). Think you’re going to get noticed without a HUGE effort that could have been better spent doing stuff that at the very least yielded more lasting results?

    Anyway, I’m going to stop this before it turns into an even bigger rant. Good post. Post here more.

    :)

  4. Jason S says:

    Congratulations on all the video views. But you’re right. Page views don’t amount to much in the end, except in gigantic numbers. I think that’s because the typical page view doesn’t involve much interaction.

    The Johnny Carson guest would be introduced to the audience by name and perform personally. Viral content sometimes isn’t even branded — your parody, for instance, doesn’t contain in-video branding for you, so you’re banking on people connecting your YouTube username to the fact that you have a blog (unless it’s embedded, in which case they won’t even see that.) And most people aren’t going to bother to investigate the creator of a video, even if they like it.

    I was reading articles years ago saying the page view was dead, but like every other dead technology it hangs on. Interaction and relationships are far more important, though.

  5. Alejandro says:

    I’m also a performer. I do card flourishes and have been featured on tv a few times.

    I’ve experienced the same thing, your video views explode but then it slows down.

    I’ve learned from my experience and now I know how to squeeze the most out of those opportunities.

    I am a youtube partner and love helping people to get more views and subscribers on youtube.

    I’m not sure if you can guest post videos here on problogger but you should have put a video version of this article in a videoblog style like you do on your channel.

    Good one though.

    I’ll keep an eye on you ;)

    Alejandro

  6. Hey Jordan,

    Awesome Post bud !! That’s happens many times.. :)
    “Blog posts aren’t lightning bolts, so don’t treat them this way” Grreat heading…bro !! Thanks for sharing this great post.

    Thanks,
    Dev

  7. wpBlast says:

    Nice blog post and a very clever title. I have to agree that it’s not just one moment that shoots your blog into popularity, but more of a gradual buildup of these one moments as they become multiple moments.

  8. It’s true. I have a series that has been viewed over 100,000 times but on “YouTube” you need at least 1 million views over a year to get recognition.

    If you posted 5 awesome videos over 5 years, blogged, tweeted and facebooked in-between. That’s where the snowball rocks!…

    :]

  9. drt says:

    I fully agree with your point: “no one single event will decide your success.” It should be a continuous effort producing better and better post every day.

    After reading Darren’s post the other days, I found Leo Babauta’e ebook. My conclusion from that post that I wrote in my blog is, if our blog provides what people need, then they will come to visit us. Be a source, not a sink. Be a giver, not a receiver.

    Thanks for reminding us about the holy grail that is not exit anymore. :-)

  10. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and in that time I think I’ve been looking for that lightning bolt, just something that I do once that continues to bring me success.

    And in this last year I’ve started to turn to your conclusion, that my success depends on a series of victories. It’s hard to catch anyone’s attention on the web for more than a few minutes, for long enough to make a lasting impact. I’ve stayed within my comfort zone for too long and I’ve never even made the effort to reach audiences outside of my own (which has stagnated my growth).

    This post was really the motivation I needed to expand my efforts. If you can’t do it with a highly successful viral video, I certainly can’t do it with a single “okay” blog post.

    Thanks.

  11. Cody Engel says:

    Really enjoyed this blog post. Hopefully this will help people realize that blogging is a major pain in the butt if you are trying to make money, but the rewards are well worth it.

  12. I definitely agree! Even if you have one or two big events, they can quickly wear off and leave you with nothing.

    Like you said, the key to success is having a lot of those big events.

    I have no idea how to do that.

  13. Doug says:

    Sorry dude, but having a video get 60k reviews is not ‘going viral’ lol.

    Why did Darren let this piece of crap post this here?

  14. Good post, Jordan, and wise. But I think there’s another way to look at this.

    The Tonight Show may have been the holy grail, but the likelihood of ever getting onto it was comparable to winning the lottery. Extremely unlikely. Relying on Johhny Carson to make your career for you was a fool’s parade.

    Moreover, getting the Tonight Show gig typically came only after putting in years of effort to get noticed. Very few ‘overnight success’ stories can be told without extended back stories of learning the craft, performing at clubs, reworking material, small successes, heart-rending failures. Comics could branch out and work stage, comedy troupes, theatre sports, write for publications, theatre, television, film. Look at the careers of Conan O’Brian and Robin Williams for examples.

    Comedians who worked only the stand-up market were at a disadvantage…they were networking a smaller crowd, connecting with a fraction of the audience available to them.

    What’s really changed now is that through the variety of social media your post mentions, anyone can create a momentary stir on national and international levels, given a clever enough idea, a good understanding of marketing the media, and a fair bit of luck. No agents necessary. No press releases. No shopping the media. No publicity manager.

    In the days of Johnny, exposure of that kind, by someone with a clever idea, working out of their home — even as a momentary blip — was less likely than landing the seat on his couch after years of blood-sweat-and-tears.

    So, now that you’ve got that opportunity, and you’re clever idea, go out and grab it.

  15. Totally spot on, it’s the continued “break throughs” that establish your name/ site as the place to be. To mangle a sports analogy, the batter that consistently hits the ball, even if it’s only singles and doubles, is more valuable than the batter that hits a couple of homeruns a year and nothing else.

  16. Joshua Noerr says:

    On occasion I will get a little down if something I’ve done does not spike my traffic as I expected. But I just keep remembering, all I need is one view. One view from someone influential and powerful enough to make something happen.

    It is that one thought that keeps me going every day. Thanks for the post!

  17. Jillian says:

    Another “unsexy truth” of blogging.

    I especially loved the point you made about blogging with the intention of making lightning strike. That kind of stuff is fine if you’re only looking for 15 minutes of fame, but to build and sustain an audience takes much more.

  18. Julius says:

    It doesn’t hurt to create explosions so to speak in our blog. This, similar to what you said, would help us get more subscribers and followers. But at the end of the day, we should always go back to doing what works for us and providing content which our readers love.

  19. @BryanG @JasonS: It’s quite often that barely anyone remembers the name & website afterwards even *when* it’s branded accordingly. In stand-up, it’s a common occurrence that you’ll see a comedian perform for 45-60 mins at a club, then fail to remember his/her name the day later. Sure, you’ll remember the *experience* and how funny it was… but unless that person is regularly entering your visible sphere, it’s unlikely there will be any retainment factor.

    @Alejandro As a performer who has made TV yourself, you probably understand this post more than anyone else. Does anyone ever remember a TV appearance you’ve made several years ago? Probably not. I’ve got friends who have been on Letterman, Conan, Comedy Central, etc… and while it looks awesome on a resume for social proof, it doesn’t do much for you unless you’re able to leverage that fairly quickly into other opportunities. Letting that “buzz” lapse for too long just sends you back pretty much to square one again.

  20. Jason S says:

    @Jordan Cooper: That makes sense, that someone could see a 60-minute show and not remember the presenter’s name. In terms of branding, I guess makes your point about the advantage of slow and steady over “lightning bolt” — if someone sees 12 branded 5-minute clips instead of one 60-minute show (if they would even watch that online) they’ll see your introduction 12 times instead of one.

    I think what’s holding people back is partly analytics. People trust Google Analytics to prioritize information for them, and what’s the first statistic on the dashboard? Visits. All of web analytics from the 90s to the present is fundamentally based, not on what’s most valuable, but on what’s easiest to measure, which is ultimately based on what’s recorded in web-server logs. Which don’t have relationships anywhere in them…

  21. That is a lot of views for just one video. I hope that you generated a lot of money from it

  22. Such food for thought! I believe a lot of bloggers are looking for that Holy Grail moment thinking that that will be the be all end all moment. But like you said, we have to have moment after moment of great successes in order for a snowball effect to form. We can do this by stepping into the mind-set of “what’s next.” In other words, one should constantly brainstorm and ask, what’s the next great achievement I can make in order rise to the next level?

    Very helpful indeed, thanks for sharing!!

  23. @DavidEdwards @JDBentley: Congrats on having your video series viewed so many times! You’re absolutely right in the fact it’s about building off of that – by ways of *other* mediums that really gets things rolling for you. In a perfect world, you want to have people tell you “wow, I seem to see you just about everywhere all the time!”

    @Patrick: Your assessment is correct. Although the Tonight Show may have been the first time the “general masses” saw a comedian, you couldn’t have possibly gotten good enough to make it on there without *years* of hard work. The fallacy though (that many comedians have made) is that an appearance didn’t in and of itself guarantee success. It just put you on the radar well enough that “power players” could see you. From there, the ball was still in your court to leverage that into better opportunities (usually a sitcom development deal from a major network). For every comic who did this like Roseanne or Jerry Seinfeld, there are 5 other comics who didn’t that you may have never heard of.

    @JasonS: I agree with you that traffic analytics sometimes psychologically hinders people’s success more than it helps. Getting so obsessed with the amount of visits, page views, etc. – it means absolutely nothing unless you’re converting it into tangible assets that align with your business goals (almost always money). Any schmuck can reasonably create content that gets lots of eyeballs… but if it’s not resulting in ad clicks, product purchases, affiliate sales, etc… then what’s the point?

  24. @Doug: I agree with you. 50,000 views is nice traffic, but it isn’t “viral” in the grand scheme of things at all. But being that ProBlogger.net speaks primarily to bloggers that are at the beginning of their journeys… this figure is likely something they haven’t achieved yet and possibly looking to strive to. The purpose of this piece is to show that using this metric & one-time occurrence as a measurement of success may not be in their best interest long-term.

  25. From experience I have to disagree with this post. Was the viral video you posted relevant to your niche or not?

    I posted a video that got over 120,000 views in a day, but it was relevant to my target audience. I got a boatload more subscribers than before. In fact, I can say that the amount of new subscriptions/fans/follows I get a day is directly related to the success of my videos. Sucky/irrelevant videos get few subscribers, while popular ones get much more.

    But maybe we have a different concept of Holy Grails and grand schemes of things. I didn’t retire off my winnings for those videos, but the impact it had is definitely not negligible.

  26. I do not know why there was so much fuss about this super bowl ad. This one was common and as usual. I did not noticed anything special.

  27. Hi! Great post and oh so true. Any marketing expert can tell you that repeating the message is the key to adoption. For instance, commercials and ads have cycles of exposure. 6 Weeks on, 12 weeks off etc, 6 weeks on. That’s because the mind get’s numb after a while. After a third cycle, things become recognizable, related and attractive. Same with music. The first couple of times you hear the new hit (wich is not a hit yet) and you think it has something, but average. After a while, a few weeks, the song becomes familiar, you hear different things in it and start to like it. Before you know it, you get addicted to it and you become the fish that’s catched. One time exposure doesn’t cut it. 15 Minutes of fame is not enough. Become recognizable and keep appearance high enough like they expect from you, without letting the mind get numb to you. Stay fresh.

  28. Fred Kapoor says:

    I agree with the insight of the post, actually the whole explanation is really true. The thing is that the most diffult goal to achieve when posting videos on youtube or on some other website/blog, its not about getting a huge amount of viewers, which can be easy. The difficult part is getting the same amount of viewers every day, which means being consistent.

  29. Hi Darren

    Whoa! You had better talk to Jim Collins. This exactly mirrors the theory and practice in his book “GOOD TO GREAT”. No one thing does the job, just steadily turning the wheel with many activities contributing.

    Extremely good advice from you. I’m now going to do an episode about you and your blog shortly at the Traffic Cafe -after consulting you :)

    Totally deserved.

    Jonathan Gunson

  30. Jordon – Great info and reminder! I sometimes find myself in the mindset back in the day when affiliate marking, e-mail marketing, network marking etc all produced great results almost overnight.
    Now with the massive exposure to info readers are more likely to conduct research before making any purchase, if at all. If they get entertained for free they’re happy.
    But once you’ve built a solid foundation of trust via consistency, valuable content etc…after the seeds have been planted, then we can reap our harvest.

  31. Cori Padgett says:

    Agreed! Blogging success is a constant, consistent effort! :) Sure one home run can help for a moment, but it takes several home runs before you really begin to see lasting improvement. And even then it’s a continual upkeep… Great post!

    Warmest,
    C

  32. Jordan, thanks for the great blog post! You’ve inspired me to try and hit one out of the ball park every time I hit publish.

    IIRC from my intro marketing course years ago, it takes at least 9 appearances into a customer’s mental screening field to have them remember who you are.

    My guess is that this was more true in the past when there was less stimuli competing for our attention. I bet it’s more like 20 or so appearances today.

  33. LoneWolf says:

    Like just about anything on the web, the first few times that someone does something spectacular it pays off big, but the ones who do it down the road don’t get the same return.

    But, as you say, there is a spike so if you can consistently repeat you will see an upward trend.

    Also, as some of the other commenters have noted, you need to be able to take advantage of the attention to keep the momentum building.

    I once had a guest post on TwiTips and it brought me a lot of visits and Twitter followers for a while, but that petered out after a while. I haven’t done any further guest posts since I’m not going after the Twitter niche, so there wasn’t much reason to follow up.

  34. T.Lee says:

    A typical result of mass accumulation is a sinking and hallow feeling. (I often say this out loud–to improve my confidence–while reading my visitor stats: average daily pageload, 17)

    One statement in this post hit me as being quite profound: “Achieve your goals with a series of accomplishments in a continued pattern.”

    I love this, and I’m going to write it on a sticky and post it on my laptop, next to another note from a bit of wisdom I picked up from this site earlier, “Stop being timid.” Of course, I’ll likely have to remove my other sticky note which has a bit of wisdom I picked up from the Zen Habits dude, “Get rid of your to do lists.”

  35. I totally agree that one must constantly reach out for new avenues of expression with good content in order to be recognized as a professional in his or hers field.Only then will there be a solid foundation for future growth.

  36. Like the Super Bowl finals, it isn’t about playing and winning one match. It’s about performing the whole season through, with ups and downs and winning key games for the record… If you’re satisfied with winning one game, you better go home and please your better half.

  37. This is a rather interesting post on the line that crosses fame/success, Jordan.

    Interestingly enough, this was the mentality I had adopted in a generalist big picture approach as I’ve been developing my blog. Because there are SO many funnels and SO many media placements competing for the attention of people, hitting it big on one doesn’t really classify as a crowning moment of win anymore. It’s become relatively easier to hit it big in major networks, and thus, there needs to be a chain of successive events. The real yardstick ought to be measured by one’s own milestones (redundant use of metaphors!)

    Apparently this was what I was thinking the whole time as I was etching out my traffic strategies. Speaking with analogies, I’d treat it more like a boxing match. A few succession of hard hits will bring and obscurity will be down for the count.

  38. Scott Fox says:

    Good points, Jordan.

    Being a “one hit wonder” on the web today won’t pay the bills.

    As I tell my readers, keep piling up those grains of sand and you can build a beautiful sand castle!

  39. Lisa says:

    What you wrote made me laugh. As a brand new blogger I have been leaving no stone unturned as far as trying to get traffic and getting involved with Adsense, Commission junction,Linkshare and a whole bunch of other affiliate sites. I was getting really excited when i started seeing MOVEMENT. lol one day I actually saw some clicks in my adsense account and since that day I have been hooked and I am constantly checking my stats hoping for the flood gates to open. I feel like I am at the casino putting quarters in the slots and just hoping for that one special moment. Yesterday I suddenly seen a really weird spike in my commission junction account I had a HUGE number of clicks I couldn’t understand how I could have all the clicks and NO one purchased a thing. AND I have no idea where all those clicks came from? I am trying to look all over my stats and for the life of i can’t find where that traffic came from. lol

  40. Mike says:

    Very insightful post. I definitely know where you’re coming from. I had a contest on my site and traffic went up like crazy for about a week. Now it’s back to normal and I’m trying to think of the next thing I can do.

  41. Anne Galivan says:

    Well…agree with most of what you said but when it comes to saying “that ‘holy grail’ doesn’t exist anymore” – I think you have to agree that Susan Boyle achieved just that. :)

    This was a very encouraging post for someone just starting out…like me. Persistency and consistency seem to be two of the main themes when it comes to blogging success.

  42. Awesome says:

    Being a one hit wonder can work in extremley rare cases though, look at “stuff white people like” that site was a flash in the pan, guy running it got a book deal and made tens of thousands of dollars. It has fallen of the radar, but still it was just something that went viral. Long term success, you made very good points, no one can disagree with you really.

  43. I’m not so sure if this is the right place to ask this but do you know if I can pick up sand from our local beach and put it in an aquarium with a red claw crab? Additionally I don’t suppose you know how would i clean the sand before putting it in the aquarium? i do weekly water changes and vacuum up the gravel, is it possible to vacuum the sand? is having sand better than having gravel? Can you think of anything else i need to do with sand that i wouldn’t do with gravel? appreciate your help

  44. So true! A mere one time hit will never pay off and its important to churn out quality content in whatever form that people will like to read, see or listen to.

    One of my post has hit digg’s homepage once and I really didn’t gain anything out of it, it was just tons of traffic, server load, increased bills but not real gain.. although on the other hand if we see example of makeuseof.com , its content has regularly hit digg’s homepage and they’ve grown at a tremendous rate.

  45. Success Blog says:

    It’s terrible these days. Back in the early 2000′s and late 90′s it was rather easy to build a blog readership. Now it takes a huge amount of work to build up that same success, and it takes a long time. You have to find a good formula and work it every day for months before you see it working.

    It is not a bad idea to go after the big time though which in current society means getting guest posts on big successful blogs, or mentioned by them. That’s your lotto ticket right there!

  46. Tube Clip says:

    Yes as you have described most of the videos that get popular in Youtube, because they are related to a season event, after the event get less viewers and with the time get only a fraction of the visitors they get in the beginning. Videos that stay popular are most of the time not related to a specific event in time.

  47. Sometimes I get big jumps in traffic when I submit a post to 2leep. I get really excited only to see my traffic jump down to my normal levels two days later.

  48. I am glad you care about quality. The problem is that not enough individuals take the time to embrace talent. It’s a bigger issue at hand. The business as a whole is oversaturated. We need to begin to teach the youth and new generations about the culture as a whole. :) :)

  49. All I can say is keep it up. This fantatic blog is so necessary in a time when everyone just wants to talk about how many people someones cheated on their wife with. I mean, thanks for bringing intelligence back to the web, its been sorely missed. Great stuff.

  50. Lucy says:

    Dude this was the best post to put things into perspective ever!!!