This guest post is by Jason Towne of TopThreeDaily.com.
I’m new to the blogosphere, but thanks to tips from ProBlogger and a few others, I decided to make the plunge and start my own blog. It’s only been a little over a week. The day after my site went live I had nearly 2,000 pageviews and 500 unique visitors. Within the next 24 hours those numbers doubled and then I soon passed 8,000 unique visitors and 20,000 pageviews. In the week that we’ve been up, the site rose over 2.4 million spots on Alexa.
Keep in mind I had no experience whatsoever with blogging, social media, or technology. How did I do it?
Optimizing the WTF? factor
The first and most important thing I did was to research what, and how, blog posts go viral. I began by researching the concept of linkbaiting, starting with ProBlogger’s classic post, and then continued to study Buzzfeed, Popurls, and other sites to get a feel for what gets spread around. One thing I learned is that titles that make people say WTF? are winners. For instance, my first viral article, 6 Bible Thumping Tips that Will Save Your Butt!, only had a chance because the title was so intriguing. I know this because I sent out that exact same article twice, with two inferior titles, and it went nowhere. When I changed the name, it took off like a rocket.
Now that I’ve had several viral articles in a row, I’m confident that a quality title is everything. Here’s a trick that I use.
First, focus on either list posts or how-to guides. Both of those bring amazing results over and over. Second, think of something that’s traditionally considered a “negative,” combine it with a “positive,” and you’ve built instant interest. For instance, “Bible Thumping” is usually used in a derogatory way, but “saving your butt” is a good thing. You could do the same with any negative and any positive. For instance, diseases are bad and money is good. So how about an article titled, 5 Diseases I Would Pay Money To Get. Then go research and find some rare, cool disease that has positive benefits. I would click on that.
Ask yourself this question when considering titles: “Would this title make a person say ‘WTF?’”
Keep in mind that I was new to social media and blogging, so I was working by trial and error. What I’ve learned pretty quickly is that Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and StumbleUpon are great if you already have a presence on those sites. If you’ve been using them for some time and have a lot of friends and followers, then you should definitely submit your stuff. However, if you are a newbie like myself, then Reddit should become your instant best friend.
The reason is that Facebook and Twitter are only as good as the number of friends you have. If you have no friends, then you’re submitting your work to nobody. Digg and StumbleUpon are great if you already have some time put in. I didn’t, and when I submitted my articles to those sites they were seen by absolutely nobody. If you’re new, you’re better off not submitting your stuff to them—let someone else (who is established) eventually do it for you.
However, Reddit is a different story. The great thing about Reddit is that when you submit an article, picture, video, or whatever, it is posted instantly for all Reddit users to see. If they like the title then they click on it, and you’re in business. The better your article/picture/video is, the more they will then share it with their friends, and so it starts to go viral.
Here’s an example. I posted an article called called How Bad Boys Control Women (The Real Jedi Mind Trick) on Digg and StumbleUpon, and it wasn’t looked at even once. Then I posted that same article on Reddit and it blew up. I was swarmed with visitors and it began to spread like wildfire. Reddit gives you the initial chance that all the others just don’t offer.
Browsing the Web
Unless you’re a creative writing machine, you probably can’t write blockbuster linkbait articles every day, so the next-best thing is to browse the web for material. I found lots of good material that was a bit older, but very well written. I then got permission from the author to either repost it on my site in whole or repost part of it with a link back to their site. Since the article was out of favor anyway, everyone agreed. What this did was allow me to create a new post on a cool topic, reword my title, and submit it to Reddit. This gave me a massive pageview boost, and helped the original site the article came from get a new lease on life. Everyone won.
Here’s the best example. I was short on creativity the other day, but I remembered hearing on the radio about the police arresting this pimp and finding his business plan. I tracked it down online, put it in a brief article I wrote, then posted A Pimp’s Actual Hand-Written Business Plan. I then tossed it on Reddit and within 12 hours I had gained 15,000 new pageviews. Pimp = negative, business plan = positive. If you’re still not convinced the title strategy works, go back and take a look at the title of this article. You clicked on it. It works.
Have you tried writing titles like this? What title tactics have worked best for you? And what’s your experience with Reddit? Let us know in the comments.
Jason Towne is a published author and former Hollywood script doctor. He currently runs the best-of-the-web blog, Top Three Daily, which came online on Jan. 26, 2011 and is already starting to have an impact on the blogosphere. Towne is also a freelance article writer, consultant, father, and husband. You can follow his posts through his RSS feed.