This is going to be short and pack a massive punch.
At the end of the beastly long (2,419 word) Power of Press email I offered a thirty minute phone consultation to anyone who reviewed the podcast. Somewhat expectantly, only a handful of you read through the entire emailnovel and took me up on the offer.
Bill Broughton was one of those people. We didn’t have a particular objective for the call, just to fulfill my promise of “I will give thirty minutes of my time and move you forward in a quantifiable way (actionable advice, an introduction, etc.)”
While walking for lunch, I jumped on and heard Bill’s voice for the first time. He told me he was working a day job, but aspired to break out and start his own development agency. He told me about this “ridiculous app” he built to help developers choose a language for their project and we started talking about how he could leverage it into client work.
We talked about load testing (so the site wouldn’t crash), email collection (without breaking the “voice” of the project), where and when to submit to Reddit, and how to manage conversations with prospects (switching rapidly from ‘ridiculous’ to ‘formal’ to impress potential clients).
On Tursday, Bill submitted his project, wfplsiu.com, to /r/InternetIsBeautiful and…
Ka-fucking-boom. A whopping 4,070 points on the original submission and 1,190 comments!!
Bill and I chatted throughout the day as he struggled to keep up with the responses, server maintenance, and conversations with what might be potential clients. Some people see a wave of viral traffic approaching and watch is awe as it swells past them. Bill took a breath, paddled like fucking crazy, and learned to surf as he was dropping in to a legendary pipe.
He shared this recap the following day (emphasis mine):
310,454 unique users! I’m actually surprised by the 0:35 average session duration, I figured a lot of people would bounce quickly. I’m still holding steady at around 300 active sessions this morning. I’ve had over 22,000 visitors so far today.
Someone posted the link to /r/programmerhumor and it’s parked at the top of that subreddit with no end in sight. It’s up to 1,992 upvotes and 239 comments. I just found it this morning so I’m trying to engage as much as possible.
So far I’ve added 15 Twitter followers and I’ve been engaging more, so I expect that to go up. I have found several influencers in the development space that shared the link and several CTOs of startups and such. The link even got shared by the VP of Engineering at Stack Exchange! I’m trying to respond to pretty much everyone that shared just to say thanks and express my appreciation for any kind words.
I had 364 form submissions. Once I filtered out the obviously shit ones, I was left with 200 emails. Most of them were generic email services, but I had emails from people at pymetrics.com, sap.com, some agencies, and a handful of other legitimate businesses. Now I need to figure out what to do with that list…
Viral traffic is 95% strategy and preparation.
I recently had a client acquire the misguided notion that this type of viral traffic happens with a wave of some kind of magical internet wand. Where he got this idea, I haven’t the slightest clue. Sure, you can get lucky… but don’t hold your breath. Behind most (profitable) stunts like this there’s a wealth of time and (in some cases) money that’s been intelligently invested.
Think of your most successful endeavors (business launches, sales calls, third dates, etc.) and look back to see how much strategy and preparation were required to facilitate that success.
Now look at what you’re doing now, are you putting in the an equivalent amount of effort?