So, this happened last week.
ChurchMag’s traffic had a huge spike.
To put things into perspective, the short bars on the left side (pictured above) are the usual 5,000 we get every day.
On the right side, we peaked at 80,000+ in one day!
It is every bloggers dream, right?
Here’s what happens when blog posts go viral…
Having a blog post go this big for the first time is EPIC. It is exciting to watch the stats get higher and higher, like racking-up points in a coin-slot arcade game. Several times, we pulled up the Google Analytics real-time view to see as many as 350+ visitors at a time!
Keep in mind; this was not my blog post. It was my wife’s second ChurchMag blog post ever. 😀
After I’ve been blogging for years and have written thousands of posts, my wife puts one together and it gets two months worth of hits in about two days? Come on now, how is that even fair?
Each morning we would wake up and check the blog stats as if it was Christmas morning. The first couple of days were intense, as each day would beat the previous. Towards the end of the day, we would make predictions on the next day’s total views. It was like betting on racehorses, but without the betting and there were no horses.
You may have read about the misfortune some bloggers have when their posts goes viral. Depending on your blog host, a number of bad things can happen. Either your server takes a nose-dive and your site crashes, your hosting provider forces you to upgrade because unlimited does not actually mean unlimited, or sometimes it is a combination of both.
For some, having your blogging dreams come true can turn into an utter nightmare.
Thankfully, Churchmag uses one of the best WordPress hosting companies you can find. Even at its peak, when we received almost a month of pageviews in just one day, our web host did not even flinch.
After having multiple hosting provider issues earlier in the year, we switched to WP Engine and was immediately impressed. After having this post go viral, we are simply smitten with WP Engine.
While WP Engine did not flinch, we will have to pay overages. WP Engine is straightforward with how they charge their customers, so there were no surprises or any strong-arming like some other hosts.
As those stats climbed higher and higher, the reality of being charged more was certainly a reality we could not ignore. Just because ChurchMag had a post go big, did not mean advertisers were flooding ChurchMag with advertising requests at the same time. We are going to have to up our game to deal with that. 🙂
So the next time you find yourself dreaming about a blog post going viral, just keep in mind that it does not come without a cost.
Thankfully, there is a payoff in the end.
With all those pageviews and all those new visitors, we have seen a spike in social media follows and subscriptions. While hundreds and thousands of new visitors came and went, there seems to have been a net increase in new readers.
Is this worth the cost? Only time will tell.
Now comes the hard part:
Creating and curating good content that will keep both old and new ChurchMag readers coming back for more.
It is probably still a little too soon to talk about “the aftermath.” We have likely not heard the last of this story this story. There’s still a strong chance that this post could resurrect again and see huge spikes again. Just because it’s been shared on Facebook over 60,000 times doesn’t mean it won’t get discovered and shared again. A Lord of the Rings personality post isn’t going to become dated, so there is always the possibility of it making the rounds again.
Now it seems kind of funny to read blog stats and feel disappointed at numbers that are double or triple of what they were before. Not going to lie, it feels a tad depressing. We definitely want this to happen again! It was so much fun! Creating original content that people enjoy enough to share with others—that’s where it’s at—that’s what blogging is all about. Watching your readers connect with something you worked hard to create is completely addicting, that’s for sure.
This entire experience has given us an entirely new perspective on ChurchMag and blogging in general. We here at ChurchMag have always had big hopes for the future, and now suddenly they look brighter than ever.