Every blogger longs for a viral post. Admit it — you’ve had dreams about logging into Facebook and discovering hundreds of thousands of shares on your latest article. The Huffington Post shared it! Kim Kardashian liked it! It’s breaking the internet!
OK, maybe it won’t be that dramatic. But writing a blog post that attracts a sudden surge of traffic to your site is an exciting achievement for any blogger. We’re always looking for ways to draw more people to our blogs, and when that happens suddenly, in big ways, it can really legitimize all of the hard work we put into those posts.
There is no magical formula to writing a blog post that goes viral. But there are tactics that will increase the odds that your post will attract big traffic.
We asked our community of travel bloggers to tell us about times they wrote a viral blog post. Let’s explore the different ways that travel bloggers have attracted big audiences to specific blog posts, and how you can do it, too!
1. Don’t be shy — send your post to people who will share it.
Brands and tourism boards are always looking for content to share with their (often very large) audiences on social media. If you’ve written about a product or a place on your travel blog, you have something of value to offer them.
Even if you didn’t work directly with the company in question, sending them a friendly note with a link to the blog post can’t hurt. They’re often more than happy to share it with their audience, which can earn your blog post a ton of extra traffic.
(Additionally, alerting a brand or destination that you’ve written about them is a great way to start a conversation about a future working relationship!)
“[Last] September, the Lisbon Tourism Board shared one of our posts on their Facebook page. This post reached over 2,600 page views during one week. thanks to the share on the Lisbon Tourism Board’s Facebook page. The post was shared 343 times and got 2646 likes. We saw about 100 new likes on our Facebook page.” – Rob and Nat of Love and Road
2. Write about trending topics.
Think of the internet like a high school full of gossipy teenagers. If you walk around the cafeteria, you’ll find different groups of kids talking about different topics, but there will be some common threads.
Big football game coming up? There might be several tables discussing it. If you want to join the conversation, you’ll have to start talking football.
Now we don’t want to be caddy and gossipy, but we do want to eavesdrop on the conversation trends that pop up across online cliques. Holidays, cultural events, television, movies, news stories, and even the weather can spike conversation trends across online platforms.
If you can find a way to relate to those trends and contribute to the conversation, you can potentially get your blog post in front of a large audience that may not have been looking for your content otherwise.
Check in with Twitter’s trending topics, and stay on top of the news that might apply to your blogging niche. Google alerts are helpful in staying tuned in to the news that matters to your audience.
“Cricket was a huge trending topic across social platforms when the Melbourne Cricket Ground was hosting 5 matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. I had written a post covering my visit to the MCG cricket stadium on my blog following my trip to Melbourne. Someone shared it [while the topic was trending] and it received a bucketful of traffic, as it went viral on StumbleUpon with 2700 shares.” – Arti of My Yatra Diary
3. Share your posts on Pinterest.
Pinterest is becoming one of the biggest driver of traffic for many bloggers, particularly those with visual content. As travel bloggers, you likely have a wealth of beautiful photos to go along with your blog posts.
Focusing on Pinterest, particularly when you have a highly visual post, is a great way to increase your chances of going viral.
Timing and quality on Pinterest are both important elements to consider. The shelf life of pins tends to be very short. Your pin has the best chance of circulating to share-happy Pinners in the first 20-30 minutes after you’ve posted it.
So be sure to post during peak Pinterest traffic times. Pinterest tends to draw more traffic in the evening. Several sources even say 2am-4am are the highest traffic times.
You should also consult your own blog’s traffic behavior to determine when most of your audience is online.
When it comes to quality, Pinterest favors long, vertical images with text that offer a preview of what the post with provide.
But of course, your content needs to be great for Pinterest users to spread the love once they read it. A thoughtful, informational post with a high-quality image that you’ve optimized for Pinterest is sure to be a hit.
“My post on ‘Freaky, geeky Japan, 11 quirky things to do for travelers‘ has almost 3,000 repins on Pinterest. It’s still one of the most popular posts on my blog. I believe the main reason this particular post has been so successful is that it’s a visual post with little text and many subheadings. Furthermore, the topic is highly popular: the world of Manga, capsule hotels and cat cafe’s has always captivated the minds of people around the world.” – Manouk Bob of Bunch of Backpackers
4. Provide New Information.
Originality is great, but there’s nothing wrong with writing about a topic that’s covered often — especially if you’re offering new information.
How many articles have you read about how to find cheap flights? Or why you should travel solo? These topics are written about time and time again, yet we continue to see new versions making their rounds on the web. If a topic is proven to draw a big audience, there’s nothing wrong with tackling it yourself. You just have to find a unique angle.
By tackling a topic that’s proven its popularity, but also adding your own unique twist, you can draw readers in with a dependable hook, and keep them around with new information or your winning personality.
“Last year we wrote an article, “How to book the cheapest flight possible to anywhere”, and it spread quite quickly (to date has 153k+ shares on social media). though the topic itself has been blogged to pieces, we felt we had some new tips to provide and made sure to do so in a concise way. Everyone is always looking for ways to save money and I think people get hooked by the title, too.” – Jen of Thrifty Nomads
5. Be Controversial
Try brainstorming topics that feel tired — those blog posts that you see again and again and again. Instead of just adding new information, as suggested in the previous point, offer a perspective that might not be popular.
Is there a contrarian stand you can take on one of those popular posts? Do you have a perspective that’s different from the many you’ve already read? Is there a part of the story that everyone else is leaving out?
Write the unexpected, and don’t be afraid to stir up debate. Link to the post you’re responding to and you might spark a conversation that pulls in the audience of the publication you’re referring to.
I was very surprised to see a post on the Huffington Post about how solo travel is stress relieving. So I wrote a humorous response about how I believe it’s anything but. This is one of my most popular posts, to date. It allowed me to be silly and address a popular topic with a fresh perspective that not everyone would agree with — but plenty of people did.
Mark Manson did this with his popular piece, The Dark Side of the Digital Nomad. While most people were writing about how great it was to quit your office job and work from a laptop around the world, Mark addressed the other end of the argument. (That end has since become as overdone as the original, positive stance on digital nomadism, but at the time, it was unique!)
Maybe one of these tactics will help you write a viral blog post. Maybe they won’t. But the most important thing is to always focus on creating quality content that your readers appreciate, even if the number of readers is a slow and steady climb.
Virality can be great, but it can also fade quickly. So make great content that people will love. And slowly (or very, very quickly) the readers will arrive.