The Truth About Going Viral: What I Did After 1 Million People Stopped By My Blog

Everyone wants to be famous for something. We all want to do something epic, something worth remembering. But maybe fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I have good reason to believe that it’s not.

Going Viral
Photo credit: SCA (Creative Commons)

An archived post of mine recently caught some traction and went viral, sending over a million people to my blog in a week. It’s causing me to rethink why I do this work and whether or not we as artists should chase our audiences.

Here’s what happened:

  1. An article I wrote about traveling while you’re young was picked up randomly by a student leader in Singapore one year after it was published.
  2. That person shared it on Facebook with a travel group he led on campus.
  3. Each person in the group shared this with their respective networks, and it spread to similar student groups in the Philippines and Malaysia.
  4. In about 24 hours, the post had made it all the way around the world, finishing its tour in Brazil.

The first time this happened, 0ver 150,000 people visited the blog. The second time, it was about half that amount. And then the third time, it reach over 1 million visitors and was shared via Facebook over 250,000 times — all in about a week.

Pretty crazy.

The craziest part: None of that matters

After the article went viral, I was confused and anxious. What did this mean, if anything?

Should I change what I write about, focusing more on this topic of travel? Should I try to keep as many of those visitors as possible? And what would I do when Monday rolled around, and I had to start blogging again?

The next week, I hit the old grindstone again, and the Internet had already forgotten about me. My traffic spike had mellowed out, and I was back to zero, forced to earn people’s attention all over again.

I tried to drag out the success, of course, tried to prolong that temporary feeling of fulfillment that fame brings. But for some reason, it wasn’t enough. And through the process, I learned something:

Every week I go back to zero. And so do you.

No single creative success can be sustained. That’s why you can’t create solely for profit or praise. In the end, the thrill never lasts. If you want to be an artist, there has to be something more than fame that sustains you.

Just ask Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was an inexplicable, runaway success. After she wrote the book and it raced up the bestsellers lists, people asked her a cruel question:

Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to be able to top that?

The answer, not surprisingly, was: Yes.

She worried she’d never be able to write another book that achieved such success. In an amazing TED Talk, she said, “It’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me.”

This worry held her back, caused her to hesitate and wait years before writing and publishing another book. But eventually she did. And how she did it was unique. Courageous, even.

She went to work, anyway. She treated her life’s work as just that — a job. She started believing in the idea of a Muse, a spirit that indwells artists. She resigned to a more mystical, creative process, and began to understand that “success” wasn’t up to her.

No. Her job was to show up.

We must do the same

No matter how amazing you are today, you have to get up and put the hours in tomorrow. And the next day. (And so on…)

Because that thing inside of you that causes you to create already forgot yesterday’s successes. It’s hungry. And if you don’t feed it something new, it will eat you alive.

That, my friends, is why artists kill themselves, why they get depressed after a monumental success and never create anything again. After going BIG with some huge, mega success that plummets them into instant stardom, they seemingly have nowhere left to go.

But that isn’t why they got into the game in the first place. And it’s not why you and I are in it, either. At least, I hope not.

Fame is not enough

Doing creative work for mass consumption is not fulfilling. Sure, it’s a nice byproduct, but it can’t be the focus.

This is why I write (and often) every day. Not for the fans and followers. But for me. Because if I do not, I feel like something is missing. The accolades never seem to completely satisfy.

Only creating can fulfill you after the fanfare fades.

So do something creative today. Scribble a note in your notebook. Snap a photo. Bang out a few chords on the guitar. Hit “publish” on that blog post you’ve been stalling to write.

Show up and do your work.

Whatever you do, please, don’t live in the past. And don’t wait for the future. Now is all you have. So, artist, create. It’s what you were made to do.

By the way, if you’ve never read my short eBook, The Writer’s Manifesto, you should check it out. It’ll only take you five minutes, and it’s completely free. Get your copy here.

And be sure to check out that talk by Elizabeth Gilbert I mentioned:

Do you struggle with this? Has your work ever achieved viral success? What did you do? Share your experiences in the comments.

192 thoughts on “The Truth About Going Viral: What I Did After 1 Million People Stopped By My Blog

  1. It happened to me (granted, on a much smaller scale) back in February when I re-wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” after a crazed Alabama fan poisoned some legendary oak trees on the campus of Auburn University.  My blog hits went through the roof, and I was thrilled.  Then I watched as my traffic quickly diminished to its normal, ho-hum levels.  15 mins. of fame abruptly ended.  Thanks for the reminder that it’s not all about the traffic.

  2. Wow–thanks so much for sharing this. SUCH great advice and at the perfect time. I consistently find your thoughts helpful and encouraging–so in my book, you’re not starting over each week 🙂

  3. Jeff, again it’s so true. In my life it’s true of music too.  Many times in music, I’ve thought that the LOVE of playing is more the ‘gift of music’ in the long run.  More so than the natural ability people normally call the gift.  I’ve seen many naturally gifted people ebb while the slow-and-steadies love it and don’t count the hours. Consequently they are the ones that I reconnect with years later that are still playing, writing music and more.  Such a great post.  Thanks!

  4. Jeff, I loved what you said above about Elizabeth Gilbert… that she realized her job wasn’t to perpetuate success, but to show up.  So good!  It’s easy to get lost in success or even make that the point/goal of your craft. Staying focused on the craft itself, and your love for it, keeps you going. 

  5. Amen!  You may go back to zero, but right there is where God finds you, at your most vulnerable point, and uses you, once again, to create another amazing adventure.  Thanks for sharing!  I’m downloading your manifesto now, and will peruse it as I FINALLY start my book.  Go Creatives!!

  6. Hey Jeff! great article! Love your work and I am so glad your post went viral because that’s how I found out about this blog. By the way I am from Singapore 😛 

  7. Some conservative attack dog once shared a post of mine on her Google+ page. Within the next 24 hours, I must have scored at least 120 hits on my blog, the most ever by far. I was shocked. Luckily, my server could handle this sudden traffic surge.

  8. Hi Jeff, first of all, that’s incredible you had a post get shared that much. It must have been a thrilling ride, but in the end, like you mention, it doesn’t mean that much if it’s not meaningful traffic. (Yet, of course, cool nonetheless.)

    I’ve been wondering about this recently and mulling over the difference between writing for a purpose and writing for an audience. It seems that if your’e writing for a purpose, what you write will have depth, whereas chasing an audience can lead to shallow ideas that are written solely to be shared.

    Would you say that writing for yourself accomplishes this? William Zinsser talks about that in “On Writing Well,” but I haven’t fully been able to grasp the meaning and how to apply. Any further thoughts? 🙂

    1. Thanks. It was so over-the-top that it was hard to grasp. I agree with your thoughts about writing for a purpose. I chased an audience for 6 years and found that it mostly eluded me and made me feel empty. Now that I write with purpose and focus, the audience comes to me. And I have a lot of fun in the process. It’s a win/win, but when the former doesn’t happen, the latter is enough to sustain the work. Stay encouraged, friend.

  9. Never had viral success with any of my books, but I can see your point. You are right, we must simply plant ourselves in front of our computers and write our books because we love to do it. Not for any fame, great or small. In the end, that’s not the point. Writing is a calling.

    1. Indeed. And there’s something beautiful about slow success. It’s easier to grasp. We’re able to grow with our platform instead of having to catch up to it.

  10. Hi Jeff! 

    First of all, I’m part of that student organization you refer to at first, and I’m from Venezuela 🙂 I did not only post your article on my Facebook, but I also directly shared it with plenty of people that I felt would like it and get something from it, including my sister. So, I pretty much loved your article.

    I also did read Eat, Pray, Love. I loved it too.

    What both you and Elizabeth Gilbert have in commun is that you both wrote stuff from the heart, that are real and that you both have experienced by yourselves, and thus, that inspired us to do the same. We felt connected by your words, we saw ourselves in there, and also saw other’s, so that’s why we shared, that’s why  it became viral.

    When you say that “None of that matters” I strongly disagree. I am now a follower of you because of that article, and I gotta say I deeply admire what you publish. My sister is aiming to be a writer too, so she finds great pieces of advice and inspiration in your words. And that is because of that article you mention 🙂 So yes, it does matter, because those words that you once wrote have changed lives, they have made a huge difference for thousands of people out there, they have won you credibility and people who follow you because of that. Of course, not all of them will follow you just because they liked one of your articles, but some will, those who really appreciated and connected themselves to your words, like me.

    So please, do not say that the counter goes back to zero every week, because that’s so not true. Not only you wide up your audience and circle of influence every week, having people eager to read each of your articles, but you impact and change lives every week, more and more lives, every week. Obviously you have to do your work and write every week, because you can’t sustain from a single hit you once had, but hey! that’s life dude, not only for writers but for everyone. It’s the same for any kind of professional, only because you once did an splendind job that everyone talked about doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing amazing and exceptional work, people won’t talk about it forever, logically.

    So, to finish this already-t0-long comment, all I want to tell you is that I understand if you write for yourself, because otherwise you’d feel there’s something missing (which is logic, since you are a writer!), but do not see your work as just work, and your audience just a bunch of people, because you just can’t start to imagine the ammount of good you are doing, and the value your are adding to people’s life every week.The most amazing things are invisible to the eyes.

    1. Thanks, Jesus. I’m glad you found me! Thanks for reading and hope I didn’t offend. What I meant was this: the high you get from sharing something with the world goes away. The only way to get it back is to do it again. I’m glad the article went vital but that may never happen again. It’s not my call. All I can do is keep writing and hope it makes a difference.

      1. Haha, you didn’t offend at all! 🙂 I got your point and it is true, aye, but what I was trying to say is that the “high” you get and then goes away doesn’t really matter because and you don’t need to “get it back” because it will always be there in the satisfaction of a an excellent work. You don’t have to keep writting hoping it makes a difference, because as long as you write from the heart you can be sure you are making it 🙂

        Just keep it going, because you are just amazing! 🙂

  11. My Twitter and yo yoing Klout score teach me that you are only as
    important as you are in the moment. Another thing that happened to me
    early on in life is I met a man who did not want to be famous. There are
    actually still people like that. They are private. They do not want to
    be bothered. I could not imagine. I am an extrovert. lol

    It helped me to separate out that famous is not rich or wealthy. It helps to know yourself. It helps to understand strengths and weaknesses. It further helps to understand the motivations behind what one gets into. When you know who you are and Who you belong to it is very grounding.

  12. I think the key is to not let it go to your head. Expectations have to be kept in check.  If you build your house on the sands of popularity, your foundation will fail to support you forever. Reality really doesn’t suck!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have experienced something similar (in getting traffic from a specific source) and though I didn’t put two and two together {as you have here}, you’re so right: by the next day (or week, or month), everything is back to the way it was before.
    If we work ourselves to death and stress over trying to do that again, we will only become frustrated and feel defeated. We need to know WHY we’re creating. If it’s to be popular (or famous) we’re missing the point and will never be fulfilled in it.

    Great post, thanks Jeff.

  14. Exactly. I blog, create, write, speak, and train people because it is my life’s work. Success is sometimes a result, but so is failure. Showing up and being you in all your glory is all any of us is supposed to do. Find out why you were put on this earth and just do that. 🙂

  15. This article touched me.  I’m a newbie to the online publishing world.  While I agree with most of what you said I am also a bit challenged by the concept that ‘it goes back to zero’. The emptiness of fame would leave someone grasping for greater and greater accolades if a person wasn’t caring about each and every ‘tough’ their creation offers each audience member. I am not nearly as concerned with the volume of readers as I am that my message/mission is in congruence with a need they have.  To some degree then, it does matter that someone reads me 🙂  But a teeny readership or a huge readership doesn’t matter nearly as much as a genuine readership!

  16. I’ve posted ‘just show up’ on the top of my computer screen next to ‘my upward call’. Thanks, Jeff. I am a 3 month follower and this is my first comment. You rock.

    1. Thanks, Megy. (Or is it Meg Y?) At any rate, really appreciate your saying “hi.” And I’m honored that you would post that reminder. Hope it works. 😉

  17. I am new to the blogging world. In August I wrote some personal thoughts about my dance with depression. My visit rate sky rocketed and then slowly and surely it has fallen like a defunk Russian satellite. 

    I know it was a interesting topic, but I do think a lot of the visits were by mostly voyeuristic. I believe I now have a more loyal following, people who regularly ‘pop in’ for a visit. I think I am writing better material, more meaningful and less formulaic. 

    And I am not sorry about my art!

    Has anyone else had the volatile experience of  voyeur visitor’s?

  18. my husband’s a designer and he does something that seems to work for him.  every time he finishes a design, he tapes it to the wall, and every time he walks by it, he mutters something along the lines of  “award-winning.”  he’s actually not just saying it, i don’t think, because  he stops, and shakes his head in near disbelief with the sheer genius of it all!  

    but one or two days later, another design from the same project appears which gets taped over top of the first and now another similar mumbling sequence begins.  He does this over and over, until as he’s taping one day he says “i think i might be done.”  it’s another few days before he knows for sure, but at least we know we’re close.

    the  first time i experienced this process with him, it took me awhile to realize that each design was actually just a DRAFT!  who would have guessed?  for this project, it took him THIRTEEN “award-winning” designs to get to the one that worked.pretty slick, huh?  he uses an internal fan club of one (one effusive fan, i might add) to keep his motivation up for the endless rewrites.  and this from a guy who struggles to accept a compliment and is never even remotely inclined to agree with the greatness that all of us around him see when we look his way.

    it seems like this would be a hybrid of “create for accolades” and “show up and do your work for the sake of the work”: it’s something like ” Show up and do your work because your self-accolades can go on forever.”Ask tim.  whenever he runs across an old project file, he’ll still get that wistful tone of self-delight…even though he knows the project would have failed if the first 7 drafts had been used.  Somehow he still holds them in high regard for all that was in them that was right and good.

    do you think this could work in the world of writing?  or is Tim just plain weird?

  19. Thanks for this post. I struggle with this all the time and am learning to let it go and just enjoy every word I write.  I think blogging has helped me to do this. I love creating new posts every day and the ideas keep flowing. I think this keeps me going.

    I have been questioning a lot lately my own motivations behind my travel book that I just can’t seem to finish. This has given me further food for thought as to whether I really do want to finish it or I just feel I have to for some other external motivations

      1. hmmm. Maybe. it’s that instant gratification world we live in.
        It could also be because getting published in book form seems like such a monumental step that I fear it will never be good enough and no one will read it.
        Who knows.
        Keep asking the questions the answers will soon come

  20. Great post. I had two posts go viral recently, not 150k viral, but about half that.

    This was nice, but the problem was that they weren’t really about my Blogging niche, and so I don’t really want to repeat them. It generated a lot of traffic for a few weeks, but nothing that lasted. 

  21. I saw Elizabeth’s video a few weeks ago, and I loved it!  So glad you shared it.
    I certainly don’t want to be the “depressed” artist, and I can see why it happens… 
    creating something that becomes so “big” like that has to be overwhelming, the only way to stay sane is to take the ego out of the picture as best as we can.  You’re so right when you say we start at zero everyday!  That’s just how I feel.  It’s like ok, I got good feedback yesterday, but that was yesterday.  I just get to work everyday, and stay in the present.

  22. Thanks for the reminder about fame.  Some of the most miserable people in the world are famous.  I think what we ache for is fame before the living God.  It is the type of approval that will never fade or vacillate.

  23. This is so true!  Thanks for the reminder.  I love to write and that is my motivation but we are also driven by our egos, sometimes unfortunately, and like to see that others are inspired by the fruits of our labor.  Regardless, you were able to move people and that will forever be a thread in the fabric of their lives.  It is eternal, even if the numbers don’t support that notion THIS WEEK. You know?

  24. Its far easier to keep being creative if your “why” is rooted in something deeper than those byproducts. The “why” for my company is creating family-safe entertainment. Not for personal fame or (eventual) pay dirt. For me, it’s creating entertainment that is safe for my kids. They will keep growing up, so I need to keep creating and writing and writing and writing and writing and…

  25. a timely reminder – especially for me as I’m becoming more active online.
    Thanks Jeff. This is spot on

  26. My goodness, Jeff.  I love this.  I love the “fight” you “pick.”  I’m happy to fight it with you.  Pray that I’ll be courageous.

  27. Jeff,

    I believe that seeking recognition and acknowledgment in their numbers is every writer’s dream (well, most I know). It’s natural. But over the past few months, I am learning it’s not about that recognition but influence, impact, the change the writing brings and showing up everyday to do what you love doing. In your Manisfesto, I think I read a line like “writing for me” for the sake of the love of the art. That’s crucial.

    I have learned a great deal from your works and it’s helping shape my writing too. it’s hard to take eyes off the stats but I guess that’s something we all need to learn to overcome and focus on the real deal: writing, sharing and creating influence.

  28. thanks for the reminder that if I don’t enjoy what I’ve written, then I doubt anyone else will (that isn’t exactly what you said, but it is something that I can take from this)

  29. Great blog post. My buddy Tyler Oakley posted this on his Facebook. 

    This is something I can highly relate to and I’m thankful in knowing I do my blog because I love it. Sure, one day I’d love to make a living off of it, but I’m not looking for viral fame. I’m looking for a community I’ve built that wants to continue to build with me. There have been days/weeks where my blog receives similar hits you mentioned in this article, and depression was usually the result of it shortly after. The depressing feeling that you won’t hit those numbers again anytime soon. 

    What keeps me trucking along is the mere fact that I can make someone else happy by doing what I love. This makes it all worth while.

  30. I love this post! I feel driven by creativity. I have often said that if I have millions of dollars the only thing I really want to purchase is a space where I can create more. I can really relate to everything you have written here. You have expressed this so beautifully. Thank you.

  31. Yup, I need to hear this, Jeff.

    I loved that TEDTalk – watched it a couple of weeks ago.

    That said, I kind of wouldn’t mind a little viral action – the social media kind, not the sniffles sneezing coughing kind.

  32. Great post, Jeff. I’ve never had that type of viral success, but it’s always interesting when the blog slowly starts to get “quiet” again. You’ve got to really love it or your emotions will go up and down with the “success” of each post. Thanks for this.

  33. Boy I needed to read this post today. I got excited when a guest post I did had a few hundred likes. Then when my appetite got going with that I had a personal piece have twice that many like it. The more that came, the more I wanted. And the converse was sadly true, the less that came, the more I questioned if it was good. It is a roller coaster ride I didn’t enjoy, and I don’t like roller coasters anyway.

    I’m the kind of person who can learn from others, I do not have to experience everything myself. Thanks Jeff, for this post. I enjoyed reading the comments of others who struggle to want those numbers.

    If having your work touch others = success. I am successful. And yet, I feel I want to rinse and repeat, so I will.

  34. My work has never achieved viral success but I keep going because I believe in what I do and I’m passionate about it. I think it’s the passion that keeps us going – the accolades are just icing on the cake. Thanks for a great post, Jeff 🙂

  35. Bravo, Jeff, Bravo!! This is the crux of the matter…..It’s a matter of perspective and humility! After all, we are just the conduits! The real freedom/love…is in the process 🙂

  36. That’s true. After I started treating blogging and writing as a job, I was better at self-imposed deadlines, better at discipline, and enjoyed this job better than my main job (which actually pays more…rofl). I do it because it’s a calling. Though admittingly, the numbers can be a deadly trap. I just want to share stories to help other people’s stories.

  37. We worry that our words won’t have traction, but here I am reading yours for the first time and noticing that the comments span the course of a year. It seems relevance and quality don’t have an expiration date. In the final days of a self imposed blogging hiatus, I’m questioning my motives (fame was never one of them), the direction I want my blog to take and whether or not what I’ve written in the past can hold its own in the future. Lots of food for thought here. Thanks for that!

  38. Great post! Very encouraging. I just started my blog. It took me a year to write my first post, but I finally did it because I decided to start writing for others instead of myself. If I can impact one person it makes it worth it.

  39. Great piece Jeff and totally correct.

    I’ve been writing commercially for over 14 years – and in that time I’ve had some great years and some bad years – both in terms of income and job satisfaction.

    Writing commercially (websites, brochures, marketing material) is just a job at the end of the day, and being persistent if you want to earn a living from it is the best advice I could give anyone starting out.

    If I won the lottery I’d write more screenplays and books, ‘just for me’ as it were – taking all the time I liked to get them just right – searching for my version of the ‘truth’ if that even exists.

    But again – how you measure success for any of these types of writing is relative, and you’re only as good as your last best attempt. In this context, your advice on making sure you just keep ‘turning up’ is very pertinent.

    Great blog and glad I found it 🙂



    1. Hey Loz,

      Thanks for your reply. I’ve been working on my blog for a couple years (inconsistently, mind you). I’ve had a few posts with high traffic, but most are really low. Hearing that you’ve been doing this for over a decade, and still going strong despite the number hits, is encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Jeff,
    As always I love your blog. I tell my clients (authors and other creative types) that it’s not about fame but leadership. You may obtain some fame at some level for a particular work, but leadership takes consistency and stability with integrity. It is a much more noble and satisfying endeavor than being a one hit wonder.

  41. Show up and do your work! That’s spot on. I must say I can’t even imagine how a one million viewer spike would effect me. I’m like most writers, I hope my work becomes more recognized and read, but I hadn’t even intended on publishing a book until others suggested it. I’ve always written for the sake of writing itself, but it’s easy to dream about fame and glory. But you’re right. We all start at zero everyday. Great reminder, Jeff.

  42. There is something magical about your style Jeff. I love this post. I have just decided to join your Thrive Writers class. When can I register? Thanks.

  43. THis.
    THIS! I love because I often wonder how I would respond and am
    responding as more people read my blog – it wasn’t my initial intention to even
    have a readership. it was nearly accidental, but I so totally get what
    you mean when you say, Should I change what I write about, focusing more on this topic of travel? Should I try to keep as many of those visitors as possible? And what would I do when Monday rolled around, and I had to start blogging again?” I have to remain true to my internal compass and keep doing what is uniquely me lest I veer off course an inauthenicate my own life. Thanks for this wise and timely post. Now I just want to keep “showing up” and doing my hard work which includes finishing out tribe writers classes. 😉

  44. Jeff
    Another excellent blog… a well-expressed reminder of the attitude we should take to every part of our lives, not just writing. Thanks very much.

  45. Nope, I’ve never gone viral, it may yet happen, but I have indeed been anxious when smaller spikes in traffic died down, wondering what I ought to do to sustain growth.

    I absolutely LOVE this insight, that we are always starting from zero. I expect to get a lot of creative mileage out of that one idea.

    Thank you, Jeff!

    ~ Kyla

  46. Jeff, I discovered your awesomeness less than a week ago. Each day, as I read your incredibly inspiring and professional words of advice, I can’t believe that I now have someone helping me create, write and live life “on purpose.” I feel like everything you write was written just for me. Thanks for making a difference in my life. I hope I can someday inspire others too.

    A. Elizabeth Riley

  47. Hey Jeff, great post. reminds me of when my book Yellow Rose of Texas: The Secession of the Lone Star State, was featured in the Wall Street Journal and my sales took a huge jump for a day and a half. Then the balloon burst and I was left with “What happened” until I realized I needed to get the dollar signs out of my eyes and get back to what I love to do. So I got the butt back into the chair and continue to write.


  48. YES YES YES! This is exactly what I’ve been through and coming out on the other side of. Now I’m back to blogging just because I love to write and have a little something to share with the world, but I’m over the “I need to be big and famous with my writing” mindset. I believe this is why God had me take this 4-5 month stint OFF from blogging – to re-center, re-focus, and regroup and realize it’s not about ME, but it’s about whoever may read my blog, be it one person or twelve. My readership may be small, but if God can use me as His messenger with whatever He wants me to say, I’m find with that. My job is to show up and write. He can use it as He will.
    Thank you for this! It’s getting printed out and put in my “writing” file.

  49. Oh Jeff, I needed this message at this moment on this day. Thank you so much for the inspired reminder! Now I have a newsletter to finish…..

  50. I have never gone viral, but I do definitely go to zero! Still, I keep writing for the people who keep showing up. I write because I can’t stop writing, and I just pray that the right people will show up to read. Still trucking.

  51. Thanks Jeff. I was just thinking a few minutes ago that I spend so much time writing for outer space. But that can’t be my focus. I write to be a blessing. It’s up to God to bring the people that need to read it. Thanks for the reminder.

  52. I read all your posts, but this one…thanks for the reminder to do the work, my work, my expression, and for the right reasons.

  53. This was exactly what I needed! I’ve saved it to read it at least once, first thing, every day as a reminder and to set me on the right foot before I begin my writing.

  54. Love this, Jeff. I used to work for a non-profit travel abroad company and I remember the week this happened because a bunch of my former colleagues and students shared this article all over facebook. I’ve been reading your blog for a while so it made me smile that that other people in my world were taking notice of your work. Thanks for the reminder to choose yourself and do the work, no matter what.

  55. Timely encouragement for me. I have been thinking about why I write. I write because I love to and because I have a heart to encourage others. And it is so easy to get hung up on numbers. How many people read my post? How many people liked my post? How many people commented…and on and on and on. And, honestly, I am tired of the numbers mattering. If I encourage one person, isn’t that still success? I’m thinking yes. And if I am obedient to share as the Lord leads, then that is for sure success.

    All of that to say thanks. Thanks for the reminder the numbers are not the reason we write.
    K 🙂

  56. This is great and so true Jeff. The guest post I did for you has done really well, crazy amount of people came and subscribed to my site (thank you) but when all the fanfare dies down you have to get back on to “hustling” as Jon Acuff would say. Keep doing the not so glamours stuff that builds an audience.

  57. For those of us who are still trying to build our dreams day in and day out with minimal traffic coming in, it is refreshing to hear this perspective of the other side of the fence. I especially like the quote: ‘No single creative success can be sustained. That’s why you can’t create solely for profit or praise” That is an epic statement. Thanks Jeff!

  58. This strikes a chord with me because a certain topic of my blog posts is popular, but in the sense that people use it as reference information without comment. I know that if I write about other topics, there will be fewer daily views (maybe none!) so I am basically writing those for myself. I compare it to the cathedral builders writing notes to God and placing them inside the walls. I have come to accept (at least for now) that I am writing about my passion, someone is reading it, and I have like-minded friends in social media who share my enthusiasm.

  59. Ha, your viral and my viral are not the same thing but when I do get an unexpected jump in hits I think that something must be wrong. Maybe people are looking for something that my site doesn’t have or the spammers are extra busy that day. It certainly couldn’t be because of anything I wrote :).

  60. Jeff my friend… never stop writing great stuff for us!
    I learned long ago (I am much older than you are) that true fulfillment only comes from our God. Not from our work, play or even our spouse.
    Success does feel good and we all hope to make a living doing what we love to do… but all these things continually ebb and flow with life as God leads us toward his purpose for our lives.
    Just show up everyday and create, we will continue to show up to see what new thing you have to share with us!
    Clara Rose

  61. You have a flair, Jeff… that touch of someone in love–in love with (what else but) words! It shows through, and that’s why you do get those million marks on occasion. And some of the rest of the online writing community feel that way too. Sadly some do not–or at least not as strongly as they need to get over those “zero days”.

    It’s nice that you’re willing to pause from your dreams to help boost up others.


  62. I am just now starting to get comments on my blog, so I am a long way from anything going viral:) But, the posts that have received comments are the ones that I have written because they meant something to me. I decided what I wanted to talk about, and only then decided how I could use a story to help someone else. No concerns about going viral, or SEO, or hits. Just, a story, and an application for others. I learned to do that from reading your posts. Thank you.

  63. I can see how there would be a big letdown after that euphoria. We put so much pressure on ourselves.

  64. Thank you so much for this post. I have been whining to a few people about the fact that not that many people read my blog, and those that do don’t often comment. I’ve been told and have come to realize the truth is, I need to be writing for me, and because it is something I love to do. Whatever happens after that is just icing on the cake. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  65. Makes perfect sense. Just think if David Bowie thought for a moment that his best work was behind him. Would he be putting out great work like he just did on his new album? Not likely. Thanks for the push Jeff … the push to just show up.


  66. THANK YOU!!!! So timely and true. Just showing up is a relieving thought. I’ve been exhausted with platform, audience building and miss writing. You’ve been such an encouragement.

  67. I did have a post that went viral – in January of this year. It was about the 10 ways I earned money from home after losing my job, while I had a brand new baby at home. It was about a year old too, then one day started going wild on Pinterest. But, since it happened to have quite a few affiliate links in it too, it’s made me a ton of money… And, since it’s Pinterest, and people who visit something they found on Pinterest are likely to then repin it and share it again, it’s continued ever since. It’s dropped from the high of 10-15,000 page views a day, but is still doing really great. But I can totally feel what you mean in this post…. The first time you stop striving, think you’ve “made it” – that’s when you fall behind. Great post!

  68. Great stuff Jeff. Love this “No matter how amazing you are today, you have to get up and put the hours in tomorrow.”

    Am learning this more as my blog grows. I think the biggest thing for me has been to learn how to keep my identity anchored in the right place, not in things or performance or popularity. Whenever I loose that’s a quick dash to the bottom!
    Thanks for this reminder today!

  69. Congratulations on going viral. I’ve never heard of you before and that travel young showed up in my facebook feed. 🙂

    I had a thought watching Gabby Douglas awarded the Olympic gold medal at 16 years old… how are you going to top that experience in your life?

  70. Jeff,
    Thanks so much for this post. It is excellent! You are such an inspiration for those of us just starting down this road. I wrote down some of the things in this post that I felt were most important and I plan to share them on my facebook page, giving you full credit of course. I appreciate your work and enjoy reading your blog posts.

  71. Great post, Jeff! Super timely for me. It’s so hard not to focus on stats, but it becomes so stifling when I do. This was a great reminder for me to focus on the message rather than the recognition. As always, I appreciate what you do! Thanks!

  72. Great post Jeff. I struggle with that all the time. It’s great to see the multiple hits each day. But what I don’t know is the impact words can have on just one reader.

    For example, if out of those thousands of hits your content finds traction in one reader that completely changes their thinking and causes them to move forward with courage, would the time you spend in creating good content be worth it? I think so.

    So maybe the numbers aren’t important as the impact you could have with one of your readers. Unfortunately, that’s one parameter the blog statistics don’t tell you.

  73. Great post, Jeff. Thank you for all that you do. This is very similar to what I recently heard Seth Godin say. Success in life should be look at like skiing. What’s the goal in skiing? To just have one successful run and be done? No. The goal is to have as many successful runs as you can before the sun sets. Same goes for everyone seeking a successful life. Don’t strive for that one defined moment that you think you will have ‘arrived’. Instead, do what you’re passionate about and have as many good runs doing that as you can while you’re alive.

  74. “If what you say has value, it will last longer than you will” – Vance Havner

    If that’s true, longevity is the real viral. You gotta keep writing since there’s no way to know which will last.

  75. I love this post, Jeff. I think we have to remain humble. I remember co-presenting at a very large women’s event and being so pleased that afterward a woman wanted her picture taken with me. After we took it, I was beaming and she said, “What’s your name?” 😉 I’m always going to be what’s-her-name, but it’s such a joy to be able to share words with the world anyway.

  76. Great post indeed. Made me grateful that I’m a writer and the opportunity to work is there for me every day. All I need is me and an idea. Oh, and a pen. (But I like having the laptop — it’s faster!

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