Five reasons why a ChicagoNow blog post received one million visits

For the first time in ChicagoNow history, a single blog post called "Ten things I really F’ing want for Mother’s Day" received 1 million unique visitors. And it reached that magical figure in four days.

So how does this happen? And can it happen for you? Let's take a look at five reasons why this post went viral.

1. Facebook Fan Page: If you ever ask the question, "How can I get more people to read my blog?" the first thing you must understand is it doesn't just happen. You have to cultivate an audience, and one thing you absolutely must have is an active Facebook Fan Page. And you must run it the right way.

If all you're doing is sharing links and not much else, nobody will care. Baby Sideburns is active on her fan page with funny status updates that are the heart and soul of her fan page. So her fans aren't suffering from link overload. Also? She asks them to share. Small but often overlooked part of the equation.

Facebook blows away Twitter and any other social media platform in its ability to drive traffic. It's not even close. The Baby Sideburns Fan Page had around 80,000 "likes" when the post was published (it's nearing 100,000 now) so there was already a built-in audience for her posts. It all started from there, and before you think it's unreasonable to expect yours to get that high remember that six months ago she was under 200 fans.

2. Headline: "Ten things I really F’ing want for Mother’s Day" is a great headline because it is not too long, it's to the point and it's just irreverent enough for people to share without feeling like they might offend somebody. If she had gone with "Fucking" instead of "F'ing" it would have been a much different story. Writing "Fuck" in the post itself isn't the same thing and clearly didn't stop many people from sharing it.

3. Timing: Obviously, Mother's Day is a widely popular holiday that tens of millions of people participate in so tens of millions of people could relate to it. And while it was the appropriate thing for many Mother's Day posts to go up on the day itself, a post like this wouldn't have worked nearly as well had it been published on Friday or Saturday before Mother's Day.

It probably could have gone up on Monday instead of Wednesday, but I'm not going to quibble over the exact timing. The point is it went live with plenty of time to go viral.

4. It's a list: People on the Internet love lists. Don't question this or look down on it, they just do. You don't need to write every post as a list, of course, but if you have a post idea that works as a list you should seriously consider writing it as one.

5. The Post: Yeah, let's not forget the post. It's very funny, but Baby Sideburns has written posts just as funny that didn't go viral even though she did everything above. A mistake I see many bloggers make is they write an "intro" that is too long and often unnecessary. And then they write a post that is too long.

The headline made it crystal clear what the post was going to be about, so when she started her post with the actual list there wasn't any confusion. There was no setup needed. She just jumped in and gave the readers what they wanted before she lost them. Also, the post itself was under 400 words and in no way felt like it was too short.

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