How to achieve overnight success

The designers at Automattic were given a challenge: to pick a colleague’s post and outline a plan for it to get 1,000+ page views with only a $20 budget.

Several years ago, I blogged a lot. I mostly wrote tutorials and gave away free design resources. My first ever design tutorial fortunately got picked up by Digg which catapulted my site from getting a few clicks to getting enough to crash my server. However, once the dust has settled, I faced a different challenge: maintaining the current traffic. To do that, I:
  • Posted an article at least a few times a week to increase and maintain readership.
  • Authored articles for big design blogs. This helped build authority and helped bring traffic to my site.
  • Shared my article on various social media accounts.

But let’s say – what if the post didn’t get shared by big sites? Will it still be as successful?

In my previous blog post, I wrote about how WordPress changed my life. I know I’m supposed to pick a colleague’s post, but the reason why I picked mine is because while it is still design-related, it’s a personal story that focuses more on my career path. From my experience, most of my followers follow me for the design resources. Anything outside of that and they’ll likely disengage. Most personal articles I share (e.g. stories or photos of my daughter or my dog, recipes, or recent family trips, etc.) will only likely be appreciated by my family, friends, mom friends, and moms in general.

Getting the most bang for my buck

So how can I get 1,000+ views for this post? Here’s the plan:

  • Share this article on social media.
  • Cross-post it on the LinkedIn publishing platform for further free distribution.
  • Spend all $20 on Facebook advertising.

With the help of my husband who is in Marketing, I wanted to specifically target people who are interested in blogging, design, and maybe travel. In the Philippines, for example, lots of people are interested in finding work overseas. Facebook ads, on average, cost $1 per thousand impressions. It’s considered to have one of the widest reach yet quite affordable. With my budget, I can expect more or less 20,000 impressions, but for that number, I’ll most likely only be getting between 4-10 clickthroughs!

So can we ensure at least a thousand views for this post following our plan? Can we achieve success overnight? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. We can only hope it gets picked up by big sites with a ton of following or we could choose to spend more, but even then, it’s a bit of a far-fetched goal for now. I think a more plausible way of achieving success online would be to keep producing quality content to slowly build an audience. Persistence will eventually pay off.

By Jan Cavan Boulas

Jan is a designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in several publications online and offline. When not trying to help make the Web a better place, she can be found taking off on an impulse adventure, experimenting in the kitchen, or playing badminton.