I`m going to tell you in this post how I created a viral website and reached almost 250,000 unique visitors in just three months, 247,226 to be more precisely, how I failed, what did I learn and what you can learn also.
I will not reveal any magic or secret trick, but I will tell you how I did everything, step by step.
One year ago I was reading about this viral type websites trend and how they were making money by having a lot of visitors, millions, from social media, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
I did some research, and I realized that there are no similar websites in my country, Romania.
So, I thought, why not give it a try.
My plan was the following one:
- create a website
- search for popular articles on other international viral websites
- translate them to the Romanian language
- post the articles on a Facebook page
- promote them on Facebook
Yes, I had a small marketing budget as it was and still is very hard to create a community on Facebook without money.
Choosing the name of the website was pretty easy. The site is called: stirivirale.ro which in English means “viral news”.
I bought the hosting too.
If you need any good hosting for your website I recommend Bluehost ( Affiliate Link ). I`m using them for most of my client`s websites and also for the ones I have and I don`t have anything to reproach so far.
My decision to create this type of website came after I read this article, which I recommend you to read after you read mine of course.
I had a domain and hosting. The next thing I had to do was to create the website.
You will see in the article I mentioned that all this viral websites hysteria started after Scott De Long, which was the owner of viralnova.com, was making six figures PER MONTH, and he eventually sold the website for 100 000 000 USD.
In most articles, I read about ViralNova`s success they were saying that the site is using a WordPress theme called: SociallyViral.
I started to do some research, and I found that MyThemeShop has it and is selling for just $ 45.
The theme had a lot of features and was very easy to customize. It was and still is designed to increase visits mainly through Social Media sharing. Take a look here if you are planning to open such a website.
Disclaimer: If you buy any WordPress theme from MyThemeShop by clicking on my links I will get a few bucks. I`ve used and continue using their WordPress themes, and they are very nice, and also they have good customer support.
It took me 2–3 days to customize it before I added any articles on the website.
So I had the domain, the hosting and also the SociallyViral WordPress Theme.
I made two — three test articles to see how the final website was looking and it was ready to be launched.
Let`s see what WordPress plugins I used, and I will explain about each of them.
DISCLAIMER: No affiliate links on this WordPress plugins. All of them are free, but some of them have also paid versions which I would recommend once you like their products.
All In One SEO Pack.
If you ever created a website or blog on WordPress, you probably heard about it. It helps your website with Search Engine Optimization. When you create a post they will ask you to put a title, description and keywords for search engines, but he can do many more things.
You can read more information about All In One SEO plugin if you click on the name above.
Bottom of every post.
I wanted to ask each user at the end of the article to share it as it was crucial. So I needed a simple text on every post I had. Bottom of every post plugin helped me do that even if the plugin hasn`t been updated for two years.
Facebook Comments Plugin.
People like writing comments after they read an article. I thought to give them an easy way by letting comment directly with their Facebook accounts. They also had the opportunity to comment via the standard box for WordPress comments.
To use this plugin, you will have to create a Facebook App ID.
Facebook Open Graph, Google+ and Twitter Card Tags. — That is the picture I had for that article.
Had people to share my articles right? But every post needed a good image once it was shared on any social media website.
This WordPress plugin helps you set up any photo you want, that each social media will use once someone will share your post/page.
Google XML Sitemaps.
When crawling on websites search engine`s robots need to be guided. A sitemap is a map for your website. If you install this plugin, it will create a sitemap which will usually have a URL like the one bellow: http://www.yourawesomewebsite/sitemap.xml .
After you have this URL, you can go to Google Webmaster Tools, add your website and also add a sitemap. When you add your site here is like letting Google know it exists.
There is also Bing Webmaster Tools, the second search engine in the world after Google, which works pretty much like the Google one. You will add here the sitemap in the same way as you did in Google Webmaster Tools.
I wrote in this tutorial about how you can submit your WordPress website to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
Mashshare Share Buttons.
A plugin for big share buttons on my website at the beginning of the article and also at the end of it. I needed share buttons everywhere:).
New Facebook Popup Like Box (Responsive). — The image bellow shows you how it looks once you install it
Each time someone was coming on the website, for the first time, he was getting this pop-up that was asking to like our Facebook page, but he could just close it.
I added this plugin on the website pretty late, and I`m sorry because I lost A LOT of Facebook likes that could have helped me more.
SumoMe. — The image bellow shows you how it looks once you install it
It is a very complex WordPress plugin that has a lot of tools to help your website grow, but I used it only for the responsive share buttons and image share buttons.
They are giving some FREE features, which I used, but they also have paid ones which I recommend if you can pay at least $ 29 per month.
I had the website responsive, but I needed a good responsive share buttons plugin too.
Also, I needed people to be able to share each image from the articles on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
So the FREE version just helped me out with everything I needed.
Here are how the rest of the plugins look on the website:
Some text is in Romanian, but I will translate.
“Daca Ti-a Placut Articolul Nu Uita Sa Dai Un Share. Multumesc” means “If You Like The Article Don`t Forget To Share. Thank you”
I also installed Google Analytics to track visitors from the website, but that is not a WordPress plugin. There are plugins just to help you add the tracking code, but I just inserted it in All In One SEO.
If you don`t know what Google Analytics is and you want to know how you can install it, please visit this tutorial.
SociallyViral WordPress Theme has other plugins included, but they have a lot of documentation about them when you buy the theme.
So I had the website set up and what was next?
You are probably wondering now where I could get articles with photos from and wouldn`t I infringe any copyright laws?
That is what I thought also, but there were a lot of popular websites that were doing it: boredpanda.com, distractify.com, viralnova.com, brightside.me and many others.
What did all these websites have in common?
A lot of similar articles, a DMCA or Copyright Policy page, millions of visitors per month and they were saying on each post where are the photos from. TBD: SHOW PHOTOS
Let`s take a look at how many visitors each of these websites have. And there are probably other hundreds that I don`t know about.
Stats were provided by similarweb.com and might not be so accurate.
They have 32.60 million visitors per month which is not bad I would say.
27 million with 11,28 % visitors from the United States. They have 17 million likes on their Facebook page.
13.20 million with 52,42% users from the United States. I`m pretty sure that they are making a lot of money just from their AdSense ads.
I don`t know what happened to this website, but he has just 6.10 million visitors. It is still a lot, but it used to have tens of millions.
What was my plan?
So I pretty much decided to search for popular posts, translate them on my website and then post on StiriVirale`s Facebook Page, but I didn`t have any likes.
Getting likes in Romania is still cheap, and if you make a good ad, that will attract visitors, you can get likes for as low as $ 0.01, but usually they cost somewhere between $0,03 — $ 0,10.
This is a picture of a small part of the ads I did during that period.
I created a routine, and I was trying to write at least three posts per day which would take me somewhere between 1–2 hours.
NOTE: My opinion is that three posts for a viral type website are way too small, but I didn`t have more time as I had a full-time job too.
I tried different hours to post on Facebook, and I was publishing 1 article in the morning, one in the afternoon and one after 5 -6 p.m.
After the article was posted on Facebook I would use “BOOST” option for $ 1 and see how the post would do. If people were clicking on it than I would add more money else I would stop.
After some time of doing this, I realized that things don`t happen the way I wanted.
I was getting visitors when I was promoting the articles, but once I was stopping, nothing was going on, and there were 200–300 visitors per day.
But I wasn`t giving up, and I kept on writing, posting and promoting till one day when this post exploded. We can see that it had a lot of shares.
The title says the following thing “Photo: 100+ Most Amazing Photos That Were Ever Made. Without Photoshop!” — pretty catchy no?
It happened before with posts having 7–8 k visitors, like the one bellow, but with this one I was having thousands of visitors each day and I thought that this was it.
I was going to keep on getting visitors, but things didn`t happen like that.
This article is about animals that are doppelgangers to famous persons. It was and still is funny. Here is a link and you don`t need to understand Romanian to see the pictures
After a few days, even if I was posting now more, around 7–8 articles a day, traffic was still decreasing till it got to the same number of visitors from where it started.
After the decrease, I kind of lost motivation, and I came back to my usual routine. Around 2–3 articles per day and I did it for almost another two more months.
I couldn`t create anything viral anymore, and I just couldn`t find any explanation.
What I learned and how I would do things differently now?
Before starting the website I thought that it would not be a hard journey, but even if I was getting the pictures from another website, translating them was still time-consuming.
I posted almost 300 articles but is still little.
I can`t compare, but I heard that buzzfeed.com posts around 60–70k articles per year.
Such a website needs content and a lot. Maybe if I had worked more hours on it, I would have succeeded even if reaching almost 250k visitors in 3 months is still a success for me.
Maybe I should have created a website for English readers or write just in a niche, like viral articles with cats, or dogs.
You are probably wondering now if you should give a try in this niche.
I recommend doing so because people love reading this type of articles. I`m pretty sure that you see daily a lot of viral news links and videos.
Clicking on those articles and consuming ads on their websites means that they are making money and a lot.
All you need is time and write a lot of content. Maybe you can create video content which is much easier to be seen but is harder to produce.
Make a plan and go for it!
Let me know the results if you will try.
If you liked this article or if you have any questions leave me a comment.