Virality is just a vanity metric. It doesn’t assure more money.
As a writer, I’ve tasted success in different forms over the years.
I’ve written bestselling books, attracted high-paying gigs, grown my follower count to over 120,000 across various platforms, and the consistency of my growth gave me enough courage to quit my government job.
All these years, I’ve never had a viral article.
By viral, I mean an article gaining 1Mn+ views or earning $1000+ on any writing platform.
You might think I’m losing out on a golden treasure that can fast forward my success and turn me into the holy queen of writing whom millions would follow. But life doesn’t work that way. Virality is a myth many writers believe, which I aim to burst in this article.
Actually, It would’ve taken me a long time to achieve what I have today if I did have a viral article. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but by the time you complete reading this post, you’ll know why virality is meaningless for you as a writer.
1. Virality Doesn’t Guarantee Success
In 2021, Medium introduced some algorithm changes that dropped the potential virality of articles. Several writers complained about a huge dip in their earnings. Most of them even left the platform. It’s because earlier they had viral articles which used to earn them lots of money and now since the virality is no more, their financials took a big hit.
But in my case, the income has been growing steadily for around a year. There haven’t been that many fluctuations, and I’ve grown consistently, both in terms of follower count and money. Medium is working out fine for me.
The reason behind this steadiness is that I focus on consistently putting out good work. I write 20+ articles each month and don’t chase virality.
This is the strategy I want you to adopt.
When you regularly put out good work, you don’t need virality. You can easily build a nice, stable income source from writing. Yes, it will take time. But it gives you control of your success and you don’t have to depend on an algorithm.
2. You CANNOT Reverse Engineer Virality
No matter what internet gurus tell you, you CANNOT guarantee virality. It’s a hard truth to swallow, but knowing it can save you a lot of frustration. The reason behind this is most viral posts don’t follow any set pattern regardless of the platform, and there’s no way you can predict the reach it will have.
Somebody might have written an article on a random topic, like “nine traits that are damaging your brain”, which got crazily viral. But if you try to write the same, your post might not even get 100 views.
This is because virality doesn’t depend only upon the type of post but rather on a lot of deciding factors. Some of them are the posting time, the season, the mood of the audience around that time, the publication, the author, the page, and a lot of things that you cannot reverse engineer to put together to fit a reliable formula.
So, stop chasing virality.
The only thing you can do is work hard, and put out good work consistently.
This is the only success mantra under the sun.
“I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work.” - Louis C. K.
3. Virality Doesn’t Guarantee Instant Fame
What if your stars do get aligned someday to gift you virality?
Will you see the spike in follower count? Maybe.
Will your earnings spike up too? Could be.
Will you continue reaping the benefits of virality later on? Most probably not.
Virality doesn’t guarantee social media success. You might see a sudden increase in earnings and follower count, yes, but the momentum isn’t necessarily continued.
Why? Because people who liked your one viral post are not necessarily drawn towards the other content you post. Broadly, it’s a mix and match of the factors we discussed above that combine to make that particular post a success for you, but that happening again is rare.
The bottom line is, virality is just a vanity metric. It makes you feel good in the short term, but it doesn’t really mean anything in the long term.
4. Virality Can Make You Feel Worse
Virality doesn’t last forever. It’s there for a short period of time, maybe one week it even less. When that one week is going on, you have that insane adrenaline rush of refreshing your stats every day and looking at your earnings and follower count.
But when it crashes, it makes you feel bad.
You try to replicate it with other articles which normally doesn’t happen. This can hurt your self-esteem as a writer. This is because when you rely on virality, it means you’re relying on algorithms. And algorithms are never under the control of one person.
So you might feel that virality will make you feel amazing about yourself, but in reality, it makes you feel bad. You don’t want to aim for something that makes you feel bad, do you?
Virality is a bubble many writers try to pursue. You might think your life will be amazing once that stroke of luck hits you, but in general, that makes it worse.
Most of the time, virality is just blind luck. And if you’re a writer or a content creator, you can’t rely on luck.
You have to rely on your hard work because nothing else guarantees a stable income.
But still, many writers have myths around getting viral, which is holding them back from real success. That’s why I’ve written this article to remove the fog, and these are the four common myths I’ve discussed here:
- Going viral doesn’t promise you a reliable career, because that career would be built upon algorithms. If those algorithms change, your career will come crashing down.
- Virality can’t be made into a formula because it depends upon factors out of any single person’s control.
- Even if you go viral, it doesn’t guarantee you followers, money, or a personal brand if you don’t have a solid backlog of content.
- The benefits of virality are short-lived and they can’t be duplicated. This makes you stressy about gaining the same results again. When it doesn’t happen, it affects your confidence as a writer and makes you feel bad.
If it disheartens you that virality means nothing, don’t worry. This is a secret that almost every online content creator knows. And now you know it too.
Then, what is the shortcut to success? Consistent hard work. There is no golden bullet that will help you achieve your desired target other than hard work. You’ll grow on any platform, regardless of the algorithm, once you start posting good work regularly.
So what are your thoughts about it? If you’re feeling emotionally stressed, sharing it down in the comments might help you relax.