I’m so excited to have a new Goal Post Interview on a topic that is a writer’s fantasy – the viral post! In this one I got to chat with Maureen Wanket, a fabulous author, who had a post go viral on her blog (and what she did to capitalize on it!). Enjoy!
Interview with Maureen O’Leary
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer and a teacher living in Sacramento. I have two daughters who are pretty cool, and a husband who is a professor and amazing. We have two chickens and an organic garden in our backyard, but we also live down the street from a 7-Eleven with about eight different Slurpee flavors so the struggle is real. I read lots of books. I love going to the gym. I’m one of those teachers who love the job.
What motivates your writing? How does that drive/influence your work ethic? Your goals?
I’m a compulsive writer and I always have been. I am also a very ambitious person, and I understand the question, but the truth is I would write whether I had goals or not. I know this because my consistent daily writing habits predate my current publishing ambitions by about thirty years.
I’m motivated to write by the desire to be a person, and to understand things. I can’t understand anything until I’ve journaled about it, shaped it into a poem, woven it into the plot of a novel, and then distorted it in a short story. How can I explain it? Writing is how I function.
You had a post go viral. Can you tell us what happened? Did you do anything different with that post?
A couple of weeks ago, I had half an hour between coming home from work and needing to go to the grocery store. I hammered out “We Weren’t That Resilient” in that window of time as a reaction to an article I’d read that day bemoaning the wimpiness of kids these days as opposed to their supposedly bad-ass parents who grew up in the seventies and eighties. The idea that the seventies and eighties were a golden age of childhood is such trash. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to speak.
I wrote in anger but after I finished the post I felt so much better. I posted the essay, did the shopping, and came home to find my stats already blowing up.
The one thing that was different about my viral post was that I stopped a second to wonder about audience reaction. I usually don’t even think about my readers because I always assume I don’t have any. But with “We Weren’t That Resilient,” I did pause a moment, thinking that I was about to put something out there that everyone was going to hate. I anticipated a small, but negative reaction. I was wrong.
How has this viral post changed your online life? Has it increased book sales? Have you found consistently high engagement and pageviews on your blog?
My book sales have gone up considerably, yes. I gained many new followers on my blog, Facebook author page, and Twitter feed. I’ve met some really cool people online, fabulous writers doing awesome work. My blog stats have been consistently higher since the viral post. The aftermath has been pretty excellent, to be honest. I’m grateful to everyone who chose to read my writing.
Where did that traffic come from? Did your traffic sources change after that post (more social or organic search?)?
The traffic initially came from Facebook sharing and re-sharing. Then the link on Twitter found its way to a few pretty powerful feeds, driving my stats to the crazy high range. The majority of my traffic continues to be referred from Facebook and Twitter.
Have you capitalized on this viral post? If so, how?
I provided a link to information about my latest book at the end of the viral post, which brought people to my pre-order Amazon page. I’ve used the increased traffic on my blog to get to know other bloggers and writers I wouldn’t have met otherwise. That’s been the best part.
Most bloggers stumble into a viral post. Keeping this in mind, what advice would you give other writers to help them achieve a similar response?
I didn’t try to go viral. It never occurred to me that something I’d written would resonate with more than a few people. The only advice I’d give would be first of all, tell the truth according to you. Don’t equivocate. Then tag like crazy.
I have a few writer friends who artfully bare their souls in powerful blog posts that I find very helpful in my own journey. I’ve observed their courage with admiration and terror. In general, I’ve tended to be careful in my blog writing. In the past several months, I’ve been going for more honesty even when it’s painful and not cute. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Do you have any other advice for those writing to make the world a better place?
I do have advice for writers trying to contribute, and that is to be generous and to listen. While telling your own truth, keep aware of other people’s perspectives. Be aware of your own privilege and bias. Seek always to learn from others, even while you’re offering your own wisdom.
The best writing is a conversation, not a soapbox rant.
How can we connect with you online?
My author website and blog is a good place to start: www.maureenolearyauthor.com
I post upcoming events on my Facebook author page. I’m pretty addicted to Twitter. These are my main networks, and in the “About Me” section of my website you can also find links to my Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Goodreads pages.
Don’t laugh. I’m online a lot. [Editor’s note: No judgment! Me too!]
Going From Here
Thanks Maureen for this awesome interview! Be sure to also check out her books available here!
I love what Maureen said about being authentic. It’s better to be authentically you – whatever that means – than to try to fit into what you think people want.
I learned that this past year in a big way, and I’m enjoying everything a lot more because of that lesson.
Along those lines, I wanted to let everyone know I’m going to be changing my posting schedule. Beginning next week, I will post 3 days weekly (Monday through Wednesday). This is me being true to myself (and ultimately better at getting my message out).
My categories will get a facelift – not tied to specific days, but simply give a label like “Coffee Talk” or “Compassion Post.” This lets me maintain a set posting schedule. It helps me achieve my goals while continuing to give you a steady stream of awesome content.
How are you being authentic to yourself this week? Achieving your goals? Leave a comment below!
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