The following blog post was from the old blog at myblueheaven.com and was originally posted on July 6, 2011
I have always wondered what it would be like to have something go “viral” on the internet. It seems like you would be part of a somewhat small club. What I didn’t realize was that it would be somewhat exhausting, very much overwhelming and very educational.
When I posted this video, of the epic dust storm (haboob) that blew into the Phoenix metro area last night, I thought that it might get some attention. I felt it was pretty dramatic, and that my internet followers, at a minimum, would enjoy it. I uploaded it to my SmugMug galleries (more on that in a bit) and sent a tweet out to share it. Within a few minutes it had been re-tweeted a handful of times, which is pretty typical after I upload an image and share it. This went on for a few minutes and then it got re-tweeted by a couple different news agencies at almost the same time. After that, my twitter stream exploded. My Iphone display could not keep up with the tweet notifications and Tweetdeck on my desktop was a blur of activity.
Moments after that, the emails started arriving. I had almost immediate requests for the video from The Weather Channel, CBS News and even Gizmodo. The Weather Channel has aired it a number of times and CBS featured it on their national morning show. It also aired very briefly on their evening broadcast tonight. The CBS coverage lead to being contacted by a company that provides video content for multiple networks affiliates all across the country. A deal was worked out with them and I have gotten word that it was going to air on at least 25 different local stations today. I even did an interview with 3TV here in Phoenix that used the footage not only in the interview but as teaser footage for other parts of their storm coverage.
All of this has provided me with a very valuable education when it comes to internet exposure and marketing. I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to be very restrictive as to where I post images. I upload everything, with the exception of my 500px images, to my SmugMug hosted site and link to the images hosted there from my other sites, such as this blog. Because I sell prints from there, that is where I want to have people see my work. It only made sense that if I was going upload video, even if I didn’t have the intentions of it going viral, I would upload it to a place that would draw attention to my photographic work, without my viewers having to click through to a different site, as they would have had to do if I uploaded to somewhere like YouTube or Vimeo.
It does seem to have worked. In the last 24 hours, the video above has been viewed on my site 791,267 times. Since all of those people actually had to visit my site to see it, they have also viewed my other still images a total of 608,941 times over the same period of time. This is a grand total of 1,400,208 views of my work in the last 24 hours. While my video might have been seen nearly 800,000 times, my images certainly would not have been seen just over 600,000 times. You never know when something you upload will become powerful, and when it does, use that power to showcase the other things that you would like to have people see.
Finally, over the last 24 hours I have made it a point to not direct people to this site. My blog is just that, my blog. It isn’t the main showcase for my work, and even though I do share a lot of images here, it isn’t exclusively photography related. Even with that, the amount of traffic to this site has really jumped over the normal amount I usually see. If I would have linked my video though this site, and not directly to my SmugMug site, there is no way that the servers that host this site would have stayed up and running. If you want people to see your work, they have to be able to get to the site.