Timing: The Secret Ingredient of Viral Blogging and Building Authority

by Marcus Sheridan

In case you missed it, there was an Earthquake on the East Coast Tuesday. No, seriously, I’m not kidding. ;-) Heck, even a guy like me, who hasn’t watched the news in about 2 years, couldn’t help but notice the floor to my office moving in an odd manner as I was busy whacking away at the keys.

Once I realized what had happened, I got up, went outside, and observed just how still and normal everything seemed to be…yet something that hadn’t happened in over 100 years (to that magnitude) had just jolted the bodies, and minds, of millions.

A few minutes later, I started laughing to myself. Why? Because I realized that all the 700+ fiberglass swimming pools in the ground my company had built over the years would be much better off than their counterpart concrete pools (and the Washington Monument for that matter), and now would be the perfect time to tell consumers why.

Before I knew it, I was typing away on my swimming pool website. 15 minutes in, this little guy was the result:

Earthquakes and Fiberglass Swimming Pools: Yep, Flexibility is a Nice Thing When the Earth Moves

As I’m sure you can imagine, the article has done very, very well in the hours that followed the event, but the act itself reminded me of a subject we often times forget as bloggers: Timing is dang important when it comes to high blogging authority and traffic.

Here is the thing folks: Bloggers have a huge advantage over the normal press. We have no red tape. We have no ‘producers’ to run stuff through. When we want to publish something, all it takes it a few slaps of the keys and voila—DONE!

Becoming the Voice

Two years ago I got a call from a friend in the fiberglass pool industry telling me that a manufacturer who produced/built fiberglass pools had just that day closed shop and gone out of business. Because I knew this person was such a trusted source, I immediately did a blog post on the subject and broke the story.

The results that followed were profound. First of all, people in the industry started seeing my blog as way more than just educational articles about swimming pools. It was a place for major news and events. Heck, about a month after that article was posted on my blog the largest magazine in the pool and spa industry called me with questions regarding the company and how I was able to find out so quickly the closing had happened.

A few months later, another major fiberglass pool manufacturer filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. The day the bankruptcy paperwork became public record, guess how many emails I got from folks across the country telling me, “Hey Marcus, have you seen this???” Once again, before anyone in the press or magazine arena had a chance to mention the bankruptcy, I’d written an article on the story. In many ways, this event acted as a tipping point of sorts for the blog. It was now viewed as the authoritative voice of the industry.

So much did it grow that every time big events occurred, people kept emailing me the news. It was kind of weird, because I never realized a blogger for a swimming pool company could be a reporter of sorts, but that’s exactly what I was. In fact, one day a person in the industry told me my blog had turned into the ‘Drudge Report of the Swimming Pool Industry’. And when I thought about it, I knew the guy was right.

Sometimes, Timing is Everything

Let’s look at one more example. Most of you are familiar with my Blog World New York article and all that happened with this ‘unique’ event. But never would that article have gone viral and received 400+ comments had it not been so very timely. The morning after Blog World had ended, before anyone had a chance to publish thoughts on the closing event, I was busy typing away…and I also knew timing was of the essence.

So when I published it around 10am that morning, it quickly became a lightning rod of discussion for bloggers all over the globe that wanted to discuss BWNY. In the days that followed that post, there were many other great articles written about BWNY, but none came close to experiencing the success of the one posted on here TSL. In this case, timing really was everything, and it also marked the beginning of a major growth spurt in community and traffic for this blog.

To close, I want to list a few keys to remember when using timing as a tool for blogging success.

1. It Sometimes Takes Guts: I’ve never been so nervous as I was when I published that BWNY article. When I looked at the final product, I knew it would receive tremendous praise and scrutiny. But I also knew that I’d always regret it if I didn’t share my voice in that moment.

2. Keep Your Eyes Open Always: Great bloggers and marketers are always looking for their next great piece of work. For example, look at Chris Brogan. As soon as Google + came out, he lead the charge in educating others about it. But even though Chris may be ultra popular, that doesn’t mean he can just write something that’s timely and become the authority, which is why he wrote multiple articles on the subject and shortly thereafter announced he’d be publishing a book (I’m guessing the first of its kind) on Google+ for business. That, my friends, is the power of content combined with timeliness.

3. Build Sources: Here’s what’s interesting about building sources in an industry: Write good stuff and  sources  (or ‘blogging Deep-Throats’ as I like to call them) will just appear out of nowhere. It’s kind of like building back links to your website. You can’t just go and hire some guy on Fiverr to get you 500 backlinks for $5 (can you say ‘trash’ anyone?). The only viable strategy is to earn it. The same is true for garnering sources. As the saying goes, ‘Write it, and they will come’….(or something like that ;-) )

4. Just Because Timing is Important, Don’t Publish Junk: If you’re in a rush to put an article out to the public simply because you ‘want to be the first’, but the article is written poorly or inaccurate in facts, you’re running a serious risk of actually losing respect and subscribers from your audience, or even worse, getting yourself in hot water.

So there you have it folks. Keep your eyes open. Be creative. Be timely. And write when the inspiration calls. By so doing, you may just hit a few blogging ‘home runs’ you never dreamed possible.


Your Turn:

Do you have an experience where timeliness lead to blogging success? Also, feel free to name other examples of bloggers who have done this effectively. As always, your opinions, thoughts, and questions matter—and I’d love to hear them below.

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