In 2013, I experienced a writer’s dream come true. My blog post, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, went viral. And not just a little viral, it went mega-viral.
It was read by millions of people in a matter of days. And then Forbes.com picked it up and it reached more than 10 million more readers.
Within a week, national radio shows were about talking my article. Major publications were asking to reprint it. News channels were calling to interview me.
And if that weren’t enough, in the midst of the viral superstorm, a literary agent called and suggested I turn my article into a book.
Up until that point, writing was only my part-time job. My main career was as a psychotherapist and college psychology instructor. So I knew this was my opportunity to change that.
But, almost no one knew why I had written that blog post. When people would ask me, I’d say, “I’m a therapist and I’ve learned what helps people become mentally strong through my practice.” But that was only half the story.
The rest of the story was that I’d written that article as a letter to myself during one of the lowest points of my life. When I was 23, my mother had died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Then, on the three-year anniversary of her death, my 26-year-old husband died of a heart attack.
Dealing with those back-to-back losses was incredibly painful. But I knew that time heals nothing. It was what I did with that time that mattered.
So I worked really hard on allowing myself to grieve. It was a slow and painful process and for quite a while, my life was flipped upside down. But eventually, I found my way by putting one foot in front of the other.
A few years later, my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And I was overwhelmed at the thought of losing yet another loved one.
After a few days of hosting my own pity party, I thought to myself, ‘mentally strong people don’t feel sorry for themselves.’ And I reminded myself that indulging in self-pity wasn’t helpful.
So I sat down and I wrote a list of all the things mentally strong people don’t do. When I was done, I had 13 things that I’d need to avoid if I wanted to stay mentally strong while I faced yet another loss.
They were things I’d learned through my previous journey with grief. And they were also the things I’d seen first-hand in my therapy office. They were the bad habits that would rob me of mental strength if I let them.
I decided to publish my list online. I thought perhaps if it helped me, maybe someone else would find it helpful too.
I never imagined that my post would go viral. I’d written plenty of other articles and none of them had ever struck such a chord.
But while I was on one hand celebrating my article’s success, I was also privately dealing with my grief. Just four days before I appeared on Fox News to talk about mental strength, my father-in-law passed away.
The Book that Told My Story
I spoke to the literary agent who had contacted me and I decided to put together a nonfiction book proposal.
I knew nothing about publishing and had no idea what to expect. But within a week of submitting it to my agent, we received multiple offers from big publishing houses. It was a surreal experience.
I got a deal with HarperCollins and I spent the next few months writing my book. I was still working as a therapist, but I had three days per week I could devote solely to writing my book. To meet my deadline, I had to write one chapter per week. I spent one day researching, the next day writing, and the third day editing.
Then, just 13 months after my article went viral, my book, also called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, hit the shelves. Incredibly, it’s hit several major bestseller lists, including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. I’ve also gotten publishing deals in more than 20 other languages.
The biggest questions I received from readers was, “How do I teach my kids how to be mentally strong?” So in January, my agent and I approached my publisher to pitch a parenting book. And fortunately, they were on board. So my next book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, will hit the shelves in the Fall of 2017.
Turning a Viral Article Into a Viable Business
The challenge I faced in going viral was finding a way to turn it into an ongoing business. Clearly, people were interested in the concept of mental strength, but I needed to find a way to provide them with more information in a helpful way.
In addition to the income I received from writing my books, I found several other ways to capitalize on the viral nature of that blog post:
I do speaking engagements. I’ve spoken at events ranging from TEDx and book clubs, to corporate events and global conferences. Sometimes I appear in-person but at other times, companies hire me to provide webinars on mental strength.
Further Reading: How to Become a Professional Speaker when You Have No Leads or Experience
I created a mental strength eCourse. I receive frequent requests from people looking for individual coaching. But, it was impossible to scale my business by providing one-on-one services. So I created an online course that provides me with passive income while also giving people an affordable alternative to individual coaching.
Further Reading: Tips for Creating Your First eCourse
I write for magazines and other websites. In the past, I’ve accepted some pretty low paying writing jobs, simply because I needed the money. Now, I can negotiate much higher fees. I write for several major publications and magazine editors often approach me with requests for an article.
Further Reading: 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pitches and Get More Freelance Writing Work
I consult with business leaders and executives. I provide consultation to major businesses who are interested in knowing how to create a mentally strong culture or who want to know how to become a stronger leader.
Further Reading: Got a Consulting Gig from Your Blog? Don’t Make this Big Mistake
I continue to grow my platform. Growing my platform has been an ongoing process. Social media has been a big part of that, but I also continue to do interviews with the media as often as possible. And sometimes, that means reaching out to influencers and pitching my ideas.
Further Reading: How to Develop the Right Plan to Grow Your Blog’s Readership
One Piece of Content Could Change Your Life
Quite often, my monthly income is higher than what my annual salary used to be. But, even better than the money, is the freedom that I have to do what I love in a way that I want
I never imagined that one blog post could make such a difference, but one blog post could skyrocket your career. It’s important to be ready to capitalize on that opportunity if it happens to you. Here are few tips on how you can be ready:
- Make sure your website is ready to go at all times. If you get a viral hit, you’ll want to make sure you capitalize on it by getting newsletter sign-ups and social media followers.
- Have a professional headshot handy. If you attract attention from the media, they’ll want a picture of you.
- Update your bio often. Have a short bio and a longer bio available so people know who you are. Media outlets want to know who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
- Go for quality, not quantity. It can be tempting sometimes to send as much information out into the world as possible in hopes something will resonate. But, only high-quality will get shared. Sloppy editing and poor quality images won’t attract the right kind of attention.
It’s hard to create content that attracts attention in today’s fast-paced world. But, it’s even more difficult to sustain people’s attention and keep them coming back for more. With a clear plan, and a lot of hustle, however, you can capitalize on viral content and turn it into a viable business.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.