How to Deal with Unexpected Blogging Success

Three weeks ago, something odd started happening on my blog. My hits skyrocketed for no particular reason. Usually I average around 150 hits a day; I was tripling that. Thanks to WordPress, I could see what was drawing people to my blog.

It was a photo of Salma Hayek.

Right now if you search on Google Images for “Salma Hayek,” a thumbnail linking to my site will appear as the seventh result (note: it’s a work-friendly photo). It’s been listed that high for a while now. Why that photo? I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s bringing a lot of potential readers to my blog.

This happens to bloggers now and then–you write about something at the right time, and traffic skyrockets. More often than not, hits go back down rather quickly (perhaps when Salma Hayek stops appearing on 30 Rock). So how do you retain those readers? How do you deal with your unexpected–and unintended–success?

I think the bottom line is to continue to churn out interesting, entertaining, and insightful content. But that doesn’t help us. All bloggers think that our content is fantastic. What else can you do–specifically–to turn those one-time searchers into everyday readers of your blog?

  1. Reposition your content to match the audience. If I’m getting 300 hits a day from Salma Hayek admirers and 50 hits a day from other readers, maybe I should be writing about Salma Hayek every day instead of iguanas. My struggle with this is that I don’t want to write about Salma Hayek–or celebrities–on a consistent basis. Sure, that kind of content attracts tons of readers, I simply don’t care that much about famous people. People who obsess over famous people aren’t doing anything to become famous themselves.
  2. Isolate the attraction and profit from it. In this case, the attraction isn’t my writing (or my friend’s writing, as the post in question contained a debate between two friends regarding the sexiness of Mrs. Hayek and Penelope Cruz), it’s the photo. I could alter the photo–perhaps put a big “JAMEYSTEGMAIER.COM” banner over her cleavage, but that would ruin the search results. Plus, you can clearly see my URL when you see the results on Google Images. What else is there to do?
  3. Something brilliant that I haven’t thought of yet. Honestly, I’m a little stumped on how to convert these searchers into readers. I’d love your thoughts. Has anyone experienced unexpected blogging success and turned it into a permanent increase in hits?