I woke up one morning and checked the stats on my blog, The Widow Wears Pink, before my eyes had fully opened. I did this every morning. I loved to see how many people were reading my posts.
I wasn’t expecting much traffic on the essay I had posted the previous night. Weeks before, I had sent it to someone who had been editing my articles but she didn’t think it was worth submitting to any online magazines. Her feeling was that it would not be accepted anywhere. She believed it didn’t “say anything.” Her opinion was confirmed when I submitted it to a popular online magazine anyway and it was rejected.
I thought it was a cute essay, and I did have my own blog after all. I could post anything I wanted on it, so that’s what I did. The prior evening I posted “If I Had Written a Blog as a Teen in the 80s”, and shared it on Facebook. As an afterthought, I went back and added a photo of my friends and me from our high school days.
Before I went to bed, I noticed that it was getting many likes and a few more shares on Facebook than my posts usually get, but I didn’t think much of it. Which is why when I looked at my stats in the morning and saw that this particular post had over 10,000 views, I was sure that my eyes were deceiving me.
I woke up, brushed my teeth, and put on my handy-dandy readers before I took a look at it again. I refreshed my screen and the updated stats appeared. In the seven minutes since I had last checked, there appeared to be almost another 1,000 views. The number had risen to almost 11,000.
What was going on? Was there something wrong with my site? I had never received views like this before. It must be some mistake.
I opened up my Facebook and there it was – hundreds of likes, comments and shares on my little 80s post. I began to read the comments. People were thanking me for the memories, sharing their own 80s memories, and tagging groups of high school friends at a time. The nostalgia had sparked something in those who read it.
I reached out to my contact at Today Parents, who had previously shared some of my posts. I attached the essay and the link to my Facebook so she was able to see the reaction. She posted it on Today Parents immediately. The next day it was shared on Kathie Lee and Hoda, and two days later, on Today.com!
It was going viral. I could not believe it – I had only been writing for six months, and this post had been rejected from a well-known site. I was completely shocked.
Women were writing to me swearing that their friends were in the picture or, better yet, that they themselves were (they were not). People I barely knew came up to me in the nail salon and grocery store thanking me for the memories. One girl I met in my yoga class told me that I was “a little famous.” Girls who thought they were cooler than me in high school were reposting it as if we were besties. My little blog, The Widow Wears Pink, literally crashed from all the traffic.
This was it – my big break! Surely, huge things were about to happen. People all over the country were reading my post. Talk shows would be calling, especially Kathy Lee and Hoda, after all, it was on their site. I was sure Kelly Ripa would want me; she talks about the 80s often, I have seen that picture of her red taffeta prom dress a few times. Good Morning America, The View, Rachel Ray…too bad Oprah no longer had a show.
I began wandering through clothing stores picturing which dress I would buy for each show. I imagined all the money I would make (how I was making this money I did not know, but surely you make a fortune after your post goes viral, right?).
For me, when my post went viral, it went viral. It was fun and exciting, but that’s pretty much it. I am sure there are those who do end up on talk shows, and even somehow make money from a viral post. I was not one of them. I must admit that I was just a tiny bit disappointed.
There was one great thing that came from this post. An editor of a popular online magazine saw it and shared it on her site. This was the beginning of a relationship between Mimi Golub and myself, which turned into a partnership and the creation of our own site, Living the Second Act.
Although I am not rich and famous, there are other good things that came out of that viral post for me. It was my 15 minutes of being just “a little famous,” and that was really cool for a 50 year-old widowed mom. It helped solidify my relationship with Today Parents/Today.com and that is such a great relationship to have. It also gave me the confidence in knowing that I am a pretty good writer, and that I should not always take no for an answer. When I believe in something I’ve written, I put it out there.
It was a bit of a success story for me, and I am sure that the popular website who rejected “If I Had Written a Blog as a Teen in the 80s” was kicking themselves for a short time.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.