Project VN Experiment aka Viral Nova Clone

project-vnOscar Wilde was a man of many hats…and so am I!

So far, I have concentrated on creating niche sites, which to be honest, I have found success. Now, it’s time to get started with a new challenge.

It’s time for another online business experiment.

The candidate: Viral Nova!

Cringes :-/

Introducing the Viral Nova Clone Experiment

What’s Viral Nova?

I don’t feel I should have the above subheading in this article because I assume everyone has heard of Viral Nova.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, simply head on to ViralNova.com

In a nutshell, VN is a video and images content curation website that uses click-bait headlines to generate traffic from social media, mostly Facebook.

Click-bait headlines are simply those shocking-type or funny-type of headlines that make you want to click a link and read an article or view videos/images to see what is going on.

You may have come across headlines like this:

  • OMG, I Can’t Believe What this 7-Year Old Did to This Bully.
  • No One Paid Attention to the Man…That’s Until He Started Playing The Violin
  • 33 Cute Baby Faces that Will Make Your Heart Melt

Okay, hope you got the idea.

What the site does is simply find shocking, beautiful, or other interesting content from various sources online, repurposes them, creates and exciting or shocking titles and then simply posts the content on the site.

The result? Hundreds to thousands of shares on social media sites that leads to millions of unique visitors per month.

VN has seen major success throughout 2013 and 2014, both in terms of traffic and revenues. I would have started this experiment earlier when Glen from Viperchill brought attention to the site in his post here.

But the lazy me was not ready to get started. Glen followed up in another post on VN on how some of his readers had found success in the model. I still remained passive; no action taken.

And now, with the third post on VN and related sites, I dusted myself up and said, “What the heck”, time for a new challenge. So, here I am with my introduction post to my viral content style website.

Potential Opportunities

1. Proven models to follow

There is no need to re-invent the wheel. The circular ones are doing a perfect job.

This philosophy is what I intend to follow with my viral content site. I will simply take notes from VN, and a host of other successful knock-off or copy cats, and implement what they have.

Note: I will not be copying their content exactly. Rather, I will be looking at them for inspiration. For example, if I find certain content was shared a lot, I may post it on my site. If I like the design of a particular site, I may implement it on my site with some customization.

2. Low entry barrier

One of the biggest challenges of online businesses is creating online content. I first-hand know this as you can see I do not post every other day on my blog.

Why? Content creation takes time. It is tasking and just tiring.

The good thing with this experimental website I’m creating is that it is following a content curation model. Basically, curation means getting content from other sources, adding your unique perspective or value to it and then distributing it to your audience.

Of course, you have to credit the original source for the content.

Potential Challenges

1. Facebook Traffic

VN and other similar sites rely on most of their traffic from Facebook. However, Facebook recently tweaked its algorithm to reduce the number of fans that can see a brand’s content on their timeline.

This means the early successes that VN has in driving traffic to its site from Facebook may not apply to me. Today, if you want to increase your page’s visibility, you need to pay more.

At this time, I do not have any budget in mind. In fact, I haven’t set aside any cash for ads. Will I be able to break into the biz without paid ads? We’ll see.

2. Branding

There are lots of VN knockoffs at the time of writing. (Thanks Glen for broadcasting the gold rush on megaphone). How will I differentiate my site not to be regarded as just another VN knock-off?

What about the niche? Should I approach the website on a niche version or go broad? These are some of the questions I will ask and have to decide in the next few days.

3. Monetization

Google AdSense is my preferred method of monetization for the site. However, since most of the content posted on the site will not be my original content, I may get into potential problems with Google AdSense.

However, I have other options to go for. Some of the possible monetization methods I may consider include CPA (cost per acquisition), selling ad space, and sponsored content.

Recommended Reads for Project VN Experiment

Before signing off today, I would like to share a number of articles that I have found extremely helpful in understanding this business model and getting ideas on what I can do on my own site.

Here are the lists I have read, (and which I recommend you read in case you want to start a similar site).

Time Sensitive: How To Reach 100,000,000 Visitors in Six Months

$100,000 in One Week, A Viral Nova Follow Up

Are You Clicking These Headlines That Make Regular People Internet Millionaires? (Check Success Story #1)

For the above three articles, make sure you go through the comments. There are some real gems in them.

Upworthy: How to Create a Fast-Growing Media Company

Scot DeLong’s Success Formula for Viral Nova

Exclusive Interview With Scott DeLong – The Mysterious Genius Behind ViralNova.com

 The Facebook Traffic Problem

Now, in case you missed it, Facebook simply just made it a lot harder for content sites like VN and the like to get traffic from its social network. This came out on 25th August, and you can read the post on Facebook Blog.

But like everything that is algorithmically controlled, there are always ways to get around this clamping. For example, I believe increasing engagement with fans on Facebook will make them visit the website.

For the most part, I will be studying what ViralNova.com, Upworthy.com and Distractify.com are doing to their sites, and then get the gems from them. It’s all about experimenting.

On whether the Facebook algo tweak will have an impact on my experiment. Definately.

On whether the algo can be side-stepped, probably.

I looked at the traffic data of the three sites I am monitoring, and since the algo was rolled out, it seems VN and Distractify have seen increased traffic. Upworthy’s traffic has tanked a little bit. Still, perhaps it’s too early to see the impact of the algo.

viralnova-traffic-sept-2014 Viral Nova traffic…saw a jump from August (when the algo was implemented)

 

distractify-traffic-sept-2014Distractify also saw an increase in traffic from August.

 

upworthy-traffic-sept-2014Upworthy’s traffic tanked a little bit.

 

Another route I will be pursing would be to focus on SEO and other methods of generating traffic rather than relying solely on Facebook traffic.

This is just the scratch of the surface of some possible ends to get around Facebook clamping.

What Have I Done Already?

Now, let’s see how far I have done with the VN-knock off. Mark you, I started the site in August but I’m posting this article a little bit late. But providing the dates here will give you perspective on how things are going.

Okay, here are the timelines:

9th August- Bought Domain Name

15th August- Set up website (hosting, theme, plugins)

16th August- Set up my social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram)

17th August- Published first article

That’s the update I have today.

Stay tuned for my next post.

Would you be interested to see how things turn out with Project VN? Let me know in the comment section below.

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About Don Modekali

Don Modekali is busy with a number of income experiments.

Comments

  1. Hi Don,

    Nice article. How did the experiment go? I am running similar one with trendmuch.com.
    Let me know your thoughts.

    • Don Modekali says:

      Hey Vikrant,

      Thanks for stopping by. The design looks awesome. But you haven’t been posting a lot for a while. Keep posting and sharing the articles. Consistency is key to generating traffic to the site.

      Best wishes.

      • Hey Don,

        Thanks for your feedback. I was looking for good writer, found one. I will be posting new articles soon.

        I have hired a social media and SEO agency along with the writer. Any-other recommendations to get this to the next level?

        Have planned some long term goals, if everything goes as planned it should be in alexa 5000 in next 6 months.

        Let me know your thoughts.


        Vikrant

        • Don Modekali says:

          Spend more time of promotion than on creating content. Promotion is everything. Also, don’t forget on-page SEO. You can get some long term natural traffic, especially from long tail keywords, if you’ve used them in your article.

          • Thanks, I will work on it. Already started work on it through social media. Going to start work with SEO.

            Any other suggestion from your side? What competitorrs should I follow to get better idea?

          • Don Modekali says:

            VN is the obvious competitor and the usual suspects like Buzzfeed. I’m writing a post on the top viral websites that people can follow for inspiration and competition.

          • Thanks, Yes, definitely considering VN and buzzfeed, also has boredpanda and ditractify on the list.

            Will you be interested to inlclude TrendMuch as upcoming website?

          • Don Modekali says:

            Sure, I’ll include it Vikrant.

          • Thank you so much. Feel free to make suggestions if required.

          • Did you write a article on viral websites yet? I have made some updates to website, can you check out and let me know your thoughts?

          • Don Modekali says:

            Hey Vikrant,

            I love the new changes. I also see you are posting content more often. This is great. I will include your site in the list of viral sites I’ll be posting. Thanks for the update!

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