The Nitty-Gritty

  • How Jennifer Johansson started promoting her art on Pinterest
  • What happened when one of her pins was repinned over 50,000 times — and why it created a spike in traffic but not in sales
  • How she regrouped and made a decision to create a online course inspired by her viral pin
  • The process Jennifer used to create her online course and how her course has impacted her art business as a whole

Going viral doesn’t always go the way we planned.

My dear friend Brigitte Lyons is a media strategist and PR specialist. But back in 2013, she wrote a blog post about… an unrelated topic.

This was back before blogging always had to be strategic content marketing. And so, when Brigitte had something to get off her chest, she wrote it down and published it.

This blog post started to make the rounds. It even ended up on Reddit and drove crazy amounts of traffic to her website.

For more than 2 years, Brigitte’s website traffic was dominated by people coming to read this off-topic blog post.

In Google Analytics, this looked good. But for Brigitte’s business? Well, it really had no bearing whatsoever.

Brigitte might have seen this spike in traffic as an opportunity to go rogue and develop a whole new line of business. After all, the numbers don’t like, right? Thousands of people were clamoring to read this post.

But not every viral sensation is a business opportunity waiting to happen.

Luckily, Brigitte stayed the course and has an incredibly successful PR firm today.

Of course, sometimes traffic tells a different story. Sometimes an unexpected viral hit can turn into an unexpected product strategy.

This month, we’re exploring the ways we engage with numbers as small business owners. Often, when we get clear about the numbers, our next steps are much easier to figure out.

Traffic can be a tricky number to parse…

…but when paired with other information and matched with curiosity, we can make better decisions and follow the best opportunities.

My guest today is Jennifer Johansson, a mixed media artist, living and working in Carbondale, Illinois. Jennifer studied art and education in college, going on to teach high school art and art history for 15 years. About 9 years ago, she was able scale back her teaching to focus more on her art.

In an effort to spool up her art business, Jen started sharing her work on Pinterest. And one day, she noticed a particular pin was sending an outsize amount of traffic to her website. Not only that, it was generating comments and emails from interested people.

But they weren’t so much interested in buying her artwork as they were in learning how to create the art they saw on Pinterest.

Jennifer spotted the opportunity — which was distinctly different than Brigitte’s! — and started to take action.

In this conversation, Jennifer and I talk about the pin that went viral, the decision to build an online course about her unique style of art, and the nitty-gritty of how she created the course. We also chat about how her business has evolved as a result of pursuing this line of business.

Have you changed course in your business because you got real with the numbers?

Have you discovered a new opportunity right under your nose when you examined your traffic, profit margin, or conversion rate? We want to hear about it!

Share your story on Instagram and tag me, @tara_mcmullin and use the hashtag #explorewhatworks.