Going Viral with Girl's Life "Magazine-Gate" 2016

This blog post is for anyone who wants to know a little more about what it was like for me to go viral. (Warning: I am a designer not a writer and I set this post up as an interview to make it easier for me to express my thoughts cohesively.)

A friend of mine Lauren, coined the words "Magazine-Gate" and I found it hilarious.

A friend of mine Lauren, coined the words "Magazine-Gate" and I found it hilarious.

The original viral post was made September 7, 2016 (2 weeks before I was mentioned on the Today Show and before the comparison of Girl's Life and Boy's Life was posted by Amy Schumer). It has received over 300,000 views on that blog post as of now. Most were before the Huffington Post and Mic.com picked it up. I have no way of knowing how many people have actually seen it because the image now 'lives' in other places I can't track.

When did you realize it was going viral?

On Saturday September 9, 2016, a girlfriend tagged me on social media on a post that wasn't attributed to me (they later added a link to my blog). It was the photo of the original cover next to my cover and it had more than 2000 shares. That is when I knew I had no control over what would happen.

This is for the marketing junkies. This is what audience engagement dreams are made of!

This is for the marketing junkies. This is what audience engagement dreams are made of!


Can you respond to the posts?

No, currently there are hundreds an hour on different social media platforms. But if you take the time to email me I will try to respond (have spent 30+ hours in the past two weeks doing this). I also wish I could send some love to all my friends who shared it. I can't 'like' them all but I see you and I appreciate you more than you know.

Have you experienced negative feedback?

A bit. I have tried to stay away from reading comments on any public posts. I also instantly delete hateful emails. It is scary to be threatened by someone you don't know. Logically I know they can't hurt me through the internet but it is still scary.

What is the most common email you get?

Hundreds of people want to start a magazine with me or do a passion project with me. I work full-time and have a full workload of side consulting and can't take on these labor intensive projects. I truly appreciate their passion and hope some empowering projects do start from this. 

What is the craziest experience that has happened so far?

Being mentioned on the Today Show. I had no idea it was going to happen. I actually was feeling relieved that the whole thing was ramping down. Then I wake up to texts saying my work was on America's #1 morning news program and my name was mentioned by Carson Daly in the same story as Amy Schumer. (I didn't even know she posted the image of Girl's Life next to Boy's Life the night before.) It was unreal. I walked around in a daze the entire day.

What did it feel like to go viral?

Honestly it was overwhelming. I was very stressed because they only thing I could control was the interviews. 99.99% of what happened was completely out of my control. I am also in the middle of moving and throughout this entire thing I haven't had/still don't even have Internet in my new apartment. (Thanks CenturyLink!). I have amazing friends all across the country who were there for me though this and were very supportive. If you ever go viral you need good people around you who will put up with your special kind of crazy.

What part of this experience are you most proud of?

The biggest dreams in my life are: #1. to be a Disney Imagineer,  #2. design for Aerosmith (I would love to do work for Janie's Fund), and #3. design for Make-A-Wish. At the core of those dreams, I want my work to make an impact in people's lives while representing something I have a passion for. This cover redesign actually DID THAT. I created an international conversation around something I believe in and MY WORK DID THAT. 

It is also thrilling (as a fan girl) to be mentioned in stories with Amy Schumer. I think she is hilarious, I have seen her stand up live, I really enjoyed her book, and I think she is a positive example for men and women with what she does with her media attention.

What are some misconceptions people have?

It is easy to look at my 'likes' and think that popularity will somehow result in huge financial gain or that my life will change overnight. My fifteen minutes of fame is almost up and I am grateful for all the opportunity it has brought me but I am not somehow famous now nor do I have celebrity money. Interviews don't pay you anything and as of today I have made no money off the post or any opportunity it has brought.

Also, I didn't somehow plan to go viral. People think I should have researched what I did more. But honestly it was done in 10 minutes. What I saw upset me and I did something about. It struck a chord and here we are today. It wasn't an activist's elaborate thesis-backed scheme to ignite a movement. I stand by my fix, because I saw that we could do better. 

Any humorous or ironic things happen because of the story?

Yes, I have had a few media outlets pull out of running the story and tell me things like "It wasn't a big enough story to run." Others have emailed me begrudgingly saying things like, "I guess it is a big story now so we should cover it."

The story is making a statement about being more aware of the messaging we put out. And they have just shown that they truly don't even care about the content of the story, only how many 'likes' they will get by running it. It speaks volumes.

What is next for you?

I am still working as a full-time Graphic Designer for The Friends of The Saint Paul Public Library and working part-time as a consultant. I will be partnering and volunteering my time with the Girl Scouts to help promote the National Stand Beside Her Movement and have accepted my first speaking engagement. I will always be an artist and will never stop creating.

Any advice for other creatives/artists?

I want you to share your work! Put it out there! The world needs your voice and your ideas. You never know what could come from a small side project. And don't give up. Keep doing what feels right to you even if no one is looking. Art can change the world and make an impact. YOUR creativity CAN change the world. 

As of right now I have over 880 photos on Instagram between my two accounts, my first blog post was 6 years ago and I now have over 150 blog posts, I have multiple Facebook pages, Tumblr, Twitter, Society6, 2 Etsy shops... and this ONE THING went viral. That means none of the rest did. My success rate is the worst batting average ever! And this could have not gone past my blog post. And I would/will keep producing work and sharing it with the world.

Also, get your sh*t looking professional. Do you think large news outlets would link back to my site if it looked poorly put together and was www.Katiekinsandstuff.porfoliopolooza.net? No. Pay for a real domain name and get a real site. Create content and be ready to put your best foot forward when opportunity comes along. They say "luck is when preparation meets opportunity" and I completely believe that. On September 7, 2016 no one thought about my blog or cared that I constantly kept it updated. They might even say it was a waste of time. On September 9, 2016 I was grateful for all the work I had put in.

Anything else you want to say?

If you have any questions please fill out the contact form on my website. I will get back to you.

A role model of mine, Debbie Millman, says on the Design Matters podcast, "We can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both." I am very grateful as a designer I was able to do both.