Sometime in 2013 I began designing uniform concepts for NFL teams, just for something fun to do on nights and weekends. I'd always had an interest in sports design, beginning with my (often full-time) hobby of making graphics for MVP Baseball 2005, a PC video game kept alive after-market by a message board collective of coders and enthusiasts who were able to hack the game's engine and release un-sanctioned updates for free on the internet.
I hadn't done work on that video game for several years and after seeing Nike's first crack at NFL uniforms one year earlier, I got the itch to start designing uniforms again. So I made a few, then a few more, and before I knew it I'd made either entirely new concepts or small tweaks for all 32 NFL teams. By early 2014 I had finished, but as the project grew in scope to be much larger than I first anticipated, I had to upgrade my Squarespace account before I could fit all the images on my website. Along with that upgrade, free of charge, came something I couldn't have cared less about at the time but would soon prove to be most invaluable -- unlimited bandwidth.
Late in the night on March 2nd, 2014, I received an email from BroBible.com asking for permission to use some images from my NFL re-design project in a story. Outside of my website I hadn't yet shared the full project, aside from a small feature in late 2013 on Uni-Watch.com when I was halfway through the project, so I wasn't sure exactly how they'd found it. Not thinking much of it, I replied back and then went to bed. If only I'd known BroBible.com is actually a relatively unknown, yet successful content aggregator with a very nice track record of giving viral stories their first big push, maybe I'd have been more prepared for what happened the next day.
On March 3rd I woke up to well over a hundred emails and a few odd voicemails. My project had been featured on a good number of the internet's biggest sports blogs, from SI's Fansided to Uni-Watch, but the biggest by far was Bleacher Report. Each site had linked directly to my own site, where tens of thousands of people were looking at not only my NFL re-design project, but my advertising work, and to my chagrin, my contact information including my phone number.
By the end of the day, I'd had over 90,000 visitors to my website in 24 hours. No big deal, only about 89,996 more than a normal day.
It was hard to keep track of where and when I'd been mentioned on websites, but it was damn near impossible to track on social media. My work was spreading on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, faster than I could track because it was all most often uncredited so I had no way to track any sort of metrics. By the end of the week, I had nearly 300,000 views on my website and what I could only assume were tens of thousands of shares on social media.
The effects of this were residual. To this day I still receive on average 2,500 visitors a month, 84% of which are coming directly to see my NFL re-design project. You'd think by now this project would be old news, yet it's still surprisingly generating a good amount of traffic. Good thing I've still got that unlimited bandwidth.