How I Reached the Milestone of 1,000 Medium Followers
Many top writers on Medium probably pass the 1,000-followers milestone within months. For me, it’s taken a year. So let’s start with what I don’t do:
- I don’t post multiple times a day or even once a day.
- I don’t publish my own publication.
- I don’t publish a newsletter.
While I know many highly recommend doing the above — and much more — to grow your following, I know my limits. I have a full-time job and a family and home that require my attention, plus I like to read books and write things that aren’t blog or social media posts, including novels.
Medium Magic — or Myth?
Simply searching for “Medium followers” on Medium reveals numerous stories focused on building your following to the many thousands much less than a meager thousand. But does your number of followers really matter? Many insist it does. In “On the New Medium, You Are a Publication” Thomas Smith states that Medium’s current model “emphasizes developing a following, and Medium has said that followers will matter a lot more going forward.”
Reading Is Fundamental
One of the most important things I did when I started writing on Medium was follow a variety of publications and those publications’ editors and contributors. While I don’t know how many of those editors and contributors followed me back, I do know that reading their content helped me learn what Medium readers look for.
I also read articles on how to succeed on Medium, which any beginning Medium writer knows are everywhere. While many repeat the same advice, one stood out to me and was especially helpful with regard to growing my following. In “The Most Overlooked Marketing Tool on Medium,” Toni Koraza makes a strong argument for growing one’s community in order to grow one’s following.
As I note in “Why I Write on Medium,” growing my community online is the primary reason I’m online at all. So when Koraza noted that “writing Medium responses can draw thousands of views to your page” and added that he shoots to write “at least one thoughtful comment each day,” a lightbulb went off in my brain. “Every time I read an engaging article,” Koraza also said, “I’ll take another minute to comment or expand the discussion.”
Up until then, I’d avoided commenting on others’ Medium posts because my comments showed up in my list of stories. The first time I commented on another story and saw that comment in my stories, I thought I’d made a rookie mistake and wasn’t sure how to fix it. Thanks to Toni Karaza’s post, I realized having my comments show up as stories was a good thing.
So I not only comment on stories that interest me, I make sure those comments are published as stories with appropriate tags. When I comment on Medium through the app, I manually add my own tags. When I comment on the site, the tags the writer of the story used automatically populate. Usually I’ll keep those tags intact, but sometimes I’ll change one or two to reflect my top categories, such as writing or reading.
Follow You, Follow Me
One other thing I do after I’ve read a compelling story is follow others who’ve commented on that post. While I don’t follow anyone who has written a negative comment, I do usually follow those who’ve posted any kind of positive or insightful comment. This has provided a great way for me to follow a diverse collection of writers. Recently I followed commenters on three very different posts covering three very different topics:
- “Can Artificial Intelligence Write Better than You?” by Evamarie Augustine
- “A Coronavirus Christmas” by Rhys McIntyre
- “How Pretending It’s the 1990s Is Actually Good for You” by Annie Wood
While Augustine’s post is techy, McIntyre’s is heartwarming, and Wood’s is very funny — and their unique commenters reflect that diversity. Since I’d found all three articles insightful and compelling, I commented on them and then followed others who’d posted comments, adding to the variety of the writers whose work I’ll read down the line. And some of those writers have followed me back, a win-win in my book.
Another key is to interact with other Medium writers off Medium. Articles such as “The Best Medium Facebook Groups” by Christopher OLDCORN led me to the Medium Writers and Bloggers Facebook group. I’ve come across a number of impressive writers through this group — and actually discovered all three of the stories noted above through comments on one of my recent MWB posts.
MWB members regularly post links to their latest or favorite stories — and invite others to share their own links. While it can take time to follow all the links others share in their comments to my posts, I never fail to discover a new writer whose work I enjoy reading. And when I follow other writers in the group, they follow me — and often read, clap for, and comment on my stories. Another win-win.
Sharing the Love
Yet another way I’ve grown my following on Medium is to not only clap for and comment on stories that impress me but mention stories and their authors in my own posts. Examples of stories with such links include “Why I Spent NaNoWriMo Reading and Sharing Rather than Writing,” which mentions a story by author and power reader Nicole Bryan, and “Thoughts on Santa from Across Medium,” which features stories by comedian Ginny Hogan, poet Julia Kantic, astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, and dad Erik Flowers.
How many followers exactly have I gained through such strategies? Who knows? If I’d wrapped up my first year on Medium with only a handful of new followers, I’d be happy. When you write to share what you’ve discovered as a life-long learner who also happens to love to write, the whole experience is a win-win. But if you’re eager to grow your following on Medium, some of the strategies described above just might help.
Eager to improve your writing? Check out my ebook, Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing: Tips, Tricks, and Insights for Writers of All Types (Vol. 1).