How I Reached 5,000 Followers
I crossed a huge milestone on Medium earlier today: 5,000 followers. Thank you all for helping me reach it!
I deeply appreciate each and every one of you who has ever taken a few minutes out of your day to read my writing. I sincerely hope that my posts have been helpful to some of you, especially the many things I’ve written about sobriety. And, if they haven’t been helpful, I hope they’ve at least been interesting or entertaining!
Lately, I’ve talked to many newer writers here who have struggled to grow their readership. So, as I reach 5,000 followers, I’d like to pay it forward a bit and share a few strategies that have helped me:
Write for Readers
A blog post should always been written with the readers in mind. This might sound obvious, but I’ve found it to be harder than you might expect. It’s especially tricky for someone like me who writes a lot of personal essays. It can be easy to cross the line into self-indulgent rambling.
A blog shouldn’t read like a personal diary, even if it’s about the writer’s life. Each time I write a post, I ask myself what a reader is going to get out of it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an actionable takeaway — just something that makes them feel like they’re glad they bothered to read the post.
Even when I’m writing about myself, I’m writing to my readers. I’m trying to inform, entertain, or advise — somehow connect with the person on the other end.
Write for New Readers
An extension of the previous tip is that your posts should be written so that they are accessible to new readers. You should never assume that readers have seen anything else you’ve written.
It’s confusing for new readers when you write as if they’ve followed everything you’ve posted over the past two years. They end up feeling lost and bailing out before they even finish the post.
Even among the people following me here, I know that very few actually read everything that I post. Many of them have probably only ever read one or two things by me. That’s just how it goes here — and on every other platform as well.
So, every time I post, I write as if the reader has never read anything by me before. I’ll admit, sometimes it gets old. I’ve written nearly identical descriptions of my old drinking habit about one hundred times at this point. However, I really think this is an important part of attracting new readers.
A more platform-specific tip is to use publications, especially when just starting out. I don’t think literally everything has to be in a publication, but if you see one which would be a good fit, you should definitely try submitting a post to it.
Having a post in a publication sometimes provides a huge boost in readers. More often, it’s a small one. What’s really important, though, is that any new readers from the publication are people who probably never would have seen anything you ever wrote otherwise. This makes publications great sources for new followers.
That’s also why I’ve tried to publish in a variety of publications. Although I definitely have a few favorites that I’ve gone back to again and again, I’m always on the lookout for new publications to reach entirely new groups of readers.
My final piece of advice about publications is to try creating your own. The vast majority of my posts go into a publication I created called Exploring Sobriety. I’ve also created a publication for chess, called Getting Into Chess. Creating your own publication is kind of fun, and it also gives new readers a second way to follow you.
Above all else, the way that I reached 5,000 followers was by posting often and sticking with it. I’ve been writing on Medium for about two-and-a-half years, and I’ve rarely gone more than a week without posting something.
I know that there are a few instant successes here, but I certainly wasn’t one of them. Most of us who do well here have simply stuck with it when everyone else gave up or moved on.
I’ve heard people say that it’s too late to start writing on Medium, and that everyone who’s just joining now has already missed the boat. People said the same thing when I joined too. It wasn’t true then, and I truly don’t think it’s true now either. It just takes time to find readers.
That’s it for my tips, and I hope that they help you. If you’re ever looking for more personalized suggestions, make sure to check out this post.
Thank you again to everyone who has read my posts! It really means the world to me!