Medium Blogging Tips: 10 Lessons Learned Reaching 10,000+ Followers
I’m generally not the type of blogger that gets hung up on arbitrary milestones. So while I enjoy seeing my number of followers on Medium grow, it’s something I really only make note of for my own records, at the end of the month.
However, there is one milestone that I remember standing out to me when I first started blogging on Medium:
Medium accounts that had 10,000+ followers.
As Medium has grown as a platform, this milestone has become much more common then it was three years ago. Still, when I glanced at my Medium profile today and saw that I had indeed reached the 10,000 follower threshold, I was thrilled!
I remember how precious each follower was when I started writing on Medium. I even remember having so few followers and paying such close attention, that I would actually notice when my follower count dropped by a single follower!
While it isn’t feasible to track my followers to that degree of specificity now, I’ve tried to largely utilize the same strategies that got me my first 1,000 followers.
Here are 10 Medium blogs tips for increasing the number of followers you have.
Medium Blogging Tips (to Grow Your Following)
1. Write Consistently
There is no substitute for hard work and consistency. No hacks. No shortcuts. If you want to grow your Medium following, you need to write and publish on a daily basis.
This is underscored in an article I wrote, which examined the posting habits of top earning Medium writers.
While some authors do succeed with less frequent posting, these writers almost always have large audiences from outside of Medium, a lot of Medium followers, or are social media influences.
Because Medium functions as a hybrid social meda-blogging platform, there is a desire among users to stay up-to-date on the topics being discussed. Even if you don’t particularly like someone’s writing, most people follow a fairly diverse group of writers.
By publishing consistently, you are adding yourself to the list of “people I should follow” in a reader’s mind. You are also taking advantage of Medium’s large built in audience and algorithm. Medium’s algorithm is constantly showing readers new writers. If you post more frequently, you tend to get exposed to a much larger group of writers.
Obviously, if you are not posting decent quality content, posting frequently may work against you. But if you are offering value in each post, then generally speaking, a writer posting consistently will expand their Medium following faster than someone posting erratically a few times per month.
Writing Medium responses are a great way to boost your followers. And this makes a lot of sense. If someone actually takes the time to read your article thoroughly (not skimming) and actually writes a response, they are taking time out of their day (time they could potentially be writing themselves) to help start a conversation around your article.
Most writers take note of people who write insightful responses to stories. And while this method can be time intensive, it is one of the most certain ways of increasing your following on Medium.
This is even true among Medium users who only read articles (they never publish any of their own). However, because they take the time to write thoughtful comments, they can accumulate thousands of followers (demonstrating people will follow you on Medium from comments alone, not just out of the principle of reciprocity or because they want claps).
3. Complete Profile
It’s not that hard for someone to initially follow you on Medium. However, readers likely follow many people and change who they follow to adjust their content.
This is why it is essential to make sure you completely fill out your Medium profile with unique and up-to-date information so that readers can quickly identify you and remember why they followed you.
Although everyone likes to style their profile and bio differently, my general advice (unless you already have a huge and established following) is to clearly state some of the topics you write about and to mention any relevant job roles. If you are new to Medium, simply list some of the topics you are passionate about or plan to write about.
4. Personal Branding
When you are writing on Medium, whether you aim to or not, you are building a personal brand. Readers often need to read multiple pieces of content from the same author before they click the follow button.
However, there are so many competing voices screaming for a reader’s attention on Medium. How can you get someone to remember your profile? Consistent and creative branding.
Using consistent Medium formatting, image style, colors, or even graphics can create a sense of familiarity with readers and encourage them to read your content more thoroughly.
Some ideas for writer looking to stand out:
- Utilize Medium’s custom formatting options.
- Create custom featured images with a constant theme.
- Include custom features which are not directly enabled by Medium, but are not too difficult to create (i.e. custom horizontal line dividers).
- Fill out your profile description with as much detail as you can.
- Create your own Medium publication, which can lead to both personal followers and publication followers.
5. Establish a Niche
Medium writer success does not happen overnight. But it also doesn’t happen to writers who erratically jump from topic to topic.
To succeed on Medium, you need to establish a voice that readers become familiar with. This allows you to build a following on the platform that is actively engaged.
Focusing on a few key topics allows you some freedom, but also allows you to build your credentials as a top writer in one or more Medium topics (which are eligible for top writer status).
6. Top Writer Status
Achieving top writer status does not usually translate into clear gains on Medium. It certainly does not increase your earnings. But the one thing it does for many people is it increases their following.
That is why I always suggest that new Medium writers take the time to understand how top writer status is determined. Many users discuss it as if it were some unknowable and mysterious selection process. The truth is, it is actually pretty straightforward and well documented.
It is hard to quantify the precise impact of top writer badges on Medium because they change daily, and writers only have access to limited data analytics tools from Medium. However, in an experiment with one of my many Medium “test” profiles, I seemed to be averaging 30% more new followers per day when I had at least one top writer tag on my profile.
While I don’t advocate randomly following people on Medium as a strategy to grow followers, following a targeted group of writers can definitely help you increase your own Medium following.
A basic tenet of the psychology of relationships is called the Principle of Reciprocity. This principle defines the human need and tendency to want to give something back when something is received. This need is strongest when the gift is given without expectation of return.
But even at the lowly (but important) level of simple social graces, a “thank you” (in response to an act of kindness or compliment) is still followed by another reciprocal gesture of accommodation “you’re welcome.” Not only are we compelled to give something back when a gift is received we are also compelled not to feel indebted to others.
Some groups of people that may be worth following:
- Writers whose work your genuinely enjoy — This strategy is a must. If you really enjoyed an article someone wrote, follow them. If that post ends up being an aberration and you don’t like any of their subsequent posts, you can always unfollow them. But this gesture goes a long way toward building relationships with other writers.
- Writers with a smaller following, who, like you, are clearly trying to succeed on Medium — This strategy probably takes the most effort but is definitely the most effective. By following other small but emerging authors, you will definitely increase your followers. You should still focus on writers whose work you actually read and enjoy but these writers are far more likely to follow you back, because they understand the struggle to be heard and are more likely to empathize with you.
- Writers who have a massive following/are considered thought leaders — Many people mindlessly follow writers who already have tons of followers, even if they don’t enjoy their writing. They do this for 2 reasons:
First, they want to seem like they are “in the know” and they have carefully selected only “the best” writers to follow. The flaw with this line of thinking is that very few people, if anybody care who you specifically follow. This is purely your ego.
Second, they are hoping that by following top writers, they will get more followers because other readers/writers will employ the same logic, and will blindly follow some percentage of the superstar writer’s followers. This method technically does work but it has an extremely low ROI. Since superstar writers have massive followings, you do get exposure by appearing on their list of followers. However, Medium limits the number of profiles you can follow per day, making this option far less scaleable.
8. Get Curated
While there is a constant debate among Medium writers about the exact extent to which curation matters, there is no question that curation does matter for most writers.
Curation on Medium means that your story has been distributed through one or more topics on the platform.
Curators have a lot of say in selecting “the best writing” on Medium. Curators are the gate keepers of Medium’s coveted homepage, topic pages/top writer lists, the Daily Digest newsletter, and other emails that millions receive.
Curated content also appears to fair better over longer periods of time as readers are sent old (but good) curated articles periodically.
Only select topics are eligible for Medium curation.
Medium also have a number of rules and guidelines which establish what content is eligible for curation.
While this may seem daunting at first, most curation guidelines are pretty easy to remember. And even if you do have trouble with one required element of curation, chances are there is already an article covering that.
For example, Medium cares about how you format your article titles. Standard headline styling, preferred by Medium, is title case for the headline and sentence case for the subtitle. This isn’t a firm requirement, but it can be a deciding factor for editors looking for articles to curate.
I wrote an article expanding on this point, and I even created a free tool that will format your titles automatically:
Medium Title Capitalization Tool
Bottom line — learn what is expected of writers, format your articles appropriately, get curated, and you will see an increase in followers, since curated articles tend to be disseminated far wider than a non-curated article.
9. Create Publications That Cater to Your Content
For writers that want to control the circulation of their own content, creating a Medium publication can be a great option. I’m a big believer in the idea that you should never let others stop you from pursuing your goals. So I started several Medium publications to better showcase my articles.
While this doesn’t magically grant you followers, it does allow you to pick and choose which stories you would like to feature in your publication. Even if your article is selected for a major publication, it will most likely be pushed off the publications “featured article” section, fairly quickly.
Publications definitely lend a sense of legitimacy to writers. At a minimum, it shows that you are committed to writing on Medium for an extended period of time, which can be the incentive that readers need to follow your profile.
10. Limit Extraneous CTAs
In general, when you blog on a third party digital publishing platform (like Medium), you have to make various tradeoffs as a writer. For example, you need to limit lengthy CTAs (Call to Actions) at the end of your article to get curated. I typically don’t follow this advice, and make a point of always including a CTA that links to my other products, sites, articles, etc. This is my advice in almost all situations, with one notable exception–if you are purely trying to grow your Medium followers.
The reason is twofold. First, as noted above, extraneous CTAs lower the odds of curation and being featured across the Medium platform. Lower platform exposure means less new followers. The second reason is because CTAs drive traffic away from your Medium profile (which is why Medium doesn’t like them). But if someone is interested in following you, and they click on your CTA, you risk that they will only follow you on external sites or profiles.
For someone who is looking to scale up their Medium followers as fast as possible, keep things simple. Don’t suggest that people follow you on other social media platforms or sign up for your email list.
When someone is reading your articles, the only platform you can be sure they use or have an account with, is Medium. So promoting your twitter account, your newsletter, or even your personal site, serves as a distraction. Even if people do click on your CTA, they may not realize that they are not following you on Medium.
Again, this goes against my general strategy of blogging which emphasizes audience ownership and email list portability, but if you wanted to increase your Medium following in particular, limiting extraneous CTAs would be worth considering, at least for some period of time.
Building a following on Medium takes time, persistence, and long-term strategy. While these 10 techniques described above worked for me, Medium continues to evolve as a platform, and some of these will probably be less relevant over time. Still, these 10 principles have guided me in reaching 10,000 followers over the past three years.
I think there are some hacks like clapping for random articles, targeted commenting, and private clap groups that probably work in terms of driving up what is technically your follower account. But the strategies above have built an audience that is far more engaged than most writers at the same level.
I suspect this is partly because most writers with large followings (1) use spammy techniques which attract bots and non-member accounts and (2) writers with 10,000+ followers may have generated a disproportionate amount of those followers from a few viral articles that were promoted by Medium. As a result, many of those follower accounts may be legitimate, but a large percent are probably inactive users (Medium presumably has a decent churn rate given its size and shifting business model).
So while it is exciting to hit certain follower milestones, don’t get too caught up in watching your stats. I know that’s easier said than done, but focusing on producing high value content (to readers, not necessarily what you would find high value) is a strategy that increases both the total number of followers, as well as the value of each follower.