40 Tips To Get Your First 4,000+ Followers on Medium
There’s never been a better time to share your gifts with the world using Medium.
But if you’re just starting out in your writing journey, it’s easy to get intimidated by the platform.
You might be thinking:
- No one will even read my stuff.
- Is it even worth it to write on Medium?
- I don’t have enough topics to write about.
- Can you make money writing on Medium?
And a few other doubts or fears I’m sure. But if you have even a one percent desire to start on Medium, do it. Medium is one of the best ways to build your brand, start/grow your email list, and impact readers worldwide.
In 2020 I went from 600 → 4,600 followers and only published around 40 stories.
While I don’t write full-time like others, it’s been a great side hustle to freelance writing and my coaching business. I’m making it a huge priority in 2021 and want to give you some inspiration as I near in on 5,000 followers.
If I can do it, so can you!
Here are 40 tips to help you get started on Medium.
- Vulnerability is a superpower. I think my following has grown rather quickly without writing consistently because I openly share my life — the good and the bad. People can get unlimited pieces of “How to” content but I’ve found that it’s your stories and vulnerability that helps you build a following. Share content that is helpful, but remember vulnerability is a superpower — even if it’s uncomfortable. The more readers can relate to you, the more likely they’ll keep reading your stories and join your community.
- Share your expertise. I don’t write about content that I personally haven’t experienced at a very deep level. Remember, you are 100% unique and have your own experiences that no one else does. Make sure to share what makes you special so that readers can connect and learn from you. Copying other writers is a losing formula, instead, look at how your past has shaped you and share those lessons with the world.
- Study other writers. As Tony Robbins said, “Success always leaves clues.” If you want to become a successful writer on Medium, study other writers like Sinem Günel, Tom Kuegler and others. Obviously, don’t copy their ideas but study their writing so you can speed up success. I block out time each month to learn from people who are crushing it on Medium by reading articles, buying courses, and hiring coaches.
- Publish semi-consistently. I admire those writers who crank out 20–30+ pieces per month on Medium. With my coaching business and freelance writing clients, I don’t have enough time for that (yet). But guess what, you don’t need to unless you’re trying to make Medium your full-time gig. Even 5–10 pieces per month can help you build your following and start earning money. I didn’t publish a new piece of content from August to December and still made money each month from past posts!
- Use tags correctly. Always have five tags so you get more eyes on your story. From what I’ve studied, it’s best to use four “big” tags and one unique, smaller tag that relates specifically to your topic.
- Publish in publications 90% of the time. Almost all of my stories go into publications as there is already a built-in audience. If you try to post everything only to your profile, it’s going to be tough to grow your followers and easy to feel defeated.
- Hire an editor. After finding some success in January and February last year, I decided to hire an editor to help me crank out more stories. I can say this was one of the best investments in my business. I’ll be honest, I hate editing. If you feel the same, hire an editor so that you can write more content. I send over my roughly edited draft, she adds comments and makes corrections, then I upload it. This helped created more and better content to grow my followers. The process is super easy and I have gotten a huge ROI!
- Edit separately. If you choose to skip tip #7, make sure to write and edit separately. I think trying to edit while writing is one of the worst things you can do as it kills your flow. Instead, block out time to write and a separate time later that day or the next to edit. This gives you enough time to look at your work subjectively and switch from writer to editor.
- Respond to every comment. Even though I went nearly three months without publishing any new stories I still made $200-$500+ per month. I have no idea if it’s true but I think part of it is because I engage old stories. I make a concerted effort to respond to every single comment as I appreciate anyone who reads. Plus, I think this helps your profile with Medium algorithm (this is an educated guess).
- Keep working on titles. Titles are so important to writing and think it’s a skill you’ll never “fully” master. Instead, keep testing, tweaking, and learning as much as possible. Personally, I’ve found that “How to” content and titles with numbers tend to get the best response.
- Use high-quality images. I’m kind of a renegade when it comes to Medium writers but I only use paid images through Deposit Photos. I remember top writer Benjamin Hardy, PhD telling me to only use high-quality images and preferably with people in them. From what I’ve tested, this 100% works. For $1/photo (or less if you snag a deal), it’s a great investment and helps my content stand out.
- Proper formatting. Most people read Medium on their phones. If you don’t format for mobile devices, growing your following will be challenging. Make it a point to have short paragraphs and sentences. Plus, tons of headers, sub-headers and bold text to make it easily readable.
- Start an email list. When you start an email list, you can send your new stories to them regularly. This will help more people read and trigger to Medium to show your stories to more readers. Plus, if you ever have something else to offer in the future you have a list of loyal followers.
- Promote your stories on social media. Use a scheduling tool like Buffer to share your stories regularly. The more people who see your stories means more readers, more money in the MPP, and a great impact your work has on the world.
- Start a Trello board to organize your ideas. I have a topic problem — meaning, I never too many ideas and not enough time. The problem though, is organizing them. Previously, it was random notes in my phone. But now, I use a Trello board solely for Medium and it’s made everything so much easier. I use three lists for my main three writing categories (Personal development, entrepreneurship, and writing advice). Then, inside each card, I outline the story so it’s easy to turn on my laptop and start writing. Once done, I move the card to another list for my editor.
- Batch everything. Batching is an absolute game changer if you aren’t already. By doing all your tasks together, you’ll minimize context switching and conserve energy. For Medium, I have three “batches.” Writing, editing (which also includes finding images and tweaking headlines), and outlining. I never go from outline to editing or writing to editing. Instead, I block 2–4 hours for each one and spend all my time in that batch.
- Learn to love feedback. I’ve been writing online for five years now and still hate rejection but it’s part of being a writer. You have to learn to love feedback so that you can create your best work. As Tim Grover said, “The only difference between feedback and criticism is how you take it.”
- Engage with other writers. Talking, messaging, or emailing other Medium writers is a great way to connect and get new ideas. I do this by hopping on an occasional Zoom, interviewing them on my podcast, or shooting an email about their work.
- Have 2–3 types of ideal readers. One of the best tips I learned from Tim Denning is to have a few types of readers. Otherwise, it’s really hard to write consistently. For example, all my content is geared toward one of my three Medium avatars: freelancers/writers, entrepreneurs, and people who are involved in personal development. That way, I know my avatar when I write each article and helps create a more personalized feel that resonates.
- Write about stuff you love. I think it’s vital to write about your experiences and topics that you love. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and give up on your writing dream too soon. For example, as a freelancer, I’m now a top golf writer since I’m wildly passionate about the sport. On Medium, I love sharing freelancing/entrepreneurship advice because I want to help other writers find success faster. When you write what you love, it makes it a lot easier to get motivated.
- Study viral articles. Remember, success always leaves clues! Study success stories so you are more likely to write one yourself. From the headline to the last word, block out time each week to study what’s working on Medium so you can create more high-quality content.
- Follow publications guidelines. Most publications are easier to get into than you think as long as you follow the guidelines. Follow their instructions, reply promptly, and make updates as requested. Publishing 90% of my content in publications is one of the main reasons I grew my audience so fast.
- Create writing routines. To gain a following, you do need some sort of consistency in the beginning. That means creating a writing routine that helps you crank out stories. I think it’s essential to find your ideal writing time. For me, it’s usually between 7am–1pm after a workout. For others, it might be midday or even at night. Find what works best for you so you can get into a peak state and write faster.
- Write listicles. Everyone loves a good listicle as they’re easy to read (or skim) and pick out a few points. They’re more likely to go viral and help get your stories in front of new readers.
- Repurpose stories. If you have an email list, repurpose your story for your list or use parts of it on LinkedIn or social media captions. This will help you get more out there and also attract new readers.
- Add a CTA in your bio. Like most social media platforms, there isn’t much room to promote yourself and other services you might offer. But make sure there’s a mention of how people can learn more about working or learning from you.
- Publish your story sooner. Don’t wait weeks and weeks before you hit the publish button. Adopt the motto “Just ship it” to get your work out in the world. Don’t sit on the story that could change your writing career forever!
- Keep title/subtitle to 100 or fewer characters. This will make sure you don’t get your subtitle cut off on mobile and help increase your click throughs. User Letter Count to make it easy.
- Use the same profile image. For your Medium picture, use the same image across all social media platforms (like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This makes it easier for people to recognize you on multiple platforms and grow your following.
- Teach what you learn. Anytime I learn something new, I try to figure out how it can relate to my audience. Whether it’s something in my life or business, if you’re one step ahead of someone, you can help them out. I find this type of content gets the best engagement and grows my following more than vague, general advice.
- Have a clear takeaway for the reader. Sadly, most people skim will only skim your story. Make sure to end strong with a 1–2 sentence summary that gives readers a clear point.
- Don’t add a ton of extra media. Medium wants readers to stay on Medium, not go to your website or YouTube channel. While you should link to sources, try to keep most people on the platform. I find this helps your story get more eyes on it which leads to more followers.
- Survey your audience. Once you have an email list, send out short surveys to learn more about your audience. I send these out after launches and at least once per quarter to learn about my audience. This makes it easier to create content that is useful. Reward them with a gift card or free coaching call to incentivize them to fill it out. And make sure to keep it short and easy to do (I use SurveyMonkey).
- Use Quora and Ask The Public to find topics. These two sites are goldmines and can help you write content that people want. This will help you relate to your ideal audience and have them clicking the follow button!
- Spin other successful stories. My most viral hit is “My $2,250 Writing Day Routine.” But I never would’ve published it had I not read a similar story from another Medium writer talking about his weekly routine. I decided to share how I spent one day writing and people loved it! Read stories from other writers that have done well and see how you can spin it to create your own unique story. Since you know that others are hungry for the topic, they’re much more likely to read your story as well.
- Don’t submit on Friday/Saturday. Anytime I do and they get published on the weekend, I feel like only a fraction of people read them. Instead, submit them late Sunday night or Monday to get the most reads.
- Set Medium specific goals. My goal is to publish at least 50 stories in Q1 2021. While I always encourage my freelance writing students to set goals, I think it’s important to do on Medium as well. Whether it’s a number of stories each month, a certain number of publications, or something else. Set goals so you get more done!
- Learn to love failure. In your quest to grow your following and make money on Medium, there will be plenty of rejection.Writing brings a lot of failing so get used to it. Remember, each time you fail to learn something and figure out how it can help you get better.
- Keep hitting publish. It’s easy to quit writing on Medium when things aren’t going your way. But the more breaks you take, the harder it is to get back on track. I took four months off and found it difficult to get back into a routine the past few weeks. While taking a week or two breaks here and there are fine, I’d suggest minimizing massive breaks. A semi-consistent publishing schedule will help you gain more followers and help you write in less time. Stick with it and remember why you started in the first place.
- Have fun. Don’t forget, we’re very lucky to have a platform like Medium to share our stories on and earn money from. Have fun, be grateful for the opportunities, and know that your words can help people more than you will ever know.
Medium is still a wonderful opportunity to share your knowledge with the world. While the platform is consistently evolving, these tips will help build a foundation for success.
Finally, remember that every clap and comment on your stories are real people. While it’s easy to get caught up in the number of followers and money in the MPP, remember that your work is making the world a better place.
Start sharing your knowledge with the world and I promise you won’t regret it. Keep going to keep growing your following — the world needs you and your words!
“Make your life a masterpiece, imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do.” — Brian Tracy
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