How I got here, what I have learned, & how I will continue
I reached 250 followers one year after I published my first article, and while I am just at the beginning, I want to take this moment to think about what I have learned so far. So here are ten thoughts on my first 250 followers:
- “How to get Medium followers” articles are all the same
After publishing my first article, I was disappointed by the non-existing feedback. I put time and effort into writing a (in my eyes) good story, yet nobody even read one paragraph. So, before even thinking about writing anything else, I decided to research ways to get followers. I was astonished by the abundance of articles and the content: they are all the same. I guess it is an easy topic to write about with many potential readers who are also struggling. Also: none of them helped me.
- Followers are meaningless
Today, I have 250 followers, yet the article I published two weeks ago, 30 goals I want to reach before I turn 30, has 6 views with 2 minutes and 27 seconds of total reading time. I know why this is the case: on Medium, it is impossible to keep up with the people I am following. It’s not Instagram, where I can scroll through all my friends latest pictures within a few minutes, but every post demands time. Assuming I follow 200 people who share one article every week with an average reading time of 5 minutes. To read all articles, I’d have to spend 17 hours. So, I have a long line of all the avatars of the people I follow and will probably never get to see their articles.
- I am still addicted to followers
The number of followers should neither matter nor be a goal I work towards. I hate that everything is about the number of people following someone, yet it is the one thing I pay attention to when visiting my Medium account. I would lie if I told you I wasn’t happy about reaching 250 followers because even if they don’t interact with me, followers give me the feeling of writing for an audience. I want to share my stories with people and love to see my work being read, and the growing number of followers motivates me to keep going.
- Nobody wants to read my shit - respect other people’s time
There is too much content on the internet, and I am just one of a million writers on Medium, yet I want my stuff to be read; I people to take the time and read every word I am writing. Why should they? Why should they invest the limited time they have into reading my content and not someone else’s? I have to be aware of this fact and respect the time of the readers. My goal should be to respect their time by delivering useful content in as few words as possible.
- Never join the dark side
“You won’t believe how I got my first 250 followers”. This title would have gotten me more views, but it would also mean that I am joining the dark side of the internet: meaningless, low-quality content with clickbait titles. Also, I am not a fan of Medium’s partner program because it feels like many people’s primary focus is the potential of making money, which leads to useless, poorly researched content. I want to stay authentic and deliver my story in a well-written fashion. It is a difficult task and means much more work, but it will ultimately lead to better results.
- How to get people to read my stories
I don’t know. But I suspect it to be a combination out of consistency and quality.
- Give more than you take
Pay attention! This is the only way to grow an audience: I have to give way more than I want to receive. Why should someone read my work if I don’t spend time reading and interacting with other peoples’ writing? When I started to read, comment, and follow people whose writing I enjoyed, I started getting some traction on my stories as well.
- I am becoming a better writer - very slowly
Often, I ask myself whether I actually like to write. As a kid, I knew I wanted to be an author, but now, sitting in front of Ulysses, the writing tool of my choice, is often a daunting task. I am not motivated to put down words, and I don’t look forward to sitting in front of my computer for a long time. But writing consists of two different parts, and bringing the words to paper is only one of them. The other part is telling a story. I love mapping out my articles and thinking about the story I want to tell and the learnings I want to share. The technical part, turning the story into words, is the part that can be tough sometimes. But, even though I don’t realise it at the moment, I am slowly getting better. English is my second language, and I still have a long way to go, but when I go through my drafts from last year, I see that I have already taken quite a few steps.
- A marathon, not a sprint
Success doesn’t come overnight, and neither does an audience. I have to be in for the long run and never lose the goal out of sight. This is the only way to succeed.
- The true key to success (I think): having fun If I don’t like what I am doing, I will not be able to go the full distance and give up before I reach the goal. Once, I started a blog about old computer games because I thought I was an old school gamer who’d enjoy writing about this stuff, but I realised that my heart wasn’t in it, and I gave up before gaining any traction. Now, I write about digital minimalism and how I am reaching my life goals, and I can tell that these are the topics I enjoy. I don’t have a lot of people interested in my writing yet, but I know that I can run the marathon with these topics because I love both of them.
So that was it, ten random thoughts about my journey so far. I hope you can take something from this article and be sure not to take it too seriously. I am looking forward to sharing ten more thoughts when I hit 1k followers … so be sure to follow me to make this happen soon;)