My First 1000 Medium Followers: A Tech Writing Journey

My First 1000 Medium Followers: A Tech Writing Journey

Tell someone, tell everyone!

Are you wondering how to get Medium followers for your tech blog? Do you worry your content isn’t reaching enough people? Do you dream of that day when your analytics page of choice will display thousands upon thousands of views?

Are you tired of putting in a lot of effort into your articles, just for nobody to read them?

This piece is for you.

A bit about myself

First of all, let’s start off with some very legit questions: who am I and why should my advice count?

I’ll answer honestly:

I’m a writer for about 10 hours a week, and pull a small profit from it (mostly through affiliate marketing), but this is not my main job, nor is it my main source of income.

Where am I trying to get here? It’s simple: pretty much everyone can reach 1000 followers on Medium.

How to get 1000 followers on Medium

I know, this reads like those other 100K motivational articles out there (a million if you’re reading this on Medium).

However, this is supposed to be a tech blog, and I’m an analytics kind of person. So, I’ll do one thing differently: I’ll share the numbers, statistics and insights I compiled in over 6 months of writing.

This is the internet, so I’ll use a list to tell you how to get Medium followers.

Content is still king

If you’re like me, and enjoy reaching a growing number of people, you’ve probably read a lot of online marketing articles.

Some are good, others are awesome, and some have headings that look like “How to Be an Awesome Blogger and Get 1M Followers in 3 months with this one trick (Scientists Hate me)”.

Yes, Bobby. Scientists hate you. I hate you too, after reading that header you wrote.

However, in that sea of SEO-driven word-orgies, some articles do shine some truth. Particularly, one tip that every sane writer keeps citing is content is king. They usually invoke it in the context of Getting Sales™, but it really also applies to run-of-the-mill blogging.

After reading that phrase in a hundred different places, being a Data Driven person, I started to think of ways I could actually measure whether my content was king. Personally though, I would’ve settled for some Duke content, maybe even a minor landed earl.

Measuring Content Performance

So first of all, I thought of some easy metrics I could use to see if my content was royal enough. Here’s what I came up with.

In my opinion, King content that makes people follow you should:

  • Be worthy of appearing on a Medium publication.
  • Make someone’s life better, happier or easier, ideally solving an actual issue.
  • Solve an issue that hasn’t been solved by a better article yet.
  • Reach a certain amount of readers (choose your own threshold for this one. I use 10K).

Some examples: My most successful articles

Let’s start with my most visited article ever.

lined-up books

3 Machine Learning Books that Helped me Level Up as a Data Scientist

This article is a series of book reviews for three awesome books I certainly did not write. My contribution is selecting them from the vast quantity of available Machine Learning books, and summing them down so that you can choose which one you’ll read next.

With that said, Let’s go over the checklist.

Medium publication? Check.

Solves a real issue? Judging by how long it takes me to choose which book to read next every time I finish one, I’m sure someone’s issue was solved. See? You don’t need to solve any of humanities greatest problems.

What about the competition? Well, googling “Machine Learning books” is not showing my article at the top 10, so I kinda lost here.

However, I did “beat” some of that week’s other Machine Learning articles, especially at dev.to and, judging by my site’s analytics, Google Discover.

This is an important point. You don’t need to write the best piece in the world. On the contrary, you just have to write the best recent piece. I’d like to call this the Duke content principle.

Lastly, that article has had 40K readers on my website in the first week. That’s better than most of my other articles. Combined.

Now, let’s move on to another popular article.

an-anemone

Autoencoders: Deep Learning with TensorFlow’s Eager Execution

This article is a tutorial on two different topics at the same time.

On the one hand, it introduces readers to the concept of an AutoEncoder. On the other hand, it showcases TensorFlow’s eager execution, basically a new, clearer API for Deep Learning. It does these things by using a real example: image compression, with kitten pictures for bonus adorableness points.

Let’s go over the checklist once again.

Medium publication? Yup, done.

Solves a real issue? It actually solves two: how to train a Neural Network with TensorFlow’s Eager Execution, and what AutoEncoders are.

Protip: if you can word your solved issue as a “How to…” or “What…” or “Why…” query, you just got yourself an SEO strategy. I’m only half kidding.

Not solved by a better article? That’s highly debatable.

I’m sure there are better Autoencoder explanations, I think I even linked to one in the article. There are also some awesome tutorials on using Eager Execution in TensorFlow. However, I may have been the first to actually mix the two. Whether that’s a good thing is what’s really debatable: are people really googling “autoencoder eager execution”? I’m not sure they are, but I am result #5 for that search.

This article had about 12K visits on my site, so it’s a bit on the meh side.

Thanks to the checklist though, I now have a framework with which to diagnose the problem. Could the checklist be missing some key factors? Absolutely! Let me know of any ones you can think of, and we’ll make this thing a living document. Really, submit a pull request with your ideas.

Appearing on a Publication: You can do it too!

This would be tip #2 if this was a listicle. I would really love it if publishing an article in a Medium publication was some super hard, impossible goal.

That would mean I’ve done something amazing, and I could write a 5-part tutorial on how to navigate the reams of bureaucracy, practice your writing for seven days and seven nights, and pray to the publishing gods for their acceptance.

Lucky for you and, probably, for me too, that is not the case at all!

I’ve submitted all of my articles to publications. And not just any publications, but the ones with the most subscribers on Medium. All of my articles passed. Does that mean I’m special? No. Not at all. Especially not when I wrote my, like, second article ever, and I was still learning how to use the Medium editor. But that thing was published nonetheless.

Why? If this was me trying to sell you an eBook, this is where I’d say “because I used my Checklist™, and you can use it too! Just subscribe to my newsletter…” yadda, yadda. But honestly, I only came up with that checklist intuitively about a month after I started writing, and only put it into words today.

The reason the articles passed is because they were good enough, yes, but also because, as I said earlier, anyone can write something publication worthy.

Do yourself a favor, submit everything you write to publications. They’ll get you absurd quantities of readers. They’re the fastest route to getting Medium followers. And they don’t bite.

Actually, just so you know: your worst case when submitting something is just getting rejected. Usually with some useful feedback from a professional editor on how to improve your article before resending it.

There’s no Publication blacklist. At least not if you’re not writing harmful or hateful stuff.

Iterate, and don’t repost

I’ve read a few marketing gurus saying you should “repurpose” your content. Calling reposting “repurposing” is as ugly as calling Pugs “dogs” (just kidding, I love the little things).

I try to never repeat myself, for two reasons:

  • It feels dishonest to my readers.
  • It’s boring as heck. What will I learn the second time?

I do like the idea of articles being mutable, living documents your followers will come back to.

Are people correcting parts of your poorly written explanation? Update it and add a thank you note. I know this has happened to me a lot.

Is your claps to reads ratio for this article a lot worse than the last ones? Change the title to better reflect what the article is about.

Not getting enough views? Add another whole section, covering something more interesting. Too many topics for a single article? Divide it into two and cover the holes with more paragraphs. (OK, I’ve never done this last one, but I’m thinking it could apply to cases like the Autoencoders’ one I discussed earlier).

Don’t think of your content as a dead thing that will never be touched again. Keep updating it and making it better. I promise you’ll reach a point where the article is so good, it’ll get you a lot of followers.

Conclusion

I used to see other writers’ profile and think “Imagine having all those followers!”. I’m still far from guys like Quincy Larson, but I no longer see getting many Medium followers as an unachievable goal.

I’ll add one last thing. Consistency is as important as quality: pick a writing frequency and stick to it. You could write an article daily, weekly or monthly, but the important thing is to stick to it.

After a while of writing consistently, you’ll realize you suddenly have a big collection of articles, and start seeing patterns: what works and what doesn’t, what gets you followers and what doesn’t. Act on those insights. Iterate. Keep writing. Drink more coffee.

I’m still learning a lot in the writing world, so feel free to correct anything I’ve said here. I’m new to blogging, and every piece of feedback and opinion is worth reading. So leave a comment!

I also dare you to dare yourself to reach a certain milestone.
Think smart: “I’ll reach 500 followers in 3 months” is better than “I’ll have a ton of readers one day”. I encourage you to share your goal in the comments, or as a tweet, so that you feel accountable to it.

Feel free to reach me to discuss any of the topics mentioned here, ask for tips or say everything I wrote is bullpoop. You can find me on Medium, Twitter or Dev.to.


Get my secret Machine Learning recipes for success!

Tell someone, tell everyone!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares
Optimized with PageSpeed Ninja