What I've learned after gaining my first 1,000 Medium Followers

Back in May of 2022, I started writing on Medium in earnest with only one follower. One. Not two. One. Currently, at the time I’m writing this post, I have over 1,200. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to this point, and yet here we are.

I’ve made literally thousands of dollars from Medium, and I’ve really enjoyed my time on the site. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make money with writing or to anyone who enjoys reading quality content from a variety of authors.

But in during my journey up to a thousand followers on Medium, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share.

You don’t have to write every day. But it doesn’t hurt.

If you can write something every day, then do. Consistency is important – not only to make sure you’re staying productive but so that you can develop a healthy habit of creating content. There will be days that you don’t feel like writing. You’d rather be doing something else. You’d rather not spend the time writing.

I get it. I know that feeling.

It’s important to try to be consistent and create something regularly. But if you don’t write something every day, don’t sweat it. Sure, try to write if you can – but if you just can’t make yourself do it or if you feel like more important things have to be shifted around to make time for your writing, then take a step back.

If you need to, break up your writing sessions into time blocks that make sense for your schedule. Spend a few minutes here, 15 minutes there. Whatever works for you. But even if you don’t write daily, you can still be successful on Medium. Just focus on creating high quality content that really resonates with readers, and provides value.

That’s the most important thing.

However, if you don’t write for a long time, your views may start to decline as more and more new content is created that competes with yours. So be sure to continually feed fresh content into the algorithm and don’t get too complacent.

Make friends, not just followers.

Some people – whether on social media or Medium – seem to think that a follower / creator relationship should be one sided. Too many seem content to be followed by hundreds or thousands of people but can’t be bothered to interact with those followers and make them feel like part of a community.

And here’s the thing: You can always tell the great content creators from the “just okay” content creators by how they interact with their fans and followers.

Some are content to sit up in their high castles looking down on the “peasants” below and not take the time to interact with the men and women who appreciate their work. Others actually take the time to respond to comments and answer questions.

Don’t be the first kind. Actually take the time to reply to your readers if they comment. Ask questions. Answer questions. Provide value. That’s how you develop connections with people.

And that’s, ultimately, how you grow your brand.

I try to respond to every comment on my Medium stories – at least for a while after each story is posted. That way my readers know I care what they think, and I want to try to engage in civil dialogue with them where possible. We may not always agree on an issue, and that’s perfectly okay. But that dialogue is what builds connections.

Your follower count doesn’t matter if your followers don’t read what you write.

Here’s something you absolutely need to understand. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have on Medium if they don’t care what you write. If no one reads what you have to say, you won’t earn anything. Period.

That’s why these stupid “follow for follow” schemes are bad ideas and why it’s far, far better to make genuine connections with other people.

You can have tens of thousands of followers, but if they don’t read what you have to say, then you can forget about making money on Medium.

In many ways, your follower count is just a vain metric. Sure, it’s important to get followers, but focus more on creating the kind of content that people want to read.

Don’t get so hyper focused on the number of people who follow you because, ultimately, that isn’t the metric that matters.

Growth is slow sometimes.

If anyone tells you that growing on Medium is fast or that you can hit huge milestones overnight, don’t believe it. Look, it’s not that you can’t go viral and get thousands of views to an article and get tons of new followers.

If you play your cards right and write the kind of content that’s likely to be featured, then sure. You could see an upward trend in your favor. But the odds are that’s not going to happen – at least not for a while.

Gaining followers takes time, and building relationships with readers isn’t an overnight process. You need to be able to play the long game. It wasn’t until several months into my real Medium writing journey that I started to earn what I would consider to be respectable income. I joined the site back in 2018, but as of May of 2022, I didn’t have anything posted. I had deleted it and given up – especially after the change to the Medium Partner Program which required all members of the program to have at least 100 followers. (Fortunately that 100 follower requirement is no more.)

But then in mid May, I started to really work hard toward getting those followers, but that didn’t happen overnight. It took me just under two weeks to get to 100 and then to be re-accepted into the Partner Program. And it wasn’t until months later that I really started to earn much at all.

Give yourself time and be patient. Don’t start writing on Medium thinking you’re going to be making hundreds of dollars there your first month – or even the first several months. Could it happen? Sure. Is it likely? No.

Understand that it’s going to take some time to build up your audience and to produce a library of content that people are going to want to read.

Earnings aren’t consistent month to month.

In my experience, earnings on Medium can vary wildly from month to month – and sometimes without much discernible rhyme or reason. It’s exciting to hit a new earnings record. Certainly. But don’t expect that you’re definitely going to stay at that level. Some months I’ve earned a cool 4 or 5 hundred. One month (to date) I’ve earned over a thousand. But most months I’m in the few hundred dollar range.

Some months I do better, and others I do worse. I’ve come to expect the fluctuation and variation. It’s just part of the game. I love Medium, and I love writing there, but I understand that I can’t depend on it as a consistent source of any certain number of dollars.

Some months I earn a few hundred bucks. Some months have been better. But I’m not going to quit my day job for something that isn’t the most stable.

The road to 2,000 followers?

Over the past year, I haven’t really promoted my Medium writing that much. I’ve shared a few pieces on social media here and there, and sometimes I’ll send a link to a friend of family member. But I haven’t actively promoted my content there. I just haven’t really felt a need to, honestly. Now, should I have? Probably. It might actually help with the Medium algorithm a bit. I don’t know. That would be a good test, I suppose.

But to get to 2,000 followers, I plan to just keep doing what I’ve been doing. I understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes there are big jumps and leaps in the stats – and that’s great – but other times it feels like a long hike through the mud in the middle of January, and you wish something exciting would happen with the stats. I’ve seen and lived through both.

I’ll keep doing what I know works, and that’s writing valuable content that hopefully gets people thinking while also purposefully interacting with other creators, encouraging them and helping them to have a great experience on the site as well.

Certainly I have no illusions that the road to 2,000 will be quick, and I know that there will be slow growth along the way – and fast growth at other times. But I’m looking forward to it, and it will be interesting to see if I pick up any new lessons between here and there.

Would I start on Medium again?

I suppose that’s the question. One year later, would I choose to get started writing on Medium again knowing what I know now?

I have to say, yes. Absolutely I would. Look, Medium isn’t perfect, and there are some things that I absolutely do not like about the platform. But I’m thankful for the opportunities it’s given me. I feel like I have a voice there and that people actually care about what I have to say.

And you know what? That’s awesome in and of itself.