It Took Me One Year To Hit 11K Followers On Medium

Here’s how I think that even happened.

Shannon Ashley
Apr 26 · 5 min read

Back in December, I noticed that I was close to having five thousand followers. I reached that 5K mark in January, and then just yesterday (on my Medium birthday), I saw that number roll over to 11K!

So it took precisely a year to go from 0 to 11,000 followers, but more than half of those followers came on within the past 4 months.

There are many different theories about how to gain more followers on Medium, though to be fair, I haven’tset out to try to get more followers. I let it happen organically as I wrote.

I wrote a lot.

No, like, a lot. Maybe for my first month, I just dipped a toe in the water. But at some point last summer I began posting at least twice a day for most months.

You might say I wasn’t going to give people a chance to forget about me. Not if I could help it, anyway.

Do I write too much? For some folks, I’m sure that I do. But I’m not worried about being too much for those people. I have always been upfront about why I am here (to create a writing career and write a better future for me and my daughter.)

I figure it goes without saying that since I have no other job, I have to put those hours in on Medium. And since writing in general is such hard work, I’m pulling pretty crazy hours most days.

All of the effort results in a whole lot of writing, which helps me get on readers’ radars.

I was awkwardly honest.

Since I tend to write about a wide variety of topics, it can be hard to pin down my actual style. When people in the real world ask me what I do, their follow-up question is usually “What do you write about?”

That’s a surprisingly tough question to answer.

If there’s one thing that might tie most of my stories together, I’d say it’s that they’re awkwardly honest. And for whatever reason, that works for me on Medium.

People respond to that. Some folks even want to follow that stuff. I’ll take it!

I made some mistakes.

Who am I kidding… I still make mistakes! I’ve got stories with tons of reads but very few fans. I don’t always express myself clearly, despite being a writer.

Image via Bojack Horseman

I’ve got stories with swypos or other little errors on Medium. Somewhere, there are some dead links too.

Sometimes, I don’t handle things the way other people think that I should. And I don’t always know how to handle them.

Maybe I say something truly TMI, or I might directly or indirectly deal with a bullying situation that makes some folks uncomfortable.

Sometimes, I even write a story in response to a criticism. But it winds up resonating with others.

Personally, I never forget that I am on the spectrum. So it’s not exactly far-fetched that I might say or do the wrong things. Yet, in some ways, I think readers find reassurance in reading me partly because I’m so damn imperfect.

Sometimes I got featured.

My first two feature stories came early into my Medium journey… last May and July. Those features were pretty “big” and definitely helped new readers find and follow me.

My most recent feature was less prominent on the website and app despite being added to Medium’s Can We Talk? collection.

It would be silly to say that getting featured didn’t do anything to help me gain followers, because it did. But it’s worth noting that my rate of picking up followers was particularly high over the past few months despite having no featured story.

Often, I got curated.

My curation rate has been rising over the past couple of months. What was once over 60% is closer to 85% and higher if I would just quit writing about Medium. Such stories are much less likely to see curation, though it has happened:

Curation doesn’t guarantee that a story will be a success, but it does mean at least a few more eyes will see your story and if they like it, some of those people will follow you.

Some unfeatured stories “took off.”

As my time has gone by on Medium, certain stories have garnered a better fan reaction.

Back in December, I had a dozen stories with 300+ fans, 4 months later, that number has jumped up to 50. In fact, I just created a publication to house those popular stories that were self-published so they can be found in one place. (Yeah, I know this is kinda backwards. It’s an experiment!)

In March, I had two stories hit the “Popular on Medium” section, so that definitely helped boost my followers and views.

At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that the best way to gain more followers is to write regularly and write what you love to write.

Don’t worry so much about what people will like. Instead, think about routinely offering writing in your own distinctive voice and letting the right audience find you.

Also? Don’t sweat that follower count so much anyway. I honestly can’t tell you when I reached 500, a thousand or 2 thousand followers and so on. I may not remember when I reached 5K and 11K a year or two from now.

The point is to enjoy the journey, because we are all on a different path here on Medium and with our writing in general.

Let’s stop to celebrate our wins along the way, but ultimately, let’s also keep enjoying the ride.


    Shannon Ashley

    Written by

    Single mama, fulltime writer, exvangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. Top Writer. shannon.ashley.medium@gmail.com