When you are new on Medium, publications are the best way to get attention. That’s what I did. Now I mainly publish on my own publication, Other Voices. It only has about 1,100 followers, but I get to publish when I want to, instead of waiting, and at this point, the numbers stay the same. And yet, everyday, like clockwork, I add 50 new personal followers.
So, as many others have said, personal followers has become a meaningless number, good for the ego, but signifying nothing.