You might’ve seen Nicolas Cole’s article the other day titled, “How I Went From Zero to 200,000+ Views In My First 30 Days On Medium.”
Honestly, I hate those kind of articles.
They’re usually full of misleading, half-truth, empty promises that make gullible readers believe “they too can see these results, just as fast!”
So why am I writing an article just like that?
Because I’ve been blogging for 5 years and I never had more than 100 subscribers until a couple months ago. Just because I’ve had 4,000+ this month doesn’t mean diddly. It doesn’t tell the whole story.
So I’m here to tell you my whole story about these “How I Got (insert big number here) in (very short amount of time)” articles.
First, the most important truth:
You need to do something for a long time before you get big-time results.
Fortunately, Cole’s article explains this. Unlike most.
I started blogging about 5 years ago. My website is called StuffGradsLike.com. I started it immediately after college because I wanted to give fellow graduates stuff they’d like — encouragement, advice, stuff like that.
But my writing sucked. Nobody read my stuff.
In 4 years, my highest-trafficked day was 741 views from a guest post I wrote on a mid-tier career website. I wouldn’t break 200 views in a day for another 4 years.
Admittedly, I got what I deserved: I was an inconsistent, self-indulgent writer with no strategy.
The truth is, I simply wasn’t ready for a lot of followers.
Neither are 99% of new writers. I once wrote about how $10,000,000 dollars would destroy someone who wasn’t ready for that kind of money. The same goes for followers.
Let me use an example.
Do you remember that non-profit group, Invisible Children? They’re from my hometown, San Diego. They made that Kony 2012 viral video.
After that video, Invisible Children became world-famous overnight. Suddenly, everybody had major expectations about the company’s child-trafficking rescue mission.
But the fame was too much. The company panicked. Shortly after the video went viral, co-founder Jason Russell had a breakdown and was seen yelling incoherently in his underwear and disrupting traffic.
The company’s reputation was destroyed. Trust was broken. The movement was over.
This sad story illustrates a simple lesson:
Instant fame is dangerous. You should be glad it doesn’t happen to you.
You want to know how I got 4,000+ subscribers in these past 30 days?
I’ve had to go through many terrible writing jobs over many years to learn how to write stuff people actually want to read.
My first writing gig was writing reviews for assisted-living homes. I was paid $10 per 400-word article. I quit after 2 months because I couldn’t stand it anymore.
After that, I worked at a sketchy startup. For 3 cents a word, they had me writing articles about “how to be a great mother” (at the time I was 23 years old and childless).
I wrote about about fixing car engines, how to sell a home, and dozens of other topics I knew nothing about. I was fired after a year.
I’ve done countless freelance jobs writing about almost every topic there is. I disliked most of these jobs.
So after 4.5 years of writing junk inconsistently, I finally decided to get serious.
I joined Medium. Began posting literally every day. I began studying Top Writers, their headlines, and the structure of viral articles.
I began leveraging my experience from the previous 54 months to write stuff people actually gave a crap about — because I finally gave a crap about it.
Then, the big wins came.
As a result, I’ve gotten 165,000+ views this month:
Most of my 4,000+ subscribers have come from these big wins.
But really, the subscribers didn’t come from any of these articles: they came because my writing resonated with them — something I needed 4.5 years to learn how to do.
If you’re a new writer who just joined Medium this week, I have some bad news:
You will not get 4,000+ email subscribers this month.
That’s OK. You will someday, if you keep writing, learning, and studying your craft.
But don’t believe the click-bait articles that fool you into believing “how to get a $100,000 book deal after only a couple months of writing!”
If you’re new, you almost certainly don’t have the quality or the character (yet) to be that successful.
If you want big-time success, you need to put in big-time work.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about getting more traffic and subscribers
I’ve learned a lot over these 5 years. But here’s the most important thing:
You can only get subscribers if you give them something they actually want.
Nobody wants a weekly newsletter. Nobody wants “free updates.” Frankly, nobody will give you their email anymore unless you’re giving them something amazing in return.
The reason people subscribe to me is because I provide value. I give people stuff they actually care to read.
Recently, I created a high-quality checklist that tells people how they can become extraordinary.
My checklist provides value, too. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. I’ve gotten several emails from new subscribers saying how much they loved the checklist.
Cole said something similar in his article, which I appreciated: you need to write things people want to read. He recommends using personal stories to share lessons, which I agree with.
Most new writers are really bad at this kind of stuff.
It’s simply unrealistic for a new writer to expect 200,000 views or 4,000+ subscribers in their first month.
I’m a big believer in thinking big (my goal is to get 100,000 email subscribers by April 1, 2018), but there’s a difference between big goals and silly goals.
I don’t think Nicolas Cole’s article was intending to give anyone false hope about getting traffic.
But to anybody who thinks they can also get 200,000 views in their first 30 days of Medium like Nicolas Cole did:
He’s been the #1 writer on Quora for years. He writes for Inc., Forbes, and Fortune all the time. He says he’s written online every single day for 5 years. He’s built an enormous following, many of whom were probably already on Medium.
Don’t expect his kind of results without a work ethic like his.
You can only expect results that reflect who you are and how much you’re committed to mastering your craft.
The simple, honest truth I’ve learned after 5 years is this:
If you want big-time results, you need to spend big amounts of time getting there.
Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t telling you the whole truth.
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If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.