Please Don’t Follow Me

Observations From A Baby Writer On FFF And Better Ways To Help

Jenny Starr✨
Writers’ Blokke
5 min readDec 18, 2021

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Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

Why I Don’t Do Follow-For-Follow (FFF)

Okay, this is my response to the FFF movement and why I don’t participate. Love it or hate it, it’s a thing thanks in part to Medium’s Partner Program, but not entirely, as you will see…

But First, A Bit Of My Story…

Writing on Medium wasn’t my idea. My therapist thought that me being the type that likes to “think out loud” might benefit me to have a place to write down my thoughts. Additionally, she knew that I have issues with connecting to people so, yea, two birds, one stone.

Clap A Little…

I started on Medium by just reading, finding things that interested me. I noticed that you could acknowledge authors with a clap (yes, “a clap” — that’s how I thought it worked) or a comment. And I noticed something else. Articles had huge numbers of claps (which at the time I thought were individual reads — so yea, you “50-clappers” out there I was counting 50-times!!!) but a low number responds…

…Respond A Lot

So I started commenting, because, the pieces were engaging and I wanted to know more or just say thanks or think new thoughts (and remember, I needed to write these down), so my responses tended to be longer (many over the 1 min read mark). But the authors were so happy to get responses and many responded to my response, so dialog ensued…

More Encouragement

This very kind community suggested I start writing some of these responses into articles, and that was the last push I needed to start writing. Because I didn’t know if I was “good enough” to be a real writer, but I needed to put myself out there and start taking risks to find myself, so I took the plunge…

Today

I began writing articles on 10/31, but I continue to spend most of my time reading and replying to articles. I recall learning new things and challenging my thinking, and building connections.

Growing My Reach

I never gave this much thought when I first signed up, I just wanted to write and find my voice. But I started seeing these “How To Get 100 Followers Fast” articles and they rubbed me the wrong way…

What’s Wrong With FFF?

Follow-For-Follow, a strategy for gaining followers by following them back, does nothing but boost your POTENTIAL audience. So now a bigger group of readers knows when you drop new material. But it doesn’t mean it’s being read…

Lead By Example

When I read a new piece, if it challenges me, I will respond with a comment, allowing the author to engage with me. If we connect, that is usually when I will follow them, because I like the road they are traveling on and I want to be a part of their journey too, as an encouragement, like they are to me. I don’t ask for a follow-back, because that doesn’t seem right to me. If they want to follow my journey and engage with my experiences they are welcome to follow, but here’s the thing, for me this is a commitment. I want to engage with your journey and I want the best for you. And you are helping me learn and hopefully, I am helping you.

Relationships Take Work

IF you spend time with replies then there are only so many follows you can manage, depending on how much time you dedicate to the platform. There is no way I can read 100s of feeds and make a meaningful contribution to all of their authors, which brings me to my point — engaging with your follows. Find people who you like, follow their work, and ENGAGE with them. You don’t have to read every article they write (you probably don’t have time for that) but do read the ones that catch your fancy and reply to the ones that challenge you. Claps should be used when you don’t have time to reply, NOT as an acknowledgment that you saw the article. Seeing isn’t reading and it’s definitely not SEEING.

FFF Fallout

I have read articles from former FFF people who have hundreds of followers but very few readers and commenters, who lament the fact that they have few reads and even fewer replies. Their audience came from an article they wrote or commented on that has nothing to do with THEM or their WRITING, just about marketing. If given a choice between 1000 followers who don’t read your material and 100 who do (and respond) which would you choose?

Organic Marketing

This takes work and it’s slower. You develop your voice by using it!!! I learn as much or more about myself by how I respond to OTHER authors’ work. And when I am responding with my truth, the readers of that article have a chance to learn a little about me, and maybe they click on my bio to find out more. At the very least I hope I am giving them a chance to get another perspective on their story. If my reply gets very long it may turn into another article idea and I can reference the original author for more info.

How Do We Grow Together?

Connection can take many forms. And since this is a living platform, Medium authors can help each other by referring to others in their work!

does this by shout-outs in the form of reviews, and makes spaces for authors to share links to their works…

These are just a few of her examples. She does other amazing work for her ideas too, but these are some great ideas if you are interested in helping other authors in a positive way. It goes by different names, Read-for-Read, Shout-outs, Positive Reviews, but in my book, they go back to “Patronage”, which is the idea of empowering creatives with your own sources, whether money or time or just encouragement.

And here’s a shout-out to another friend of mine who has recently posted on this,

!!! She is another author who takes time to encourage others in her work! Give her a read and you may be encouraged too!!!

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you! I know my struggle may not be unique to the community, but it is real for me. I want my authors to succeed, just like I want you to succeed. Whether you are a writer, a reader, or undecided, you have a voice here and you can make a difference! Find a way to encourage that is meaningful to you AND lets you express yourself to YOUR authors!!! And watch us all grow together!!!

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Jenny Starr✨
Writers’ Blokke

A transgender woman (she/they) learning her way in this beautiful life…queer, curious, thoughtful. I write poetry, LGBTQ and whatever else stirs my spirit...