I Made a “Get To 100 Followers” Post, And I Wish I Hadn’t
As we enter the new year, one thing that I am making a point to focus on heavily this year is the motivation and process behind my writing here on Medium. When I first started writing, I did so because I wanted to:
- Share my thoughts, opinions, and experiences to help people going through the same life experiences I did;
- Practice my creative writing skills, and improve my critical thinking, research, and communication; and
- Simply because I enjoy it.
Yes, the allure of monetization was (and is) there, and I would be lying if I said that I don’t care if I’m able to monetize something I enjoy and supplement my income, but I wanted it to be a happy consequence of my writings and work, not the reason for it.
And then I read the Medium Partner Program requirements, and saw my first article about “How I got 100 followers in X Time” article. Every character on my computer screen seemingly turned to dollar signs, and guess what I did?
I wrote my own.
I hit publish, not expecting much, but figured “hey, if I can do anything to kickstart my audience growth and accelerate the timelines for success, why not?”. Over the next couple weeks, I went from about 12 followers to 67 at the time of writing, almost entirely due to that article. It is by far the article with the highest engagement and stats of mine (out of my admittedly small — for now — sample size), and once the little hit of euphoria that social media is so cleverly crafted to give us subsided, I realized that what I had done was a mistake.
Why was it a mistake? In terms of results, it certainly was a success, but I felt weird publishing it. It felt almost like begging for followers (many of whom are trying to do the exact same thing) instead of acquiring them through providing engaging and valuable content and discussions. In other words, it felt cheap, and I felt like I cheated.
In the days that followed, my recommended articles and “Daily Reads” were filled with articles titled “How I Got 400 Followers in 2 Seconds”, “Do This To Get 10000 Followers”, etc. I realized exactly what was going on. There is an economy on Medium of people trading follows with each other in order to access the Medium Partner Program and monetize, with the focus being on growing the follower count and not on the objective of the platform — to provide insightful, thought-provoking content and share ideas — and I was a part of that ecosystem.
Acquiring followers just to get over an arbitrary hurdle and monetize without having a solid foundation and a core audience that is engaged (and that you engage with) with your content is not a recipe for success. As with most things in life, there are few shortcuts and cutting corners that will replicate the results of a solid process, consistency, and honesty. I don’t begrudge anyone for making a “100 Followers” post, as I know firsthand how tempting it is to make one and try to kickstart your career here on Medium. It is, in my opinion however, a flawed approach to growing a loyal audience and establishing a solid foundation on this platform.
Anyways, I wanted to get that off my chest and share my thoughts and realizations from having written and published a “100 Followers” post. I’ve thought about taking it down, but engagement on it has all but dried up, and I think it would be disingenuous to try and erase something that I consider to be a mistake. So I’ll keep it up, as a reminder to not get caught up in potential financial rewards or “get rich/followers/etc quick” strategies, and to keep on the slow and steady road towards success.