120. 5000 followers — 10x in six months

In early February, I did a blog post called “Five hundred followers — and so what?”. Very few people read the post. And why should they? I may have gotten a bit philosophical about why it mattered to me, but at the end of the day I feel that it wasn’t super interesting.

Now, half a year later, the 500 have turned into 5000. That means that it’s once again time to do a status. This time it won’t be about the number 500, but more about the 10x in Medium followers that this half year has brought.

  • I love the Top Writer system. It makes me write more. I’ve written about it before, but let me say once again that it motivates me to be considered a Top Writer in some of Medium’s categories. If I have one small beef, it’s that you can only see five of your “Top Writer” tags. I was very happy the day I hit that coveted badge in Business and Life Lessons, but sadly it can’t display it. Oh, the small and insignificant issues. Still, being read motivates me.
  • 500 didn’t reach much past my friend circle. 5000 does. Since a lot of my reads are traffic gotten from facebook, I have a feeling that most of my readers are people I know personally already. But while most of those first 500 were definitely friends, most of the 5000 are not. Knowing that there are people who like my writing without knowing me? That’s motivating as hell.
  • Being picked up by Medium publications still makes a huge difference. I may be growing my reach, but it’s nothing compared to many of the bigger publications here on the site. There’s also the fact, that people following publications tend to have an interest in the subjects discussed, while my writing (and my followers) are all over the place. I can see it clearly in the number of green hearts given — publications rule!
  • Even if it’s not that big a deal, it feels like a lot of progress. In a world of J.K Rowlings and Malcolm Gladwells, having 5000 followers on Medium isn’t even scratching the iceberg, much less seing what’s hidden beneath the surface. Still, it feels like small ripples in the water are becoming bigger, and even if it’s still tiny, tiny ripples, watching them grow is great.
  • The numbers aren’t big enough to really matter, but they can get there. Telling someone that you have a blog with 5000 followers doesn’t mean a thing. If it reaches 10000, then maybe it’ll mean a little more. Hitting 50k? That’s far in the (unknown) future, but suddenly it feels like it’s possible. And have a blog with 50000 followers? That feels like actual impact. I know it’s a bit silly of me to think this way, but I’d better be honest about it. Numbers mean something to me — and I’m not alone.
  • The key is to keep on producing. At least, that’s my not-so-secret secret. Just keep on writing and don’t get bogged down. It means that I have few posts that go anything near “micro-viral” (though it happens), but I have a lot that get read by decent amounts of people. I’m better at producing a reasonably steady stream of posts (one every third day since the start of my blogging, roughly) than producing a few super-posts.
  • I’ll try to write something at 10k as well. We’ll see how long it takes to get there, or if it ever happens. For now, I’ve just happy that there are people who want to read what I write, and who push the follow button. Thank you to all of you who have done that, and thanks to all of you who will do that in the future. It matters to me, and I’m pretty sure it matters to others here on Medium as well. :-)

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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