A funny thing happened in the past week. I crossed the 50,000-follower threshold on Twitter.
Okay, so it’s not that funny, but it is significant.
Those of you who have been following me for the past year will remember that I originally gave 100,000 followers as a kind of stretch goal, with 50,000 as a more realistic alternative.
And so fervent was I in my quest to obtain a large Twitter following that I began to take a more critical, and statistical, approach—tweaking how I present myself online to see what drew in the most people. There was a great deal of A/B testing and other experimentation to make sense of what was required to grow my presence and popularity. With each iteration, I made my recipe just a few degrees more precise, to hit that sweet spot that would draw in the most people.
There was just one problem.
It Worked too Well
I hit 50,000 followers long before I expected to. I was always pretty sure I wouldn’t reach it in 2019. But now that I have Twitter working for me instead of against me (which took a lot of trial/error and almost broke me), I am no longer intimidated by the idea of getting 100,000 followers. If anything, it now feels inevitable.
I’m not complaining. It’s just that what I believed was an unattainable goal that I would surely fail to achieve has, in retrospect, been a game with clear rules for winning.
Disillusionment is supposed to make everything look harder. I simply did not anticipate becoming the exception to that rule.
So it’s onward to 100k. That should go without saying. Yet even more daunting (yet more hopeful) is the idea that if I can turn around the impossible dream of 50,000 Twitter followers and turn it into a reality, maybe I can do the same with my publishing aspirations.
The only reason I pursued a large Twitter following was to make myself more attractive to publishers, after all. And in every author’s career, there comes a point at which the struggle to get discovered hits a tipping point, where it goes from unthinkable to unstoppable. I like to think that my success in gaining a following is a sign that I am approaching that tipping point with my objective of getting published.
A Lesson Learned: Optimization
The real takeaway from this entire experience is that real progress comes through incremental optimization.
Put more simply, my best results came from making little changes, here and there, to increase my effectiveness. I measure my success against the analytics tables that Twitter provides for me, and from that was able to determine which of my experiments were working, and which weren’t.
Before now, I’ve been convinced that achieving all those unreachable goals could only be done with some major course correction. But it’s so much easier and more fruitful to just take a good thing and find out ways to make it slightly better.
I am convinced that this lesson will also apply in my quest to become a published author. I already have a large fanbase, which is the hardest thing for authors to acquire. The rest only requires a few subtle optimizations to keep the success machine running at full capacity.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.