How to get 5000 followers on Twitter – without paying a penny!

Different sort of blog post this one as it is neither reading nor writing related, but I just thought it might be useful to people.

Song of the Sea God visualIf you are passing by don’t forget to check out my book Song of the Sea God on Amazon, where you can read the first few pages, here.

I’m fond of Twitter and, like many people, I have been bombarded by those spammers promising me 5000 followers on Twitter if I only hand over some cash. Well, the fact is, I am lucky enough to have more than 5,000 followers on Twitter @chilledch and I didn’t pay anyone a penny to get them. Instead I built up followers using a few simple rules which you could use too if you wanted to build up a Twitter following.

These would be useful to beginners I would say – and those who have a few followers but are hoping to find more. Here they are – and free to you for being kind enough to drop by my blog:

Show your face

It’s much easier to get Twitter followers if people can see what you look like – so make sure you have a picture of your face on there. Definitely not the egg you start off with and not book covers or other ‘branding’ either. Just you.

This is tough if you are tweeting for a company of course, but if it’s your personal account make the most of it, and make it personal – people follow people.


I think the few words you say about yourself should be to the point and aimed at encouraging the sort of people you would like to have follow you. Some people go for whimsy or humour, and good luck to them. I think if you are a writer, or an artist or whatever, say so – then people know who they are following!

Follow Back

This is such a simple thing – but so many people don’t do it. I follow back everyone who is not a spammer, porn account, random corporate account or obvious nutcase. The vast majority of people who follow me get a swift follow back to show I value their interest in me.

Follow others

This is a key point. Some people on Twitter who are trying to build a following seem to adopt the Field of Dreams ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach. It doesn’t work. Unless you are a celeb of some sort people are not going to flock to you – you have to find them. If you are looking for people with similar interests to you then you will already know where to find them. When I was looking for readers and fellow writers I looked at follower lists for accounts such as Guardian Books and New York Times Books for example. Then I followed those people in large numbers.

I love them but they don’t love me

Ok – so you have followed lots of people, but only a small proportion of them have followed you back. At first this isn’t such a problem, but once you are following 2000 Twitter won’t let you add any more unless the number of people who follow you is more or less as high. Yet here you are with just 500 followers and you are up to your 2000 following limit – what do you do?

Well, you ditch some people who haven’t followed you back of course. You could just go down your list and trim them – but there are free tools out there on t’internet to help you. Try and justunfollow for example. Have a play around with them and you will find they help you cut the people who have not bothered to follow you back.


When you’ve lost some dead wood start following more people – a proportion of those will follow you back. Repeat the process. Your number of followers will grow without the number you follow getting out of hand.


While you are doing this don’t forget what Twitter is really all about. Engage with people, have fun. Answer other people’s questions and join in with their jokes. Ask your own questions. If you are plugging something, as I am with my book (Song of the Sea God, available from all good retailers), make sure that this is just a part of what you do. People will follow you and stick with you if you make it worth their while.

Hope this has been useful – it worked for me!

If you were interested in this post you might want to take a look at these others which also offer tips:

Part two of my Twitter tips here

How to get more views on your blog.

Advice on how to find a publisher for your book

An interview with my publisher about what they are looking for in a book they take on.

48 thoughts on “How to get 5000 followers on Twitter – without paying a penny!

  1. Better yet, get, follow to your limit everyday, wait a day or two and go down the “people who don’t follow you” and unfollow them. I went from 5K to 45K in two months.

  2. Thanks, Chris! I wish I had more time to engage, but I’m afraid I don’t, so I guess I’ll always be small fry on Twitter. My problem too is that I lose track of people. I try to keep tabs on my special list, but even that takes me a lot of time! Love the blogs, though. I need to put you on my blog list 🙂

  3. Excellent, succinct and helpful article that I’m sure will help many people conquer the mysterious world of Twitter! When they’ve conquered the basics, helpful tools to help them raise their game to the next level are services like and, which allow for activities such as advance scheduling of tweets and bringing together other social media such as Facebook together in a single dashboard.

    (I love your blog layout and colourscheme by the way – very soothing first thing in the morning!)

    • Thanks Debbie, very kind. I’m personally not a fan of tweetdeck as I don’t believe it brings much to the party but I know some people swear by it – so each to their own. Glad you find my blog soothing!

  4. Devil’s advocate here for a second 😉

    Of those 5,000 followers, how many are actually be of use to you (As in, how many are actually going to buy your book)?

    I find a whole lot of indie writers tend to end up following and being followed by a whole lot of other indie writers. Then they basically just tweet at each other about their books. Some a little bit, some a lot, and some non-stop (as in robo-tweeting).

    Some other writers are great – they engage, they debate, they have interesting blogs. But most just tweet out links to their or their friends books (at least, that’s been my experience).

    I think we, as writers, need a better way to target READERS more instead. Those who will look forward to our tweets and maybe come to like us and buy our books.

    Any thoughts on that?

    • It’s a good point James – and well made. I thought it through when I started on Twitter with those kind of ideas in mind. What I decided to do was to build up a big following on the basis that it was better than having a little one. It’s a percentages game – if you have five followers one may be engaged with you – if you have five thousand – there will be more. My day job is in PR and I know half the battle is in making a noise people can hear. In twitter terms, the bigger the following the better.
      Here’s another point – these indie writers you mention – are they not also readers? I have never met a writer who doesn’t love to read.
      I am actually selling a few books through Twitter now which is great. In the end though, that’s all I’m selling – so I won’t be offended if you take or leave my twitter tips!

      • First – please excuse the typo in my first comment 😉

        Second – I hope those other indie writers could turn out to be customers, but so far that hasn’t been my experience. For the most part, the people I end up engaging with the most are not the writers, but others who self-identify as readers and I’ve made the effort to find. (I’d say maybe it’s 80/20 non-writers to writers). Granted, I’ve only been at this for a few months, so maybe that has something to do with it, but, well … that’s been my experience.

        I hear you about more being better as a percentages thing, but maybe I’m just too anal about it; if I see someone robo-tweeting, I simply can’t ignore it – I unfollow them even if I know it means they’ll unfollow me back. I just don’t think they’re going to be useful as a follower, either from a sales point of view or a simply social/engagement point of view.

        My stupid sense of … something … gets in the way.

      • Yes I don’t like the robo tweet people too – and I have unfollowed those who get on my nerves. But I’ve also met other writers who have helped and supported me – and promoted my work as I have promoted theirs. And yes, some have bought my book too.

  5. First off great post super helpful and informative. I think all of the techniques you have said needs to always be used. But one you didn’t talk about is all of these exchange sites, where members do a like me i like you type thing… most people will say why waste the time to get worthless likes and followers but i have to say it really helps me out when i first start a new fan page or twitter account. So say you start a new fan page it says you have 0 likes i think this is bad because some people think of you less if you only have 1 or 2 likes…. So i must say using a site like this is very helpful in the beginning. There are 100s of sites that offer this the one i use is socialmediaexplode I only use it to get that first 1000 likes or followers than i turn it off and start doing some of the techniques you spoke about. Well thanks again for the great post and hopefully you can check out more into what im saying and post a informative blog about it.

  6. Hi Chris. Very interesting post as always. I think you are probably a great example of how Twitter can work for you by being personable and interacting with people, as well as promoting your book of course. I am relatively new to Twitter (and have a modest amount of followers). I probably don’t put in the work needed to increase the number but feel that the whole process should be more FUN as you rightly said. I find it scary the way some people Tweet with grim determination, just flogging their product whatever that is, never engaging, and never bantering. The Robos? I think if more people just bantered a bit more, gave a little bit more of themselves away (not too personal of course) more people would surely follow. Social networking afterall should be ‘sociable’. Yes?

    • I’m sure you’re right Marjory – it’s important to strike a balance. What I find with some people is they do absolutely nothing but relentlessly plug their book or whatever it is they are selling – often through a barrage of automated tweets. I just can’t see that this is very productive for them in the long run – it’s a turn off. I do of course use Twitter to plug my book a little and to draw attention to my blog posts, but I most value it as a way of chatting to people and having some fun!

  7. Very useful, as always. And I do think it’s writing-related. As you know, in 2013, it’s not enough to do the hard work of writing the book without being willing to do the harder work of getting it out there. I resigned from the corporate world this past February to have a go at putting together the stories that have been bumping around in my head while editing on the side to earn my keep. Only this past week, I told a couple of friends that I’ve come to realise that Twitter is more powerful for networking and business than Facebook, but you have to be willing to put in the work, and also the play. I’ve had a Twitter account since 2010 or 2011 but it’s only now that I’m getting to really use it. I’m naturally a rather serious type but I’m learning to relax more and share a bit of myself, and, gradually, I think it’s working. So, thanks for sharing these good tips, Chris.

    • Thanks Crispin – I favour Twitter too, though of course Facebook has its place. Twitter has certainly helped me build up a community of fellow literature lovers and indeed has introduced readers to my book who would never have found it otherwise.

  8. Pingback: How to get more views on your blog | songoftheseagod

  9. Pingback: How to get 5,000 followers on Twitter, for free, part two | songoftheseagod

    • It depends what your aim is – if you don’t particularly care to build up a large following then that is fine, if you do need to – because you have something to promote for example, then this is a way to achieve that. If you have large numbers and wish to keep in touch with certain people then forming lists will let you do that 🙂

  10. OK, this is all very impressive…however, it isn’t the amount of followers, it is the QUALITY!! OK, I don’t have your vast amount, but I have a few (20 or so) good followers who RT my stuff …and that’s what counts. And, Chris, may I say, I don’t notice you RT my stuff, or engaging with me very often. Monkey say but monkey not do!!! Another downside of too may followers!

    • All good points Carol – and I promise to try to RT you more! But I don’t think there is such a thing as too many followers if you are trying to reach out to as many people as possible. It is possible to organise followers into lists if you wish to keep tabs on them more carefully. Just interacting with the same handful of people all the time won’t help you reach a wider audience. As always though I say each to their own!

      • Chris twitter is not twitter without followers how do you convince people to follow you back without displaying it out there or telling them to follow you I find that as a challenge

  11. I started off using your strategy, and dropped it when I found my feed filled with people who were only interested in the follow back. They didn’t interact. They were only interested in self-promotion, and they certainly weren’t interested in me, my work, my books, or building any kind of online ‘relationship’… for want of a better word! I’d ask questions, no-one would reply. I’d try to engage, nothing. So I started unfollowing those who didn’t interest me, and a lot unfollowed me too. They weren’t interested in me. They were only interested in the follow back. So the point of all this? I’m still struggling to see the point of the follow back thing. So now I only follow people who post interesting tweets – such as yourself! Yes, of course I understand that people want to promote their books, but frankly, I have particular genres I like, and particular genres I don’t, and people bombarding my feed with ‘buy my book!’ isn’t going to change that. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this. I had 650 followers of whom at least 150 were not interested in me one iota. Now I have 500, of whom 250 I don’t follow back. Does that mean they don’t use twitter any more or does it mean they’re actually interested in what I’m saying? Who knows, but I’d rather have 50 that care what I’m saying than 5000 who want to sell me their book and aren’t interested in anything else. Besides which, the drivel in my feed was starting to turn me right off twitter – part of the motivation to do some quality checking. Thoughts. Yes, of course, I’d love 5000 people who are fascinated in my work, but that wasn’t what the follow back was achieving. And those who follow thousands…. how can they possibly hope to see what I tweet anyway? I’m not a tweet-every-five-minutes person… I have work to do!

    • It’s an interesting point Susie – similar to Carol’s above about quality of followers. First I’d just say – I’m not an evangelist, I think everyone should do what works for them so please do it your way!
      As for your wider point, I suppose it comes down to what you decide your Twitter feed is for. I decided it was a good way of reaching out to as many people as possible in some small way – so that’s what I’ve done. It’s a point of initial contact and a way of ‘meeting’ lots of new people. Not all of these people will be interested in what I have to say or in my books or whatever – but by reaching tens of thousands of people I will find more who are interested from among that number.
      As a practical solution – If you want to keep a close eye on a few particular friends while following many people you can do that through twitter lists.

      • Yes. I did keep lists, but always felt compelled to see the full feed, and then lost the will to live! Silly old me 🙂

  12. Pingback: How to get 5,000 followers on Twitter, for free, part two | Chris Hill

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