how do I build my platform? - design by insight
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how do I build my platform?

how do I build my platform? - design by insight

Platform.

The mere mention of this word can bring a room full of writers to immediate silence. After all, we’ve been conditioned to understand platform as a vital component to reaching our writing goals. We know how important building our platform is.  We have underlined two-thirds of Michael Hyatt’s book on the topic.

Sometimes, if we are really honest, we’re still not sure exactly what we need to do. And we can also be a little uncertain how to build a platform without feeling like a used car sales person.  It feels awkward to share links to our blog or ask people to buy our books.  I get it!!

But, it is the world we live in.

From July 2010 through June 2013 I attended over 20 conferences for writers, bloggers, creatives, etc. At every single one, there was a session relating in some way to platform. Whether we like or not, whether we feel comfortable with it or not, platform is important.

So, the big question becomes “How do I build my platform?” After reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences, I’ve identified four areas on which we need to focus as we invest in growing our platform.

consistency

At the 2012 Allume conference Stephanie Bryant led a session on branding. {Which is another one of those scary words related to platform.} In discussing the reasons why we resist branding or identifying ourselves as a brand, Stephanie offered this insight:

Your brand is simply your promise to be the same everywhere people find you.

I love that! Consistency is a key factor in both branding and platform building. Learning to have a consistent tone and style is a must! Everything from color and font to those phrases you regularly use in writing or speaking are components to building your platform. Why? Because your platform grows as people recognize you.

community

As you invest in your community, your platform will grow. How do you invest? INTERACTION! Engage in conversation on social media, reply to comments on your blog, leave meaningful comments on posts written by others — these are some of the most common suggestions for growing your reach. You can also engage with your community by asking meaningful questions on your Facebook page and sharing about yourself in blog posts and on social media.

content

This one is the biggie. Identify your focus and stick to it. This doesn’t mean you can only write about one topic but it does mean you if you want to grow your platform, you need to know what your focus is. Learn to be intentional about the focus of your content.  Whether your main topic is broad like faith or more narrow like food or homeschooling, be sure your content is consistent.

Also relating to content is doing research. Pay attention to the search engine terms that lead people to your blog. Note which posts receive more interaction in the comments and on social media.  Do periodic surveys of your readers to gain insight into their preferences and expectations.

commitment

Know this, building your platform is going to be a huge time commitment! It won’t happen overnight and will be way more work than you expected. Remember, building your platform isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Identify the first step you want to take and do it. Then go to the next thing.  Don’t try to do it all at once.  Give yourself space and time to reach your goals.

Building your platform can feel incredibly overwhelming. But when you realize it won’t happen all at once and that it can take time to sort out exactly what your focus will be, you will find out it’s less stressful. The big thing is this: Be you! Don’t try to mimic someone else. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged with the process instead focus on writing meaningful content and building a strong community.  As you do this consistently and remain committed to investing the time it will take, your platform and your brand will grow.

What has been your biggest challenge in building a platform?

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2 Comments

  1. Consistency is hard. There isn’t enough of me to go around so I juggle. And drop things. Sometimes I even forget about them. I need to be more organized so that everything I need to do gets at least some attention.

    1. Consistency is hard. And I understand the juggling too. Some days it is just hard to sort through the “ought to do” list and identify the “need to do” items. But don’t give up! There isn’t a perfect system. And it really will never all be done!

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