What does it mean, to ‘Build A Platform?’
This can be a most confusing phrase for someone starting out. Popular advice is to be told to start building a platform before you are ready to start selling your work. The thinking behind this is sound – if you have some followers, fans or friends engaged with you and listening to your message, it will be far easier to sell them your products when you launch them into the marketplace.
Even established authors with an existing publishing deal are asked to do some work on their own to increase their brand awareness. Three years ago, Simon & Schuster started asking their signed authors to start posting video.
The confusion often begins when you start to ponder ‘How?’
Does that mean I have to start a blog, or become a great speaker from stage, or having every social media account filled to the brim with sage advice, sending everyone into a click-frenzy of likes, shares, re-tweets, plus 1s?
These are all a good places to start, but probably the most effective approach is to watch and ask – where are your people?
Every industry has their preferred method of communication. Sure, most people may be on all social networks, a little bit. However, once you start listening to the conversations, buzz and chatter going on in your industry, you will start to notice that there are places where conversations explode! And for every industry this is different.
For example, sports stars and celebrities tend to tweet, so followers of sports stars and celebrities tend to go to twitter to interact.
Similarly, if sports stars are on twitter, that’s where the coaches go for up-to-date information, and that is where they tend to stay – because the majority are already there. Why bother taking it somewhere else?
And if celebrities are tweeting, gossip magazines, celebrity-following blogs and fans tend to go to twitter and stay on twitter.
It makes sense for photographers share on image-rich sites like instagram and facebook – showcasing their work is made easy for them.
For inspiration people tend to go to Pinterest – it’s just such a seamless way of looking for holiday ideas, crafty inspiration, pot-luck dinner winners or passion projects and pinning them to your own board for reference. It’s like having your own personal team of collaborators and idea-incubators helping you along with your next venture.
I think Oprah summed it up beautifully when she said:
“Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have.”
Are you building a Platform or Building an Empire?
Nothing beats building your own empire. When you are building your empire, you are thinking of your product or service as a business and putting it to work for you.
Put simply, an author platform is all about attracting the right readers to you, and building a direct relationship with them, without relying on anyone else.
So whether is it building a platform or building your empire, tell your story that:
- shows off your best work
- demonstrates the problems you solve
- how transparently you solve them
- cares about who you serve