Now that I have your attention…
I’m not exactly sure on how to build a platform, and by platform I do not mean shoes or a stage. I know shoes, but I am not a carpenter. I am talking about social media platforms, and there actually are experts out there. It’s a thing. Just google it. The experts talk about platform, branding (which I associate with advertising and cattle, but that is another topic for another day), messaging, consistency, etc. I occasionally read about building a platform because I have promised a certain editor or two book proposals multiple times, and book proposals in today’s market require some knowledge or understanding of platform. The experts KNOW. I’m not sure but I have some thoughts and warnings.
- Just because you have traffic doesn’t mean you’re a good writer. Deep down we all get a rush knowing the traffic on your blog ticked up or a tweet was retweeted, etc. Admit it. If you can’t admit it, you’re not being honest. And if you’re not being honest, then you will never be able to handle reality which is traffic does not equal your best content. My highest traffic posts involved some megachurch pastor who never communicated with me personally. Those posts were not my best content. Those posts were not examples of my best writing. IF you are just looking to increase traffic write about sex, Game of Thrones, megachurch pastors, or sex.
- Just because you don’t have traffic doesn’t mean you’re bad writer. Some of my best posts are the ones that sit there and are read quietly by my dear readers, who don’t number in the thousands but more in the hundreds. In fact, yesterday there were only 42 readers on this blog. I have less than 300 people following my blog.
- When you write from your heart, pray while you write, edit, and before you hit “publish”. And keep praying. Much of what I write about hits at the intersection of gender, faith, race, and ethnicity. It’s not everyone’s “thing” but it is the thing that God has compelled me to write and speak about. That intersection is what catches my heart and keeps me up at night because it affects the way I heard and hear God. It also makes people upset, angry, defensive. Racism and sexism are touchy subjects amongst the church-going crowd. If you are writing to build a platform, I humbly suggest you reconsider your motives. Writing for an audience is soul-bearing work. It’s work. It’s a discipline. Just like praying.
- Engage with your readers not your critics. My dear readers are thoughtful. They respond with open hearts and honest questions. Writers should engage with their readers. However, when my stats go through the roof because I’ve written a controversial post or about something that became a controversy I get crazy comments and crazier personal messages that demand I repent, retract, kowtow, etc. Am I judging those commenters? Yes. Those commenters usually are not regular readers and their comment is a critique. I let my readers respond to them. That’s right. Let your readers engage with your critics. If your readers are like mine they are thoughtful and sharp, and they will call out a troll when they see one.
- If you are serious about building your platform you have to be committed to writing consistently. This is where I offer advice I have heard but have not taken. I am not building my platform. I write when I want to write because this isn’t my livelihood nor is “writer” my primary vocation. However, I have been putting much more thought into being a better, more consistent blogger for my own development as a writer and for my readers who deserve more than a post here and there every few weeks.
For my fellow writer/speaker friends and readers out there, what have you learned about building your platform? What words of advice, warning, and encouragement can you give?
This is so timely! I’m not super interested in building a platform but I know it’s pretty necessary if I ever want to get published or write for other outlets besides my blog.
I’m taking the writer’s workshop this summer at NISET and we were assigned to read a free e-book which talks a lot about building your platform and network. What the author said, and I’ve read this in other books about writing, is to write for yourself. When you write what you love to write about, people will follow you, there’s a niche out there for you. When you write for other people in mind in order to get views or follows, it’s harder for you to write authentically and in your natural voice.
I’ve been chewing on this, and much of what you wrote in your post, lately. Thanks for the insight and encouragement!
Have a great time at NISET!! I wanted to be there, but it’s never a great time, which is why writing truly is a discipline.
As for writing authentically and in your natural voice, I think one of the best compliments I received was from a reader who heard me speak. She told me that I sounded in person just like the person she was reading. It meant the world to me!
Oh. Oh. ALL THE THOUGHTS.
Briefly, I’d say that when I stopped trying to platform build & started trying to write more often, more consistently my blog -therefore platform grew! (hurrah!) Until…. I stopped writing consistently & then they all went away. LOLOL…. so there ya have it. Write consistently, vulnerably, honestly about what you are passionate about. That’s all I got. =)
My warnings: don’t spend too much. Don’t let blogging take over your life. And DO connect & network & read other bloggers & comment thoughtfully. =)
I highly doubt they all went away, Grace!! When you say “don’t spend too much” do you mean $$$? I’ve been wondering about that because as you can see my blog is very no-$$$ 😉 And great point about commenting. I don’t do that enough!
Kathy, these are great thoughts and ring true with what this newbie blogger has been learning. I think another thing for me is to figure out what you are trying to do with your blog, what is the ethos that shapes what you are trying to write, and then live within it. I agree that fostering your relationship with those who read and comment regularly and thoughtfully is one of the best parts of blogging.
Great point about, Bob, about intent and focus – a philosophy of blogging! I’ll have to chew on that for a bit because I know I have one, but I’m certain it would be helpful to articulate it for myself and for my readers.
Thank you so much for this post, Kathy. It’s exactly what I needed to hear today. I heard myself say just yesterday that if writing in this day in age is all about chasing the numbers, maybe I don’t want to do it anymore. But I keep returning partly because I just love it and because I feel God has placed a conversation on my heart to keep exploring. I also keep a little folder in my email of people who’ve written me and shared how the words encouraged them. It encourages me in that quality of connection regardless of quantity. Thank you so much!
Great thoughts. Some of my best stuff are less read posts but have generated great conversation off line or crystallized thinking. Numbers don’t tell all.
Thanks for stopping by, Beau! Yes, numbers don’t tell all in so many situations!