A platform is a base of people who are interested in your writing. These are people who read your writing for a reason and look forward to your next post. They are in relationship with you because you offer insight that they value.
Often people think that building a platform involves collecting was many Facebook friends and Twitter followers as possible, but a platform does not merely consist of the number to people that have liked your page or retweeted you.
There are many “10 Surefire Ways to Build Your Platform” sales pitches out there on the Internet. Although, without first knowing your purpose, it’s easy to be fooled by a promise. It’s not just about collecting email addresses. Building a platform is about building relationships.
Mindset #1 – Build Relationship
Think of a platform as a group of like-minded people who are looking to develop in the area in which you have expertise. This group of people is often referred to as your tribe. To reach these people you must find a niche for yourself.
Seth Godin, in his classic book Tribes, was one of the first to coin the term. He describe a tribe as, “a group of people connected to one another, connect to a leader, and connected to an idea.”
Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt are both Christian authors and coaches that have built large businesses using this concept. Michael Hyatt is a former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing. He has been a mentor to Jeff Goins. Both of these men are great examples of people who built their businesses by building relationship.
Mindset #2 – Believe in yourself
Jeff Goins continually reminds his tribe that they are writers. One of his favorite definitions of a writer is: “People who write.” So, start writing. Step into your calling.
Trust that you have something to say that someone is interested in reading. Even more, trust that you have something to say that will provide a breakthrough of insight or encouragement for someone else. What you have is what someone else needs to get unstuck and back on track with their journey with God.
You have a writing voice that communicates knowledge in a way that is unique to you. You have life experiences that gives shape your writing voice to make it distinct from the other voices that are out there in the conversation. In short, you have something to say that no one else can say in quite the same way. That distinction makes ALL the difference.
Mindset #3 – Persevere to Develop Your Writing Voice
Take the time to develop your writing voice. The only way to do this is to write, and write a lot. Keep at it. Don’t quit.
As you write, seek to write from the point of view of your reader. Develop the ability to have a conversation with your reader. Continually ask yourself questions to help you gain insight into how the reader will respond to your writing.
Keep your writing conversational.
Mindset #4 – Building a Platform not an Option
The question is not whether you need to build a platform, but when you do you begin to build it? This is true whether you want to self-publish or seek a traditional publishing contract. Selling books requires that you have readers who to read your book.
One of the questions an acquisitions editor from a traditional publisher will ask you is: “How large is your audience?” By that, he or she will mean: “How many people do you already have that know your writing and would be willing to buy your book?” Traditional publishers do provide some high-end marketing options—interviews, book signings, press releases—but they will only offer these to authors that have already built a large audience.
As an independent author, you will have the responsibility of building your own platform. Consider how you might begin to get out the word that you are a writer that people may want to read as soon as possible in the process of writing your book.
Mindset #5 – Build Partnerships
Take the time to find people who write in different contexts—professionally, socially, privately. Seek to develop some mutual interests around writing. Reach out. Identify yourself and your desires to others. Take the risk of being known. Make the sacrifice to give something of value to another person.
People that are going after what is important to you can be hard to find. When you do find them, take the time to nature and develop your relationship with them. Remember, you are not looking to befriend high-powered people whose name you can drop to impress others. You are looking for partners willing to help each other grow into authentic writers and coaches who have something of value to share with others.
Be on the look out for people you can “walk alongside of”. This is literally the meaning of the word encourage.
What will be your next step in building your platform? Feel free to reach out and leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your journey towards building relationship around writing.