Platform. It’s a word we hear all the time in the speaking/writing business, but what does it really mean?
Today on my Use Your Words BlogTalkRadio show I talked about platform: the best ways to build one, and what’s really important. Listen in to that show here! Tons of great information.
But let me sum up.
A platform is usually defined as:
The number of people who interact with you; it’s usually expressed as a number, and it encompasses the number of people who hear you speak each year; the number of people who visit your website every week; the number of followers you have on your Facebook account/Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.; the number of people who watch you on TV or listen to you on the radio; and the number of people on your email list.
That sounds daunting I know, but add all those things up and you can get a number. That’s the number that publishers, for instance, want to see in any book proposal.
The problem is: if you are starting out, where do you concentrate on building your platform? Are there some that are more useful than others?
Definitely. In fact, I would prefer that people defined platform more like this:
The number of people who visit you regularly and who interact with you and who are interested in what you have to say.
I know people with thousands upon thousands of followers on Twitter, but they aren’t targeted followers. They aren’t specifically in their niche, and so they do little for them. It’s better to have people who are excited about you! So let’s look at platform building from the two different sides: Authors and Speakers.
How Authors should Build Platforms
While speaking definitely builds platform, it does it in a limited way. First, it tends to be limited by geography; we tend to start speaking closer to home because that’s where we’re known. It’s hard to get known across the country speaking when your’e just starting out.
So for authors working on a platform, the place to really concentrate is on building an online community, which can reach anyone, and building for radio and television appearances.
Online, remember that Facebook and Twitter and blogs all work together. Twitter sends people to your blog. Blogs provide the content. And people talk about that blog on Facebook! I find Twitter a good place to meet new people in my niche, but in the end, Facebook sends way more people to my blog than Twitter does. It’s much more effective. So work on getting a Facebook Page set up, and make sure to link it to your blog.
And on your blog, write quality content that is specific to your niche. If you’re writing about parenting, don’t go off on politics. Stick to your defined category, so that people know who you are and what to expect. That keeps people coming back for more!
This seems like a lot of work, and if the idea of starting a blog or a Facebook Page sounds daunting, and you don’t know what Twitter is, my audio download “Build Your Online Community” can help. I also have a much more in-depth e-course on how to Build Your Online Community, which is 4 modules long and ends with how to throw an online party for your book (mine brought in $1000 in sales in one day).
How a Speaker Builds a Platform
For speakers, online communities are not quite as important. You’re not trying to sell a book; you’re trying to get speaking engagements. For you, then, the emphasis is different.
Nevertheless, you still need a website! As we talked about last week, before anyone hires you they will look at your website. So have a place where you list your topics and post any videos.
The next best thing you can do to build your platform is simply to network. It is much easier to get hired to speak if people know who you are. So go out to the fundraisers for Christian radio or TV in your area. Get to know these people! Join community-wide committees for Christian ministries. Form a group of ministry leaders that goes out to breakfast once a month. Attend writers or speakers conferences. The best networking I have done is at our annual writers’ conference, where I met my current agent, and the guy who books my speaking engagements, and lots of TV personalities.
Whether you’re a speaker or a writer, having people who you’re engaged with on a regular basis will help you grow your ministry! So keep track of key people. Send out email newsletters. And make sure your website is top notch! That will help you get better known, and help people remember your name when they’re standing in a bookstore, or when they’re thinking of who to hire for their Christmas outreach!
If you want to hear more about this subject, don’t forget to listen in to the show, where I go much more in-depth!
And if you have other things you want me to talk about it in Use Your Words, leave some ideas in the comments! I’m here to help you!