DO YOU ASPIRE TO BE AN AUTHOR? WRITER? MUSICIAN? Do you plan to be in any other business where you will depend on the general public and faithful followers for your income? If so, you need a platform.
Imagine a politician, standing on a stage (platform), rousing the curious and the devoted into a frenzied roar, after which they go to the polls and put their mark next to his/her name.
This is what we want for ourselves, but instead of voting at the ballot box, we want them to vote by buying our book. Or our music. Or our invention.
What is a platform?
The platform that I’m talking about is the stage on which we present ourselves to our adoring (we hope) fans.
The key for us as authors is, instead of a physical stage, our stage will be primarily on the internet.
When do I start building my platform?
I can’t stress enough the importance of doing this as soon as possible, even if you haven’t even started writing your book.
Are you 13 years old and want to write books for the rest of your life? Start your platform now. Are you 61 and planning to write books when you retire in four years? Start your platform now.
By starting your platform well before you need it, you will have a large following by the time your first book is published. With a nice platform, it will be easier to get a more lucrative contract for your book, and make it possible to sell many more books than you would otherwise.
I wish I had known this a long time ago. Fortunately, I know it now! I’m glad I can pass on this knowledge to you.
How do I start my platform?
Social media is the mainframe of your platform. You’re probably already on Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or some combination of these.
Choose two of the above to start. I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but you might also find me on another social media in the future. I chose these two (and recommend these two) because they’re the most widely used ones currently, and because I can make posts that are either text or images, or a combination of the two.
Create a Facebook business page for your writing business. It’s not hard to set up, but if you need help, you can contact me (I’ve done a lot of marketing in the past) or contact someone else who can help you get set up properly.
Then, once or twice every day – yes, every single day! – post something of value on your business page. Try to always include an image so your post will be noticed by more people.
When you’ve got several days’ worth of interesting posts on your page, invite all your Facebook friends to “Like” your business page. Many people will ignore or not notice the invitation, because people are so busy and overwhelmed with the world today. Don’t worry, and don’t hold it against them. You can always wait a while and invite them with a personal message later. Your goal is to have thousands of likes. That’s really hard to do, so don’t get discouraged. Just keep plugging along, and you’ll get there.
For my daily posts, I’ve chosen to create memes with uplifting quotes from famous people. Graphic art is something I enjoy doing, so this was a natural decision for me. My memes have my website name on them, as you can see here and here. With my name on the memes, if (when) I’m lucky enough for the images to go viral, people will start recognizing my name.
Please, please, don’t talk about anything on your Facebook business page that can be divisive, such as politics, religion, or social issues. Unless, of course, your book is about politics, religion, or social issues. 🙂 I don’t know anyone who wants to turn away potential customers just because they don’t like our social views.
And of course whenever I have a blog post, I’ll post that on Facebook, too.
A convenience that Facebook offers on business pages is the post scheduler. I can schedule posts, and line them up for the next several days. That way I don’t have to worry about being home to post them at the optimum time.
Set up Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or whatever the second element of your platform will be.
Use the same profile image, the same background or cover image, and the same description on all your social media. This is called “branding”. I’ll write another blog post on branding later. Look for that branding post, because proper branding is vitally important!
One advantage of Twitter is that it’s easier to get followers on Twitter than it is on Facebook. Just follow people and many of them will follow you back. If they ignore you, give them a week or so, then unfollow them. With a few exceptions, there’s no point in continuing to follow people who have no interest in you.
Ideally, on Twitter, you should have more people following you than you are following. But at first, when you’re building your following, that won’t be consistently possible. Just clean out the deadwood every week.
Tweet something of value on Twitter every single day. Yep. Every single day. Preferably, post something different on Twitter than what you posted on Facebook.
Or re-tweet. The people you follow love it when you re-tweet their stuff.
You’ll find out just how much they love being re-tweeted when they start re-tweeting your stuff! This is how you start building rapport and relationships. Thank them for re-tweeting!
YouTube is a definite must if you are a musician, or if you want to make presentations to your followers. You don’t have to post as often on YouTube, 1-4 times a month will do. Be sure and share your YouTube videos on your other social media. Two caveats though:
1) The owners of Facebook are not fond of YouTube (because it competes with Facebook Live) and therefore they won’t show it to as many people.
2) Facebook is extremely cautious about copyright law, and will take down any video you post that violates someone else’s copyright. So be sure that whatever you put up is your own original material. I know a few musicians who have had their posts taken down quickly because they performed cover songs written by other artists.
You absolutely must have a website with a blog. People who are curious about you will almost always glance at your website, and those who are interested in what you say will anxiously await every blog post. Don’t disappoint them!
On your blog, talk about your writing inspirations, give how-tos on various things related to your book topic, write short stories that parallel your book – or are totally different, and/or write about other topics that you feel are appropriate for your desired audience.
If your book is non-fiction, write about things within the realm of your expertise.
If your book is fiction based on actual events, write about the actual events.
If your book is fiction straight out of your imagination, write more stuff straight out of your imagination.
The goal is for your blog to set you up as an authority in your field.
Email list. Ask people to sign up for your email list. Send them an occasional email, maybe to let them know you have another blog post ready to read, you’re starting a new book, your book has been published, or you’re having a book signing at XYZ Bookstore.
Don’t send your subscribers too many emails – we don’t want our followers to start thinking of our emails as trash. And never ever spam those precious subscribers.
And more later…
When you’ve got all that under control, there are other things you can do, such as guest blogging, being interviewed by other writers, joining forums that deal with your subject matter, and so forth. Maybe we’ll talk about some of those another time.
That’s about it for today. If you haven’t already, get started on your platform! Remember to look for my article on the vitally important topic of branding soon.