How To Build A Writing Platform
Do you even have a platform?
First a Definition
In the one corner we have the written word, the essays, the informative articles, the poems and the books. In the other corner we have the self-promotion, that side of writing that can take the bravest of men and women and knock them to their knees and render them helpless and floundering.
What is a platform? In the simplest definition, a writer’s platform is who you are as a writer. It is your established body of work and it is your list of credentials, your accomplishments and your future plan. It is your public face and quite frankly is speaks as loudly as your writing with regards to your future money-making hopes and dreams.
If you write for your own pleasure and for the sheer love of writing, then I applaud you and wish you continued success and enjoyment. If, however, you have visions of one day attracting a wide-readership and actually making money from your writing pursuits, then you need to start thinking about your platform.
Let’s face it, we writers love to write but for the most part we hate marketing. For many writers, marketing themselves is akin to prostitution. It is un-clean. It is demeaning. It is beneath many of us to sell ourselves like a commodity. And, if we are going to eventually make money from writing, it is necessary.
It must be done! You are the product, and your success as a writer depends on your ability to build your platform and become known to the masses.
I have talked in length about my own personal platform. I have a long-range plan, and it will involve years of effort, but everything I do with my writing fits into my plan. I realize, and you should too, that there are few overnight successes in writing. Famous writers became famous, not in a flash, but during a slow, mundane, trudging walk towards their goals, following the path of their plan. They began with their writing, their craft, and then they continued to build upon that foundation.
What follows, then, are ten simply steps that will add to your platform and take you ten steps closer to success in writing.
LET PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Take the time to write a short bio that you can use wherever your name appears online. Include your website, blog, credentials and any other significant information. This is painless promotion and yes, it is shameless promotion, but it also pays dividends down the road of life. It is, in effect, free advertising. Whenever you publish an article or post a blog entry, there is your bio for all to read.
USE OTHER MEDIUMS
If you have a camera, take photos of yourself and include them on your blog or website or articles. If you have a video camera, make your own YouTube videos. Find new ways to be seen online and remember that with online marketing, the more your name appears the more it will appear on search engines.
I have a series of articles called “A Moment With Bill Reflections.” I also have YouTube videos by the same name, and soon I will have a blog by the same name. I’m all about name recognition and I want that particular title to stick in the brains of my online friends.
FIND YOUR SUPPORTERS AND HOLD ONTO THEM
Who are your most loyal readers? If you can’t answer that question then there is no hope for you. J
Make a list of the top twenty readers of your work and then show them how much you appreciate them. A simple note thanking them for their loyalty will continue to pay dividends over the years, and a strong list of contacts can never hurt you.
GIVE AWAY YOUR SKILLS
A platform is about exposure. You do not have to make money on everything in order for them to have value. If you have an article that did not sell or did not do well on a site like HubPages, give it away for free. Offer to do a free blog posting on someone else’s blog. This is about establishing your name in the minds of readers, and the more exposure the better.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper and do it on a regular basis. Who knows who is going to see that letter and remember your name? Offer to write free copy for someone’s website in exchange for your byline and bio. With each such action your platform grows.
SPEND FIVE MINUTES PER DAY WRITING DOWN IDEAS
Keep a special file with ideas that you have. They can be boring ideas or “holy crap” ideas, but get your mind working and remember to set no limitations. Involve your family and friends in this brainstorming session. Present to them the question: What can I do to effectively market my writing skills?”
I regularly sit down with Bev and have a brainstorming session with her. We throw out random thoughts and then think about how to make them work as a part of my platform.
Useful information from a pro
Allow nothing that you have written to die from lack of attention. There is a seemingly endless array of outlets online and they are all there for you to use. Check some of your older writings and figure out how they would work for magazines or newspapers. Maybe you have to tweak them a bit, but tweaking will give them life and life will give you another brick on your platform.
FORM PARTNERSHIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU
Of course you should always be friendly and helpful. That goes without saying, and the writing community should always be supportive. However, I am talking now about partnerships with people who may be able to help you in the future, and people who you may be able to help in the future.
Is there someone else who writes about the topics you write about? Reach out to them and establish a relationship. Is there someone who has a blog that is similar to yours? Offer an exchange of blog posts. Is there a magazine that deals in your field but who is not buying articles right now? Is there a famous writer who you admire? Reach out and begin a dialogue eventually building up to a professional relationship.
SPOTLIGHT YOUR BEST WORK
In other words, put your best face forward. If you belong to a writer’s site like HubPages, make sure your best articles are highlighted for all to see. Link your best work to your blogs, and use your best work as reference when submitting articles for publication.
Remember, always, that you are your product, and your best product speaks volumes about your ability as a writer.
I am a firm believer in letting your readers know who you are as a person. The online world can be impersonal, or it can be a showcase where people learn about you as a human being.
Do you want your readers to become invested in you? If so you have to let them know who you are and not just let them see your writing. People associate with real people and not some robot who churns out words.
BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER
Start an online forum. Organize a writer’s group in your hometown. Meet other writers and become part of a community. Promote events like a library read-a-thon or a local high school poet’s society.
Expand your circles and become the nucleus of those circles. I do not believe in the passive approach. I believe that your future as a writer is in your hands and you must step up to the plate and swing at a number of pitches until you make contact.
Join me on my writing blog
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Writing tips, suggestions, ideas, brainstorming and more useful resources for writers of all types.
More to Come Soon
Of course there is more to come. I’m full of ideas and I want to share them with you. I want you all to be successful, so I share what I know in hopes that it helps you in some way.
Will all of these ideas work for you? Of course not! Some may not apply; some might not work with the platform you are building. Grab hold of those that feel good to you and leave the rest for someone else. That’s how it works in my writing world and what’s mine is yours.
Good luck with your platform. I understand that marketing yourself is not always a pleasant undertaking, but I also understand that it is vital if you are going to be successful in this business.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”