The never-ending struggle of an aspiring author to meet the requirement of publishers for a big enough “platform” can be frustrating at best, or worse, discourage someone from writing at all.
Platforms are always built on content, not the container. Social media doesn’t give you a platform; it is the content that causes it to grow–or not. All medias are simply channels to people, and using them effectively means you must have a plan.
The very best author platforms are based around a definable brand and identity. Users know what they can expect. For the sake of keeping this post short, let’s assume you know your focus and have a clear vision of your personal brand.
My apologies if this appears too simplistic, but everything isn’t as complicated as you think.
Step 1 – Get a calendar. Any kind; it doesn’t matter. Something with pictures of bunnies romping in the meadow, a spreadsheet, or a sophisticated media-planning application. Find something you will use, with dates on it.
Step 2 – Determine the types of media you will use. I suggest you not start with everything you think of. You can always add once you establish your rhythm of content creation.
Step 3 – Make a list of the various types of content you want to create.
- The Bible. Good stuff in It.
- Something around the church calendar.
- Civic holidays or remembrances (i.e., July 4).
- Personal dates important to you.
- This-day-in-history books or annual summaries. There are services specifically developed for writers meeting the need for long-term planning. You can get them a year in advance. A subscription costs something like $20 a year and worth every penny.
- Reminders of upcoming events. (Plan events, and then talk about them.)
- General themes you want to revisit frequently.
- Cross-promotions (Podcast on Twitter, YouTube video on Facebook, etc.).
- Anything else that fits. Express yourself.
SPECIAL NOTES: Start with only a few different types of content, setting a goal to add a new type every couple of months. Be predictable, but not so much that you become boring. If you do none of the above suggestions, platform-building will be a hellish march through a barren land. No hyperbole needed because it is absolutely true.
Step 4 – Set deadlines for each platform post and follow them. Yes, self-imposed deadlines. Tail wags dog. Deal with it.
Step 5 – Use scheduling applications or the schedule-release functions in other media you use, setting content to publish on a schedule, so you can take a nap at the time it goes active. You will need a nap.
Step 6 – Constantly review and make revisions if necessary to steps 1-3. Don’t mess with #4.
What type of calendar is best? The one you will use.
What type of schedule is best? The one you follow.
How often should something be posted? Whatever frequency you can sustain and eventually expand.
What type of content is best? Material people like. (Try things to see exactly what this is. Don’t be afraid to fail, since failure leads to success.)
Finally, pace yourself. Too fast, and you won’t be able to sustain your schedule. Too slow, and you won’t gain traction. It will never be easy. If you don’t break a sweat, you aren’t working hard enough.
Obviously, many specific pieces are missing here. But if you don’t start with the basics, good platform content will not have the effect it might have if you paid attention to a little more detail, which begins with a framework, a plan, and oh, yes, a calendar!
Wonderful suggestions. Some I’ve never considered. Thank you so much. I’m a nature-photography-paper-calendar kind of gal.
Platform-building’s not a chore
when done as it is meant to be,
and when one can ken the score
that ‘my platform isn’t me’.
Platform’s content, true and plain,
good takeaways when folks drop by,
and that’s good reason to refrain
from the use of pronoun ‘I’,
because your readers are I’s too,
and each has a life of care,
so the thing you ought to do
is find a way to tell, and share
the things which can be joy and boon,
that to your brand they’ll be attuned.
Great thoughts here, Bob! Thank you! I am anal about getting my blog posts up on time, and I have definitely found that being able to use scheduling software keeps me consistent. I’ve been using Hootsuite free version, but they’ve changed things up a bit, making it harder (not surprising…they want to make money.:) ). What scheduling app do you recommend?
Thanks for the tips here!
Thank you for this. I’ve been kind of winging this as time permits. So this would make me more honest and organzied. I really can use some more organization, so again thanks!
One of the best actionable articles I’ve read! Specific to-dos with broad spectrum to apply. Thank you! This was needed.
Loved this section, Dan!
“Finally, pace yourself. Too fast, and you won’t be able to sustain your schedule. Too slow, and you won’t gain traction. It will never be easy. If you don’t break a sweat, you aren’t working hard enough.”
Steady forward motion wins every time. Thanks for your encouragement!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Some great ideas, especially starting slow but being consistent!
Because I was a teacher, I have found class planning books to be useful in plotting my book. I can see how it would be helpful in planning posts, too. The squares are large so you can write enough to flesh out your topic, and you can scratch out the dates and put in your own. You can find them at any office supply store (or stores that sell educational supplies).
Great info! I find it by no accident that I literally had my planner opened to “Platform” with a bunch of empty to-do boxes when I saw this article in my inbox. Not even kidding. It is a hyperventilate-inducing task and I appreciate your no-nonsense tips.
Excellent actionable ideas, arriving at the perfect time for me. Thank you!
At the moment I am organizing and scheduling my platform this great piece shows up. So thankful for the concise help and encouragement. A teacher’s organizer/planner is the best calendar for me as well and for the same reasons. What affordable scheduling program is there besides Hootsuite; the free version has changed.