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!