When it comes to author platforms, there are a multitude of opinions. My own are a sort of wishy-washy mumbo-jumbo kaleidoscope. Lately, I’ve been thinking about a lot of aspects of the author platform. Do I need it? What is it really?
After searching more, and reading articles, I have to say that I usually end up shaking my head and deciding I don’t really need to think a lot about my author platform. It gives me writing cramps. Jeff Goins is known to talk about his tribe, and that’s a descriptor that seems to work really well for him.
I was having a difficult time wrapping my head around a “tribe”, but he elaborated a little bit more in one of the emails I get from him and it made sense. I’m not the kind of person, and I would venture that most authors can identify with this, who worries a great deal about their “followers” (or minions if you’re one of the cool kids). *cackling laughter*
Okay, but in all seriousness it’s really about figuring out what you want to say and why. I think a lot of writers feel compelled to write. If someone told me I could never write anything down again, I might actually go insane. I write my thoughts and ideas out so they don’t need to clutter up my head. I write a million lists that I frequently lose so I can make room for all the other thoughts racing around in my brain at any given moment.
But really, I had to sit myself down and think for a moment. Why do I write? Why am I blogging? What is the purpose of it all? It seems somewhat logical that if I can’t answer those questions, then I’m not really adding value to the interwebs. I guess that’s not really a huge problem; there’s enough cyberspace to go around, but I’d like for my words to mean something to someone, somewhere.
Then it occurred to me why I write, why I blog (outside of the fact that I had to for a publishing/media class), and what my “angle” is for lack of a better term. For me, all this advice about author platforms is a bit backwards, and I’ll explain what I mean.
Many creative people have a wide variety of interests. Heck, if you look around my blog you can tell that I have quite a few: photography, drawing, and writing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg because I also love a bunch of pop culture things, working with yarn, learning pretty much any crafty thing, yoga, movies, and music. Advice for starting blogs and especially author platforms tells you to choose your demographic group, and your focus, then tailor your blog accordingly.
I can only assume that the people giving this advice are the business people who are driven in their jobs and carry that over to their personal lives.
Ex. I’m a loan officer, so I’m going to write about loans and related finances.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but then we get to the career of writing. The natural thought process when we follow this advice is to say, “I’m a writer, and I’m going to write about writing.”
I’m bored already. Seriously.
Another problem with that mindset is that you can only say so much about writing. If you want to give grammar tips, more power to you. I’m probably going to only ever read the exact ones I need and want. The alternative is writing tons of free stuff that zaps your time and talents without giving you a paycheck for your efforts. Sometimes that might be fine, but I would feel bad for someone who did it regularly without receiving pay for their “job”.
I blithely disregarded all the advice when I started my blog, mostly due to the vague nature of trying to “write for your audience”. I didn’t have an audience, nor did I know who should be my audience. So I focused on the “start a blog” part and ignored the rest. How are you supposed to pick a demographic when you don’t even know what you want to write?
Here’s what I would say: write what you want. It may take some time, but in the end you may be able to see certain patterns. Those patterns are a piece to the puzzle. I like to help other writers and dreamers by offering encouragement: my own stories of success and failure, and lessons I learned the hard way so others don’t need to do the same. I didn’t know it when I started my blog, I didn’t even know it six months ago. When I redid my blog, it still didn’t really occur to me.
Then I got that email from Jeff Goins (you should really sign up if you want to be a writer) and it made me think about it all again. Instead of the choose-first philosophy, I took my existing blog and whittled it down to the most basic reasons behind my posts. I can’t tell you how excited I was to discover that I really just want to help encourage people to live their dreams.
Once I understood that, I could begin to see new areas of potential and things of value I could offer to my fellow writers and dreamers. It’s going to take me while to get the ball rolling because I have many other irons in the fire (I know…I just used a cliche….deal with it). Knowing my natural tendencies, I plan to try and fine-tune my blog so that I can connect in better ways, and more valuable ways with people all over the world.
I love the internet. It is the best. Internet, will you be my valentine?
I don’t know if the story of my author platform process will help any of you, but I am hoping (maybe for selfish reasons) that I am not the only one who needs to do the process a little backwards. If nothing else, blogging needs to ring true for me and that was something I could not compromise on. Now, I don’t need to. I’m crazy excited.
If you have been struggling with the whole concept of blogging and author platforms, drop me a line to let me know how you’re working through it and what advice you’d like to share!
I’d really love to hear from other perspectives. The more we share our experiences, the more successful we will all be.
Sorry for the length of the post, it is against all the “recommended” best practices for blogging, but I just had to do it. Have a great day, and don’t give up on your dreams as long as they still exist.