Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Establishing a Platform

First I have to thank everyone who chimed in on my post about social media. Your comments were incredible. I even printed them up and used some of them in my presentation. What I learned from your comments was invaluable. I appreciate beyond words the awesome helpfulness of writers here in blogland. And as GGray mentioned-- this is all free. Unbelievable.

I thought I'd share the main element of my presentation, which was the necessity of a platform and focus to make a blog work. And no, you do not need to be published to have a platform, nor do you need to be a nonfiction writer. (You don't even need to be a writer, but that's beside the point since this is a writing blog.)

I started my blog last June, 2009. My first post explained the name Coming Down the Mountain, which had to do with my reclusive nature and now here I am. Tada!

Here's a sampling of my posts that first 8 months:

A birthday letter to my son

A report on Sunday school

A book review

My adventures canning 3 bushels of tomatoes

Analysis of book signings

Excerpts from emails sent to me by my missionary son in South Africa

Well, it's easy to see why I only had 23 followers that first 8 months, and rarely got comments in the double digits. I had no platform. I thought I did, but I kept interrupting it to talk about other stuff completely unrelated to writing. Was this a church blog? A family blog? An insecure writer's blog? Who was I anyway?

In January I revamped and set up my platform, as a reclusive writer who is now a published author, and added that to the name of my blog. (I know it's long, but oh well.) I deleted all posts that weren't about books, writing, editing or the publishing industry. I added a section on my blogroll for strictly publishing blogs, as well as the one with writing/blog friends I follow daily.

Result? From mid January to mid March I jumped from 25 followers to 106 at the last count. (Thank you all you 106 awesome and attractive followers!) That's over 75 followers in two months, compared to 23 in eight months. That's the difference a platform can make in a blog.

Natually I did other things, like actively seeking other writers. Follow. Make comments. Have something to say in both my comments and my own posts. Clearly, a person can't just create their platform and wait for the world to find you. But it almost seems like that's how it works, it can happen that fast on the internet.

Creating a platform, which used to scare me turned out to be a LOT of fun. After all, it's a creative endeavor and we writers are creative. Have you got your platform yet? Have you changed it several times? Does it relate to your work or your personality?

Mine relates to my personality and my history as a writer. I'm toying with the idea of doing something relating to my books but haven't settled on anything yet. Besides, I can't have too much fun here, or I'll never get to the real writing!

26 comments:

  1. Such excellent suggestions, Karen!!!

    Having a platform is something I've really struggled with as well. I'm still not sure what mine is. Just kind of a 'follow your dreams' sort of thing. Working on it!

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  2. I'm trying to keep my platform strictly as a writer's platform. I rarely mention the Monster Child or any of my personal life. If I wanted to post about being a mommy or any other part of my life, I'd get another blog. I think it's important to stay focused, especially on a blog that's to build the platform. Especially if an agent checks it out.

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  3. Ah so that is how it's done. A platform, I have no idea what my blog's platform is. I agree with Tamara, "just follow your dreams." That is probably the best thing to do. Thanks Karen

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  4. It's amazing how well this works, isn't it? And how fun and entertaining it can be following your dreams. :) Congrats on the followers.

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  5. I'm quite aware mine isn't as much of a platform as it could be. If it gets to the point where I really have something to promote from it, then I suppose it'll be time to get more focused... at the moment, though, I don't exactly have any credibility to talk about writing (well not about fiction, anyway), so I don't want to go shooting my mouth off about it!

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  6. Congrats on your followers - that's a huge jump in two months!

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  7. Your platform is so clear, Karen. I love it.

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  8. I'm still working on my platform, although the followers keep coming. I try to keep everything within the realms of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, even though I talk about writing, movies, books, and tech stuff. Guess for now that's my platform!

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  9. You prove the point that you simply cannot get a platform with putting in the work.

    I'm glad your presentation went well, Karen.

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  10. Tamara & Ann, I like following your dreams as a platform. And from there it's a matter of how close you want to stay to it, how strong you want your focus to be.

    Piedmont, that's kind of the point I got to, where I wanted to strengthen my focus. I figured if I'm going to do this, I would keep it just to writing and publishing issues.

    Sarahjayne, it is amazing! I think what got me going was watching the movie Julie/Julia, and how Julie started her blog with one purpose/one platform and people just kept finding her. I wanted to try that. Only with writing, not cooking :)

    hampshireflyer, well, since I'm a hopeless anglophile, the fact that you're a Hampshire resident and oh so British is enough of a platform to attract me lol!

    Susan, it is compared to what it was before I decided to focus. Although I follow a few blogs that are jumping even faster. It's always fun to try and figure out what people are doing, sometimes unintentionally, to attract hordes of followers.

    Alex, Maybe your platform is that you're a guy in this blog world dominated by women?

    Mary, thank you! I guess this way you know exactly what you're going to get whenever you stop by! Well, more or less. I'd hate to be TOO predictable.

    Donna, so true. It may be free of money but not free of time and effort.

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  11. I think my platform is always changing. I'm trying to gear it more towards writing info and techniques but we will see.
    Great job!

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  12. Christine, whatever it is you're doing is working. You're one of those bloggers attracting followers like crazy.

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  13. Very interesting post, Karen.
    I am defintely not focused on anything in my blog.
    My blog is more like a diary, whatever I feel in the mood for day to day.
    I agree if you become more established that you would need to find a platform.
    In the meantime, I'll just meander on aimlessly.

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  14. Hi

    Yay!! What a wonderful history of your blog - long may it continue!

    I think I'm too eclectic and like it that way. I do admire and am in awe at all these very focused people though who know what they want and go about building their profiles - shows steely determination and guts!

    Take care
    x

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  15. Brigid, I think your blog is lovely.

    Yours too, Kitty. I like eclectic blogs, especially those of highly interesting people!

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  16. A lot of what you've said here is the reason for re-vamping my own blog. Congrats on all the hard work you've put in so far and keep up the good work.

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  17. I think you have an amazing platform and I quite admire it.

    I guess I just keep waiting for something to develop...for something to hit me over the head and I go, "Oh! that's my platform!"

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  18. Still searching for my platform and my voice. It's getting clearer. It's important to experiment in the beginning make your mistakes and learn form them

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  19. Jaydee, thanks and yours did throw me for a bit of a loop, as it was a complete overhaul! I like it though.

    Tamara, maybe once your book comes out it will happen just like that :)

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  20. Though my blogs are all related to writing in some manner, I still don’t feel I have a platform, but I’m working on it and hope something brilliant will jump into my head soon.

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  21. As someone who is trying to build her blog, this post was very helpful. Thank you.

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  22. Thanks for sharing your journey! I guess my platform is the process of writing -- good bad and ugly...

    I need to separate the publishing world from my writing friend world as I revamp my own blog.

    Best!

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  23. Interesting post.
    For about the first month,I didn't have the foggiest what the platform of my blog was.
    I know better now. A friend of mine was thinking about setting up a blog, and I advised him to know his platform first. It definitely helps.

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  24. I'm glad that some of our comments were helpful. I've read in a few places that it sometimes takes six months to figure out what your blog is supposed to be and you're the perfect example of that.

    I found your blog around January too and began following because of your angle. I'm glad you follow mine too, Karen.

    I'm thinking of joining Twitter (gasp) and occasionally tweeting (yeah, I think that's the word) of posting my sub nightmares in real time.

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  25. Congratulations on your presentation, Karen!

    My platform... well, it mainly is to showcase my writing, my 'voice'. In a way, being an unpublished author (but a published writer!), I am still growing into my voice, and I want to see what works, although that is not a conscious experiment. I haven't actively marketed my blog mainly as I feel so guilty every time I am not trying to finish my novel. Ah the guilt. But I absolutely love finding new blogs and people finding me. Just wish I could spend more time on that side of things... soon, maybe!

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  26. Karen, you may be right! Fortunately I've found a lot of men who blog as well, espcially other sci-fi geeks like me.

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