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!
"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