Rachel recently wrote in and asked, “You talk about platform a lot, but what does that actually mean?”
This is such a great question, because if you want to be a successful blogger, it is so important to know what a platform is and how to build one.
What is a platform?
Honestly, the word “platform” is one that makes me pause. I’m not totally comfortable with the word and its implied meaning, because here’s the thing…
I don’t really want to build stages to stand on. Instead, I want to build communities to connect with.
That being said, you do need some sort of stage to stand on, metaphorically, so that you can build up and foster a community of people who gather around to connect with you and with each other.
In a nutshell, you need a place to speak from and people to speak to. Those two things together equal your online platform.
Your place to speak from might be blogging, live video, YouTube, e-mail newsletters, or social media channels. And the people you speak to are your followers, readers, viewers, or subscribers.
Why do you need a platform?
If you’re whispering, talking, or even yelling into a vast darkness and nobody is listening, you won’t be able to make an impact. You can go out in the forest and scream at the top of your lungs, but if nobody is there to listen, it doesn’t matter how great the things are that you have to say.
Bottom line: You’re not going to make a difference if there’s nobody listening!
An online platform gives you the ability and opportunity for people to hear you and connect with what you’re saying.
If you want to think about it literally, imagine you’re a speaker at a huge event. In order for the entire audience to hear you, you’ll have to at least be elevated a little bit on some kind of platform. It gives you a place to speak from where people can see you and hear you easily.
That being said, I always try to make sure I’m not putting myself on a pedestal. I try to lower my platform as much as I can and show my community that I am a regular person just like them — that I’m struggling with the same things they are, that I have hard days, that I make mistakes, that I want to pull my hair out over parenting and business stuff some days, etc.
Building your platform doesn’t mean people are putting you on a pedestal. It just gives you a place to speak from and people to speak to.
It’s important to prioritize growing your online platform, because it will allow you to impact more people, make more of a difference, and increase your income.
Important note: When I say to prioritize growing your platform, I am NOT saying to hustle, hustle hustle. (Because if you know my story, you know that I bought into that and burnt myself out, so I most definitely am not recommending that. But what I do recommend is being strategic and wise!)
How to Start Building Your Platform
Now that you understand what a platform is and why you need one, let’s talk about how to practically get started with building your platform:
1. Determine who you’re going to help.
Who will be your ideal audience or target market? You first need to know who you’re trying to help in order to know where to put your platform.
You want to make sure you’re putting your platform in an ideal place so that you make yourself as accessible as possible to the people you’re catering to.
2. Know your who, what, why, and how.
In order to help people effectively you need to know: who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.
Knowing these things will help you define boundaries and guidelines for your platform and business. It will also help you know what you don’t do, who you’re not trying to help, and who you’re not for.
For example, here are some of the things that define who I am, what I do, why I do it, and how I do it:
- My calling at MoneySavingMom.com is to help as many people as possible from all walks of life save money and live intentionally.
- My calling here at YourBloggingMentor.com is to help bloggers make an impact and increase their income.
- I try not to stir up controversy. That’s not who I am. I avoid hot button issues so that I don’t ostracize people.
- I strive for honesty, transparency, and authenticity in what I put out there on the Internet.
- I don’t accept sponsored opportunities for anything I can’t 100% personally endorse.
- I love live video and building community, and those are the two things I prioritize and focus on the most. Which means I spend a lot of my day engaging with my readers through comments and emails and live video:
Spend some time figuring out who you are, what you want to do online, why you want to do it, and how you want to do it. Who do you want to serve? How do you want to serve them? What sets you apart from others? What unique perspective and life experience do you bring to the table? What’s your underlying why for wanting to start a blog or post on social media?
The more you can answer these questions definitively (and it might take quite a bit of trial and error to do so — I know it definitely did for me!), the more effective you’ll be at building your platform and serving people well.
3. Pick just one social media channel to focus on.
In the beginning, don’t try to do it all. It can be SO overwhelming to try to make sure you’re doing everything right on all of the social media channels.
Just pick one social media channel to focus on, learn as much as you can about it, experiment some, and grow your following on that one outlet.
Note: I do recommend at least grabbing your social media channels so that your name doesn’t get taken. But you don’t have to tell anyone about it or post on it right away. Just make sure you have it available for later on when you’re ready to use it.
Make sure you’re prioritizing your blog and your e-mail list, but beyond that, I challenge you to just decide on one social media channel for now. And you’ll want to pick one based upon who you are, what you’re doing, and who your target audience is.
As I said above, live video is something I love and do well, and it helps me connect to my community really easily. It’s life-giving to me and it works for my audience, so that’s the main thing I personally focus on. I spent a lot of my time on FB Live and InstaStory, and I let my team handle a lot of the other social media stuff.
Maybe you love YouTube, or maybe you want to try interacting with your community in a Facebook group, or maybe you really love the organic and personal feel of Instagram. Figure out where your people are so that you can utilize that social media channel to build your platform and build it well.
And once you’ve got that first social media channel built up and you feel comfortable with it, you can move on to the next one and try adding something new!