3 Benefits of Building Your Own Platform

Successful creatives—authors, speakers, musicians, and even comedians—must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. While the former is essential, it is not enough. Without a meaningful platform, you simply can’t get the attention your product, your brand, or your cause needs to succeed.

Microphone On a Stage with Lights - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada, Image #7683095

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada

Think of it like this: If content is king, platform is queen. You can not build a personal media empire without the help of both monarchs.

What is a platform?

A platform is the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans.

It might include a blog, your Twitter and Facebook accounts, an online video show, or podcast. It may also include your personal appearances as a public speaker, musician, or entertainer. It might even include traditional media like a newspaper column, magazine articles, or radio show. It most likely will include a combination of all these items.

I am writing a book on this topic right now, based on what I have learned in working in the book publishing industry over the last thirty years. (I was also an artist manager for about three years.) In addition, I am also drawing on my personal experience in building my own platform. I am really excited to share what I have learned.

I can tell you this: Building a platform is no longer about:

  • Being picked by a gatekeeper;
  • Investing thousands of dollars in consultants; or
  • Understanding complex and confusing technology

This may have been the ticket five years ago. But not today. Social media technologies have changed everything. Now, for the first time in history, non-celebrities can get noticed—and win big—in an increasingly noisy world.

You can, too.

But before you begin building or expanding your existing platform, it is worth revisiting the benefits of doing so. I believe there are at least three:

  1. A platform provides visibility. The word platform itself is a metaphor. It brings to mind a “stage,” where the speaker or entertainer is elevated above the crowd. It makes it possible for everyone in the audience to see you. This is especially important in a world where more and more people and organizations are screaming for our attention.
  2. A platform provides amplification. It enables you to be heard above the noise in the crowd. Even before modern sound systems, preachers and politicians would stand on platforms in order to be heard. Modern sound systems leverage natural acoustics and make it possible to speak before tens of thousands of people. Today, modern media—especially social media—provide an opportunity for you to extend your reach like never before.
  3. A platform provides connection. Traditional media platforms make possible a kind of unilateral intimacy. You “know” the talk show host, the performing artist, or the conference speaker. But social media has taken this to a whole new level. It makes possible bilateral intimacy—engagement. The result is that you can be more connected to your fans, customers, and supporters than ever before.

Building a platform is easier than ever but still requires hard work. Before you begin, you must be convinced of the benefits.

By the way, I have set up a special Facebook page for people who are interested in learning how to build a platform. It is called My Own Platform, emphasizing that if it’s going to happen, you must take responsibility for it.

Question: What other benefits do you see to building your own platform? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • turner_bethany

    Love reading your blog, so I am super excited to read your book! 

  • http://www.writingplatform.com Michael K. Reynolds

    Writers are being told a solid platform is a prerequisite of publication. This used to be mostly for non-fiction, but now it’s for fiction as well. Although the flip response is to say, “Well, then what do I need a publisher for?” the actual positive result is that many writers are getting their hands on the marketing steering wheel for the first time. Whether biting, kicking or screaming this movement is a wonderful advancement for authors. It doesn’t have to be painful!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great perspective. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/synectics Kevin Pashuk

    I’ve been blogging several times a week for the past few months and the page views are growing steadily.  The bounce rate is dropping, and people are staying on the site longer.  Comments however, are few and far between.  I work to ensure the topics are open ended (not preachy) and I often solicit feedback… so… what might I be missing?  Thoughts?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might want to read my post, “7 Strategies for Increasing Your Blog Comments.”

      • http://twitter.com/InvisiTech Kevin Pashuk

        Michael,

        Thanks for the link, and the recent highlighting of Scott Stratten (Unmarketing)

        Kevin

  • Joe Lalonde

    I can see a benefit of building your own platform being that you OWN it. You have creative freedom with it, you still have it even if your publisher goes down, you have the final say in what goes on on your platform. I think all of those can be very beneficial to you.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    One benefit I most appreciate about platform-building is independence and empowerment. Authors, speakers, vendors, and artists are no longer controlled by gatekeepers. We can go directly to the ones interested in our message or merchandise.

    I have long been convinced of the benefits of social media networking. Two challenges I face: first, balancing online and offline activities; second, deciding how much is enough. As a person with a primarily extrovert personality, I have to talk myself into it each day to get onto FaceBook, Twitter etc! I am learning to develop a more playful attitude so it doesn’t feel like work!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it is worth setting a time limit. Use a timer if you have to or a software program like Anti-Social (which I use).

  • Brasscastlearts

    As usual, you are providing invaluable information of benefit to many, many people. I look forward to your book.

  • http://www.megaphonesites.com Jeremy Santy

    Thanks Michael. We should connect, I would love to chat with you about how I can help you. To be honest, you’re blog has been a huge blessing to me personally.

  • http://www.megaphonesites.com Jeremy Santy

    Thanks Michael. We should connect, I would love to serve this community alongside you if you’re interested. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Nichols/92700497 Richard Nichols

    Having a platform is a way to inspire others. I’m reading a book right now by an author (a businessman) who has inspired thousands of people through his platform. He has given hope and meaning to their lives. As a bold proponent of the gospel, he has seen thousands turn to Christ through his message.

  • Anonymous

    Mike, this is a great post thanks so much. Honestly I think this is one of the areas that we fail at the most. We are all looking for someone else to promote us, no one wants to toot his or her’s own horn. But it is necessary!!!

  • Mike Smith

    Outstanding, Mike..

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mike.

  • Anonymous

    You’re so right, Michael. If you don’t take responsibility for your own platform, nobody else will.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    The clear benefit I see in building your own platform is learning to strike the balance between what I want to say and what others want to hear. The first is a necessary consideration of voice, finding what it is you have to say and allowing your perspective to ring out among the many other competing voices. But the second is an equally necessary consideration of craft where the writer must learn disciplines of clarity, strength of thought, how to write uncluttered prose. As you grow in these two areas, so also will your platform.

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Thanks for clearly defining platform – I had it confused with a singular message (i.e., “I believe we should mentor inner city youth,” etc. – the “Miss America” definition of platform). Is one social medium more effective at building a platform in your opinion?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Take a look at my blog post, A Social Media Platform. That will get you started.

  • Al Pittampalli

    John Locke most certainly understands this. I just read his book because of the quote I saw on your site. Great read…he brings up some brilliant insights. And is super ethical and transparent about his marketing. Thanks for pointing to it, Michael!

  • Anonymous

    Building your platform helps you define your niche or target audience. I’ve learned it’s better to define what you’re about than trying to be about what others are defining.

  • Anthony Dina

    Just in time!

  • Jmhardy97

    Just like starting a business, you have to put a little elbow grease into in order to get it off the ground.

    Jim

  • Anonymous

    Great post and definition of a platform. I look forward to reading your book. This is a topic I really enjoy, due primarily because I’m building my leadership platform. 

  • http://www.shaneraynor.com Shane Raynor

    This is an exciting time to be alive. I’ve heard it said that freedom of the press is only guaranteed to those who own one. But thanks to the internet and free tools like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc., anyone can own one and build their own platform. You obviously have to have determination, a few ideas, some writing ability, and a little marketing savvy, but writers who are willing to work hard have more opportunities now to succeed than ever before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahkovac Sarah Taylor Kovac

    I think one clear benefit of building your own platform instead of leaving it to a guru is that it can be your “baby,” and you can have complete control over how your image/project/product is presented. That could be a positive or a negative thing, I suppose. It requires more of you in the way of research and planning… Not to mention self-control when it comes to Facebook and Twitter.

  • Bprettyman

    Great post on the value of a platform in a world of noise and the importance of working hard to get there. Please keep expanding on this topic. Thanks for your thought leadership in this area.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    Here’s how I see it: as a writer who would like to be published, either I will spend a year plunking away blindly at a manuscript and take the gamble that a publisher will be interested, or I take a year and write my book piece by piece getting feedback from my audience every step of the way before I finally compile, edit, and package an eBook for sale.  This new publishing age that is dawning is a remarkable opportunity.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Good thought, Bret. I think the times are changing.

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        Robert, are you a writer/speaker? How are you building your platform?

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          I’m building a blog site at http://brevis.me, to build my platform.

          • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

            Robert, I just checked out your site. Looks sharp! You’re using the same template as @michaelhyatt , right? I really like it.

            I just read a great ebook on building your platform by @SarahMaeWrites. I like it so much, I’m giving away a few copies. You should check it out.

            http://wp.me/p1EcMh-9L

  • Anonymous

    This is one of the best documentations that I read about the importance of building  a platform.  I also enjoying all the comments to this post learning from them as well. Thanks

  • http://swipeouthunger.com Caleb McNary

    I can’t wait to read the book, I’m also excited to see the facebook page developed

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I can understand that.  I prefer digital over paper, unless it’s my journal.  Then paper and a good quality pen are exactly what I need.

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  • Ali Smith

    Thanks for this insightful post. I was a TV news anchor in Asia for 4 years and had no problem selling my book over there with that kind of instant platform, but since I moved back to the US, it has taken a lot of work to establish the kind of platform that will be convincing to publishers. But as I commit to putting fresh content out weekly on my blog, I am starting to see the fruits six months later. The tips on your blog have really helped, thanks! Ali

  • Eddie-g

    I’m a Christian Artist with a new release please help me share the gospellisten, dowload and share!http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/eddiegarrido

  • http://www.lookingtowardshome.com Looking Towards Home

    Building a platform IS hard work but it can also be a lot of fun – this is what I have discovered this year. I started in January with http://www.LookingTowardsHome.com and the most significant thing for me is how much it has opened my eyes to how much great talent is out there on the other end of the interwebs. Getting to know different bloggers, speakers and opinion leaders has been the biggest blessing this year.

    Along with all the technical knowhow that is required to get our message out into the world the best lesson I have learned is that we must work within Kingdom Economics to be successful – give and you will receive!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “Getting to know different bloggers, speakers and opinion leaders has been the biggest blessing this year.” – Just go on. You will explore many more horizons.

  • http://twitter.com/FPApprentice Robinson Mertilus

    Thanks for sharing this, Michael. I’m definitely on board with setting the foundation and building my platform. I recently launched a blog, soon to launch a podcast, reading looks of great business books and am discovering great blogs like this one. I believe I heard about you on Dan Miller’s podcast. Definitely a great find. Let us know how your copywriter training goes. I am eager to hear about how it is benefiting you as you share with the community here on your blog. Keep it up.

  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    I seriously love this. The game has changed completely. Everyone can now have their own newspaper, their own publicist,  their own video channel and their own manager.

    The individual wanting to chase his or her dream has never been more blessed.

    I think of the platform as a village, a market place, a home, a school, an office or even a hospital. Stuff can happen on your platform you set the rules, you don’t need to feel limited.

    What do you want — create it.

    Geoff Talbot
    Seven Sentences

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Agreed Geoff! I too beleive that “Today World is Flat” that ever before.

  • snapcrakklepop

    Hi Michael. Please forgive me for commenting something completely unrelated to your post, but

    I sent you an email last month & was notified you were on vacation. So under your advice that it’s easier to get your attention here versus your email, here I am. (=

    I notice that you have a section for 1st time authors, and I see “author help” all over the internet. While I can put out a creative story or two if I have to, what I really want to do is edit and I see no advice for people who want to venture into the copy editing field. If you could lock me in a closet with a stack of papers & say “Proofread and fix these!” I’d be happy as a clam!

    I’d rather work for a book publishing company than a newspaper, but would it be smarter for me to start with a journalism background? I’m considering going back to school and don’t know where to start- journalism or English. Both would require technical writing classes, which should help… then again, it’d be ideal to just be hired on the spot by a publisher after taking some sort of qualifications test and then getting a pile of manuscripts to sift through for those pesky “your”s instead of “you’re”s, “would of”s instead of “would have”s, etc. I’d be thrilled! (= I wouldn’t even mind editing for a website; I’m that much of a grammar nerd.

    So, in a roundabout way, do you have any advice for someone who wants to get into the editing side of the book business? I’d appreciate any feedback!! Thanks!

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    You control the direction of the conversation. I’ve started and written for all kinds of content-based websites for years, hoping that it would ultimately benefit me as a writer. I was disappointed with the results.

    I’ve seen more traction and momentum in the past five months than in the past five years by intentionally building my own community and sharing my best content there.

    I still write for other sites, albeit more selectively. Ultimately, it comes down to having 100% say over my words and how they’re used. When you contribute to other sites (or magazines or whatever), many require you to waive all rights to your content and how it’s used.

    Even for those outlets that pay well, I’m still pretty reticent to do that now.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have seen that, too, Jeff. Thanks for sharing your results.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        The question I’m beginning to ask, in this age of self-publishing and opportunities to create your own platform, what value do traditional publishing outlets offer? I don’t mean that to sound arrogant or snarky. I really want to know. Thoughts?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Traditional publishers still offer plenty of advantages. I am planning to write a post on this.

          • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

            Cool. I can’t wait to read it. I know others are asking similar questions.

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            I’m excited to read this post. Off the top of my head, traditional
            publishers offer a wide network of contacts–for artwork, copyediting,
            marketing–that would be time consuming and expensive for one to procure on
            their own.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Indeed. That is one of the challenges of trying to go-it-alone.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Yup! I can relate to what you say Jeff!

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  • TLEE

    my concern in this post is that building a platform is not for everyone.  but everyone wants to build their own platform and be noticed.  too many Christian individuals today and young ministry leaders are building their own platform in order to be known.  it causes people to be selfish and self centered because they are concerned about giving themselves a name.  even this whole idea of how these younger people are calling themselves “thought leaders.”  they come up with the idea (because their idea is better than everyone else’s) and then everyone does the work.  when a person thinks he is better than he really is and attempts to build a platform for himself it causes harm to the Gospel and the church.  

  • Guest

    I just read a great ebook by @SarahMaeWrites on how to build your own platform. I liked it so much I’m giving away a few copies on my site. http://wp.me/p1EcMh-9L

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    I just read a great ebook by @SarahMaeWrites on how to build your own platform. I liked it so much I’m giving away a few copies on my site. http://wp.me/p1EcMh-9L

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I will be looking for this book. Thanks Bret.

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        I like this eBook so much I’m giving away a few copies. Want one?| ForeWriter http://ow.ly/5CDQa

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Thanks, Bret.

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        Actually, I’m giving away a few copies if you want one.

        http://wp.me/P1EcMh-aC

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. Platform is the most difficult because it takes the most creativity. It’s hard to find time to think creatively about content of platform and components of platform. Thanks for elaborating on this.  If nothing else it at least makes me pause and THINK for a bit.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      True Tim! Anything worthwhile in our life takes time.

  • http://4somereason.wordpress.com MelindaBScott

    I’ve been so sheltered…Or I’ve been sheltering myself from all this information!  :)  A benefit…objective feedback on your works. 

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  • http://www.susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com Susie Finkbeiner

    Building a platform puts the writer into contact with other writers. It helps build community. I can’t tell you how Rachel Held Evans has helped emerging writers build that platform. It’s truly a support system.

  • http://ashleyscwalls.com Ashleyscwalls

    This has been so important for me over the past 7 months and I have watched my life change for the better. Starting a blog really allowed me to make more conscious decisions about my online reputation as well as my in-person persona. The content of my blog has received a lot of positive response and people are becoming familiar with my name. Consistency is also very important and I think thats the difference between creating a platform and an opportunity.

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