4 Insights I Gleaned from Building My Own Platform

Last week, I spoke at the Catalyst Conference in Irvine, California on the topic of my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson, May 22). As part of my introduction, I shared how my audience has grown since I started blogging in April of 2004.

Eight years of blog traffic

Note that these numbers reflect my average monthly unique visitors. I simply took the total number of unique visitors for the year and divided by twelve months (or in the case of 2004, eight months). With the exception of the first few years, this data came from my Google Analytics account.

I don’t share these numbers to impress you but to encourage you if you are working to build your own platform. Here are four insights I gleaned from taking a look at the big picture:

  1. It took me four years to attract more than 1,000 readers a month. In fact, I blogged for almost three years before I had more than five hundred readers a month. If you are not seeing much growth in traffic, don’t get discouraged. Focus on generating consistent, quality content.
  2. Suddenly, I hit an inflection point in my fifth year of blogging. I am not sure I can fully account for this, but I believe several factors contributed:
    • I started blogging more consistently (three days a week).
    • I focused more on my reader’s needs rather than my experiences.
    • A few big web sites linked to me, including Lifehacker. This gave me exposure to a whole new audience.
    • I found my blogging voice.

    So many people quit right before they hit the inflection point. I hope you won’t. Getting your message out depends on you sticking with it.

  3. I built a platform long before I needed it. As my audience grew, I was able to use it on behalf of my company to correct the media when they got the story wrong. I was even able to report on stories I felt the media had ignored.

    I also used it to promote my own products and, eventually, to generate enough income I was able quit my day job to write and speak full-time.

    Perhaps you have heard the old proverb about the best time to plant a tree. It’s also true about building a platform:

    Question: When is the best time to build a platform?
    Answer: Eight years ago.
    Question: When is the second best time?
    Answer: Today.

  4. It wouldn’t have taken me so long if I knew then what I know now. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t understand much about generating traffic. Social media didn’t even exist at the time.

    This is one of the main reasons I wrote my new book. I wanted to distill everything I have learned, so I could share it with people who need a platform but don’t have eight years to build it.

    Whether you are an author, recording artist, comedian, small business owner, or corporate marketing director, this book is for you.

Again, I am sharing this detail about my traffic to encourage you. Everything significant starts small. I didn’t achieve success overnight and you probably won’t either. But the great news is that it is possible. In fact, it’s never been easier—especially if you get started now and learn from the mistakes of others.

Question: Where are you in the process of building you own platform? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

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  • Priscilla Taylor

    I have been blogging for over year but I haven’t been seeing the level of traffic and engagement that I have been hoping for, which discourages me. I haven’t been blogging consistently so that might be a cause for it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Consistency was the single biggest factor in creating my own inflection point.

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  • http://xfinityhomesecurity.tumblr.com/post/25497304162/why-choose-xfinity-home-app FC

    Very good
    post. Till 2007 your progress was not noticeable, in 2007 it was minimal and
    after 2010 there is immense progress. This chart very well explains the efforts
    you took for eight years which finally lead you to success. Congrats. Even while
    marketing in Internet, the advertiser cannot expect success all of a sudden. But
    with constant efforts you will be able to develop a group of loyal readers who
    follow you. Now with the integration of social media marketing is all the easier.
    One should focus on the readers satisfaction, quality content, relevance and
    building good contacts.
     

  • http://pg.webring.com/members/blog/timewarnerinternetdeals/ Rita Dawson

    This is indeed an encouraging post. The narration of your long journey for so many years that you have come across to build your platform can be the best motivation source for many new bloggers. The fourth point that you have discussed – “It wouldn’t have taken me so long if I knew then what I know now”, is the best in the post as the readers can understand that its common to commit mistakes but it is necessary to correct them. Anyways, Thanks for such a nice post buddy.

  • ScottSidler

    This post is so encouraging! I’m in year two of “building my platform”. I have a small company that restores historic homes and my blog http://www.TheCraftsmanBlog.com where I try to share my insights and experiences with my small tribe. It can be discouraging at times to see how much traffic and engagement other bloggers are getting, but when I see how yours progressed it makes it seem attainable. Thanks for the vision!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Hang in there, Scott. Although you’re in your second year, it’s still early in the blog world. Sounds like you’re on the right track!

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  • http://www.DavidASpecht.com/ David A Specht

    I am just past the “reboot” stage. I originally blogged on blogger, mostly to communicate with the audience of my newspaper. I blogged of and on (mostly off)  for nearly five years.  I then noticed my blogs were becoming more educational, with a focus on leadership.  It was at that point I heard your interview on the EntreLeadership podcast and I immediately bought your book, Platform. Since then, I have blogged regularly, moved my site to WordPress (and bluehost) and am working diligently on my own platform. While I have blogged since 2007, I know that I am probably at phase 1.5 and have a long way to go until I see serious traffic.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you for getting started, David!

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  • http://www.jakekail.com/ Jake Kail

    Michael,

    Thank you for this post, it is very encouraging. I have learned so much from your blog, and now feel more equipped to actually build a platform. I have been blogging for about 2 years, but not very consistently (about one post every 1-2 weeks). I am now committed to writing at least 3 posts per week, and feel like my blog now has a direction.

    I have written and self-published 2 Christian non-fiction books, but had no clue about building platform. Your book Platform is on my Christmas list!

    Thanks,

    Jake

    • http://www.jakekail.com/ Jake Kail

      oops..I thought the image would go in by my name!

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  • Popaj2911

    Well I’m just beginning to think through the process and I know there is much in me I want to share. I’ve believed a lie that was spoken over me since a young age and I’m ready to prove otherwise. My story is not unique and I want to encourage others. This opportunity is the beginning thanks to Platform University. I know I have much to offer and I’m excited.
    James Lowery, Knoxville TN

  • http://www.DailyMarketingBlog.com/ Matt Law

    This post made my day! :-)

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    I’m just getting started and have a lot to learn. Currently reading Platform. I’m in no rush… At least that’s what I keep telling myself… Ha! Nah, seriously, I’d rather do it “right” than “right now.”