7 Ways To Build Your Online Platform From Scratch

This is a guest post by Chris Tomlinson. He is the author of Crave: Wanting So Much More of God and blogs at Crave Something More. He and his wife, Anna, live in Northern Virginia. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Four months ago, I was a first-time author with absolutely no web presence. Today, I’m a first-time author with an established, slowly-growing web presence. The difference? A little encouragement from my publisher, a lot of research, and an investment of my time.

Blueprints with Hard Hat, Hammer, and Tape Measure - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/skodonnell, Image #5370498

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/skodonnell

If you’re an aspiring author, you’ve probably heard that publishers are looking for three things: great writing, a great idea, and a great platform. They will usually settle for two out of three. If you’re anything like me, you may have been neglecting your platform, thinking you’ll get to that once you land your book deal.

But the best advice I can give you is to start building your platform now. And the online space is a great place to start. Building an online platform is not unlike building a house. Your platform will be the house itself; your posts, or your tweets, or your books will the conversations you have inside or by phone. There are many reasons to begin building, but the primary reason is simple: you have something to say, and there are people who want or need to hear it.

This new year, this new decade, is a great time to get started. So here are 7 ways to build your online platform from scratch:

  1. Define your core message. I know, I know, it sounds so corporate, and we’re artists, right? But your core message should inform every medium you use and pervade every bit of content you produce. It’s the experience you want to create whenever people come over to your house. I spent a lot of thoughts on what my core message would be, and it influences everything I try to write. Yours should be your own, and it’s essential to have.
  2. Establish your brand. Branding is not for marketing departments at large publishing houses. Branding is what you do every time you interact with readers. It’s not just the paint on your house though; it’s the experience people have when they visit, and it’s what makes them want to come back again. Visuals are a place to start, so you should have a Gravatar (spring for a professional picture) and ensure all your web visuals complement one another. But visuals are simply markers that remind your readers of the experience they have reading what you write. Which is part of the reason your core message is key.
  3. Build and launch a website. Over 40 percent of internet users are buying books online, which means they will be looking for you online one day as well. You will need this home base from which to operate. And don’t wait until you get your book deal—launch your site now and spend time building your audience. Quality templates on easy-to-use blogging platforms (like WordPress) are cheap these days; I got one from Woo Themes for $50 and had a quality site up in hours.
  4. Blog . . . regularly. Today’s online users have high expectations; if they show up at your home and find cobwebs on the windows, chances are they aren’t coming back. Regular blogging acts as a signal to visitors that there’s ongoing activity inside that might interest them. What “regular” means is up to you. I try for 2-3 posts per week, although some bloggers get by with less and many others post daily. However often you post, make sure you focus on quality content—if you’re not hitting your core message often, it will dilute your brand, which is the lifeblood of your growing community.
  5. Build and engage a network. There are a thousand ways to do this, but go about it in an intentional and methodical way. Start by realizing you already have a network—all your family and friends who are online. So invite them. Read other blogs and comment. Offer to write for other blogs. Explore the online communities that interest you. And keep in mind that building your network isn’t just cramming people through your front door; it’s finding people that know where you live and invite themselves, and their friends, over for dinner.
  6. Join the social media revolution. If you’ve been holding out on Twitter and Facebook and the like, it’s time to jump in. I objected to both for years, and I missed out as a result. My world is both larger and smaller because of these tools—larger because my content horizon is much broader than ever before, but smaller because I have a place to interact personally with my growing community. Social hubs will come and go, but these are the big players today, and they’re worth tapping into because your future readers are already on them or will be soon. And you won’t just be having your neighbors over now; you’ll be having conversations with people from all over the world.
  7. Stay true to your mission. There are hundreds of thousands of voices crying out for attention in today’s online arena. And many are worth listening to. So how are you going to break through all the noise to be heard? The answer is to stick to your core message. If you begin talking about what is most important to you, you’ll find that the neighbors will either move away or come over a lot more often. The ones that keep coming back are the ones that are worth all the trouble.

So why shouldn’t you start today? Building an online platform has never been easier. But you must take the first step.

Question: What other advice would you offer to those who are just beginning to build an online platform?
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JenniferLKing JenniferLKing

    I believe authenticity will have an increasing role in the development of online brands and voices. In a web-world where people are paid to tweet or continuously reference promotions (for other products or their own), the temptation is constantly there for emergents into the online scene to give in and be like the rising swell of promoters. But to offer something of value to others without the temptation to be reimbursed for it or for personal gain, that is where authentic souls will shine online, even as they do in real life. To purely shine takes courage and may not have an immediate result, but perhaps is a way to be true to self and to the Creator of our creativity.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    I enjoyed your post and I believe I have all 7 of your above things checked off the list. My sticking point is this – I have a rather large following – I have blogged daily for a year and a half. I was on the Rachael Ray Show – which bumped my numbers, I started a message board last week on my website and it has over 100 women already chatting to each other. I use facebook, twitter, and a brand. My sticking point is – I have decent writing (or I wouldn't have thousands of readers) and a platform – but no "great idea" to write a book on…Is that not wierd? So many people tell me to write a book and I say – on what? People want to hear from me – but I don't have a vision outside of my daily blog? How do I decide what to write on when my blog is on many many different topics from marriage, to parenting, to homemaking etc.? Thanks! Courtney @ http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com
    My recent post My Word of The Year

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    I enjoyed your post and I believe I have all 7 of your above things checked off the list. My sticking point is this – I have a rather large following – I have blogged daily for a year and a half. I was on the Rachael Ray Show – which bumped my numbers, I started a message board last week on my website and it has over 100 women already chatting to each other. I use facebook, twitter, and a brand. My sticking point is – I have decent writing (or I wouldn't have thousands of readers) and a platform – but no "great idea" to write a book on…Is that not wierd? So many people tell me to write a book and I say – on what? People want to hear from me – but I don't have a vision outside of my daily blog? How do I decide what to write on when my blog is on many many different topics from marriage, to parenting, to homemaking etc.? Thanks! Courtney @ http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com
    My recent post My Word of The Year

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    If your experience is anything like mine, you will eventually stumble onto that you know could be expanded into a full-length book. Just keep writing. To modify a famous saying, “When the author is ready, the book will appear.”

  • http://www.leadingisreading.blogspot.com james

    Great and timely post. I have put up my first blog yesterday and started promoting it on Linkedin and Facebook. I also joined a writers group on Yahoo to help build my platform in addition to the methods listed by Mike. http://www.leadingisreading.blogspot.com
    My recent post What is Leadership?

    • Anonymous

       James,
      Looking forward to reading your blog. Feel free to check out my leadership blog at danblackonleadership.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    Courtney,

    This may sound cliche, but I would spend a lot of time in prayer asking God what he would have you write. He gave you your gift for a reason. He may want you to use it to lead your tribe as you're doing today. Or He may want you to use it to write a book. Or He may not. I strive in vain to "come up with" good ideas for writing, but submission in prayer and letting go of my own vision for my future seem to be places that prove fertile for writing that matters.

    If He wants you to write a book, He'll give you what you need to move forward. This isn't the "God told me to write this" kind of vision–it's just a quiet understanding that He gives His people what they need to accomplish the mission He gives them, particularly when they ask for it. Be encouraged–He may just be using this to invite you deeper into your relationship with Him. And keep up the great work!

    Chris

    *I think Mike's comment says it well; it's probably a shorter way to say the above. Submit yourself to God in prayer, keep writing, and it'll come!
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

  • http://www.angusnelson.com Angus

    Such a tension this branding and ego. One is to share a message. One is to be THE messenger. I want to build a brand, but I want to do it with authenticity. Building relationships, as Chris said, is far more advantageous than trying to sway a fan base… good stuff!
    My recent post My Way or My Way

  • http://www.angusnelson.com Angus

    Such a tension this branding and ego. One is to share a message. One is to be THE messenger. I want to build a brand, but I want to do it with authenticity. Building relationships, as Chris said, is far more advantageous than trying to sway a fan base… good stuff!
    My recent post My Way or My Way

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laurinda Laurinda

    Love the advice. Still trying to figure out how to do all this and maintain a very busy full-time job. I'm not as active as I'd like to be.

    Advice to newbies: be balanced and be persistent. I'm slowly building a presence. Don't do short cuts like 'buy' thousands of followers on Twitter and 'friend' everyone on Facebook. It's still about relationships. I try to keep Jesus' relationships in mind: there were the thousands He loved & taught, the 12 to help with ministry and He mentored, the 3 that say him transfigured (all His glory) and the one He allowed to lean on Him. You can't be best friends with everyone in Tweetverse or Facebook or any other social medium. It's easy to spot the spammers or folks who are only out there to build THEIR presence and not care about anyone else.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    Welcome to the blogging world! If you're anything like the rest of us, you'll find it's terribly frustrating and incredibly worth it!

    Mike has a ton of good info on this site to help coach you up. Another site I've found to be helpful is http://www.edcyz.com/.
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    This is great advice that I second. This echoes JenniferLKing's advice above as well…
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Great post, Chris.
    As a long time blogger, I talk to people all the time that want to start a blog or get on the social media bandwagon. I usually encourage them to setup a free blog on Blogger or WordPress.com. and then create a Twitter and Facebook account.
    Unfortunately these are very technical tasks and many people struggle with the setup. While blogging is much easier than it used to be, it still is a challenge for many people. One of the big problems is there are too many choices to make. If you want to get serious about blogging…
    You have to choose a blog template that matches your message.
    You have to choose a blog layout (1, 2, or 3 columns) that can organize your content.
    You have to choose a color scheme that works for your brand.
    You have to choose a type font for your niche.
    You have to get a picture of yourself that works for your audience.
    You have to choose the widgets that you will use and their placement.
    If you want to monetize your blog, you have to choose an advertising platform.
    Your ads need to be where people can see them, so you may need to alter your template.
    You need to choose from an array of plug-ins to keep your blog spam free.
    You have to choose a web hosting company and figure out their software.
    You have to choose a domain name that is available and will work for the niche.
    You have to remember all the passwords you setup for all the accounts.
    And I can go on and on…
    It gets complicated quick. And this is just blogging… social media can be just as daunting.
    With all the choices available, it is probably best for the average person to work with someone to help them build a site, setup the domain, and then choose some keywords that are unique to the niche.
    Once you have it setup, you have to post regularly. And here is a secret that most people won't tell you, It takes twice as long as you think to blog because posting is only half the activity. You have to comment on other blogs to get traffic and you really need to create longer articles and other quality content that people will come to your blog for.
    Here is the first question I ask now…
    Do you have a regular time block that you can set aside just for blogging… forever.
    If they can find the time block, they can find someone to setup everything else for a reasonable price.
    My recent post Set a 12 Week Goal

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Courtney,
    This is one of the hardest questions to answer. I found that a blog really helped me pinpoint my niche by looking at the traffic and the responses. I remember vividly taking a week to create "the ultimate post," and when I posted it nobody commented or cared. One Saturday, I was sitting at my desk and I created a desktop flowchart with business cards. I spent 30 minutes creating a template and blogging about it. I laughed when I posted it. Who would ever use something like this, I thought? Well when Lifehacker picked it up and thousands of people downloaded the template, my question was answered.
    My recent post Set a 12 Week Goal

    • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

      Thank you all for your replies!!! Right now my season of life (I am homeschooling two little ones) does not allow a lot of free time to write outside of my daily blog. I am content just "building my tribe" but I should be praying as the next season of life may open up a new set of doors…

      I agree with John that it's amazing how some blog posts I'll think are brilliant but I hear crickets as far as comments go and then others I whip up in 20 mintues and they strike a chord and I get a big response. I need to keep following those chords that are striking…continue to pray and be patient – it will come if it's the Lord's will. And if it doesn't – I am really enjoying what I am doing right now and I will keep plugging away at it!

      Thank you for your feedback I really appreciate it!
      My recent post My Word of The Year

  • http://www.skirt.com/getaclewis/blog/love-dare Cheryl Lewis

    Chris, thanks for the sage advice! It is one more nudge for me toward totally opening my blog up to my world of friends and family. Quite frankly, even though I've been willing to expose the reality of my past to my "virtual readers (aka "relative strangers") in order to answer God's call to share my life and His wisdom, I haven't wanted to go there with the people who know and love me most. So I write under a pseudonym, am mum on Facebook about my blog and don't include family on my Twitter. It has fiercely limited the benefit of networking among several hundred genuinely close contacts. (My timid logic was that only when my book is published would I finally divulge the most unsavory parts of my past to them.) Yikes. Looks like I may have to face my fears and use God's gift as He intends. Thank you again for the clear advice and spiritual nudge.

  • http://www.leadingisreading.blogspot.com james

    It looks intimidating until you get started. It becomes exponentially easier to navigate as you become more familiar with the software and how it performs. I have quickly discovered writing is a journey not a destination. Before every harvest there is a planting season. The key to reaping a great harvest is giving the seeds time to grow. This is the area I have to work on. Stay persistent and keep learning the business.
    My recent post What is Leadership?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    For me, I've found the most important thing is to be me – whoever that is. I often wish my posts were as inspiring as Pete Wilson's, as informative as Michael Hyatt's, as raw as Flowerdust's but if I try to be them, I find myself failing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good point, Lindsey. No one is better at being you than you. When we try to be someone else, we end up just being a poor imitation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/BrettBarner Brett Barner

    I think stay true to your mission is a struggle for a lot of people, myself included. It's tempting to jump on online bandwagons. I needed this reminder Great thoughts! Thanks Chris!!
    My recent post Book Giveaway Contest!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    You are so right, James. Just like writing, blogging is a journey. It's really fun to open the blog toolbox and learn how all the tools work. I tell most of my friends to set aside at least a year to try blogging and setup a daily time block to write and comment. The ones that are committed have created amazing works. It just doesn't happen overnight.
    My recent post Set a 12 Week Goal

  • http://www.samanthakrieger.com Samantha

    Great post Chris! Thank you for the quest post as well Michael.

    I have to say: Chris, you are the real deal! Your passion sings in your writing. Thank you for your encouragement to me as a writer and for reading my posts and giving your wisdom and advice.

    So excited to read Crave Something More!

  • Stephanie Baffone

    A simply packaged way to do something that feels anything but simple. Loved this and was the confirmation I needed that I am on the right track! Thank you. Blessings.

  • http://twitter.com/chapuis @chapuis

    I'm curious… how do you define "platform"?

    Also, would you mind elaborating a bit more on what a "core message" is, and how one would define it? Do you see this as something like a USP for a brand?

    Good post, Chris and Michael. Thank you…

    -joe
    My recent post Skimp on these 7 things at your own peril…

  • http://collectiveinkwell.com Sean Platt

    What a wonderful quote! And I couldn't agree more.
    My recent post Available Darkness: Chapter 35

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    I think of a platform as anything you can shout from. Or maybe anything from which you can speak with conversational grace.

    In the old days, you needed a literal soapbox. Today, you can speak through a blog, or Twitter, or Facebook, or an article, or a book, or a magazine, or a painting, or a song, a podcast, or a video. Individually, these are mediums to communicate. Collectively, these make up your platform.

    This is why the core message is key. You need to be speaking with a single voice through multiple channels to your audience. Thinking of your core message as a USP for a brand is a good analogy. But I think there's also a caveat worth noting. Companies exist to make money; everything else they do (improve society through value-add products, philanthropic activities, etc) can only happen if they make money. So their branding activities help shape their Unique Selling Proposition in order to achieve the goal of making more money.

    As a writer, particularly a Christian writer, I recognize the need to sell; every writer today needs to be involved with his or her own marketing. But we're also about the business of our Father. And His goal isn't to sell–it's to offer. So that's what I want to do: offer His hope, His gospel, His message, His grace, His joy, His wisdom to my readers. So I prefer UOP: Unique Offering Proposition.

    No matter what you write about, speak from your heart. If you're true to what your heart is passionate about, you will develop a core message and a single voice, and the people who need to hear your heart will listen.
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

    • http://twitter.com/chapuis @chapuis

      Hi Chris –

      Thanks for your response. As I work in web services and own a video hosting business, I tend to think of "platform" in terms of hardware architecture or software framework. Now I understand it from your perspecitve, as sort of an online soapbox.

      > If you're true to what your heart is passionate about, you will develop a core message and a single voice, and the people who need to hear your heart will listen.

      btw… Great advice to anyone starting a new blog.

      Thanks,
      joe
      My recent post Life’s adventures and the rewards of discomfort

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephenbateman stephenbateman

    Nice, good thoughts. Does Chris Tomlinson ever accidentally leave the -son off and act like a big time Christian music artist?

    That was ridiculously off topic for a legitimately good post, but I couldn't help it :)
    My recent post Primal Released today

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    You could've asked if Chris Tomlin is my dad. i.e. I'm Chris Tomlin (son).

    But he's not, and I can't sing =).
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    You could've asked if Chris Tomlin is my dad. i.e. I'm Chris Tomlin (son).

    But he's not, and I can't sing =).
    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

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

      Ahhhhh! Chris TomLIN – that’s why I thought your name was familiar! Thanks for sharing all the great advice here Mr TomlinSON.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Worry more about building trust with a tribe than trying to build some great big monument to yourself. A smaller more dedicated following is way better than a grand fan base that is, at best, nominally committed to your cause.
    My recent post What Are Your Favorite Blogs to Read?

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Worry more about building trust with a tribe than trying to build some great big monument to yourself. A smaller more dedicated following is way better than a grand fan base that is, at best, nominally committed to your cause.
    My recent post What Are Your Favorite Blogs to Read?

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    Chris, this is a very good post that I find helpful. You laid out your seven points so well that I stopped reading several times to think through what you said as it relates to what I have been thinking and doing (or not doing!) Thanks very much.
    My recent post Much Fear in Many Churches

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    You could've asked if Chris Tomlin is my dad. i.e. I'm Chris Tomlin (son).

    He's not. And I can't sing =).

    My recent post 7 Reasons To Not Care About Blog Traffic

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Thank you for this post. It opened my eyes to something that is missing from my platform: a core message. At times we need others to help us see the obvious. God has used this to smack me in the head.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/miller_schloss Becky Miller

    I can attest that Chris is really good at #5 – Build and engage a network. Especially "Read other blogs and comment." I recognized his name here from his comments on StuffChristiansLike.net. Great guest post, Chris!

  • http://verntaylor.wordpress.com/ Vern Taylor

    Well said. Being new to the whole "Social Media" movement I find a lot of encouragement here. My question: How can we avoid the burnout? What motivates you to stay on top of your platform? Thanks for the insight.
    My recent post Culture

  • cherie Jobe

    Chris, This is some fantastic ideas for a first time authors, such as myself.I look forward to learning more insight from you.
    Designed By Him,
    Cherie Jobe

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    Vern,

    The best way to avoid the burnout is to enjoy what you're doing. If you enjoy tweeting, then tweet. If you enjoy blogging, then blog. If you enjoy commenting, then comment. And if you ever find yourself not enjoying it, then take a break for a while or give it up for good. Hang out with your wife a little more, take a walk, have dinner with a friend, serve someone in need, recapture the joy of life.

    And most of all: don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. It's almost impossible to avoid, and it will suck you dry of motivation and joy in writing and connecting with others. There are just too many other folks out there who have more followers, or write a little better, and even those people feel there's someone better out there too =).

    My motivation comes from my core message: to proclaim Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to every human need by pointing to His superior worth over anything else life can offer. My assumption is that not all of us treasure Jesus more than anything else (including me), so it's a message worth sharing. And as long as I have words to make much of Him, I want to proclaim it.

    All that to say: find what you want to say, and then say in ways that you enjoy!
    My recent post Crave Giveaway

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    Comment Comment Comment and then comment some more….best way to build a platform

  • http://verntaylor.wordpress.com/ Vern Taylor

    Thanks Chris!
    My recent post Culture

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

    Mike,

    I know these posts sometimes have legs, so I look forward to more interactions with you and your readers on this topic, but I do want, at the end of this day, to say two things:

    1. You have a gift in leading and writing, and you magnify your gift when you allow others to come alongside you to serve your core message. So thanks for sharing this opportunity with me.

    2. You have great readers; I've been edified and encouraged throughout the day to hear feedback, answer questions, be challenged, and grow as a reader and a writer. And for that I'm grateful.

    ct
    My recent post Crave Giveaway

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks so much, Chris. You did a great job, as evidenced by the number of comments and reader engagement. All the best!

  • http://emilyosburne.blogspot.com Emily

    Thanks, Chris. I'm glad you called it a "social media revolution." It's amazing to be a part of a revolution that's happening right before our eyes. When people object to Facebooking or Twittering (now verbs), I ask, "How long did you object to e-mail?" Social media is to e-mail what e-mail was to paper memos. The longer you wait, the more you will miss out :)
    My recent post New Years Questions to Consider

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Emily,

      Really good point. I think I used the term without really understanding it in its historical context. This is probably a turning point of sorts, somewhat like when the PC came out, or when the Internet took flight, or many other more distant examples. It is exciting to be part of a new way of communicating with others. Thanks for the comment!
      My recent post Crave Giveaway

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    Great pointers, Chris. Of course, patience is also a must because everything you listed takes time. My core message came to me in spurts last spring. I had started thinking and mentioning God's absolute love. One day I decided to look up the definition for absolute and the second part of my message jumped out at me–perfect, complete, and real. Giving ourselves enough time is vital to success.

    A couple of other suggestions are to purchase all of the different domain renderings (.com, .net, .org, etc) to protect your brand and to copyright or trademark your brand.
    My recent post #25 UNDERSTANDING CHRIST: HIS TRIUMPHANT CRUCIFIXION PART 2

  • Steve

    Here's my question. How does one acquire an audience for one's online content. Online presence without an audience is worth than useless. I have no objection to blogging or creating a website. I object to writing blog posts that nobody will read, or designing a website that nobody will visit. How does one get noticed in the middle of so many others trying to do the same thing?

    I don't want to be invisible.

    -Steve

    • james

      Facebook, linkedin and those sites can be a start.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the question. I've tried to reply a couple of times with some thoughts but am having trouble with threaded comments on your original comment. If you want to email me at ct@cravesomethingmore.org, I can send you my thoughts by email. Thanks!

      ct

      My recent post Publisher’s Weekly Reviews Crave

  • lauradroege

    Christ-Thanks for such great info. This is helpful to me as a writer (trying) to build my platform, and it's incredibly encouraging to know that you started from scratch, too. I actually took notes on your blog post– yes, I am that big of a geek.

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  • gladwellmusau

    Thank you for your advice. I had been writing a manuscript for a memoir for sometime but it wasn't until I was almost through that I got to learn about the author's platform. For months, I researched and through reading Michael Hyatt's blog, I began my own blog almost three months ago. And although it start slowly, I am beginning to see results.

    Blessings.

  • Pingback: 7 Things You Must Do to Succeed Online :: MarketingInProgress.com

  • my own business

    thank you, many ways that can be done to achieve the goals and objectives consistent with what we want. spirit, hard work and proper technique is a way to make it easier. interesting article

  • http://lynettebentonwriting.com Lynette Benton

    This is really superb and original. Many articles about platform building rehash the same old stuff, but don't mention activities like branding yourself and figuring out what your core message is. Thanks for so insightful an article.

    - Lynette Benton
    My recent post Writing for The Chronicle

  • http://buildwebsiteonline.net Pete Lauder

    I like the use of the word platform, as there are so many online apps that can create your platform for you. Although it may prove tough for a newbie to set up WordPress, it is not impossible, if you cab follow guidelines.
    Importantly, match your theme with your idea.
    My recent post Web Design Detail

  • http://www.stevefogg.typepad.com Steve

    Chris,

    Thanks for your post!

    I’ve been blogging for about 2 months now and my USP is about helping leaders and ministries “Communicate Simply and Clearly”.

    I’m not obsessed about driving traffic to my site, I’m certainly networking, but generating more traffic isn’t my goal – helping someone communicate better is. I think bloggers can often get obsessed with the traffic without realising blogging is all the quality of what you have to say.

    Loved your last point. Stay true. Perfect conclusion.

  • http://www.finkelde.com.au John Finkelde

    Great post Chris – staying on purpose is key to building an online presence
    My recent post The first preaching words of Jesus

  • http://twitter.com/Matthew_Dent @Matthew_Dent

    Great post! It seems being consistant is a pattern that keeps coming up. I especially liked #5 build and engage networking which ttakes time and dedication. What motivates you to continue buidling your brand?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Matthew,

      Good question. I have both self-centered and noble purposes for wanting to continue to build my brand.

      Self-centered: I want an audience because that will give me validation that who I am and what I write are worthwhile. I want respect because I think it will satisfy my longings for meaning in life. I want access to more people because it could provide me with another way to support my family than my current occupation. I think that validation and respect and audience are all morally neutral; it’s just my orientation towards them is askew.

      Noble: My deepest motivation comes from my core message—to proclaim Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to every human need by pointing to His superior worth over anything else life can offer. I assume that there are many of us who treasure other things more than Jesus (including me), so I believe this is a message worth sharing (and remembering) until we all see Jesus as infinitely worthy of our love and worship. I suspect I will be proclaiming this message until I write my last word.

      In my self-centered pursuits, I confess them to God as motivations not worth having and but try to avoid feeling guilty about them; I know I’m a work in progress. And in my noble pursuits, I ask God for His help in proclaiming that message in a way that’s consistent with the way in which He loves people.

      At the end of the day, I think the motivation for building your brand has to come from the passion you feel about your core message. If your core message is something worth saying, and you’re the person to say it, then you’ll find the passion to keep saying it.
      My recent post Publisher’s Weekly Reviews Crave

  • http://mikekey.com Mike Key – Entrepreneurial Ninja

    Great article, this will be helpful to me because this is something I’m currently working on which is building my online brand.

    I’ve had a online presence for a long time, so I’ve been mostly focused on 1 and 2 to retool my brand overall.

    Now I’m Mike Key, Entrepreneurial Ninja! LoL :-) It works for me.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laura_Droege Laura_Droege

    I'm starting to think about my "brand" and "core message" (which seems to relate to kicking Christians' rears) and have started to incorporate your suggestions. I'm forcing myself to blog even when I can't come up with anything that seems profound, even when no one seems to be reading it.

    Here's a question: I'm a part of an online writing review site. It's a pretty casual sort of site; lots of people seem to use it as an online journal, really, though there are plenty of folks (like me) who are serious about writing. I've started posting a few of my blog posts on the site as a way to promote traffic to my blog. So far, there hasn't been a significant increase in blog traffic, but people are reading and responding to my blog on this writing site. Does this "count" as network building?
    My recent post I’m Ms. Potato Head today

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Absolutely. Going back to the concept of brand, every time you interact, whether it's at your home (your blog) or in the neighborhood (other blogs) or in someone else's home (another person's blog/media platform), you're continuing to build a picture in people's mind of who you are as a writer. This is why the core message is so key, and it's great you're focusing on that at this point. Over time, people will begin to associate your name and your images with your content.

      Or to say it another way: you build your brand online every time you interact online. So be intentional.

      A few other notes:
      1. You can do some small things like embed links in your posts on the online writing review site that may drive traffic back to your site.
      2. Be willing to be personal and revealing about who you are as a person. Increasingly, people won't listen to your message until they know and trust you as an individual.
      3. When you start finding yourself caring too much about your blog traffic (as we all do at times), consider the following: http://cravesomethingmore.org/2010/01/08/7-reason

      Be encouraged!
      My recent post The State of My Union

      • http://lauradroege.wordpress.com Laura Droege

        Thanks for the feedback, Chris. I appreciate it.

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  • Anonymous

    Great thoughts!!! These are all thing I’m doing. Staying focused on my core message and being consistent has been key. Thank you for sharing.

  • TC Avey

    I appreciate your advice.  It’s been challenging for me to start my platform.  I recently started a blog (focusing on current events, politics and Christianity) but have not managed to generate much of a following.  A few family and friends have signed on, but like me they do not use the internet much.  Call me old fashioned, but I don’t like social media.  So the idea of building a platform has been difficult to overcome though I am realizing I have to utilize the internet and it is not as bad as I had previously imagined.  Thank you for the encouraging words, I look forward to the challenges facing and am open to any ideas.  

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Checked out your blog. Nice. Like your points. It’s the basics we lose sight of when we try and do big things. This is truly how to get started and keep it going. Sometimes time makes us think we should try other, more complex ideas. I believe what you’ve laid out here is the core to eventual success. Persistence is key. Appreciate this post.

  • katya lector

    Very nice and encouraging words. I don’t have any idea of what will I supposed to do here. I rather call myself as a Frustrated author. I want to write a blog and make a website of mine but I don’t know exactly where to start. But because of some words of encouragement I read here. It feels like I bump my head on a wall and finally decided to build a web page. Thank you a lot.

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  • 1173330787

    中国的步伐!

  • http://twitter.com/giselaandzoe gisela

    although i’ve been doing all the social networks and blogging for quite a while now, i feel i have fallen into a mundane routine and became stuck. i do belief you have to be more intentional because i feel thats whats left me behind in the dust! i’ve made it a goal to grow my platform and be consistent; i feel my audience would be much bigger if i had done this from the beginning. thanks for your article and i can’t wait to get Michael’s new book, Building Your Platform!

  • http://soulofatlas.com/ Mark David Henderson

    I clicked on the “Crave Something More” link, but it took me to some php code in Chris’s WP blog.