Why You Need to Be Building Your Platform Now

This is a guest post by Carrie Wilkerson. She is the author of the newly published book, The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom (Thomas Nelson). You can read her blog and follow her on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This philosophical question doesn’t seem to have an answer. I mean, there is only a sound if someone is there to perceive the sound waves, right?

A Diving Platform with Blue Sky in the Background - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ZargonDesign, Image #14431358

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ZargonDesign

Your message, your story, your speech, and your book are much the same way. The sound they make is—dare I say it—irrelevant, if there is no one there to watch you, hear you, or read you.

Too often, as speakers, teachers, and writers, we get wrapped up in “the thing.” We spend so much time reading, editing, practicing, and perfecting for our “someday” audience that we lose sight of the fact that we don’t have an audience … yet.

Call it a platform, a database, or a following on social media, you must have someone listening in order to make an impact of any kind.

Unlike the fictional account in the famous Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams, just because we build it, doesn’t mean they will come. We will not draw crowds of raving fans or hordes of like-minded believers simply because we take the microphone or the pen in hand—no matter how great we believe our message is or our skills are.

The truth is counterintuitive. Must we really gather a crowd in the forest before we begin to chop the tree? Yes!

Now is the time to start surrounding yourself with others who will (or might) be interested in what you have to say. Audience-building now Is just as important as book proposal writing, creating your speaker reel, or even polishing your shoes, your suit, or your presentation.

Perhaps a less philosophical example is teen pop sensation Justin Bieber. Justin didn’t work his way through the ranks of the Disney or Nickelodeon star-makers. He didn’t pitch studio after studio on his music until he found someone to listen. Justin honed his craft while building his audience through YouTube videos and social media channels.

Whether you are a “Belieber” or not, Justin hosted mini-concerts at public venues and invited fans and friends through social media. Eventually, his self-selected audience roared so loud and so big that a major label could not deny his stardom. His platform demanded it.

So how does apply to us today? Establish some credibility by publishing yourself first.

  • Consistently publish to your blog.
  • Guest post to other blogs with similar markets.
  • Collect emails on your blog and keep in touch.
  • Consider producing a podcast.
  • Create a Facebook Fan/Like Page.
  • Start a LinkedIn or Facebook Group.
  • Be a guest interview for other blogs, podcasts, BlogTalk Radio, teleconference calls, webinars and more.
  • Make short YouTube videos for your own channel.

In short, publish yourself. If you are waiting for a book deal or a big speaking contract to validate your work, your message or to make you famous, you’re going to be waiting and waiting and waiting.

Wouldn’t you rather be helping others now? Wouldn’t you rather be making ripples and waves right away? I know I would!

The competitive asset you bring to any publisher or producer is not merely your manuscript or your demo reel, but the audience you bring with you.

An old riddle says, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In this context, the riddle says, “Which came first, the platform or the publishing?” The answer is … “Yes!”

I gave away 100 copies of The Barefoot Executive. To qualify, my readers had to comment below. You can find the list of winners here.
Question: How is your platform development coming? 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.

  • Anonymous

    My platform development is coming… Well, honestly, I feel a bit stalled right now. I’m re-examining my focus as I anticipate a new publishing project, and I’m wondering how that fits with my original vision.

    The “financial freedom” part of Carrie’s title appeals to me as I contemplate day job changes in the midst of all of this…

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      When we free up our financial obligations, it enables us to pursue other things and breathe!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Chris-Shelton/1658930944 William Chris Shelton

    As a child abuse investigator for over 9 years, I realized the State can help, but only God can heal and was led into ministry school.  As only one investigator, I realized I can help one at a time (still not a bad thing, but exhausting), but as a minister I could help more people and encourage them to help others as well.  With our book (ministry message), “It’s Okay, You’re With My Father” (A Child Abuse Investigator’s Call to the Church), I have to opportunity to involve (and help) even more people.  I was seeking larger platforms without realizing it.  Our ministry has a webpage, http://www.ReachOutChristsKingdom.org that also links to our facebook page.  The website shares about the book message and links back to the opportunity to purchase.  It also links to news articles printed on the ministry and book.  Both give me the opportunity to share upcoming events.

    I’m glad I was led to this site and appreciate what you  are both doing.  Thanks & God bless!

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      William, I would also intentionally connect with authors in your market, radio hosts, abuse survivors, etc in social media as their followers and friends are probably like-minded.

      Another way to grow your platform is to borrow a portion of someone else’s ;)

      Similar to how Michael ‘shared his platform’ with me on this topic and post – what about the guy who wrote ‘The Boy Called It’ and other abuse activists? Just a thought ;)

  • http://twitter.com/janellchristine Janell Camp

    My platform development is in a very early stage. I am 22 years old and my message is still being formed by my current studies, experiences, and daily walk with Yahweh. Carrie, I really liked what you said about the tendency to get caught up in “the thing” and preparing for our “someday” audience. This reminds me of my constant struggle to revert my attention to the people in my life now when I get caught up in my dreams for the future.

    This is the second post I have read in the last week about this topic. The other is “Why Building Your Own Platform Is Essential” by Jeff Goins and it speaks to the objection that has been brought up several times in the comments here…the opinion that platform building is self-promoting and lacks humility. Jeff points out that although some people who build a platform do have the goal of becoming a celebrity for their own sake, platforms are not always ego-driven. A platform is about permission, influence, and relationships with people. He says, “Without one, you’re just another voice in a crowd of noise.”

    Therefore, it is my intention to change the way I use Twitter and Facebook, blog consistently, and be more purposeful in making real connections with the people I know. I want to remember that my platform, and my message, is all for God and others — it’s not about me. 

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      also Bob Burg just released a short parable style book called ‘It’s Not About You’ – which is really great. It’s not a spiritual book, but really good insight about your business and ministry being ‘others centered’ while still being successful.

  • Sbartlow

    Currently, I have created a wordpress called, “scottbartlow.com” and created a tag line with my picture on it to be more relationally connected to my followers. My blog is about encouraging others and myself to dream, discover and take risk around dreams that God has given each of us. I personally am an activator and a entrepreneur in the context of the church. I want to encourage people to take action with their dreams to have the most kingdom impact. I find myself struggling to update my blog everyday. However, I loved the suggestion of creating a video blog via youtube and post that as well to increase viewings to the blog. I would love any more suggestions to create a larger following.

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      Don’t just blog – make sure you are cycling your content through the social networks too!

  • http://twitter.com/lovinglyyoursG Georgiana

    In 2010 I created my own simple website emphasizing my poetic inspirations to inspire people to “Embrace Positive Passion” in life everyday.  As I incorporate both Twitter and Facebook in my marketing, my platform is constantly growing, steadily increasing to about 200 per week and spreading internationally as well.  I also actively speak about positivity on other websites as a guest blogger, related venues and seminar appearances. These are all valuable, tangible tools to remind my devoted readers what life is truly about. 

    I would love to read Carrie’s new book as it would definitely be a valuable resource for continuing to build and sustain my platform.  My ultimate goal is to freely write to help everyone in this world not to fear and worry as we only have this moment in time.  Do I want to waste my energy on anxiety?  No, I choose to Embrace life with a Positive outlook and to share it with a Passion!

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      way to go Georgiana!

  • Anonymous

    Based on the video interview advice between you and Seth Godin in a previous post, I’ve decided to give my first book away for free and will be releasing it the first week in November (at least that’s the plan).  I’ve been very overwhelmed at the idea of building a platform. I know it is necessary, but as a mom of four who is working a “day job”, getting the platform built for my writing dream has often felt near impossible. I need all the help I can get. :)

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      I love the 30 minutes before all the kids and hubby get out of bed, before ‘regular work’ beckons.

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaAresca Andrea Aresca

    This post has really been a stimulus to be more consistent in building my platform.
    I received many appreciations for my blog and insights on time management, but I realize that my “follower” are not growing so much, because I don’t “ship” regularly new content.
    Using Seth Godin’s words, I need to overcome my “resistance” and show up giving my insight to the world more often.

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      very important to Show Up Consistently

      Great insight Andrea

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  • timdaviswired

    Right now, there is a lot to be desired.  I have two blogs, but have not kept them up as much as I would like.  I want to be more intentional about those.  I also want to be more strategic and intentional in the area of social media as well.  

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      Tim, mark it on the calendar.
      Write down the days you will publish.
      if you are too slammed during the week, then write several posts over the weekend and then set your blog to release them on the predetermined dates

      Don’t “want to” — just do :)

  • Renovationmalaysiahq

    I agree to this article about creating a platform. However, what about if I’m not sure of my audience yet? In terms of our giftings & interest. Any suggestions on this

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      then why not just start as YOU ;) Worked for Oprah as she evolved her brand ;)

  • Stephen Gulley

    I have just begun the process of creating a blog to update consistently, which I believe was your number one suggestion, which really encouraged me.  I have a twitter and facebook account. Once I have the blog up, my desire was to begin using all three of these in cahoots. Almost like to create an idea continuity daily.  Create one big idea and give two different formats. what I post on twitter, goes to my facebook per Michael’s suggestion and teaching. And I have lastly been using Michael’s tips for branding in my blog creation. I can’t find how to change the twitter background yet to match my blog, but I have a theme from elegantthemes.com that I am working with on the blog!

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      it doesn’t have to match your blog per se – but using unified colors and images is a great first step!

      I love the ‘content’ cycle of blog first, then push content to twitter, to facebook, to linked in, to video to g+ and recycle ;)

      the more you share – the more your network will share

  • http://twitter.com/CheapLoveCarrie Carrie Starr

    Thanks for this encouragement Carrie!   I’ve been blogging for eight months and we recently self-published a book through West Bow Press.  We are building a faithful following of like-minded readers on both facebook and twitter. 

    Our goal was to see others improve their personal relationships by empowering them to make wise financial decisions.  The feedback has been tremendous and we are already seeing changed lives!  I’m so glad we didn’t have to wait for “approval” to share this important message. 

    We would love to see this platform grow so we can multiply our impact.  It’s both comforting and encouraging to know that, while we work to give our best, the results are ultimately in God’s hands.  Thanks again for showing us more ways to let our message be heard!

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      Congrats Carrie! (that was fun to type) — I have a 7 yr old that has a great voice and a thirst for the stage (imagine that) — I always tell her, don’t wait for American Idol or X Factor — discover yourself FIRST, build your fans NEXT then the producers will come seeking YOU out ;)

  • http://susuworld.com Sue Allen

    Great post thank you for sharing Carrie.  I’m a big fan of your videos and work.

    I have my blog which at the start I was so conscious of being “perfect” or as close to perfect as I could get it before going live several months ago.  I built it from scratch including domain, hosting, theme etc.  It was getting very frustrating so I just took the plunge and went live!   

    So far I’ve had fantastic feedback on what I have shared from business plans, social media, to one of my first posts on Michael’s very own Life plan:
    http://susuworld.com/got-your-business-plan-but-what-about-your-life-plan/

    I have been building the platform on Twitter to spread the message which is going well.  I also share my youtube video and slideshare presentations on my blog, linkedin profile and twitter when relevant.  My focus is now being consistent with regular posts and guest posting is my next step to build the awareness more.

    Online and offline I have always looked to add value wherever possible and this has helped me spread my message more through building great relationships and of course making some great friends.  

    My next project is more video on the site (how-to’s /resources) and looking at launching my own products. 

    Have a great day Carrie and Michael. 

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      Sue – thank you for your kind feedback and congratulations on your action!!

      Love your ‘next steps’ – I’m going to encourage you to set a date on the ‘more video’ and set a date for your first product! Keep up with me at FacebookBarefoot.com in case you have any product development questions!

  • David Ashley

    In building a platform through social media, one thing that seems to stay at the bottom of my to-do list is adding followers to sites like twitter, facebook, etc. Many companies now offer a service to deliver thousands of targeted fans to your social media outlets for pennies on the dollar. Any thoughts on these types of services? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, worthless. The best way to attract followers is to create content that people way to consume. Anything less than this doesn’t create the kind of permission and loyalty you need to make these relationships beneficial. Thanks.

      • David Ashley

        Thanks for the reply, Mr. Hyatt. I presumed that to be the case. I do have a follow up question, then, to clear up some confusion I still may have. Are you saying that if you consistently deliver great content to your small audience that there is no need in spending (even my own) time “adding” friends. They will eventually find you.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I think you should add people that interest you, but not so that they follow you. That strategy worked in the early days of Twitter, but I don’t think it is effective any longer. What you really want is to create great content with interesting tweets, so that your followers re-tweet you and thus expose their followers to your content.
          Hope that helps.

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      I totally agree. If you want to seek out and follow folks, go to someone (perhaps an influencer) in your market. See who is following them. See who is engaging with them. Engage in conversation. Follow them. You’re in the same market. You are seeking relationships. Then it is up to them whether they follow back or not.

      Michael and I do this differently, but you choose what is comfortable for you.

  • Anonymous

    My goal is expanding influence and impact in my writing and speaking. Social media relationships are an integral part of my plan. 

    I strongly believe that everything rises and falls on relationships.  Building platform is taking advantage of every avenue of relationships.

    • Carrie Wilkerson

      Relationships are relevant. Interesting how this is the ‘new’ trend in business — but the fact is, social media and platform building is a key part of mass relationships. Wise insight sir!

  • http://louisebroadbentfiction.wordpress.com/ Louise Broadbent

    Your blog post title got my attention but I found it misleading. I expected it to be about the importance of building your platform now if you plan on writing professionally later in life but know you’re not ready yet. A counter-argument to the belief that writers should focus on their writing until they’ve reached that point. Instead you made an unforgivable assumption about writing and gave a terrible example that does not even remotely back up your point.

    Writing that isn’t for an audience is not irrelevant. Many writers choose to write for themselves, with no intention of sharing their work. It’s an act of self-expression, of creativity, of therapy (in a lot of  cases). It is never irrelevant.

    When I think of Justin Bieber I do not think of someone who has worked hard to hone his craft and build up a platform. Whether or not it’s true, I think of someone who was picked up for his looks and promoted as a commercial product for screaming teenage girls to devour. Now, you may well be correct that he worked hard to hone his craft of singing generic pop-songs to please such an audience but his singing just isn’t technical enough for me to accept that. A lot of people have strong assumptions about Justin Bieber and, for the purposes of supporting your argument, it doesn’t matter which is more true, it matters that people don’t see him as you’re presenting him. To be honest, he’s a joke.

    I would have gone for Ed Sheeran: a talented singer/songwriter who’s known for building his ‘platform’, if you like, through gigging constantly and selling CDs from his rucksack. Unlike Bieber, his self-promotion and honing of craft is a massive part of his image. Of course, he’d never have made it big if Radio 1 hadn’t decided to back him but nobody in the music industry can unless they get on the playlists. That’s just the way the music industry works. Arguably, and it’s important for your point, the publishing industry is going through a revolution, through which writers will be writing directly for their readers, making it far removed from the world of music anyway.

    I’m sorry to be so critical. I have to admit you really riled me up with your opening statement about the irrelevance of writing without an audience. If I wasn’t so angry I wouldn’t have commented at all, in the spirit of ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say…’ which seems to apply to the social networking world almost to a greater extent than the real world. Of course, I could take it back now, Delete it and not post it but I won’t because I think you need to know the effect of your words. I know I’m being young and naive and probably strike you as being very inexperienced, which I am, I’ll freely admit that. I guess I’m not quite jaded (or wise) enough to know that the older, more experienced professional, is generally right. I haven’t yet lost my youthful arrogance that leads me to disagree. I apologise for that.

    Regards

    Louise Broadbent

  • http://www.facebook.com/ikalka Iris Kalka

    Having read your ideas, I wonder whether there is a way for one to establish an index of worth. If you take all the formulations of your presence in the web, from social networks to a comment like this, is there a way to weigh it all, a sort of yardstick?

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  • Faith

    Love it. There is something daunting about building a platform. And yet, it must be done. Motivating articles like this make all the difference. It’s all in how you look at it. Thank you!

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