Grow For It: Activate & Reactivate Your Perennial Platform Power
by Christina Katz
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
The one word that best describes a writer’s platform is “process.” Your platform is creative, just as writing is creative. There is a beginning, middle, and an end to a platform project, but there is never an end to your platform progress from the moment it begins until your career is over. However, if you leave a distinct enough legacy, your platform will survive even after you are gone.
The other key word to define platform is “perennial” because your platform is never static. It is always in various stages of being planted, sprouting, blossoming, and then reorganizing itself for the next phase of your career growth.
So what is a writer’s platform?
Basically, your platform is everything you do with your expertise. A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Why not begin with what you have to offer and start working your way up the platform ranks from totally unknown, to known, to widely known?
The concept of a platform as a cyclical, seasonal process might sound daunting. But your concerns will be replaced by willingness, enthusiasm, and even enjoyment as you discover the fun of developing, creating, and nurturing your platform over time. Your platform is an ever-turning wheel that pumps the best of your work out into the world, so build yours and keep updating it throughout your career if you want to reach an audience, build a readership, and sustain an ongoing relationship with them over time.
The seeds of your platform
Inside every writer is one desire. You might call this something else, but the way I see it, after all of my years of teaching and coaching, it’s basically always the same thing: the desire to serve is the one thing that connects every writer to his or her readers. The concept of service is what makes a writer’s platform tick over time. So get your head in the platform game by thinking more about how you can listen to and serve your readers, and thinking less about what others have done for you lately.
Everything you have already done to build your platform is included in the essence of what you are going to do next. Readers need to quickly glean what you have already done, so they can look forward to what you are going to do next. So before you begin actually building your platform, gather up the following:
Your published works
Your media credits
Your professional appearances
Your successful self-publications
Your online impact
Your professional affiliations
Your professional activities
Your formal education
Your awards and accolades
Once you have gathered all of this data—and it is data because we only want the facts—you can begin to summarize what you offer.
The sprouts of your platform
The point of gathering all the facts about your writing career is to be able to concisely communicate the best of who you are and what you offer. Encapsulating all of this information briefly takes a lot of thought, test-marketing, writing and rewriting. However, the effort you invest will pay off with the reward of being able to easily communicate:
Your unique name
Your clear identity
Your distinct mission
Your drop-dead-gorgeous headshot
Your sum-it-all-up tagline
Your all-the-latest-news e-signature
Your short, professional bio
I suggest that you create these materials before you actually build any platform contexts like a website. Many folks (myself included) make a lot of errors writing text directly into web pages that are not enabled with spell check or grammar check. If you need a clearer explanation with examples of each of the pieces of your platform to prep in advance, check out my book Get Known Before The Book Deal, where each of these concepts is explained in detail.
The flowers of your platform
The flowers of your platform are not the same as the fruit. The flowers are ways you personally demonstrate your work. Flowers are alluring contexts and presentation formats that you must master in order to be able to present your work to the world with a little more ta-da! Examples of flowers for your platform include:
Your video channel
Your e-mail lists
Your e-mail newsletter
Your social media outposts
Events you host
Classes you teach
Appearances you make
The fruit of your platform
The fruit of your platform is whatever writing you offer that creates your income. We are writers and therefore writing is an important part of our platforms. We can’t all be Stephen King or Jodi Picoult or whoever is the biggest author fish in the pond you swim in. So what works for most writers in the gig economy is creating small multiple income streams that flow together to create one larger, diversified, sustainable income stream. Naturally, the creation of each product takes time and energy and should not be rushed. Over time, you can expand your income stream through the sale of:
Mash-ups of various types of products
Products you participate in with others
The perennial nature of your platform
Every year, your platform goes out of date once again. Therefore, your platform requires regular attention. In other words, if you want your platform to work for you, then you will need to regularly work for it. Develop reassessment and revision habits that allow you to keep your platform up to date so it can keep spreading the news about who you are and what you offer as your writing business grows and evolves. You can accomplish this by gathering and sharing:
Photos of you in action
Testimonials about your good work
Recent media attention
Proof of a growing, supportive audience
Fresh copy that describes your most up-to-date platform
All writers come into the world naked and wordless. We have a lifetime to write and write and write some more. And no writer wants her platform to remain a seed because carrying around a lot of unexpressed potential is frustrating. Not only do we want our platforms to grow into sprouts, flowers and fruit, we ultimately want our platform to become like a mighty oak that sprang from a single acorn—our writing ability.
However, before you become a mighty oak, you might need to be willing to make your debut as a dandelion or a morning glory.
Ultimately, deep-rooted, high-reaching success is available to any writer who is willing to dig deep, work hard, and share the best of what they have to offer year after year. Why not you? Success is completely in your hands if you will only grow for it.
Christina Katz is the author of The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. She also wrote Write For Regional Parenting Publications For Fun & Profit, Author Mama, and Discover Your Platform Potential. She teaches writers to prosper by building solid, saleable, life-long career skills via classes and training groups that work even in a rapidly evolving publishing marketplace. Learn more at ChristinaKatz.com.