We are inching closer and closer to the one year mark from when I began this journey. Though it is still a couple months away, I have already been through a lot in that time and learned even more. So I thought I would write this blog for those who might just be starting out their indie author career. For those who are just getting their feet on the ground, here is a checklist for building your author platform.
Quick note: you may be asking yourself if you really need an author platform, or what the heck that even is. Let’s quickly break it down.
What: An author platform is a combination of your personal brand, network, and audience. It is your stage, your ascent to fame and authorship. It is how you communicate with people as an author. It is comprised of your social media, website, any products you have, and (of course) you!
Why: Rewind fifteen years or so and you might not need an author platform. Heck, most authors didn’t have a platform. But these days the barrier to entry is substantially lower, especially for independent authors. You will not - cannot - be noticed if you don’t establish a platform through which to be noticed. So, if you want to do anything with this author journey you are going on, you need a platform. Heck, you don’t even need a book! But you need a platform.
So, without further ado, let’s get this checklist going.
1. An Idea.
This may sound silly, but it is the most important part of building your platform. You need to have an idea of what you want to do. Are you writing a novel? Poetry? Short Stories? How will you keep your audience interested in you so that your reputation grows? What is your niche? Find and nurture your idea.
2. Social Media.
Your biggest stage for your platform will be social media. There are so many options out there, but the first one I tackled was Twitter. Especially for those who don’t have a product (novel, poem collection, etc), it allows you to network and develop your skills as you grow your platform.
There are so many social media options these days, do some research and find which ones you will capitalize best on. Eventually you will want to have Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. They are the three leading social media sites for authors, though each functions differently.
3. A Network.
Once you establish your social media accounts, you will want to build a network. This is easiest on Twitter and Google+, simply follow those who will be beneficial to you. When I started, I added over 200 people in the first few days. These included established writers, publishers, editors, bloggers, and especially indie authors who were already started down the same path as me. This will not only keep you up to date on the industry, but will be the starting point for the actual growth of your platform.
4. A Website/Blog.
This may seem daunting or disheartening for some, but having your own website or blog is mandatory for building your platform. Social media will be the main point of interaction with your network, but you need your own property to drive traffic to as well. It is important to have something you control - yes, you own your accounts on social media, but it is ultimately under the control of the companies and their policies. One policy switch could end the way you operate and grow, so you want something that is yours.
Take, for example, YouTube at the moment. It has been under fire recently for its ads, specifically its new policy that reduces ad revenue on content not deemed family friendly. This has had a massive impact on even successful YouTubers, in life-altering ways. So make sure that you establish your own property.
You may also be thinking that you have nothing to blog about, or you can’t commit to regular blogging. Read some blogs that are of similar interests to your own, come up with a schedule, and try to stick to it. It could be once a week or every two weeks, daily or every few days. And your blog will develop as you find and carve your own niche. Almost a year in and I still struggle to define what exactly mine is!
You may not feel confident in writing a blog, or you may not be comfortable reaching out on social media and building a network. Those things just might not come innately to you. However, if you truly want to be an author, if you have a passion for writing and want to share your words with the world, then let that be the driving force. It might feel awkward at first - it most definitely did for me - and you will have down days for sure. But letting your passion guide you through this journey will help all of the other pieces fall into place.
Now this is just a high-level summary of what you need to get your author platform going. It may seem simple in these few hundred words, but it is a complex beast. I could (and will) write a blog or two diving into the details of each category.
In the meantime, though, I am always happy to connect and answer any questions to the best of my ability. I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a lot since starting my own journey and would love to help. Connect with me on social media, or shoot me an email, all of which can be found on my About Me page.
If you have already started building your author platform - or any digital platform - and you think I might have missed something, leave it in the comments down below! And be sure to tell me about your journey, as well.
I sincerely hope my checklist helps at least one indie author out there, that would make it all worth it. And, as always, until next time my friends.