In this competitive publishing environment, the word platform gets bandied about as something everyone must have, but do you know what it means? I first heard the word platform when I was running for student government in high school: it meant what new proposals would I plan to carry out if/when I was elected. Unfortunately, I never did win student office, but that’s another story. A platform for an author is only slightly different: what expertise do you bring that will make you read (or elected) in the marketplace. What do you bring to the table that differentiates you from another romance or mystery author? What makes you stand out from all of the other freelance writers? It is your business/entrepreneurial background in potato farming, is it your expertise with beach front properties or poodles or is it your ability to balance writing with raising four children? A platform is what makes you notable and quotable, and it is different from having a specialty.
A few years ago I wrote articles for IncTechnology.com and I started specializing in cloud computing, computer security and compliance as it pertains to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. I have hardly used any of the methods I wrote about, but I knew about them well thanks to my reliable sources I peppered with too many questions. Computer security was my specialty, but not my platform.
I would describe my platform as a writer/editor who works with other writers who want to be published. My clients are serious about getting their work out and marketed well. I walk the talk since I have been published and have effectively marketed my work. I stand out from other writers because I have a solid marketing and retail background and took a somewhat untraditional path to writing. I am also a teacher and as an editor can help them achieve their best work. As a poet I have another platform: I come from a dysfunctional family and use this pain in my poems. No one else has your platform, but it’s up to you to find out what it is and use it to gain attention and recognition.
One way to discover, feed and nourish your platform is to establish a blog and post frequently on related topics. Every now and then you may go off topic, but try to stick to your platform and your value-proposition statement, which is another way to say—what do you do that makes people want to hire or publish you.
Now it’s your turn: what makes you valuable to your clients? What sets you apart from your competition? How do others now what you do? Are you stating your platform on your website, in person and on your social media sites? Make your platform statement only a few sentences long and make it succinct. Realize that not everyone is your customer and that it’s OK to have a narrow focus. In fact, the more narrow your focus, the more business you’ll gain. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. Finally, know what you can always change up your platform. I wouldn’t recommend changing it every month, but maybe twice or once a year it could use a tweak.
I want you to reach abundance by building a platform that reflects what you do!