Monday, 7 January 2013

Why You Need To Build An Online Platform

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Everyone nowadays needs an online platform. Especially if you want to be a writer. Where else do you think you are going to get your readers of the future?

For those not clear, an online platform is a way for people to find you, find out about you, and follow you. Blogs and websites are one of the best ways for a writer to get know.
And yes, this blog is part of my online platform, so me writing about how to create an online platform sounds like I think I have it all worked out. But actually I see it more as that I'm about 6 months ahead of you and passing down all the cheat notes I'm writing for exams!

I should admit, though, that I'm pretty proud of this blog. I think it looks shmicko, and I've worked hard to have some great content on here. I also have some great followers and commentators, and try to do my bit by giving back to all those who support me through fundraising and giveaways (which will never stop! The bigger I get, the more opportunity I have to give things away :D).

I have been building this blog, my first born, my favourite (shsh, don't tell the others!) for 6 months now. And to be honest, despite posting almost five days a week, trying to write interesting content, getting out there, facebooking a bit, etc., it is only now that I'm starting to see some rewards. My pageview count is slowly increasing, my followers and email subscribers have started to multiple (yeah, lots of my friends are having babies, what can I say?) and I'm even starting to get some of you to comment!

And from what I'm learning, this is pretty common for most people. It takes at least six months for a blog/website to start taking off and usually a year before it is really getting somewhere. And in between there is a lot of hard work. (So, pretty much, it's really like writing a novel. You spend hours and hours and hours working on it with absolutely nothing but a word count to show for it. But the more you put into it at this early stage, the more likely it is that it will be picked up by a publisher, and be a hit on the book stands.)

Why am I telling you this? You don't want to hear this just yet, you are struggling to write your first draft!

Well, basically you already want your platform skyrocketing by the time you are approaching literary agents and publishers, so you need to start it at least a year before you finish your novel.  That is to say, you need to start now. Whenever 'now' is in your process, it is the right time to start. As they say, the internet is pretty forgiving, it doesn't mind you playing around on it to work things out. However, ignore it at your peril.

So, to help you out with this next stage of development as a writer (and you do need to think of this as all essential parts of being a writer) I'm going to do a series every Monday on different aspects of building your own online platform. I've been reading a lot about it, listening to great podcasts, testing things out myself in different ways and am actually super excited. I want to share with you all that I've been learning, and let you see as I test things out on this site.

Also, for all I know, this might be the most people will ever see of my writing. This blog and the other online writing I'm doing might be my publishing platform. So, I want to do it as well as I can, just in case.

In future posts I'll start with the basics of keyword research and why you need to do it, look at starting your blog/website, how to get yourself out there, and how to be everywhere. There is a lot I want to cover, but I'm just going to do it section by section and be applying it to some of my own blogs etc. so I can give authentic feedback on whether it is working.

These are exciting times my friends, exciting times.

For a good explanation of why a writer needs a platform, and to get ideas of what sort of things you can do, Folio Literary Agency have put together a video with one of their best selling authors. It's quite long, but definitely worth a look. Have a look at the 'thank you for submitting your manuscript' page from FolioLit

Finally, if there are things you are dying to know right now, ask away and if I don't know, I'll do some research!

(Don't forget: ROW 80 starts today!)

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