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Building a Platform

I was talking with author Lois Roelofs about her newly released book, Marv Taking Charge, and she made the comment that she started blogging back in the day because she was told she needed a platform. As an aside, she said, “Whatever a platform is.

Right – whatever a platform is. Presumably, some sort of online presence so that we can meet and share what we create with others outside our immediate circle. But aside from creating a blog, how do we build a platform?

  • Serve your readers: One of the most memorable remarks I’ve heard about growing an audience is from blogger, activist, and author, Glennon Doyle, who created the blog. She said she repeatedly has people asking her how to grow their following and her advice, “serve your readers.” She elaborated by saying something like if you have 10 followers, serve those readers and the number will grow.
  • Give it time: I’ve heard it said that it takes at least a year to build a blog audience. That matches my experience and also my observation that there’s a high correlation between number of years blogging and number of followers.
  • Show interest: Of course, the time spent factor also extends to the time spent interacting with other people. Whether it be answering comments or commenting on other people’s blogs, the interest shown in others seems to help. It wasn’t obvious to me when I started that many long-term bloggers turn off their like notifications so they are not automatically seeing when you like their blog. It may take several thoughtful comments for someone to reciprocate interest, especially on shared blogs where the comments or pingbacks may not automatically notify the author.

Lois’ book is about her husband, Marv, and his decision not to seek treatment when he was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer and the very intentional way they were able to spend the last few months of his life saying good-bye to the people he loved. Lois posted on her blog throughout the journey. I’ve heard this from several people. We may come to blogging for the platform but often stay for the friendship.

I’ve posted a companion piece to this one on my personal blog about what we practice comes together to serve us: The Usefulness of Play. I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

38 thoughts on “Building a Platform

  1. “We may come to blogging for the platform but often stay for the friendship.” This is so true of my blogging experience. I started my blog because I had a story to tell. At the outset, I had no idea of the wonderful community I would find here. I consider many of the bloggers I engage with regularly my friends even thought I have never, and may never, meet them in person. Wonderful post, Wynne!

  2. Very true. I started blogging just to share my thoughts, and have stuck around because of all the very creative people I’ve met kind. 🙏🙏👏

  3. Just got my copy of Lois’ book in the mail yesterday! I don’t need a platform, but I sure enjoy the company here.

  4. After I wrote my first book a few years ago I was also told I needed a platform to show I had a sizeable following to show agents that I had a big fan base before they would consider representing me. When I published my second book, I still didn’t have a sizeable following to show a prospective agent, but by then I was hooked into blogging.

    I now do it because it is something I really love to do, as well as interacting with people in this sphere. Time ans energy don’t allow for daily posts, so I do one longer post a week, plus a newly added humor post on Sunday, which is something I discovered I enjoy curating.

    Curating a big platform would be nice, but smaller has its benefits too!

    1. I love that you are speaking to both publishing and blogging, Tamara. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you here and to read your books, (although I’ve only read one so far). So glad that you are hooked and I so enjoy being in community with you!

  5. Glennon Doyle’s advice about blogging seems sound to me. I live to serve in blogland, but would also caution that in personal blogging you’re only as successful as you are true to yourself. It takes more than razzle dazzle to keep readers interested.

    1. I love this comment, Ally, because you are one of the bloggers I look up to so much. Yes, be authentic seems to be a key to success – for readers and I’d say for ourselves because it takes too much energy to be someone else.

  6. I think all those things go a long way to creating a sustainable blog and encouraging readership and more. Like others have mentioned, telling your truth even when it’s difficult or scary goes a long way as well. Of course, there are those of us who have no real desire to grow a site or platform. We are content to just be here, hanging out with a few friends, talking-laughing-growing personal connections with a number that is manageable while building true friendships 🙂

    1. Deb – I love this, “We are content to just be here, hanging out with a few friends, talking-laughing-growing personal connections with a number that is manageable while building true friendships.” I think that’s the true treasure in blogging no matter what gets us to start in the first place. Thank you, my friend!

  7. When I started blogging close to 10 years ago, I was only interested in what I wrote. I didn’t follow or read other people’s blogs. It wasn’t until I began to appreciate other people’s work that my audience began to grow — along with friendships.

    1. I love that you can bring the long-time perspective to this topic, E.A.! I’ve only known you about 6 months but I’m so grateful to have met you, and be able to enjoy your writing and your friendship!

  8. She elaborated by saying something like if you have 10 followers, serve those readers and the number will grow. – this has a loud ring to it. Like in business, take care of your current customers, and everything will follow. Thanks for this.

    1. I love how you put – “that has a loud ring to it.” Isn’t it funny when someone speaks to a clear truth that the loud ring resonates? Thanks for the comment!

  9. «Serve your readers.» Yes, there are so many ways to serve others. Indeed through creative exchange. Thank you for that Beautiful important reminder.

  10. Yes, yes! For me, the community has becomes as important as the blogging. Maybe even more so! What a joy it is to connect with others of like mind in cyberspace. How amazing. How miraculous. Thanks for being there everyone, and for sharing your heart and soul with us! We’re all better off for it.

    1. Amazing and miraculous — so well said, dear Julia!! Sharing our heart and soul. It’s so important, isn’t it? At least to me, it feels pointless if we don’t do that!

  11. Interesting post Wynne, and I agree, community is what makes the difference. We can build a platform, but longevity comes from engagement … both how we engage with our blog, what we do, but also how we engage with our readers and the community more widely. I think its a symbiotic relationship and I don’t know that our blogs or us as committed bloggers and writers would be as enduring without those relationships.

    1. Wow, Brenda – you said it so perfectly. Relationships is definitely what makes the difference. Yes!! Thanks for the great comment!

  12. Personally for me, I had no idea that writing would become such a huge passion of mine. During the pandemic era I had trouble with my self talk and my friend ask me to write all of my thoughts… At first I thought it is kind of childish but then it does work. Just write my thoughts in the morning and night. Both negative and positive.

    Now I started on this platform to start writing about people’s journey and helping others.. It is so interesting how this tied up together.

    What a great read, thank you ❤️

  13. Thank you for the encouragement. I particular love the piece of advice about serving your readers. I try to be present for whoever reads, whether that is in a blog post I write, or by replying to a comment from a thoughtful reader.

    For me, I have found the largest engagement happens when I post blogs consistently, say weekly and at roughly the same day and time each week. Readers know when they can expect something, and if they are interested can book in some time to read and respond.

    It is one of the reasons why I am embarking on posting regularly again on my own blog after a hiatus … to plan a wedding and then get married!

    Peace to you, your family, and every one of your dear readers. Go well into the coming August. 😊

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