Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Platform

Okay, so I did a presentation this weekend about building your blog into a platform you can stand on.

There are a couple of questions that always come up during the presentation:
1. What do I blog about? (I've answered that here.)
2. Does it work? (Meaning, if I put in all this time and effort and WORK to build my blog, will I get tangible results?)

I think people want me to tell them that yes, they'll get $25,000 more on their debut deal if they blog. Or that their publisher will give them a 9-copy floor display because they're obviously awesomesauce because of their X-number of followers.

But the fact is, I can't tell you that. The tangibility of an online platform is well, intangible.

I can tell you my beliefs.
1. I believe that certain elements of my marketing are enhanced because of my blogging efforts.
2. I believe that MTV asked me to blog for them because of my blogging experience here.
3. I believe that blogging has brought me more than $25,000 more on my debut deal. I've done what I set a goal to do: make meaningful connections.

And that's priceless.

Literary agent Sara Megibow also spoke at the conference. My absolute favorite part: She said something along the lines of "You have to figure out how to make your platform work for you. The answer is NOT not to have one."

And she's so right.

What do you think? Are you working on your platform? How's it going? What do you still need help with?

I will be on The Appendix, a writing podcast manned by authors Sarah Eden, Robison Wells, and Marion Jensen! And what are we talking about? Platform. Blogging. Go here. Subscribe through iTunes. Hear me tomorrow.

54 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I would have loved to meet Sara. Sounds like a great conference.

I agree with you. The blogging doesn't guarantee any more money on your debut or other books. But you do need a platform and need to make connections. And not just for yourself, but to help others like you do.

Christine Fonseca said...

So funny...I'm talking about platform and marketing this week too! Must be in the air.

Angela Felsted said...

Good info. I hope your blogging helps you sell books.

Ted Cross said...

You met Sara Megibow? I'm jealous, as she is the agent I want most, given that she works for Ms. Nelson. She said I was close with my first partial, so I hope my next book will catch her!

Candyland said...

I strive to have a platform like you. You have built a following from nothing and gone on to be my hero. Seriously. Everything you do, E, is what I strive to be like. Thank you for being such an inspiration every single day.
<3

Misha said...

I am working on my platform, but still seeing where I want to go with this.

:-)

J. L. Jackson said...

It takes time and dedication to blog, which some people don't have. I've been working on building a platform for a year now and have met some amazing people. I am thankful to be a part of this community and hope to continue to meet more interesting people along the way.

Janet Johnson said...

Wait, wait, wait . . . MTV asked you to blog for them?! ???? Did I miss something?

And the rest of what you said is cool, too. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Well put Elana. The friends I've made and the lift they've managed to give to me and my writing career cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

It's the connections with other people that I value most.

Heather Kelly said...

Marketing is definitely in the water this week. Someone (so horrible that I can't give credit where credit is due) tweeted that they just read this book on marketing: http://www.amazon.com/Inbound-Marketing-Found-Google-Social/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304964837&sr=1-1

And I can't wait to pick it up.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm with Janet. MTV???? Did I miss something, Dude??? (Hey all those question marks kind of look cool. Maybe I'll do that to my WIP).

And ditto what Matt said. (wow, all my blogger friends are so wise) :D

storyqueen said...

The meaningful connections part is the most important, I think.

And don't forget how much you have given to the writing community. I think that speaks to platform more than anything. Many people are so concerned with what they are going to GET from their platform. But if the focus is on what you want GIVE to your platform...well, that's a different thing then, isn't it.

You've offered a lot to lots of folks.

Shelley

Kelly said...

Yay on Mtv blogging and conferences!!
I have learned so much from other's blogs and made such good friendships, anything more than that is icing on the cake.

Karen @ Scobberlotch said...

As others have said, I've learned about platforms by reading other blogs, learning as I go. I think it's important to find your own voice so you don't get burned out in the process. Great post, Elana!

Michelle Merrill said...

Wow! Great advice. Very profound. Thanks for sharing :)

John Sankovich said...

I'm struggling with getting followers on both twitter and my blog. I think it's mainly because by nature I'm an introvert, and I don't like to put myself out there too much. I need to get over it as I have another book to start querying this summer.

I always seem to run into a dead end for ideas on my blog at times and twitter is hard to get into because I don't have a ton of interesting things happen in my life...

Mary Ann said...

I have recently started a blog and trying to incorporate all of the great ideas I learn about. Being technically challenged and a little geriatric I'm not sure what is meant by platform. Is it the 'me' part of the equation? I feel a lot like John S. above. I'm definitely tuning in tomorrow. Thanks for the great advice!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. I would love to be in one of your workshops, Elana. I can just imagine how spunky you are! :-)

Heather said...

I love that! Platforms can bring us so much. I'm working on my platform but not just for my 'hopefully one day soon debut'. I love the people I've met (like you!) while undertaking this journey. That has made it worth while no matter what happens.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I'm in the middle of reading a Non-Fiction book called THE BLACK SWAN, about the randomness of life.

To me, blogging not only gives us a chance to make meaningful connections, it also opens us up to the serendipitous-ness of life, those happy chance opportunities that don't come from writing alone in your house.

Shari said...

I'm so grateful for the connections I've made. And I love what Sara said too.

kathrynjankowski said...

Congrats on the MTV deal!

Liesl said...

Eesh, I struggle with this. I really would like to build more of an online presence with my blog, and I'd really like to network a lot more.

But I still believe that the best thing I can do for myself is to write a really great book. And that takes most of my time. I know you've done that, and seriously I idolize you for all the amazing things that you do. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how you do it all. I'm still fighting just for my time to write.

Maybe one day I'll figure it out and I'll be this amazing blogger with a huge following. For now I more dabble in the blogosphere.

Lois D. Brown said...

I didn't know MTV asked you to blog for them. Very cool. Hope you had fun at LDS Stroymakers.

Lois
Life of Lois

Pam Torres said...

Wow! That is really awesome about MTV. One of the things I am looking at is commenting. You of course have tons (thousands) of followers. I get that. So of course your commenting rate is higher. One of the other reasons is your ability to respond meaningfully with your readers. How do you juggle all these platforms, do you have a system that works for you and still have time to visit other blogs and comment.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Elana, I heart you. I actually really needed this today! I've been feeling guilty for not blogging every day (when I soooo used to) but I think the point is--that wasn't working for me. I started to look at blogging as an obligation and hated it. Now I blog a few times a week (well, I TRY to) and I don't sweat it as much, which makes it a lot more fun. AND a lot easier to think of things to blog about.

xoxo

Stephanie McGee said...

My platform is definitely still a work in progress, but it's there. And I'm working on it and trying to build it up more.

Krispy said...

Thanks for this post. I think it's good to keep in mind that blogging as a platform works differently for everyone.

K.V. Briar said...

I'm super new the the world of blogging. I do it because I enjoy it and I'd like to get my name out there. Is it effective? At this point I highly doubt it but maybe some day.

Great Post!!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

SO true. Regardless of whether my platform ever earns me more money or sells more of my book, I found my crit partners through blogging, I made my writer friends through blogging, I've learned SO much through reading blogs and planning WriteOnCon) and I've gotten to help promote the books I love. That ALONE is a WIN.

(Bonus: Uh...I met YOU!) :)

RaShelle said...

Great info, Elana. Thanks. =D

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow, that's awesome! Besides that, it just helps to network! You never know who you're gonna meet... :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

I personally think my platform is a little too big for me. I have all this room to walk around and play with the crowd, but I can't give any books out because I have't written one yet...

Sara B. Larson said...

Again, I'm so bummed I missed the conference! Ack. But thanks for giving us a brief recap. You make great points, and I hope i'm accomplishing these goals in my own small way. And congrats on the MTV blog, how awesome is that?!

Rebecca Knight said...

What a tease! You HAVE to tell us more about this MTV business :D!

Michelle Teacress said...

I gave you a shout out on my blog today - about this very thing. Thanks again for the interesting and helpful class.

Jeff King said...

I need help across the board… but your blog is a good example of what to do, and you advice is priceless. Just like everything else in writing, there’s a learning curve, and the trick is: to keep on keeping on.

Nothing beats experience and the desire to get better—thx for all that you do.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think a blogging platform works! The amount of people outside my genre who've read my book because they found my blog is mind-boggling. And I so rarely even mention that I'm an author...

Jemi Fraser said...

I think blogging works as a platform too - although I'm not at the stage yet where I could be able to tell from experience. But I've seen the power of blogging from you and several other masters. I do know I've bought at least 30 books because of blogging - and that's gotta mean something!

Wendy G. Ewurum said...

I haven't written anything and I only started blogging in Jan and have been asking myself why am I blogging. When I started off I though I knew but it evolved into something totally different because it brought out things in me that I didn't know existed. I've worried and had one or two sleepless night about its relevance but I've had such great compliments and one of the best came yesterday from someone who left a comment saying my blog had its own voice and valuable content.
You can't imagine how thrilled I was. I fear worrying over what to blog about is gonna be a permanent state.

Sarah said...

I'm steadily working on this platform thing, and the connections I've made so far are making it worth it. It's taken a lot of work, but it's been rewarding. I think my biggest challenge is reaching out a bit more--I tend to be really shy, and in the online world, that pretty much renders you invisible. Thanks for the advice!

Theresa Milstein said...

When I first started blogging, I didn't understand much about blogging, let alone platform. At some point, I noticed the support authors provided one another when they landed agents, got books deals, and promoted. After helping a few authors myself, I realized if I'm in that position one day, maybe they'll help me too. (I know, I'm slow.)

The community is supportive. It's about relationships too. Why wouldn't all writers want the relationships and the platform they get by blogging?

Melissa Dymock said...

I took your class and it helped me hone what I need to do with my blog. I've been a bit of a slacker because I had no direction with it.

I've thought of a good idea for a blog that I want to get going.

Joshua J. Perkey said...

It was an excellent class. Totally changed my perspective of blogging. Thanks!

TA Demings said...

I loved the conference!
One thing that Sarah Megibow really emphasized was a web presence. While I have one, I don't think I have a strong platform to build off of. My goal is to start building on what I have already. My first step is to follow blogs like yours :)

Other than that, I have no clue. Hopefully I can get some ideas from you and your connections.

tademings.blogspot.com

Nicole Zoltack said...

I would love to go to one of your workshops! I'm trying to work on my platform, it's a work in progress.

ali said...

Okay, so Elana. My darling CP. You were on my blog today and you read my concern that what's become (I believe) my platform, has overrun my blog. Do you think so? Or have I just lucked into what works for me? Personally, I love what's going on over at my place and for once feel like I have a REASON to blog. Have I succeeded? Or have I only muddied the waters?

Help me Obi Wan!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm just starting to figure out my platform, so this is a great help, thanks!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, man. I'm working on my platform, kind-of, but I'm trying to focus on my books. (Yeah, that's plural. Yes, I'm crazy.) Once I have a book deal, I'll spend more time on the platform, but right now I'm letting it tick over and grow slowly. I think I'll need help with it, though, when the time comes.

Laura Pauling said...

Congrats on the MTV gig. That's pretty cool. I think the best platform is being ourselves so your efforts aren't forced. And I think the voice of a blog develops over time. I think there are certain books that definitely hit the bestseller list the first week out due to online buzz. so in some cases it works.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Intangible - exactly. And like love, just because you can't quantify it, doesn't mean it's not real and powerful and actually might change your life.

I'm just in awe of all that you do!

Ann Best said...

I'm finding that Blogger is a community of mostly writers (others, too) who support each other in many ways. It is also a platform, one component of a platform along with Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

I've been over here before. I think I'm a follower, but just in case, I'm following again. I came over from a link that Michelle Teacress recently posted--good for Michelle; there's that support.

I'm bookmarking this and will be watching for Possession's release. Sounds excellent. I'm also heading to your website for that free From the Query to the Call. Thanks!
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Leslie Rose said...

I believe part of being a writer is to keep your ongoing learning curve kicked into gear. The responsibility of blogging and interacting with the online creative community is inspiring.

Donea Lee said...

I couldn't make the conference on Friday or I would have loved to sit in on your workshop. My cousin said it was awesome (of course!)

And Sara Megibow had a lot of great things to say. I was really impressed with her. I know she, in particular, looks for good on-line presence in new writers she considers taking on.

I admit, I need to do a bit more with mine, but I am happy I'm blogging. It's been a great experience so far and I've learned a TON!! :)

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