Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The 5 Platform Personalities: What Type of Blog Is Right for You?

In today’s noisy world, there’s no other way to be heard than with a platform. You have to fight for attention — that’s just the way it is. But if you think that means there’s only one way to communicate your message, that’s just not true.

personality picture

Image courtesy of unsplash.com.

Heads up: I just delivered a 90-minute webinar where I taught all this live. If you’d like the recording of this in-depth training, just click here to get instant access.

A professional speaker doesn’t connect with an audience the same way an author does, nor should someone who writes fiction follow the same game plan as a nonfiction writer — at least, not exactly. The rules change, depending on what you write. So what do you do?

If you aren’t one of the typical types of bloggers trying to make it online, is there any hope or breaking through the clutter and getting your message heard?

Here’s the good news: There’s more than one way to build a popular blog. (Tweet)

After years of studying the most powerful communicators in the world, both online and offline, I’ve discovered five basic types of bloggers that I call “The 5 Most Powerful Platform Personalities.” And before you start building your audience, it would be wise to figure out which one best suits you.

The Journalist

The Journalist builds his platform on asking questions. The only requirement for this type of platform is curiosity.

When I set out to start my blog, I was nervous. I was no expert on writing, so what right did I have to tell other people how to do it? I didn’t even have a published book.

Then I found out about Darren Rowse. Darren, as you may know, started one of the largest blogging communities in the world. How did Darren build his platform? Did he wait until he was an expert?

No. He began his journey by asking questions. And as he publicly shared the answers he got, his curiosity attracted an audience of hundreds of thousands of people. Now, he is considered a leading expert on blogging, and it all began with asking a few simple questions.

If you are a naturally inquisitive person, this may be an excellent approach for you to consider.

The Prophet

The Prophet builds her platform on telling the truth. The requirement for this type of platform is a passion for authenticity. I can think of few people who have done this better than my friend Jamie Wright.

Jamie authors a popular blog called The Very Worst Missionary, on which she riffs and rants about faith, life, and other stuff that bugs her. She complains and cusses and confesses. In short, she says all the things missionaries wish they could say, and people love her for it.

Ask any of her readers why and they’d probably tell you, “Because she’s real.” She tells the truth — the dirty, ugly, nasty, wonderful truth. That’s what a prophet does.

Of course, prophets are not always so popular. They are unpredictable and often offending someone. But that’s not their goal. The goal is to simply tell the truth, whether people want to hear it or not. Another example is Seth Godin, who is an iconoclast in the business world.

Seth calls out the brokenness of the status quo — whether it be in marketing, education, or charity work — and challenges us to something better. And sometimes he catches a lot of flack for it. That is also part of the job description of a prophet, so be prepared for some criticism if you take this approach.

And remember to not be cynical for the sake of being cynical. Good prophets do not only condemn the dark; they also call us into the light.

The Artist

The Artist builds his platform by creating art — whether it be music, painting, or entrepreneurship. The requirement is an eye for beauty.

One of my favorite artists is Jon Foreman, the lead singer of the rock band Switchfoot. Jon communicates the truth of his message through the words he sings and the notes he plays. He challenges his listeners through powerful art that causes you to ask questions long after the song is over.

Artists speak to our hearts, not our minds. They show us through their art that another world is possible. Having sold millions of records, toured the world many times, and appeared on The Tonight Show, it’s hard to say this hasn’t worked for Jon and his band.

Another artist who has recently risen in popularity is a blogger and author by the name of Ann Voskamp whose blog encourages readers to notice the everyday moments in life we might otherwise miss. The gift of an artist is they give us eyes to see.

Want to get a video walk-through of all of these blogging personalities? Get instant access to a recent webinar replay in which I spend 90 minutes teaching you everything I know about blogging. Click here to watch it.

The Professor

The Professor builds her platform on facts and information. She does extensive research until she has achieved mastery. Of course, there is always more to learn, but this type of person knows more than most. The only requirement is a longing to learn.

A great example of someone who has built a platform this way is Jim Collins. Jim is respected speaker and author. He has written Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall — all bestselling business books based on extensive research and case studies he and his team have done.

These books are not light reading. They are full of charts and information and case studies. The Professor loves data. And if you are going to build your expertise this way, you too better love reading, studying, and analyzing (or find a team that does).

The Star

Perhaps, the oddest type of platform to build (and the most visible) is that of The Star. I used to call this The Celebrity, but people got the wrong idea. These people aren’t just famous for being famous. They are known for being charismatic, for being naturally likable.

A product of a media-saturated culture, stars are a new breed of influencers. They woo and endear us, even sometimes scandalize their audiences, and for the most part, we love them for it. They are doing what we ask of them — sharing their lives.

But of course, not everyone can be a star. This kind of personality earns his audience through charisma. Often, the person is attractive or talented, but not always. These people earn their attention because people want to be around them, and this is often because they want to be around people. They’re a party looking for a place to happen.

An example of this type is Ashton Kutcher. A talented entrepreneur and well-known actor, Ashton has something that makes him especially interesting to fans and customers. He is charismatic, full of energy, ideas, and excitement. As a result, people love listening to him. Another would be blogger and best-selling author Tim Ferriss, whose mantra is basically, “If I can do it, so can you.” This is the message of a star: I’m just like you.

Networkers fall into this group, as well. They have influence, because they’re good with people. They may not be the up-front-and-center person, but they are charismatic, nonetheless.

People like stars because stars tend to like people (or at least pretend they do). You can’t be a star if you’re a misanthrope. It just won’t work. More than an other personality, this one is contingent on community.

What type of platform will you build?

These are the five main types of platforms. I’m sure there are others, but these seem to cover most of the blogs out there. If you have a message you want to get out in to the world, you need to identify what type of voice you have and, therefore, what type of platform you should build. I hope this helps.

If you’d like to learn more about this, you should check out a recent webinar I did on this topic. Just click the image below to get instant access to the replay video so you can start watching now.

5 Platform Types Webinar.001

If there’s a question I didn’t answer in the video or in the blog post above, feel free to ask it in the comments below.

What type of platform is right for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I would say I’m part prophet, part professor. I value authenticity a lot, but also love to explain truth. I’m not so much a data cruncher, however. I would rather solve a problem through logic than research and think the knowledge should be useful. 

    • interesting. that kind of describes me, too. thanks, evan!

  • I think the book would be very helpful, so yes, write away.

    I would consider the platform that I’m building to one of an Artist.  I hope and pray that the things I create cause a stirring of deep emotions that elicit change.  

    And Jon Foreman is my creative hero.  I listen to his solo stuff all the time when I’m writing or trying to create something.

    • He writes a song a day. Amazing.

      • It for sure is. Love the connections he makes.

        • not once you start doing it. i imagine it comes pretty naturally to him. though, i love the discipline. it’s not that the song has to be great (although many are); it’s the habit of constantly creating.

      • That’s a great challenge. 

  • I think I’m a combo of the journalist and the artist, with a little tiny bit of the prophet mixed in. Perhaps I should start narrowing my focus more.

    • It might help. You can always branch out later.

  • Hmm. I’m not entirely sure what kind of platform I’ve started building, but that’s a really interesting thought. 

    Also, I know I’d be interested in an author-platform e-book. Sounds like a good premise. 

  • Fresh insight Jeff. Great work. Yes please write that book. I think I’m part artist, part professor and part prophet. I wonder if mixing these emphasis muddles the platform?

    Also, can you discuss the difference between “persona” and “platform”? 

    • A platform is the people listening to you. It’s permission. The persona is (usually) what attracts the people.

  • Based on the headline, I thought this would be a post about shoes. 

    • Maybe it is… 😉

      • Or about trains. Anyhow, my platform is The Troll. If I were from Tyrol, I’d start a blog The Troll from Tyrol. (I am Austrian, but from a different part, unfortunately. So there goes a nifty rhyme. Oh well.)

        • If we were, mine would be 9 & 3/4.

          • Ah, a Harry Potter reference. I had to consult Google to puzzle it out.

  • Joan

    Sounds very interesting! You are touching the heart of writers for sure! You’re helping me tell my story better… thank you! 

  • Susan Bailey

    The Professor fits me! It’s a new fit as I used to be the Artist. :-) But I LOVE studying, reading and analyzing, and learning about my subject. And I love the people I’m meeting through the process. The best part is the note taking and the writing that springs forth from that.

    • Wow. I will leave you to that, Susan. I am very much NOT the Professor (not even a nutty one).

  • I would love to read that ebook, Jeff.  Start writing!

    It looks like I’m part prophet, part artist.  I like that combination.

  • Wow. This is great! I had never stopped to think about it in this way. Thanks for sharing the  different platforms.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post. I think there are some crossovers to leadership as well. We often start building the platform people think we should build–rather than the one we were made for.

    • great point. platform, in fact, is just leadership. i had never thought of it like that, but that’s exactly what it is.

  • Is it just me or do all of these titles sound like a great name for a rapper? The Journalist, The Prophet, The Celebrity, and my rapper name if I was one, The Professor.

    markwriteswords.blogspot.com

    • that’s a great rapper name, but if we’re going that route, I’d call myself, “The Doctor”

  • Write it, and we will come…
    Truthfully, I think I have a bit of all five, but because of my stage of life, limited time, other priorities, the “Professor” just isn’t gonna work for me right now.  I’m also learning that my blog can morph over time. 
    Right now, I’m embracing my Artist voice getting ready to tie prayer and creativity together for a December series.  When I started blogging a year ago, I didn’t have the courage to try something this risky- now it’s fun!

    • love that, shannon. i agree. it can be a lot of fun to be an artist.

  • I tend toward the journalist end of the spectrum. By exploring people and ideas, I find it possible to connect them, at which point I feel there is a sixth type of platform – the connector. The connector seeks to understand the way myriad pieces might fit together, driving alignment and connection of people and ideas.

    Journalism, with its infinite curiosity, is a good first step in this direction, but I’d like to offer that, more than curiosity, a fundamental desire to make the significant interesting and relevant is also critical to success as a journalist.

    He who wishes to lead must first turn his back on the crowd, after all.

  • I don’t know where I would fit but I’m definitely learning how to help people find their true calling with their work. As I’ve helped people I’ve been able to slowly build my blog and book.

    I think that would be an awesome ebook Jeff, Id buy it!

  • I got to say Jeff I was blown away by your newsletter today, I also was laughing pretty hard about the girl and the song (sorry). I would really look forward to an ebook on the topic and you should consider making that newsletter a blog post, very helpful and inspring!

    • thanks, kimanzi! i might just do that.

  • Ashley Prince

    I feel like I’m a very unprofessional journalist. If that makes sense. Not unprofessional as in I seem unpolished or inexperience, but in terms of it’s not a tight platform. “Laid back” may be a better term. 

    I really like this post today. Thanks!

  • Jeff, this is some incredible unpacking, and I think it will be a great resource for people for years to come.

    What platform am I? A celebrity, obviously! 😉

    • hah! you are totally an artist. 😉

      • Whatever. You’re just jealous of my mad charisma.

  • Diane Rivers

    I would definitely pay for and read an ebook on this topic. 

    I am still feeling a little sick to my stomach over your story of “going big” and singing to the girl, but I applaud you for doing it…

  • Jeff, thanks for writing this. I was struggling to decide what my platform should be. Now, after reading this post, I know I need to start as with Journalist. You totally demolished one of roadblocks to shipping!

  • Good post. One that will have me thinking all day on what my platform is… I just want to help others as they raise their kids overseas, but be real that I don’t have all the answers. I’m no expert that is for sure, but want to share what I’ve learned and learn from others that have gone down this path with their kids. 

  • Hmm…I would have said journalist before I clicked on the post but now I’m not sure.  I’m almost a cross between journalist and prophet.  This is going to keep me up tonight, man! :)

  • I am a journalist, so I have a blog where I post feature articles that I’ve written out of a keen desire to satisfy both my curiosity and love for writing.  the articles are based on research and facts.  I am now starting a blog on writing from the soul where I can wax poetic and write prose that feeds my soul… I guess this blog is from an artist’s platform.  I also have a blog about energy healing where I share what I know and what I’ve learned from years as a transformational therapist… that website is built from a healer’s platform.  You are right, there are platforms big and small and every blogger needs to identify which one she or he wants to build upon.  

  • Partly a prophet and… not more of a professor but a teacher…. These two are different, aren’t they?

  • You’re right about Jamie Wright – visited her site and read one of her posts and it was really authentic.

  • I prefer the indie platform because I value freedom, of course freedom
    with responsibility, and singularity.  To orient our self with the
    world, we tend to identify our self with someone. And it’s anxiety of
    influence that dreaded me most. Yet, I can’t escape from influence.  :(

  • Huh, I never thought about it like this – it’s definitely an intriguing concept. I imagine there’s probably ways to combine the various platforms as well. I think I’m a mix of professor and prophet, but this post gives me a different way of thinking about other ways to engage my audience.

    • indeed. all kinds of hybrids available.

  • The intersection of these platforms is what interests me most.

    Def. thinking I’m going for a nice casserole of artist and prophet … yummy.

  • Thanks so much. I’m going to take this as permission to be the prophet I really am. I come across all sorts of generic writing advice but this was truly helpful. 

  • I’m having a hard time boxing myself in to just one Jeff.

    Curiosity pulls me into things, and the idea of revealing hidden truths fuels my exploration. Yet it’s the artistry of crafting a message that keeps me coming back to my writer’s cubbyhole. Even if it’s just to post a response to terrific article like this. 

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  • Love all of it… but, I’ll toss out one thing. “Artists speak to our hearts, not our minds.” 

    Agreed 98%, yet I’d change it to “artists speak primarily to our hearts.” 

    As an artist, I know I’ll connect with my audience more powerfully if I can engage both the heart and the mind. 

  • Not sure really.  Think labels like that are really decided by the reader.

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  • Last November I decided to start trying to market myself and the novel I published more than three years ago.  I’ve rebuilt my website, and made lots of new friends, learned things I never ever considered.  I keep reading articles about “building a platform” and until this past weekend, I couldn’t quite figure out what that meant.  Now, I think I can understand what that means for me.
    That said, I don’t see myself as specifically any one of those you mentioned above, but instead a strange amalgamation of them all.  I’m not as unfocused as that last statement sounds.  I hope. ;-P

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  • It seems like I’m a combination of all of them except celebrity (and only a little bit of artist). Ironically, I was a music major. And, building a platform is about establishing your own celebrity status in a way. So, is it better to narrow your platform down to one or two approaches? Great post.

    • I think so. Narrow your focus to broaden your audience is how the saying goes.

  • Most certainly a journalist.  I’m recording ideas as I discover them.  It makes the most sense!!  Thanks, Jeff.  This post may have sparked a new direction for how I write.

  • Hannelie

    I’m forever writing anecdotes in my mind (I’ve recently committed to actually writing it down) about experiences, usually with a good dose of acidity and ironic distance.
      Oh boy, the observer in me had a field day last weekend when I attended a small town beauty contest (and how I ended up there is a topic all on its own). Reading through the different platform “options” it seems to me then that I’m a “Prophet” – I do have some  not-so-nice things but funny things  to say ;  usually when I share these anecdotes with friends I have them in stitches if I may say so myself.  Here’s the rub:  I don’t have the guts to use my own name should these ever be published eg if I start blogging. I want to be liked and to be nice and not hurt people.    I’m very honest and shrewd and can be endearingly naive at times, so one day I want to say exactly what I think, the next day I want to hide.) Should I create an alter ego?  I feel I would allow myself to be more honest, having created a bit of distance. Or would it maybe be better to incorporate all three elements – be honest, be shrewd and round it off sweetly?

  • Very informative! It’s interesting to recognize 3 areas pertaining to me and the different web locations for each to build. Thank you for the clarity as always!!!

  • Lucy4

    Thank you! I have a better understanding about platform. I am still looking for one. I know I want my writing to make people feel opposite emotions, e.g. lough-cry. I have strong
    desire to make peple’s life easier & at the same time, write my family history.

  • I am definitely The Professor (I am one!) and The Journalist. Yippee! This was a great post – very clear and to the point!

  • Oh this is an old post – I love Feedly! Thanks for sharing – I’m a Journalistic Prophet. (And I got a degree in one…can ya guess? ;-))

  • Paige

    Just starting out with writing, so this post is so helpful! I’m more of the Artist type. I love to create fiction. This was a great read!

  • MK

    I guess I’m a Journalist/Professor. Basically I share what I’ve learned about writing and traveling, incorporating things I’ve learned from others, but also things I’ve learned by actually doing these things. Also a little of the Artist in there because I often share my own photos and sometimes my own writing … Is it bad to be a mixture, do you think?

  • Kelsey H

    Oddly enough I fall into three personalities.. I have the conviction of a Prophet, the curious application of a Journalist, and the zeal for encouragement like the Star. I am an introverted, extrovert. Is that even possible? Love this post and your website. My entire life has come to be from an abnormal story always seeking to be normal. I never considered unique gifts or independent thought processes, other than what I was told. I am faulty obedient. Because I never assumed myself unique, I never assumed I uniquely processed and dialogued in so much depth. I have always thought a lot, but until about a year ago, I never braved writing any of it.. and might I clarify, when I save braved, I mean kicking and screaming until I had no choice. God is so good. I am too far out on a limb to go back, and I am also too far out on this limb to go forward without Him; thank goodness. Anyway, becoming more educated on this beast, writing, helps me to confidently write and not question myself so much. Thank you for what you do.

  • Ellen Andersen

    My biggest challenge with blogging is 2 things. I know that’s not technically “biggest” since there’s two. First, I don’t know what to write. I had lots of ideas a few years ago and wrote them but I’ve run dry. My second problem is lack of discipline. I’m probably not alone here.

    • Ellen,
      Just wanted to mention here, if you cannot find topics or the discipline, you can always hire a virtual assistant, like myself to help you. Feel free to reach out.

  • I am hoping that I fall into the prophet/artist category (and occasionally a bit of professor there too when I can be bothered to reference…) I like these categories – particularly enjoying the alliteration! Thanks for being relentlessly helpful, Jeff. :-)

  • Sebastián Lora

    What happens when you feel you fit into more than one? Would mixing personalities be considered inconsistent and confuse readers? Or could it be valuable?

  • Thanks for the recap Jeff, as I missed it! Great blog personality types – I think I may be a few combined! Is that called ‘confused’ -haha. I was really struck by the differing examples of the blogs you like, from one extreme to the other. Thank you for giving us examples and stretching my borders. Always great ‘stuff’ – once again!

  • I have a blog and I think I have a mixture of a journalist, prophet, artist and professor all in one. Depending on the post the style can differ. Thanks for a great and informative read!

  • Helpful breakdown, Jeff. Would love to hear any examples you can offer of The Journalist and The Professor in the Christian blogging arena. Those two seem rare in Christian blogdom. Maybe I’m just unaware of them. Would you agree with me? And if so, why do you think that might be?

  • This post is a great read. It mentions some key points about finding a voice and how to get attention by being serious about what you write. It really gives some useful inspiration about how to share what you believe in and get your story out there so that you can be ready to talk about how you are calling yourself a writer and getting straight in there by writing your own work that you can publish in the future. This is what writers need to be doing to reach out to the people who are going to appreciate there creativity and it is an art that needs some serious following and dedication to be attached to it. If you are not dedicated to the writing you are doing and you don’t to build a following of your work you’re not really a writer.

  • Jane Kavuma- Kayonga

    Jeff, thank you very much for making the replay of the webinar available. Here in Botswana, I missed it due to the different time zones. I have found it very informative. I have been thinking of starting a blog to communicate to the world and to find the audience that my creative work needs and deserves. By helping me to find my Platform Personality, you have cleared my biggest hurdle. I have already published a fiction novel and I am struggling to win it the attention it deserves. Thank you for inspiring us and sharing your knowledge and skills with all of us.

  • On Hayden Lane

    So good! Thanks for this article and the replay of your “scope”!

  • Robin

    This was terrific and it came at just the right time, as I was thinking and rethinking how I should do a blog. This helped me clearly see which direction I needed to take. Thanks so much for this article!

  • Christina

    Can we be more than one? I felt I twisted with quite a few… I am a creative individual who loves singing, composing, taking pictures of nature and everyday beauty. I love discovering new songs and learning from people. Inspired to inspire. Creates to create. Thinking positive whole still being realistic matter to me. And I work in business networking (mainly financial servuces), so the star appealed to me a lot… I’m a little confused about what I am ??!

  • Like many people, I too find I fit more than one. One is the Artist, since that’s what I am (duh), but my writing fits the Prophet.
    I actually enjoy Seth Godin’s writing precisely because he’s challenging everything, and I hope to do that as well with my blog.
    Thanks for the insight, now I know what to focus my writing on even better :)

  • Kevin Wall

    So I say first how I love that the comments on this post are from 4, 3, 2 years as well as recent as 3 days ago! Great use of great content!
    My question is, in light of a recent piece I heard you speaking on (Maybe from Tribe Writers?) how do you find which one you really are? I so want to be Jamie the Prophet, and Admire the Stars, but it feels so pretentious to believe that I could be either one. I suppose the people around me everyday mostly laugh at my absurdity and generally jovial nature, so would that be my real voice? Having a hard time finding it I guess.
    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

  • It’s super strange to say, “yep, I’m a star”, but I’m saying it. 😀

  • Niki Hardy

    This is ridiculously helpful. Just the discipline of not trying to be all things to all people is good. I think I’m a prophet with a hint of star. I’m going to up the prophet element and see if that resonates with people.