What It Really Takes to Build a Platform in Today’s Noisy World
Michael Hyatt wrote the book on platform-building — literally. I’ve been following his blog for years, but his newest book, Platform, distills his most important thoughts on publishing, marketing, and how to build a powerful audience online.
For the longest time, I just nodded along, thinking, Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get all that stuff, but it’ll never work for me.
Finally, though, I gave up on my skepticism and just went with it. And in eight months, I had a book deal. In a year, my blog was receiving 80,000–100,000 visitors per month. All because I chose to build a platform.
I’m not pulling your leg when I say you can do this, too. You can — if you’ll just get over your cynicism and trust the process.
Here’s how it works in five important steps:
Step 1: Start with wow
This is where Mike begins his book and where you should begin your process. Most people want to get popular or make a book, but they’re missing the most important ingredient: the “wow” factor. They’re trying to pass off something mediocre as awesome, and trust me — people can tell the difference.
Doing this, in the words of Seth Godin, is like putting some whipped cream and a cherry on top of a bunch of meatballs and calling it a “sundae.” It’s not. Before you start marketing, make sure you’ve got something a great product.
If you’re a writer, musician, or artist, this means spending some time working on your craft than promoting it. It means practicing.
But this goes beyond mere skill. It also means paying attention to details like packaging and making each and every experience with your product amazing (think of how it feels to unwrap an Apple product for the first time).
Step 2: Prepare to launch
Before the world will listen to your message, you need to make sure it’s ready. This includes everything from accepting responsibility for your work to making sure you have a consistent headshot on all your social media channels.
If you’re like me, you have a love/hate relationship with branding and marketing yourself, but the bottom line here is clarity. Are you helping your audience understand what you’re about — or are you confusing them?
Even though I knew this stuff, I still wasn’t practicing it as best I could. Just this week, after reading Mike’s book, I decided to change all social networks to have the same image of my face. A small change, but an important one, if you want to make an impression.
Step 3: Build your home base
This may be the most important part of getting your message heard — having the actual platform. For some, this will be a blog. For others, it may be your rolodex.
Whatever form it takes, a platform needs to be something that you own and can control. Mike’s tips, which he lives and practices religiously, are helpful and practical.
When it comes to creating your home base, you want to focus on quantity and shipping — getting your ideas out in front of the world — especially when you’re just beginning. Don’t get hung up on perfectionism; put your work out there. You can always tweak it later.
The most helpful chapter in this section was the one on building a speaking page, which I followed to a tee for my own speaking page (and it’s already started attracting speaking requests!).
Step 4: Expand your reach
Without channels of connection, your message can only go so far. This is where most people struggle — they have something the world needs to hear but don’t have anyone’s attention.
This is where Twitter and Facebook — as well as your guest posting strategy — come in.
I had the privilege of contributing a short chapter to this section, so I’m a little biased, but this is where your message really begins to take off. It’s where you reach a personal tipping point. But until you build and launch, you can’t expand.
Step 5: Engage your tribe
Few people are better are rewarding their tribes than Mike. I’ve learned so much from his generosity and accessibility (I met him in person because he actually answers his email). In particular, I love how he uses giveaways to build trust and earn permission.
But engagement is a two-way street. And it’s inevitable that once you build a platform you’ll start attracting critics and haters — people who will want to knock you down. So when Mike says, “Don’t feed the trolls,” he knows what he’s talking about; he’s lived it.
At this point, you’re ready to start making money, and no doubt some people will just skip straight to Chapter 60 of Platform: “Monetize Your Blog” — but there’s a reason it’s the last chapter. Because everything you do up until that point earns you the trust you need to make a big ask like that.
Start building your platform now
This is how businesses and audiences are built these days: you find who will listen first and then start delivering value to them. Michael Hyatt’s done this; I’m trying to do it, too. The question is, are you doing it? Or are you still waiting? Still delaying?
It’s time to start. To share your message with the world. And it all begins with a platform.
Special offer: Platform by Michael Hyatt is a great book that will help you build a platform that allows you to get noticed in a noisy world. Find out more here.
What’s something you haven’t done to build a platform yet? Share in the comments.