Become Best Friends with Donald Trump… or Start Building Your Own Platform

If you’re trying to get heard in a world full of distractions, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You have two choices:

  1. Get a friend named Donald Trump.
  2. Build a platform you can be proud of.
Donald Trump
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

If you happen to have a billionaire patron who’s willing to help buy your way into influence, great. Shut the computer down and go start building your empire.

But if not, then you had better get to work.

The good news is you finally have the tools at your disposal to create your own fame. The technology is accessible and cheap; all you need to do now is act. Here’s what you’ll need to get started (the tools and next steps for each):

A permission asset

This is often a blog, what you might call a “platform” or something along those lines. It can be a podcast, acting career, TV station, etc.

A permission asset is a piece of “property” you have control over. In other words, it can’t be taken away from you; you own it. That part is important.

If you have a website on someone else’s domain (e.g. or, you don’t own your platform.

If you have to ask someone else’s permission to speak to your audience, you don’t own your platform.

If you have a landlord telling you how you can or can’t use what’s been given to you, you don’t own your platform.

So if that doesn’t describe what you’re building, it’s time to start making smart choices to earn trust and build something you can be proud of that won’t be taken away from you.

Next Step: Set up a self-hosted blog (it takes less than eight minutes).

A distribution channel

It’s not enough to have a platform. You can buy a nice house, but that alone won’t get friends to come over. You need a way to invite people. In other words, you need a channel.

Some of the most popular distribution channels in society are the postal service or telephone line. Even Twitter is a way to connect with an audience and bring them back to your platform.

This is something that you may not own, but it’s a vehicle for reaching more people and inviting them back to the asset you’ve built (i.e. your blog).

My favorite channel is email: it’s personal, simple, and timeless (as far as the Internet goes, anyway). Plus, if you have a good list, you can take that with you anywhere — even if you start a new business, blog, etc.

When my blog went down last week, one of the reasons I didn’t freak out was that I still had complete control to communicate with my readers through my email list. It’s a powerful way of connecting with people.

Next step: Set up and start building an email list.

A clock

Yes, a clock. Why? Because this is going to take some time. How much? I’m not sure. It could take a year or a decade. Maybe it happens faster than that, but that’s not really the norm.

It took Chris Brogan over eight years to get more than 100 subscribers to his blog. It took my friend Bryan Allain a decade to earn his first 1000 fans. It took me four years of practicing (and failing) plus two years of hustling before I built my platform.

You’ll need time to create great content, earn permission, build relationships, and get your name out there.

Next step: Start creating content and building relationships.

The bottom line

It requires patience to build trust; the two go hand in hand. And like I said before, if you’ve got some bajillionaire friend who’s willing to help you expedite the process by getting you in front of Oprah, by all means call him.

But if not, these three tools are your best bet.

Good luck!

If you want to know more about this sort of thing, check out my online course, Tribe Writers, where we teach you how to build a platform you can be proud of. The next class opens up for registration later this week.

What’s one thing you need to do to build a platform you can be proud of? Share in the comments.

37 thoughts on “Become Best Friends with Donald Trump… or Start Building Your Own Platform

  1. I have been building my platform brick by brick. I’ve had my Louisa May Alcott blog for 2-1/2 years and decided to reach out to the uber fans, scholars and academics. I have achieved my goal, having received personal encouragement and endorsements from Alcott scholars. I am now working on expanding my base. As my platform has grown, I’ve been invited to guest blog on literary sites,  teach a class at a community college, participate in an American Library Association workshop, contribute a review to an upcoming anthology on Pulitzer prize-winning books, and I now have a monthly column in a local newspaper (not related to Louisa, but my writing skills have become good enough).

    The day that Jeff issued that challenge to admit to being a writer was the day my platform truly began to grow. I started as someone passionate about Louisa May Alcott, eager to meet others like myself. I’m no scholar or academic, and yet I am accepted in their community and looked upon by readers as an expert.

    I do believe a book looms in the future.

    Patience is key. Building the platform slowly, incrementally and tenaciously really works! The advice given on this blog and Michael Hyatt’s has been so important to my efforts.

    Thank you Jeff!

  2. I’m relatively new to the blogging world and, according to your list above, the first thing I need to do is “own my platform.”  I’m slowly building a little community on, and I’d been mulling over whether to transfer my work over to (or whatever would give me total creative freedom).  I didn’t consider it to be a serious concern yet, since my blog is so “small,” but it looks like it’s more important than I thought.  Thank you for the post.

  3. Continue to read blogs from other platform builders like you, Michael Hyatt, Andy Traub, etc.  Then take massive action on what I learn from you guys!  One specific action is to focus on guest posting…I’ve learned that is one powerful method you used to grow your platform.  Great post Jeff!

  4. It is not just hard work, it is mind numbing hard work.  But anything this good, Jeff, takes just that.  
    Just starting with the building of the my platform, and my hard work is just starting with the community.  Exciting to say the least.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I like this ownership idea of a what a platform is. It goes right along with the way enrepreneurial thinkers tend to want to live anyway. Ultimately, the goal is to own something that can be what it is because you say it is. It’s art.

  6. The ownership is the next step for me. It’s not in the budget right now so I will have to keep renting. I alos like the idea of a bjillion dollar friend, well, sort of. 

  7. Well, I am happy to say that I finally got the ownership, a channel, and now a clock… but I know now, I need to build that email list…I know, I should have been building it already, but I’m just glad I now have something out there! Thanks for all your influence!!

  8. I just shipped my first eBook, so that’s a yiee! for my platform building efforts 🙂 Been building that email list for a while now (actually four months with mailchimp, previously with google). The move to mailchimp has spiked subscription  – along with creating better content and building relationships with other bloggers in my niche. Thanks for being an inspiration!  

  9. Good to hear about the timing of it all.  Some times people have unrealistic expectations in regards to the investment of time.

  10. It definitely seems like too many people give up too soon and don’t take the time to let their work gain notice.  Almost a year after I started my own site, my monthly numbers are way up and I’ve developed a lot of online friendships that I enjoy.  I can only imagine how much more mature things will look in another year, or five!  

  11. I’ve been working on my platform for about a year.  I write, create music, and blog.  I do have my own domain, and that is a great benefit over using WP or Blogger domains.  I’ve discovered I can do much more than my friends who have WP or Blogger based sites.

    One thing that jumped out at me, Jeff, is what you said about “ownership.”  I self-publish my books at this point.  Maybe someday I’ll seek a publishing deal, as it might help in the process of marketing my books.  However, in a sense, when we publish through a traditional publisher, don’t we give up some of our “ownership?”   

    1. No, Dan, you don’t. You still own your content; you just share the profits with the publisher. But if they decide to let your book go out of print, you still own the copyright and can take it with you.

  12. I discovered your blog fairly recently, and I’m really
    enjoying your posts.  I’m building my
    platform now, but I hadn’t put any thought into the email list, so thank you
    for that advice. 

    You also sparked a bit of inspiration this
    morning with your comment about how it takes patience to build trust.  I often forget that important point while forging
    out this writing career of mine.  Ironically,
    my very first nationally published work was an essay on educating my autistic
    son and how it took almost 10 years to trust my own instincts enough to make a
    risky decision—a decision that has since paid off in droves.  For those of us beginning a new creative
    career in midlife, it’s so important to remember to trust in ourselves and the life
    experience that brought us to this place. 
    Sometimes that takes patience too.

  13. I tried Mailchimp for a while, but I noticed that my open rate dropped significantly over a year’s time. It went from about 60% to about 35%. I’m not sure what to attribute this to, but I’m thinking about ditching it and just using the subscription option on my wordpress site. Any thoughts?

  14. I tried Mailchimp for a while, but I noticed that my open rate dropped significantly over a year’s time. It went from about 60% to about 35%. I’m not sure what to attribute this to, but I’m thinking about ditching it and just using the subscription option on my wordpress site. Any thoughts?

  15. Jeff, My research into MailChimp has discovered it’s against MailChimp’s TOS to use affiliate links. They can shutdown your account for a violation and you loose your list. How do you get around it?
    Also, is “Tribes” a mobile responsive theme?
    I am preparing to move from Blogger to WP/ Genesis and I am looking at my options.
    Jim Carver

    1. Hi Jim. That’s right; I’ve read that, too. I typically use Mailchimp to drive traffic to my blog, where I then use affiliate links.

      The Tribe theme is not mobile responsive (yet), but we hope to make it so soon.

      If you sign up for Genesis, though, you can get access to a whole group of mobile-responsive themes.

      1. Jeff, Thank you for the response. I see how it works with Mailchimp from your answer. It appears you can use Mailchimp without Affilaite links but can use the links on your own site and not be repremanded. Cool!

        I may go with Genesis first and there’s always other sites where I might need to try a different theme down the road. 

        Does the back-end stats of Mailchimp give you individual breakdown of clicks ect…?
        Jim Carver

  16. Really good point about the email list – I thought of that right away when I got your email last week about your blog issues. That’s an area I need to work on for sure — if my blog conked out, I’d disappear from cyberspace and no one would know where I went!

  17. Thanks for a great article. I recently started my blog (self-hosted!) and while I know it takes time to build a readership, it’s still nice to be reminded by others that it is a process that takes years, and not weeks/months. Thank you. 🙂

  18. Great Blog Jeff. I don’t often read a blog and stop, think and hope that I can apply the ideas to my own life. You da man.


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