Creation of a Writer’s Platform

Posted: March 5, 2013 in Writing Craft

Sorry for all of you horror fans out there, I know that this is a little off topic, but I thought I would post something I put together re: the creation of a writer’s platform. I have been working to assemble my own and thought that it might be helpful to someone else out there…

I will later file this under the misc. tab of course!

— Jim

Many aspects must be considered in the construction of a writer’s platform. Perhaps the most important is to identify the ideal target audience and try to market and promote content to this demographic. It is not uncommon for a blog or website to have more than one target demographic; in this case it would be important to make sure that the content is delivered in such a way as to remain attractive for all target groups. In the age of the internet more and more people are turning to the web for their consumption of media, whether this be in the form of blogs, news articles, youtube videos, or facebook message feeds. According to newmediatrendwatch.com the United States has an internet population of over 245 million people (about 78% of the total population), of these users the average internet usage is over 30 hours a week. It is because of numbers like these that the internet has become an essential part of the promotion process for anyone looking to self-promote their work; this is especially true for the construction of a writer’s platform.

New media has changed the face of modern publishing. The days of tireless submittals to established brick and mortar publishing houses are coming to an abrupt end. The rise of the e-publishing phenomenon gives authors the option to self-publish their works. In his extensive survey of the publishing industry as it was from the mid 1900’s to the early 2000’s, Jason Epstein made a brilliant prediction:

Even in today’s rudimentary digital marketplace some authors have linked their Web sites to sites of related interest, hoping to create their own expanding communities of loyal readers with each new book they write. Minor technological modifications will soon enable writers to sell their books from these Web network, bypassing publishers who may have rejected their work, while established writers may choose to forgo the security of a publisher’s royalty guarantee in exchange for keeping the entire revenue from the sales of their books. (Epstein 180-181)

This excerpt certainly reiterates the importance of online resources in today’s world of publishing. It also shows an amazing level of foresight on the part of Jason Epstein, who would have thought that an old school publishing whiz could have hit the nail right on the head years before the industry had reached the levels that it has? Taking ideas like this into consideration is of great importance when trying to construct a writer’s platform; if the industry has changed so drastically since 2001, what can we expect in 2020? Likely writers will be publishing exclusively online and bound books may have gone the way of vinyl records. Collector’s will still seek them out, but the practical medium will likely be online downloads.

In the construction of my personal writer’s platform I tried to take all of these things into consideration. It would have been really frustrating to have constructed a brilliant and effective platform on myspace five years ago just to watch the world of social media (facebook specifically) devour all of your hard work. Facebook has been going strong for several years and will likely remain a relevant source of social media for many years to come. According to socialbakers.com, an analytical website, over 163 million people have facebook accounts, which is nearly 53% of the entire population of the United States. Taking the statistics into consideration it makes a lot of sense to choose facebook as one of the main footholds of a good writer’s platform because of the sheer amount of traffic that the site generates. Also in my opinion these numbers are likely to rise in the near future due to the fact that technology is becoming cheaper and smart phones with social networking accessibility are being viewed as more common necessities than items of luxury. Facebook is great for reaching people in your immediate and extended social networks, but may be lacking in meeting/connecting with people that you have no connection with.

The second part of my writer’s platform is another of the more popular networking sites, twitter. Twitter is a much more compact and concise form of communication as it allows only “tweets” of 100 characters or less. In 2012 the site reported over 500 million accounts, with almost 143 million in the United States alone (Lunden). In addition many  high profile people are much more accessible on twitter than they are on other social media sites which allows twitter users to network with people who might be able to help them get exposure. The layout of the site allows countless availability of brief exchanges with people in all areas and from all walks of life. The drawback of twitter as mentioned before is the limited character count, but I find that it is ideal for pushing traffic to a blog or facebook page. With that being mentioned it is time to move on to what is arguably the most important aspect of the writer’s platform.

A well-constructed blog is the likely hub of any successful writer’s platform. Many blog websites offer free blog services for people wanting to join the hundreds of millions active bloggers from around the world. Among the most popular are blogger, wordpress, and tumblr. I personally chose to use a wordpress blog for my writer’s platform; I felt that it allowed for more customization and looked more professional overall. The blog is an ideal hub of a writer’s platform because it allows much more freedom in posting sample works, media links, and anything else that might help to promote your site content and appeal to your target demographic. The blog is great on its own, but there are many things that writers must do in order to ensure that they are getting all that they can out of their blog.

One of the most important elements of a writer’s platform is the idea of search engine optimization. Most people have tried googleing their own name at one time or another, in most cases it’s amazing to see how many people are lurking out there with the same name as you! The likely hood of people finding your blog in the oceans of the blogosphere can be even more unlikely. When employing the general ideas of search engine optimization one can increase the relevancy of their own blog or website by employing common terms and phrases in the title of the blog or even in the body of the blog content. Another useful technique to get the most out of search engine optimization is to use tags of popular query searches that are relevant to your blog entry. The truth is that sometimes a simple understanding of search engine optimization may not be enough.

I have found that one of the most important things to do to generate new site traffic is to blog on other people’s websites. Many people that a writer chooses to follow may follow him in return. This idea is true in all forms of social media and works well in facebook, twitter and the blogosphere. I found that after blogging actively on some high profile websites with my wordpress blog signature my blog views go through the roof! I have much to learn about the best ways to generate blog traffic, but from some early trial and error this method has garnered the best results.

In conclusion it is apparent that new media is essential for anyone wanting to generate a web presence and become noticed in the new publishing environment. It can also be seen that traditional publishing houses continue to have less and less of a say in what gets published, while the internet and new media specifically makes the option of self-publishing more attractive and more accessible. A writer who understands the ideas behind social media and search engine optimization is far more likely to succeed in this new digital age where the amount of people who turn to the internet for the consumption of written media is sure to increase exponentially.

Works Cited

Epstein, Jason. Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001. Print.

Lunden, Ingrid. “Twitter Passes 500M Users In June 2012.” TechCrunch RSS. N.p., 30 July 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/30/analyst-twitter-passed-500m-users-in-june-2012-140m-of-them-in-us-jakarta-biggest-tweeting-city/&gt;.

“Demographics.” – New Media Trend Watch USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2013. <http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/markets-by-country/17-usa/123-demographics&gt;.

“United States Facebook Statistics.” Socialbakers.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/united-states&gt;.

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