Getting serious about building your author platform

I’ve been blogging in different places since I was 14 years old. Reading about the importance of an author platform for two years before that. Every year my commitment to building this platform grew. I’ve tried many different things over the years. Built myself a professional LinkedIn account. Created a Twitter account and tried to become part of that community.

A few years ago I bought my first blog domain, Dianna’s Writing Den. Last year I moved to the self-hosted WordPress site you’re looking for now.

This year I’ve decided to get serious about building my author platform. My books may not be published, but what’s better than an audience waiting to read your first book? Besides, building an author platform for me also means creating a vibrant writing community here at The Dabbler and developing friendships with my favourite kinds of people–authors and avid readers.

But today’s not about why you should have an author platform. It’s about breaking down my plan to show you how you can create your own plan to build a strong author platform.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing each part of the plan in more detail, but for now, here’s a basic overview:

Create a Plan– part of committing yourself to building an author platform is creating a plan. You can start by creating goals, both in the short term–the next month–and in the long term, or the next year. You’ll need goals for each aspect of your platform–number of blog posts, blog followers, freelance clients, whatever you’re aiming to gain from this author platform.

Tying these goals to a time frame is important because it makes it easier to evaluate your platform building strategies in a few months and make sure you’re on course.

Create a content plan for your blog– of course, this is under the assumption that you’ve chosen to work with a blog, but blogging lends itself so easily to writers that frankly, I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

Your content plan should actually be two plans: a detailed one scheduling future topics for the next month and a less detailed plan of the three months after that, including posting frequency and a handful of ideas. You might even want to create a list of potential topics for the months after that.

Having a content plan makes it easier to write blog posts in batches for maximum efficiency and to schedule them in advance so your post will go up even if you’re sick and unable to make it to your computer. It also allows you to schedule promotions for each post in advance–after all, you know what’s coming next.

Create a marketing plan– if you’re anything like me, this is by far the longest part of the process. It involves not only setting both short term and long term goals for your subscription rates and sales, but creating a detailed three month plan for each social media outlet you use and email newsletter you run or plan to start.

You’ll want to make sure every post is advertised on all the social networks you’re part of, schedule time each day to build relationships with people on those networks, and set aside time to study each one. Outlining your next several newsletters and preparing the promotions for them can help eliminate stress too. You’ll also want to start making guest appearances on other blogs or websites to help create name recognition.

For this category you should be making goals to increase your number of followers, build relationships and befriend people who might help further your career–in more ways than just buying one of your books.

Of course, taking action is the most important thing you can do to build your author platform. You can have a twenty page plan and it won’t do you any good if you don’t follow through. Over the next several weeks I’ll walk you through the steps of creating an in-depth plan to build your author platform. After that, you’re on your own. Only you can build your writing career. Don’t forget it.