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What's amazing to me is that not only had I not thought about saving it in that format, but truthfully, I was afraid that I hadn't adequately covered the process or that others would chime in and contradict the value of what I'd offered. So it often is with our own knowledge. We often don't know the value of our own ability and experience.
I decided that I would elaborate on each of the topics that I mentioned, especially since I was concerned that I was barely touching the surface of each. The first aspect of publishing your work whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route is to establish a platform. What does this mean? The first time I heard about developing a platform was through following blogs, podcasts and the newsletter of Dan Miller of 48days.com He was really the first person who encouraged me to self-publish. He encourages everyone who plans to self-publish to begin immediately establishing a presence in their community and online. There are lots of ways to do this.
Create A WebsiteThis is probably the first thing that new authors think about doing and it is essential. You might think that you have to hire someone to create it for you and that it will cost a zillion dollars but really it is not necessary. Begin by creating a simple wordpress site. I'm certainly not a techie and I'm not going to even pretend to give advice on this topic. I have the advantage of a daughter who majored in IT in college and she has been a constant resource. You can either hook up with someone who can give you good and regular advice (perhaps the tech support person where you work), goggle every question you have (it's amazing how easy this is to do and how often I overlook this possibility) or join a forum where you can be part of a group that asks and answers questions. There are lots of these available. I'm a member of 48days.net where I joined the wordpress group. Someone is always asking questions that I learn something from. As your platform develops you may later want to get professional help but in the beginning I think it is great to learn the ropes yourself so that you are not intimidated by the prospect of adding something to your site and can maintain active involvement. After all, your website is an extension of who you are and should reflect you and your message.
Start A BlogStarting a blog, much like creating a website can be intimidating and scary at first. The first time I posted something I didn't feel proud so much as worried. What would the reaction be? Would I be criticized? Or even worse, would no one notice? There are lots of decisions to make about blogging. What format will you use? Wordpress or Blogger are two main sites. Will your blog be separate from your website or an ongoing part of it? What will you write about? How often? Most of the information I read about blogging suggests blogging regularly is important. Daily is often promoted as the ideal since your content changes regularly which encourages repeat visits. Given that I still work full-time and have many other areas that I'm busy in, I blog once a week. Establishing the time frame and making a commitment to it though are crucial. It not only inspires your readers but it gives you a goal and challenge to reach for.
Interact Regularly On Other Blogs
Part of developing a platform is becoming known in an online community. Find other blogs that cover the same topics that you do and comment on them regularly. The purpose of this is of course to develop a recognizable persona online. You are becoming known as the expert on the particular topic that you have determined to be your niche. It's important that you are creating and nurturing relationships as you do this. It's not the point to see how many comments you can leave on numerous blogs. Instead you are getting to know others just as they are getting to know you. Be yourself and share from your own experience and personality. Eventually you will develop online friendships where you are eager to see what the blogger is posting next just as they are following you in the same way.
Interact Regularly On Social MediaThis is something that is promoted constantly as the new advertising. It is--but just like interacting on blog sites you must also interact in a personal way on facebook, twitter and other social media sites. By personal, I don't mean posting all the pictures from your latest vacation or a minute by minute description of your day. Instead, look for ways you can genuinely interact with people you care about. Be yourself and share your blog, your gifts, your talents with those who can benefit from them. This is different from constantly trying to convince people to buy what you are selling. Create a facebook page about your upcoming book. Identify and promote upcoming events--get the word out! A big help to me has been using Hootsuite, one site where I can manage comments and announcements to several social media sites at once.
Engage Your Local CommunitySometimes with the thrill, fast pace and demands of social media involvement, we forget to establish a platform and relationships right in our own community. Begin where you are comfortable. Can you offer a class or offer to speak about your passion at church, in your neighborhood, a local book club or local business association? Don't worry at first about making this profitable. Focus instead on the benefit you can give back to the local community. Always be on the lookout for places and ways to share your knowledge. Eventually you will be seen as the local expert on the topic. Worried that you aren't good enough or knowledgeable enough about what you know? Lead from where you are. Let people know that you are a newbie but a learner. There will always be someone that you are ahead of in terms of your knowledge and expertise. Just as I didn't think I knew enough to write last week's post, you may also be amazed at how valuable the information is that you have now.
Want to read more about establishing a platform? New out this month is Michael Hyatt's book: Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World I also follow his blog: Michael Hyatt's blog. Both are chock full of great information about how to establish yourself as an expert. Check out his book on my Shelfari..
What about you? What are you doing to make yourself known in a noisy world? While these are the main ways that I have created a platform, I'd love to hear about your reactions. Are there other things that you have done?