The Joys of Building a Writing Platform

For me, the publishing aspect of writing will always be associated with sweltering heat. It was late in the evening on one boiling July day last year when I began working on building my first website and writing platform, Tibetan Lemonade. Toward the end of that June, I had approached the point where I was ready to pursue the next steps in getting published and had begun digging for more information, only to discover I was woefully unprepared, and not nearly as ready as I thought.

It was during the initial stages of my publishing journey that I learned about a writer’s platform, and at first, I was resentful. I’d spent years trying to get to the point of publication. I’d worked my ass off. Yet it wasn’t enough. This was lesson number 1 in writing, a lesson I should have already learned and come to anticipate by now: The moment you think you know what you are doing is the moment you realize you have no idea. After resisting the urge to chuck my computer across the room, I settled in and grudgingly set to work learning the ins and outs of building an audience.

It didn’t take long for my attitude to change. Like writing a novel, platform building tapped into the creative center of my brain, and I found myself lost in the world I wanted to create. Unlike my novels, this world was tangible, and the characters I invited to participate were real people, the beginning of my writer’s tribe.

My initial reaction to platform building is a fairly common reaction. Building a platform does not have to be a chore. Like your writing, it is what you make it. There will be unpleasant aspects, just as there is with any pursuit (except maybe the pursuit of kitten cuddling–oh wait, I forgot about the hairballs and the claws, nevermind). If you put some forethought into your platforms, choose carefully where you build, and make it an extension of your author-self, it will come naturally, and bring as much joy as writing does.

Some questions to ask yourself as you get going:

  1. What do I find pleasure in? How can I incorporate that into my platform building?
  2. What experience do I want my audience to have?
  3. How engaged do I want to be? How much time do I want to spend?
  4. Can I join in with others, or do I want this to be an independent endeavor?

Here were my answers when I began creating Tibetan Lemonade:

  1. I love reading, writing (duh, right?!), and inspiration. I want a platform where I can play, collaborate with others, promote new voices and fantastic writing, and experiment to see what works, and what doesn’t.
  2. I want my audience to be exposed to a variety of literary voices and insights, to be inspired to further their own creativity, and to find something they love.
  3. I am willing to spend a chunk of time each day building Tibetan Lemonade, in the hopes that as it grows, it will become self-sustaining.
  4. I want to create a collaborative space and use this website to help seek out other writers and artists. In short, I would like to build a community around Tibetan Lemonade.

Here are some tips to help you as you get started:

  • Identify a primary platform–this is where you will dedicate the majority of your time.
    • For me, this was Tibetan Lemonade. As the website grew, I took on another main platform, Read.Write.Repeat podcast and my time is divided equally between the two.
  • Don’t let platform building encroach upon your writing time.
    • Your primary job is to write. Sometimes a platform can become another form of procrastination (been there, done that!!). Set clear limitations and make sure you enforce those (we are all our own worst enemy, right?!).
  • As your primary platform begins to take shape, consider how social media can contribute to the growth of that platform and expand your audience.
    • Just like before, pick one site and focus on growing that before branching to others. Or just stay on that one site and work it to its max! The social media you use should play well into your strengths and passions.
      • Love taking photos? Instagram might be the best place for you.
      • Enjoy witty banter? Consider twitter.
      • Want a lot of flexibility in what type of content you post? Facebook is versatile.
    • It is also a good idea to consider what social media website you are the most familiar with and start there.
  • Remember that what you publish on your website and social media reflects who you are as a person and as an author.
    • Go for quality over quantity.
    • If it isn’t bringing you joy, it might be time to reconsider how you are using that platform.
  • Not ready to build your own platform? Consider contributing to other platforms.
    • Here at Tibetan Lemonade, I thrive on the contributions of others. I love hearing new voices, learning from other authors and artists, and bringing a variety of content to my audience. I’m not the only platform like this. Find a platform that matches your voice or writer values and see if you can contribute to them!

Featured Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash