If you want to market yourself as an expert–author, coach, consultant or information product producer–you need a platform. “Platform” is simply the current buzzword for being visible and having an audience.
In fact, most major publishers will not consider a book from an author who does not have an established platform. Even if you do not plan to seek a traditional publishing contract, however, having a platform will make it easier to profit from the content you create.
So how can you create a platform for yourself?
Elements of a platform may include:
- Speaking engagements
- A newspaper or magazine column
- Internet presence, including a web site or blog
- Online social media presence (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other social sites)
- A mailing list (online and/or offline)
- Media exposure through your own television or radio program, a recurring segment on a show or many guest appearances on a variety of shows
- A high-profile job or political position
- Prominence in professional organizations (e.g., board member)
Although you do not have to have all of these things to have an effective platform, the more visibility you have, the better.
Consider what pieces you already have in place. Perhaps you have been active in your professional association. If so, you are probably well-known and highly-regarded in your industry. Perhaps you have a great web site, and regularly write articles that appear in trade publications. You are well on your way to building a great platform.
As you look for ways to build your platform, consider which elements will be most valuable to you. For example, having a lot of contacts within your industry, through holding an important job or a position in your professional association, could be useful for getting blurbs and testimonials or arranging joint ventures to market your content.
The people you know could also help you to get speaking engagements at conferences or with local chapters of your association. They may know media or others who can help to promote you.
Whether you plan to sell your expertise through products or services (or, ideally, both), you should definitely have an online presence and a mailing list. They are critical to your platform. If you do not already have these, start building them today.