Building Your Author Platform starts with a clear vision of what you bring to the table. In Part 1 of this series, we included a group of questions to aid in developing that vision. The first on the list is “What kind of influence do you have?” This is a critical question, and your answer may well redefine the direction for your platform. So, how do you determine what kind of influence you have?
Realize your influence has power
Every day you influence the lives of others. Offline or online, your influence is: heard in your conversations, felt in your relationships, seen in your attitudes, and measured in your actions. Your influence can be negative, positive, neutral, or impactful. Online, every post, tweet, pin, photo, hashtag, link, or article you create has power. As a result, everything has the potential to affect how your reader thinks, feels, acts, or responds. Knowing you have this power should drive you to use your influence responsibly and to the benefit of others.
Determine your goals and motivation
To what degree and how your author platform influences your audience is dependent upon your goals and motivation.
You are an author, and you write books your audience wants to read. But is it your only goal to use your author platform to spread the word about books you have written or your upcoming new release? Is your only motivation to make sales? Are you using your influence only to get your reader to click the buy button? Your readers are real people with real lives. Consequently, they are more than just customers who buy your books.
Ask questions to know your audience
One of the best ways to know your audience is by asking questions about them. Questions such as:
- Who are they?
- What kind of lives do they live?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- Where do they hang-out? (Offline or Online)
- What inspires them?
- What common interests or needs do they have?
- How can you build relationships with them?
- What questions do they ask?
- What type of problems do they have?
- Do they use specific social media sites?
- What challenges do they face?
- What overall message do they need to hear?
- Can you create community for them on your author platform?
- What benefits can you offer them?
- Do you have specific ideas or knowledge you can share with them?
- What ways can you relate to your audience?
Expand your goals and deepen your motivation
Your answers to the above questions should cause you to expand your goals and deepen your motivation. In fact, they should help you understand how to use your influence to bring greater benefit to your audience. Benefits such as a solution to a problem, a relationship beyond vendor and customer, sharing common interests, hanging out together in community groups, encouraging conversations, empathy for the challenges they face, inspiration, and more.
Assess where you are right now
Find and curate content
- Locate your content – Where do you post your content? Are your posts exclusive to your website or blog? Or do you also use Pinterest1, Twitter2, Facebook3, or other social media sites? Are these social media platforms ones that matter to your audience? Additionally, how often do you create and publish your content?
- Create both curator and influencer content – A curator finds content and shares it with their audience. Whereas an influencer creates value-based content that becomes shared content by a curator. Both types of content are important on your author platform.
Find your focus and conversations
- Find your current focus – what topics are you currently writing about? Who are you writing that content for? What is the benefit or value to your audience? What solutions are you currently offer your audience? Can you identify the motivation behind each piece of content you created?
- Discover what you are talking about – a conversation takes place whenever someone leaves a comment, retweets, re-posts, or shares content. What conversations did you take part in on Twitter2, Snapchat4, Facebook3, or other sites? More importantly, what type of conversations did you start? Do these conversations align with the values and goals you set for your platform? Are your conversations positive or negative? Do they have any affect upon your audience?
Find your audience’s problem and groups
- Listen for your audience’s problems – Does your audience need encouragement, inspiration, hope, examples of overcoming, or empathy? You are a writer; how can you use your author platform to create content that speaks to your audience’s problems? Also, could your audience benefit from recommendations on helpful products or suggestions on where to find help?
- Identify the groups you belong to – Why are you involved in these groups? Are any of them related to the focus of your author platform? Review your comments to learn what type of influence you currently have as a member. Does your audience hang out in these groups?
It is important to understand content you create on any social media platform draws people together around a common subject or idea. What kind of relationships are you developing with the people brought together by your content?
Cultivate the right type of influence
The aim of your author platform is to consistently provide positive and impactful content that addresses the needs of your audience and aligns with your values and goals. Creating this type of content ensures you are using your influence in a responsible way. Engaging in anything less does little to develop the relationship with your readers necessary to create a thriving and successful author platform. Success that includes selling your books.
Review your past and current content. What type of influence do your comments, tweets, posts, or articles have? For example, are they: Encouraging? Insightful? Helpful? Inspiring? Life changing? Motivating? Educational? Giving? Hopeful? Impactful? With this in mind, are there articles or content that need reworking?
Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.” 5 Perhaps, we could say it another way; You can have everything you want from your author platform if you use your influence in positive and impactful ways to give enough other people what they want.
- Pinterest – see https://www.pinterest.com/
- Snapchat – see https://www.snapchat.com/
- Facebook – see https://www.facebook.com/
- Twitter – see https://twitter.com/
- Ziglar, Zig. Secrets of Closing the Sale, U.S.A. Fleming H. Revell Co 1984