Thursday, February 23, 2012

Platform or Territory?

As an unpubbed unagented new writer, 
                            what emphasis do I put on "platform"?

Four years ago I didn't know was WIP was let alone a writer's platform. I mean, aren't those like shoes--platform shoes? 

I mean at that first writer's conference I went to and listened to Chip MacGregor talk about platform, I didn't even know he was an agent or that I needed an agent. I must have looked like a school girl with ADD and a bubble cloud sticking out of my head with a floating image of a literal stage platform. He must have wanted to stop speaking, walk over to me and POP that little elementary bubble cloud and tell me to educate myself before I made a fool of myself, which I probably did. Sigh. 

Well, I now know about the wonderful ACFW network, and what WIP, MC, and POV mean. 

But I'm still having trouble with this platform concept. Yeah, yeah, it's all about marketing and numbers right? Sales, sales, sales, sales, sales! So, I plunged into blogging, learned how to check my statistics on Google Analytics, and now I'm learning about Pinterest and Twitter. Pinterest is the most fun by far. I read blogs and try to participate in a positive light. I even tried my first book give away and author interview. Yipee!

And the results?  "Survey says...." In eight months my blog has gone from non-existant to having 969 visits, of those 296 unique visitors from 23 countries. In the eighth month I have 42% new visitors which is progress. I have fun looking at the cluster maps to see where on the globe someone might have read my post. I learned that 19th century fashion is a huge landing page that gets all sorts of hits. The most hits come from Google, then Facebook, followed by blog referrals, and Pinterest. But I'll have to give Pinterest more time to evaluate since I've only been on for a few weeks. And today I tackled Twitter and learned that I'm a complete novice, so far I have no clue what I'm doing there.

Live and learn, you are never too old.

BUT, and yes, there's always a but---then I read Amanda Leudeke's post on Chip MacGregor's blog in January about growing a platform and she was quoting some really scary numbers needed to gain the glance of editors, agents, and publishing houses. She's talking about numbers in the "tens of hundreds of thousands". We need to have:
           --monthly unique visitor count at least 30,000 (sound--loud buzzer--you're out!)
           --Twitter followers pushing 5,000 (striking out again!)
           --Facebook group pushing 5,000 (yep, you guessed it--OUT!)
           --Public Speaking 30 times a year to total 10,000 (does teaching Sunday School count?--ugh)
           --eZines--post on regular basis with 100,000 readers/month (what's an eZine?!)

These are really overwhelming numbers. But one comment on that blog post challenged that it's more about engagement than numbers (oh, yes, my little deflated heart thinks it might have a chance here). He said "build the relationships and the numbers will come." This got me thinking...

So, just like when I hate church talk about filling pews with numbers of people, I'd rather talk about people, whether its one or 100,000. As I click the "follow" button on Twitter and Pinterest, I wonder about being a follower, or being followed. I know that Jesus wants followers, not just fans. He wants followers that are totally committed through the thick and thin. Fans might hang out for the fun, food, and miracles, but hit the road when the going gets tough. I remember the prayer of Jabez that asks God to increase my territory, and I remember that it's not about me. It's not my territory. It's His. And so are the numbers....

...and the platform.

My job is to write. To write well. To be faithful. To love those He puts on my path on this journey.

I'll keep doing the hard work of platform. But my focus will be on His territory.


  1. Dear goodness - who on earth would have time to do 30 speaking engagements a year plus work full time, raise a family, and write a book!?!? I might need to rethink this. Panic!!

  2. Yes, I wondered how realistic these numbers were, or are they representative of how far reaching one contact goes?
    Don't panic! Poco a poco--little by little.... :o) First, go to sleep!