Writers: own your connection to readers

My friend Sean Blanda has this expression he’s been using:

“Always Own Your Platform.”

He even has this adorable graphic that he uses when referencing it on Twitter:
Sean Blanda - Always Own Your Platform

This is general theme I talk to writers about a lot. People can define an author’s platform differently, but I’ve always defined it as:

  1. Communication
  2. Trust

Your ability to effectively communicate with your ideal readers, and in the process, establish a trusting relationship.

I really appreciate the way that Sean frames “owning” this process:

“Always own your platform. Build your audience deliberately and on your own terms. Be in charge of the relationship with your audience.”

Part of his message is that when you develop your connection to your audience on platforms that are owned by others (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), then your platform is always at risk. You are one algorithm change, or one marketing change away from completely losing your connection to your audience.

This has been on my mind a lot recently for a few reasons:

  • I have seen writers flood social media in the past decade, leaving behind the idea of blogs. But more and more I hear people talking about a blog renaissance. A return to sharing long-form content on your own website, instead of being beholden to the latest trends and algorithms of social media. For a writer, I’ve always felt as thought blogs were particularly well attuned to their craft.
  • I have sent out a weekly email newsletter for something like 14 years. I still find it to be one of the most powerful ways I connect with people. Chances are, anyone who is reading these very words is doing so because of my newsletter.
  • All I do all day is talk to writers, and I find that they keep telling me how overwhelmed they are in trying to manage all the things they are told they have to do in sharing online.

Perhaps this Onion article headline sums it up: “Guy With 10,000 Tweets, 15 Followers About Ready To Hang It Up.”

In order to really dig into these themes in a useful way for writers, next week I’m going to run a free video series called: TAKE BACK YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM: WHY BLOGS AND NEWSLETTERS MATTER.

Each day, I’ll share a video and open up discussion on these topics:

  • Day 1: Why blogs and newsletters matter.
  • Day 2: The difference between a blog and a newsletter.
  • Day 3: Why start your blog/newsletter before you have a book.
  • Day 4: How blogs/newsletters help define your author platform.
  • Day 5: Q&A video.

To be a part of it, simply join my Reader Connection Project group on Facebook. It’s free. There are already 600+ writers in there, it’s a wonderful group.


P.S. My newest podcast talks about how to develop a non-negotiable creative practice. Listen here.