Today I want to think outside the typical platform box and offer you some creative (possibly even fun!) ways to build your author platform.
Recently I heard from a publisher who took note of an author’s platform (in a complimentary way), but pointed out low engagement. Did you know publishers not only look at overall platform numbers, but engagement numbers as well? Below are some ideas to not only build your platform in nontraditional ways, but also ways to foster engagement.
21 Surprising Platform Ideas
- Poll your audience to help you niche-i-fy your brand. Use Survey Monkey for free (up to 100 responses) to ask your people questions like, “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of me?” or “What do I help you do?” Or “What makes me unique as an author?” This kind of intel is so important in doing the underground work for your audience. It helps define you (who better to define you than your actual audience) as well as your unique skill set and your typical reader. You absolutely have to know this before you do any platform work.
- Use Facebook ads to grow your email list from nothing to several thousand. Listen here how Jason Porterfield did just that.
- Write an amazing ebook that laser-targets your ideal follower and sell it on Amazon. In the back matter, create an opt in page for your newsletter. This way you’ll make a little money from the ebook, and have a free way to advertise your email list. Be sure you have a second giveaway as an incentive to sign up for your newsletter.
- Do Instagram Lives with another Instagram influencer to double your audience (at least for that period of time). Be sure to offer a chat that touches a direct felt need of your audience.
- Start a podcast. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Here’s a post about how to get started.
- Partner with a large group of authors to do an epic book giveaway. Several Books and Such authors did this recently and added a large amount of folks to their email lists. This emphasizes the power of community when building your platform. It’s so much more fun to do it together.
- In light of that, offer to do a newsletter swap with an author who has a similar platform. Offer to write an article that will bless his or her readers, and solicit a similar piece for your audience. Be sure to give something away to that audience (to build your list and bless them!)
- Do a 31-day personal challenge on a social media platform that needs your attention. For instance, if you’re lagging on Twitter, challenge yourself to post every day for a month.
- In Instagram, respond to one of your DMs with your voice. This really builds connection. There’s a little microphone where you type, simply click it and record. I often pray for struggling people this way. It may not build numbers, but it certainly builds trust and engagement.
- Write for other well-trafficked online sites. For those of you who are social media averse, this is a solid strategy for growing your audience, provided you have an email magnet in your bio.
- Teach a writer’s workshop at your local library or close-to-you bookstore. Use textiful or a QR code on your presentation to garner new newsletter sign ups.
- Create a quiz around your novel (which character are you?) or nonfiction book. Here’s some free quiz software (and be sure to use this to build your email list!)
- Research and create a hashtag for your current book. Use it liberally on all your platforms. Here’s an extensive hashtag guide.
- Do a “Day in the Life of” You post every hour (typically on Instagram) and invite all your other author friends to join in. There is power in numbers. #dayinthelifeofanauthor
- Hold a writing, song, or art contest related to the theme of your book. Ask a few writer friends to judge entries, and award prizes. Here’s a post on creating a professional contest.
- Create a helpful infographic related to your book. Canva has some great templates here. Share it widely. Or use it as a freebie for newsletter subscribers.
- Write a thank you card every day for a month–to a reader, publishing professionals, friends who endorsed your book, etc. It’s a slow, quiet tactic, but it fosters gratitude and connection. Yes, physically write it, then send it via snail mail.
- Take one day a month as a learning day. Take a free course on platform building, or listen to a podcast like this one or this one or this one. All these opportunities are free and widely available!
- Consider crowdfunding your book. You’ll have a built in audience when you launch it! Here are 7 questions to ask yourself before you start crowdfunding. Here’s a post about what I learned when I successfully crowdfunded my book Not Marked.
- Host a series on your blog around a topic that interests your readers. Solicit guest posts for the blog series, then ask contributors to cross promote.
- Take a couple hours to be generous and give back. Help a friend who is building a platform by offering to shout them out on your biggest platform (or don’t tell them; just surprise them!) Spend time on Twitter, FB, or Instagram praising others and pointing out what you love about their content and ministry. Quietly bless those you admire with surprising words on social media platforms. This generosity helps you reframe your platform building from trial to privilege.
I hope this encourages you as you build your platform. Remember, each author is unique, so each platform will be different–gloriously so. I give you permission to do what fits you and best blesses your audience.
Thanks for these ideas! I’m going to work on more guest posts, as well as brainstorm a helpful infographic. The e-book idea is percolating, too.
I’m so glad it’s helpful!
I love this list! I typically do a 90 day Bible reading challenge with my readers community. This year I’m planning to post some Facebook ads to grow my list. After reading this, I think I’m going to try to collab on some IG lives, too!
That’s a great idea!
Mary, I’m so appreciative of this list! I am an editor over at Truly Co. and one of your posts in the FB community led me here. I have completed a book proposal and am now working hard to grow my platform, which at times feels tedious and overwhelming. I’m going to be thinking and praying over which of these practical ideas to try first.
I love Truly, Co.