A Compelling Product AND a Platform?

So says Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, a recent book I’ve acquired, and part of the cause for my recent toe-dipping into the sea of marketing gurus.

Early in the book, he quotes from “an aspiring author trying to make a name for herself amidst her literally millions of competitors,” who asks,

“Doesn’t a good book stand on its own anymore? Are writers now doomed to spend the bulk of our workdays trawling for blog subscribers?”

His answer is no, it’s not enough to simply write a good book, and yes, “you will need to be proactive about creating the who part of the equation.” By equation, he refers to the time-honored saying, “success isn’t so much about what you know as who.” And that “who” is your platform.

He’s not alone in this assessment. I’m coming to the end of my reading of Merchants of Culture, a book describing the recent history and resultant status of the publishing world, and it also paints a discouraging picture of just how much writers need to stop focusing on writing and start focusing on courting readers.

I’ve said before that I am not comfortable with that, nor suited for it (it seems vaguely hypocritical to be trying to make friends with people just so they’ll buy your book… but maybe that’s not what everyone means). I also don’t t have the mental and emotional space for it. Nor do I have the time, not if I’m actually going to write this next book.

I wrote all that almost three weeks ago, and got derailed in part because I didn’t know what I wanted to say after the fragment above. Or, if we get right down to it, what I really thought about it.

I think I’ve mentioned that I attended a webinar on all this, presented in fact, by the same Michael Hyatt mentioned above. In fact,that’s when I bought his book. (And I have to admit it was pretty clear that he was probably doing the webinar in part to have that exact effect.)

In any case, that was back in June, and was what started the chain of events that led to last Monday’s crazy-makers post. According to Hyatt, blogging, done right, is the means by which you build your platform of “who’s.” He advised us to start blogging if we didn’t and if we already had a blog, to commit to a certain number of blogs a week, then rigorously stick to that commitment.

At the same time, we were getting messages from the pulpit of Lighthouse Bible Church encouraging us to step out in expanding the ministry associated with our spiritual gifts. The confluence of the two events caused me to pay a bit more attention to Hyatt’s advice than I might otherwise, and thus I allowed myself to at least consider the notion of doing things that might expand my readership.

After all, as many Christian writers have said, if it’s the word of God you are proclaiming and promoting, why wouldn’t you want to find ways to expand the reach of your ministry?  Paul didn’t just hang out in Antioch waiting for people to come to Him. Jesus didn’t operate that way either.

So… I decided to see what would happen if I took a few tiny steps in that direction, if in fact, I would even be able to do so. I already had a blog, and had been doing about 4 posts a week, so why not see if I could add one more and commit to being consistent about it?

Yes, yes, I know: here we are with some more Rules again!  Am I just putting myself into some other kind of bondage?

That’s a strong possibility. It certainly was what happened at the start of this.

But still, I know our God is not against routine, because He’s set up the world that way… day and night,  full moon and new, season and season, sowing and harvesting, year and year.

I guess, what I’m seeing more clearly is that it’s not the having of goals or routines or guidelines for your work that’s the problem, it’s making everything hinge upon them. You can develop them, but the fulfillment of them isn’t to be the source of your happiness or misery. My flesh just has a very strong tendency to abuse them. Maybe it’s the organizational version of drug addiction.

Having rules and order and systems have always spurred me to me think I’m finally  going to be in control, able to do whatever I am wanting to do, and having done it, feeling good about myself and thus happy. Not one word of which is true!

If I can remember that, then as I go forward with the guidelines as tools instead of Master and keep my eyes on my true Master, perhaps they could do what they were designed to do.

Besides, it seems you must have at least some sort of guidelines by which to operate or there’ll just be chaos and confusion, and you’ll never get the thing done you’ve been called to do.

So. Guidelines, then.  Being always ready to dump them should the Spirit lead otherwise, or God just reach in and change things. But not afraid to use them should the situation warrant.

Thus I implemented the objective of trying to get in 5 posts a week.

It was bumpy at first, and though I haven’t succeeded 100% of the time,  there’ve been a number of weeks that I have succeeded and that’s cool.  And more and more I’m getting accustomed to the routine…

The questions that remain unanswered thus far are… can I keep it up long-term? And can I actually write the book while doing it?

If I can’t… well, then I guess the posts will have to be pared back.  I have to say, though, that for the moment, Sky seems to be coming back alive where for so long it’s just been dead, and so far, so good…

5 thoughts on “A Compelling Product AND a Platform?

  1. Erin McFarland

    Hi Karen! This seems to be the world we live, for almost any industry. I laughed when I read your thoughts that you wrote weeks prior because I have felt the exact same way about it all. In my current professional field (photography) it is the same. Blogging and social media are huge as you know, as are trying to connect with people in a way to get them interested in you, thus interested in your work. It is sometimes tiresome and time-sucking and diverting away from the very thing we are trying to put out there. But there is something to it I think. If I look at the blogs I follow regularly and WHY, it is either because I like reading what the blogger has to say and am challenged by it/learn something from it or I have loved what they produce (stories, photos, food, etc) and want to follow along their journey. Many of them blog regularly, which probably keeps them (and their product) on the forefront of people’s mind. I first visited your blog because I loved your stories. And I continue to visit because of the first reason I listed :). Who knows what the balance is though in creating that platform and working on the actual thing we are producing. One day at a time is what I keep telling myself. And grace. Lots of grace. So excited to hear Sky is rolling forward!!

    1. karenhancock

      Thanks for sharing these insights, Erin, from another professional field. They touch on something about modern life I’ve been ruminating on, but haven’t been able to really get my mind around yet. It’s all starting to make me think of a beehive…. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts and your encouraging words. Oh, and your photography is stunning!

  2. Elizabeth

    First impression I have with Michael Hyatt’s book title is that he needs to create some dissatisfaction for a person to buy into what he’s selling. Maybe I’m wrong.

    1. karenhancock

      You know, I think I read that somewhere, though I don’t think it was any of his work. About creating in your target the sense of need that your product can fulfill. If you look at many of the commercials these days, they do that. And certainly the Platform title suggests that…

  3. Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Having rules and order and systems have always spurred me to me think I’m finally going to be in control, able to do whatever I am wanting to do

    Now that’s interesting. Having rules and order and systems always make me want to get out from under them! Which is precisely why I have to hold myself to important ones–like going to church and spending time in the Word and in prayer. I finally realized I couldn’t have the argument every day whether or not I was going to do those things. I wouldn’t blow off an appointment with a friend or an editor or agent. Why would I think of doing so with God? Once the matter was settled, then it wasn’t as hard.

    For work, I think the non-optional experience of going to the classroom day after day, prepped me to sit down at the computer on a nine-to five sort of basis.

    The social media part of my day is the part that I have to harness, though. I either neglect it or I focus too much on it.

    So maybe when you get it all figured out, Karen, I can just learn from you how to do it. 😉



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