In my recent series, Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), I talked about the importance of starting your own blog or website now, particularly for aspiring authors. Why?
Because publishers are looking for authors who have established platforms (helps with marketing). And starting a blog now will give you time to build your platform while you wait for your book to be written and/or published.
But what if I don't want to be an author?
Think about starting a blog anyway.
As time goes by and everything becomes increasingly internet-based, I think most of us—aspiring authors or not—will benefit from having our own little space online which is owned by you (and not your Facebook profile).
You have no idea how handy it'll be. I love what Penelope Trunk says: "Think of a blog like a high-end resume." And a high-end resume is just one way it'll be useful, in my opinion.
Think of how vital your home phone number was back in the day. And then email. And as things progress, I predict having your own real estate on the web will be just as common—for jobs, projects, connections, contacts, books (both published and ebooks), etc.
What's a platform?
I like Michael Hyatt's definition: "the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans."
The good news is, even if starting a blog seems overwhelming right now (but why? I've made it so easy!), there are some simple things you can do to start building your platform today.
1. Get a headshot.
The internet is driven by relationships. Relationships are driven by face-to-face contact. Don't hide behind a logo, name, animated avatar, icon or a grainy phone pic. Ask someone with photographic know-how to take some high-quality photos of you. (If you go with a professional, be sure to specify beforehand that you would like the digital files as opposed to prints.) Use the same photo across all social media platforms and you'll build a consistent brand in the process.
2. Put your head shot on your business cards.
Anyone who knows you online will undoubtedly associate you with your headshot. If you have the opportunity to meet an online acquaintance "in real life," your head shot provides an instant means of recognition. Likewise, if you meet someone in real life and they want to connect with you online, the image on your business card will do the same. I wrote about this here.
3. Get a Gravatar.
I've said it previously, but have you ever wondered how some people have a picture of themselves next to the comments they leave on a blog? That's a Gravatar (a Globally Recognized Avatar). Getting one is dead simple and completely free. Simply go here and click "Get your Gravatar today." Once you're registered, your headshot (avatar) will show up automatically as you leave comments around the web. You are recognized by the email address you used when registering at Gravatar so make sure you use that email address whenever you leave comments.
4. Register a domain.
A domain is a web address. For example, AmyLynnAndrews.com is a domain. I highly recommend you register your name as a domain, even if you don't have plans to use it right away. If you've got a common name like me, try a simple variation like inserting your middle name. Go for a .com if at all possible.
Domains are not bought (only registered), therefore the registration must be renewed annually. Anyone can register a domain for less than $20 a year and having a website is not a prerequisite to having a domain.
You can "park" a domain, effectively holding it until you are ready to attach a website to it. Twenty bucks a year is a small price to pay in the event you might need it later on. (Here's how to register a domain name and here are some tips for choosing a domain name.)
5. Connect your Facebook Profile with your Facebook Page. (Don't assume you have!)
This is a missed opportunity I see repeatedly so I thought I'd mention it again. If you have a Facebook Page (get one here), make sure your Page is directly accessible from the bio area of your Profile (Timeline). Here's how to link from your Personal Profile/Timeline to your Fan Page. It's amazing how many people have not done this or who think they have!
Anything else you would add? Simple things that anyone can do now to start establishing their platform?