Medium,  Writing

How to Juggle All the Things While Building Your Author Platform

If you’re trying to make it as a freelancer, self-published author, or traditionally published author, there’s probably one thing you’ve heard about over and over again: building an author platform. The days of publishing a book with one of the big five (potentially dwindling down to the big four) publishers and creating a successful career just off of the words you’ve written are gone. Whether you like it or not, all authors need to have some sort of online presence, also known as an author platform. Your author platform is what will connect you with readers, and what will set you apart from every other author out there trying to make a name for themself.

But what exactly does building an author platform look like? With so many different online platforms out there, where do you even start? It can be a daunting task, creating your author platform, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Take it from me — someone who has learned the hard way that building an author platform doesn’t mean writing on every site on the world wide web and spending every free moment of your time on social media. Building an author platform is both crucial to your success as a writer, and something that everyone can do. Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve built my author platform over the years, and, in 2021, truly honed in the platform that makes me the writer I am:

Narrow down your platform

One of the reasons that building an author platform can be so daunting is that there are so many different avenues you can take to build your own personal author brand. There’s a lot to do when it comes to building your platform, and it can be hard to figure out what you want your platform to be when you’re trying to juggle a million things at once.

In 2021, I plunged headfirst into building (and navigating) my author platform. And it was overwhelming! I started out with a few things I was already doing as a writer and member of the author community — editing for borrowed solace, hosting borrowed solace: the podcast, writing on Medium — and tried to add everything else I could possibly think of that would help further my author platform. On top of the aforementioned things that already took up a ton of my time, I decided to write on Newsbreak, post to my blog, start a newsletter, post on Instagram, become a TikToker, become more active on Twitter, and start an AuthorTube channel.

Needless to say, I quickly became incredibly overwhelmed trying to juggle so many aspects of my author platform.

I fell prey to the mindset of more is more. I became a maximalist drone, trying to be everything to everyone (and every platform) and therefore failing at most of those platforms. I was in a lot of different online spaces, but I wasn’t succeeding at any of them. I was inconsistent, unoriginal, and uninvolved on all of the platforms I was desperately trying to succeed on, and therefore wasn’t really helping to build my author platform at all.

So I decided to take a step back and re-evaluate where I was putting my time and effort into building my author platform.

Figure out where to be flexible, what matters most, and what you should cut

I’m the type of person who is pained by taking something on and being unable to finish it. I wanted to write weekly personal blogs, Medium articles, borrowed solace blogs, Newsbreak articles, and newsletters, but altogether that would have totaled thousands of words a week not working on my actual book or writing for my paying freelance clients.

I love to write, don’t get me wrong, but there’s only so much writing a person can consistently create before they burn out on writing and quit altogether.

When I realized I was dancing perilously close to the edge of the cliff of burnout, I knew I had to figure out what to cut and what to keep for my own sanity. This is when I was forced to evaluate where I could be flexible with my author platform, what mattered most to me, and what needed to be entirely cut from my platform.

It’s tricky to figure out these things, but so important when developing your author platform. For me, I shuffled all of the different places I was creating and posting online into three categories — flexible, cut, and important. For things that were flexible, like TikTok, borrowed solace: the podcast, and Twitter, I gave myself some leeway. I had built a community of other authors, readers, and writing-lovers here that I didn’t want to give up, but that I needed to step back from. For things that were in the ‘cut’ category, I knew they weren’t going to serve me long term. That’s why (for now) I haven’t been creating any more YouTube videos or writing on Newsbreak. And for things that mattered the most to me and were important, like writing on Medium and continuing to serve as poetry editor for borrowed solace, I stuck with them. Things in the ‘important’ category are the things that are the bread and butter of my author platform.

Move forward with care and room to pursue the platforms that matter to you
Once you’ve decided what is flexible, what you’re going to cut, and what is most important to you, move forward in confidence. Now I’m not constantly worried that I haven’t posted to TikTok since Christmas, because it’s one of the flexible parts of my platform. On the other hand, I know that the writing community I’ve created with borrowed solace is going to continue to grow and prosper as I (and the other editors) put time and effort into watering the seeds of our collective project.

Now that I have cut YouTube from my schedule, I can use the hours of filming and editing to do what I love — write — and continue to be a part of the amazing group of writers here on Medium.

Developing your author platform can be incredibly hard and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We all have control over our own author platform path, and that means we can make decisions that are the best for both our sanity and for our platform. Creating an author platform isn’t really up for debate — to be a successful author in today’s day and age it’s a necessity — but that doesn’t mean that your platform needs to feel discombobulated or overwhelming. You don’t need to juggle all the things when nurturing your author platform to watch it blossom, just some of them. Take it one day, and one corner of your online presence, at a time.

Previously published in The Writing Cooperative

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