This morning, my friend Vanessa sent me this article – “‘Platforms’ Are Overrated” – and I read it with great interest because, well, because I both love and hate my platform. And I agreed with many of the writer’s points about not giving your only writing time to platform building and how your platform probably won’t sell a lot of books. Good wisdom there.
But I also found myself disagreeing with a central assumption behind her piece – namely, the idea that platform building is useless because it doesn’t make any money. We can argue all day – and feel free to do so in the comments here – about whether platforms do make money, but it’s not that idea with which I take issue. My central concern is that the only value something may have comes from it’s monetary worth. I think money is a pretty lame way to gauge the worth of something.
For me, platform building does make money. It brings me editing clients and coaching clients, and people who need a freelance writer also hire me. But it’s not the monetary rewards that make platform building worth it for me. I get a great number of other benefits from my “platform,” or rather by being in relationship with the lovely people who form it.
1. Friends. I have made some INCREDIBLE friends by having an online presence related to writing and the history of slavery and farming, my three areas of interest. These are people who I trust and care for and about whose daily lives I want to hear. That’s key.
2. A Stronger Writing Practice. Because I write most days here on this blog, I have an expectation that I will produce some number of words every day. I also do this writing first thing in the morning, which puts me to a writing mindset earlier. In many ways, it’s this blog that’s kept me at the page for several years now.
3. New Ideas. Because I try very hard to keep my “platform” open, I am challenged on a regular basis to think about things in a new way and to consider alternative perspectives and experiences.
4. A Community. In a very real way, the people who are part of my “platform” are my community. I’m eager to hear what they think, what experiences they are having, and how they live their lives. And I’m eager to talk with them about my life – for companionship but also for accountability.
5. Joy. I love seeing someone has commented on something I’ve written, but that’s really a minor spark of pleasure. But I take real joy in the way relationships develop on social media – the conversations I get to have about books, the stories people share about the way they grieve, the honest anger that comes up when an injustice comes to light. It’s the joy of friendship and human interaction, and that’s not to be dismissed.
So can I quantify what kind of hourly rate I get from social media? Nope. And I don’t care to. I’m not interested in knowing the monetary value of my friendships because, well, that’s not why I have friends.
How do you feel about this platform building idea? Does it give value to your life monetarily? Personally?