What is a platform for?
A platform is a way to spread a message.
Why should I start a platform?
Because it can improve your life. If you’re committed. If you have a burning desire to learn, grow, and improve. If you’re too attached to how many followers you have, forget it. “Content creation,” aka writing and making videos, is a practice. You need to show up. You need to put in the work. You need to write. You need to read. You need to speak. These are practices with tremendous positive benefits. I’ll use myself as an example.
Writing these blogs everyday has (hopefully) made me a better writer. Writing what I want to write about isn’t fattening up my bank account. It’s doing something better: feeding my soul. Becoming a better writer means understanding yourself on a deeper level. Improving your writing wields the paradoxical benefit of knowing what you know, and realizing that you don’t know much at all. You gain insight, and you gain ignorance.
My approach to podcasting, not putting on a façade but being unapologetically myself, has changed my life for the better. Podcasting has introduced me to some fascinating and generous people I’m proud to call my close friends. Having conversations with people on my show has taught me a deeper appreciation for the wide diversity of experiences that people have.
On the flipside, starting a platform can ruin your life. This happens when you’re too attached to metrics. To make matters worse, there’s other platform’s metrics. They have more followers than you. They got Jordan Peterson on their podcast, you’re interviewing mum. They’re better writers. Their thumbnails are prettier. Their headlines are clickbaitier. They’re sexier, or whatever. This attitude will make you hate yourself and your work. The only way out of this game is to decide not to play.
Then there’s evil people. Stalkers, people who want to do you harm. This is a pill you need to swallow. There are people who only want to destroy what you’ve built. Need examples? Look no further than this terrifying post by Tim Ferriss. It’ll scare you into cancelling your Family Lifestyle Vlog. That article made me seriously consider my digital security as my platform grows.
Get a password manager. Install a VPN. Switch to DuckDuckGo. But more important, decide where you draw the line with what you share with the public. There’s nothing worse than putting your family and friends at risk of unnecessary anxiety just because you want the world to see you.
How will people find me?
People will read your blog and listen to your podcast only if they’re attuned to the signals you put out. It’s tempting to use mass marketing tactics to get more people…actually, wait. Mass marketing strategies? No such thing. Internet marketing is so attached to targeted ads that there’s no such thing as ‘mass marketing’ anymore. Your YouTube recommended videos and mine are completely different. Why waste your breath pitching veganism to someone who hates spinach?
The world won’t give you the time of day just because you have a YouTube channel. “Look! I have a YouTube channel!” Yeah, so does grandma. I’ve been writing a blog post everyday for more than a year. 99.999% of people don’t know who I am. Besides, fame is not the point. Questions about “the point” should be placed in their proper context: life itself. The point is not fame. The point is a life you’re proud of.
People will come to you if you’ve done interesting work. People will come to you if you’ve done the reading. If you love the work, if you’re curious about learning and growing, your platform will grow. Read between the lines: if you grow, your platform will grow with you. If you compromise on your values, your platform will suffer, your audience will notice, and you won’t sleep well.
Running a platform is hard work. It takes accountability and trust. It takes commitment. A platform isn’t a ticket to internet fame. A platform is what you make of it. If you’re an asshole, you’ll get an audience of assholes. If you’re dedicated, trustworthy and kind, your audience will reflect that. As the programmers say: garbage in, garbage out.