DIGITAL PLATFORM ASSESSMENT, PART 1

Hello, dear reader! This is Rylan Hynes writing, guest posting in collaboration with Tanya Whiton as part of her author platform series!

Perhaps your goal is to develop your digital author platform in the year ahead, or you might be looking to learn more about the tools you’re already using. Maybe you’re a beginner hoping to learn the ropes. Whatever stage you’re at, we’re going to talk about how to assess where you are currently and what steps to take to bring your author platform to the next level via social media, websites, and email.

STRENGTHS & OPPORTUNITIES

The first step in the assessment process is to create a comprehensive list of what you are already using. Do you have any social media profiles? Jot them down. Do you have a website? Tack that on the list as well. What about email? Whether you are already utilizing a professional email service (like Constant Contact or MailChimp) or are still using an AOL email address from the early days of the internet, add that to the list.

Take a look at your profiles in each category—social media, website, and email—and give yourself kudos for what you are doing well. If you’re scratching your head and not sure about whether or not you’re using each to their fullest potential, that’s okay. If your strength is simply that you have a profile, that’s a start.

  • Social Media: A good question to ask yourself here is which platform do you enjoy using the most? Chances are that your preferred social media outlet is the one you are most familiar with and active on.
  • Website: If you’ve got a website, that’s terrific! What about it is working well? Compare your site with the websites of other established authors. Take note of what you see that’s similar between your site and theirs. And don’t forget to examine the loading time and where it appears in Google search results.
  • Email: Email is a vital resource for you as a writer. Do you have a list of contacts from your literary life that you reach out to regularly? If you stay in touch with your readers and fellow writers through email, think about how timely and polished those communications are. If this sounds like new territory, no worries—take note of that, too.

Now that you’ve celebrated what’s working well with your author platform, reflect on where you noticed room for improvement. Be sure not to judge yourself though, and remember that it’s okay to ask for help along the way!

REAL ESTATE

Where you are on the internet matters, particularly in this time of limited in-person interaction. Establishing some digital real estate makes it possible for readers, editors, and agents to get to know you. And just like any physical real estate, location and curbside appeal are essential to your digital platform.

  • Social Media: As you’ve been looking over your list of social profiles, you may have noticed some gaps. There are many options to choose from, and knowing where to exist as an author can be tricky! Take a peek at this summary of recommendations I put together last fall to get a sense of what’s available and popular for writers in terms of social media.
  • Website: “Creating a website” might be languishing on your to-do list, or maybe you aren’t sure if you are ready for a website yet. If you’ve published some short pieces (poems or stories), then I would say that it’s time to build a website. If you don’t have any published work yet, I’d recommend holding off. If you’ve already had a book out, then you are long overdue!
  • Email: Yep, email counts as real estate too! Remember the old AOL email address? Maybe it’s catmom2000@carrierpigeon.com or something along those lines. If that rings a bell, I’d suggest setting up a new email address—perhaps one that just uses your name—that feels a little more professional for querying agents.

NEXT UP: Don’t miss part two of this series, as next week we’ll walk through different aspects of assessing content, and also explore opportunities for growth for your platform.

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