You need a platform.
Increasingly, it’s difficult to stand out. Everyone is a marketer. The competition is stiff.
Side projects that not only give you a creative outlet, or a second income, but a platform to share your expertise and opinions with the world—or at least with your industry—can be life-changing.
What we’re talking about here is you having your very own platform. Not just a regular writing contribution to someone else’s blog or even an established content website, which is also good practice. And not just a profile on a design or portfolio site.
You especially need a platform if you meet one of these 5 situations
You need a platform that you can brand as you see fit, that you own, that you control, that you can change as your needs and curiosity evolve.
If you’re in one of the following 5 career situations, I’d say it’s crucial that you look at establishing your own platform like this.
1. You’re a salesperson in a fiercely competitive industry
Why do you need a platform as a salesperson?
Cold calls are dead.
Yes, you can get through to some if you make a substantial number of calls or send a massive number of emails. But the return on the calling investment in particular is getting weaker and weaker.
If you can add value to your target market, however, you can break through. Published authors stand out. Experts who can express their knowledge and training effectively are called upon for conference panels, speaking engagements, and industry magazine contributions.
You need a platform of your own to establish your talents, skills, and knowledge. Having a platform—an online destination or property where you can publish your opinions that add value to your prospects’ daily grind, and which you can point people to—gives you a significant advantage over the overzealous salesperson who simply cold calls using his or her automated follow-up tools.
2. You’re a small business owner in a commoditized industry
People love getting to know the leaders behind the businesses they give their money to. They like to partner with companies whose employees they enjoy speaking with, with companies whose values they resonate with, or even with leaders they can relate to.
If you’re selling a highly (or increasingly) commoditized industry where pricing is under extreme pressure, you need a platform to establish your own voice. You’ll find it will help you attract more of the customers you want to attract.
Ask Jason Fried of Basecamp about this. Or study the Basecamp approach to marketing. The founders have published books, run a highly opinionated blog, funded a beautiful podcast that tells the stories of small businesses, and offer a refreshing mindset about growth and managing a business.
3. You’re a creative freelancer with a portfolio and process that are unique
Naolito.com is run by Nacho Diaz. Check it out.
Nacho could have launched his designs through Etsy. He could have sold them through Amazon and gotten much more exposure. He could have promoted his wares on eBay, or even through Reddit, given the nature of the designs.
Instead, he launched his own site and blog. He is a one-man wrecking crew. He does it all, and if you don’t believe me, check out this post where he points that out.
I’ve corresponded with Nacho and I’ve learned that when he creates a new design, he simply shares it with his social followers (Facebook: over 340,000 strong; Instagram: over 15,000; Twitter: over 1,500) and mentions it to his email subscribers. The sales pour in.
Nacho has his own platform. He’s not reliant upon anyone’s rules for featuring designers, whatsoever.
4. You’re a consultant in an industry aching for innovative thinking
Mark Schaefer is a popular speaker and business consultant. When he first launched his blog, Business Grow, it featured only his voice, and that’s perfectly fine, of course.
As traffic grew and the demands on his time with it—along with the opportunities that opened up—Mark started allowing others to contribute to that blog, and it’s taken on a life of its own.
You can say the same thing for John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing.
These experts offer fresh thinking on business growth and marketing. They’ve moved beyond a blog to managing more sophisticated niche magazines, whether they’d refer to it like that or not.
There’s no reason you can’t do the same with your expertise. You need a platform to accomplish this.
5. You’re an expert in a service industry
You probably don’t know Jim Watson. But Jim is also known as “Joe Welder” and he operates Arc-Zone.com.
His website isn’t one where he offers his welding services to a local clientele. It’s a frontend to a full educational enterprise, rounded out by a Facebook page (6,500+ fans!), YouTube channel (1,600+ subscribers!), and Twitter account (1,900+ followers!). Every piece of his content—actually, let’s call it his expertise —gets noticed.
He has a full library of articles and multimedia to share with a highly specific audience. Jim/Joe established his own platform. Really, his own unique brand.
Now, in his case, Jim may not have a need to parlay this exposure into providing paid services to consumers in need. But there’s no reason you couldn’t do the same thing as him in your industry, no matter how niche it is.
Launching your own platform allows you to connect with your target audience in ways you otherwise can’t. You earn attention from the very audience you’d otherwise have to call or email aggressively to get access to.
It’s no longer sufficient to be smarter than your competitors, or even to work harder. The world is full of distractions.
In order to get what you want in life, you’ve got to get published. You need to establish your own platform where you and your voice can get the visibility you deserve.