Image via CrunchBaseI know people who have had blogs for years and years. These 'early adopters' are usually the more IT savvy among us, but now (in case you haven't noticed) everyone's hopping on board. Social media in general has been increasing exponentially in recent times. Keep in mind that Facebook (not to mention Twitter and tweeting) barely existed five years ago, and you'll see what I mean.
The digital age is here. But what does it all mean for the aspiring writer?
Firstly, it's worth pointing out that the idea of the writer's platform is far from new. I attended a Digital Publishing seminar at the NSW Writers' Centre a couple of months ago, and one of the speakers, Kate Eltham, CEO of the QLD Writers' Centre wrote a post on her site on internet promotion and author 'platform' more than two years ago. And she was referring to a post by a US blogger from even earlier than that; mid 2006. But there's always a lag between early adopters and...well, the rest of us, and that's what's been in play here. Now, four years on, it seems like everyone has a blog. And any aspiring writer who doesn't have one is being made to feel like they're behind the eight ball.
Initially, the idea of platform was more properly associated with non-fiction writers, who needed to be able in some way to justify themselves as an 'expert' in the particular field about which they were writing. But now it's being applied to everyone - because as the social media have blossomed, so has the individual's ability to reach many, many people on the internet. Increasing the number of people who 'know' you, even if just virtually, and who are interested in your work, is a very valuable thing for any writer, non-fiction or fiction.
Of course, social media can be addictive, and it's easier to write a blog post or 'tweet' about something than work on your novel. Hours and hours can be spent this way. So it's a matter of doing enough to make it work for you - but not letting it consume your life. I'll let you know if, and when, I get this balance right myself!
Rachael Harrie, a writer-friend who is very active in the blogosphere has had a wonderful idea for taking a pro-active approach to 'platform': as she says,
"There are so many of us out there. Aspiring writers, beginner bloggers, industry peeps, even published authors, all who want to build their online platforms."So she's come up with a way to get us all together - by starting a Writers' Platform Building Crusade on her blog. Head on over if you want to be part of it. I'm signing up!
What are your thoughts on 'platform' for writers? Necessary evil or complete waste of time? And how many minutes/hours per week do you think it's reasonable to be spending on this sort of activity?