This month’s ALL ABOUT PLATFORM BUILDING guest blogger is author, teacher, and mentor text maven, Marcie Flinchum Atkins. Thank you, Marcie, for sharing your story with us.
A Case of the Why Nots
How I Built (and am still building) My Platform
By Marcie Flinchum Atkins
The buzz about platform always intrigued me. What is a platform? What would/could my platform be? I read lots of books on platform before even attempting it. You see, many years ago, when blogging was newish, I had a blog where I reviewed children’s books. But it ate away at my writing time because I had to read all of those books and then review them. I loved it, but I knew my new platform couldn’t be that. People were already doing that. I had nothing new to add to the conversation.
I knew I didn’t want to start a new blog until I knew how I was going to focus it. But I also knew that I wanted to develop a blog and a website BEFORE I had a book deal because I knew that once I did, I’d be too busy to learn all of these skills.
I’m an obsessive list maker.
I made a list of things I was passionate about:
- Using mentor texts to teach kids how to write
- Making time to write
Unfortunately, they weren’t really related and they were for two different audiences—teachers and writers. While I knew there would be some overlap (people like ME were both teachers AND writers), I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I knew I could blog about those things.
I wanted to put things on my blog that I was already using in some other capacity. In other words, I didn’t want to create MORE work for myself. I wanted to share things I was already doing.
I was writing mentor text lessons for my favorite books. Why not share them for other teachers to use?
I was doing tons of crazy organizing stuff for my writing life. Why not share them with other writers?
Later, I started adding one more thing. Mentor texts for writers. For years, I’ve been using the techniques I did with students in my own writing life. Some writers I knew had never even heard of the term “mentor texts.” Why not share my tips with other writers?
All of those WHY NOT’s became my platform.
I made a list of things I knew I needed to learn more about:
- Metadata and SEO
- Using WordPress and particular plug-ins
- Mailchimp and newsletter writing
- Creating an e-book
- Setting up sales on my website
- Making video
Each month, I spent time learning a new skill. I felt overwhelmed, but I did learn new skills.
Over that learning time, I did several things with my platform:
- Gave webinars and workshops on using mentor texts
- Created a printable giveaway for joining my newsletter using my most popular blog post
- Set up a monthly newsletter sign up for writing teachers using Mail Chimp
- Created an e-book of some of my “Mentor Text Tips” to sell on my website and on Teachers Pay Teachers
- Guest posted on mentor texts for other bloggers (like Alayne, Carrie Charley Brown, and Grog)
- Gathered many of my previous blog posts on mentor texts for writers into a printable PDF e-book “Mentor Texts for Writers” that I sell on my website.
This all sounds like I spent all of my time on platform. I promise I spent very little. I chipped away at all of these things over a few years. Eventually they added up. They are still adding up.
Have I figured out this whole platform thing? Nope.
I am still VERY passionate about organizing and making time to write, but I have very little NEW wisdom to pass along. If I come across something interesting or a new tip, I will do an occasional post about it. But all of my tips are archived on my blog. I imagine, just like my career, my website and blog will evolve along with me.
But the good news is that I’m not bored with my website yet. There are times when I simply do not have enough time to blog, but I have yet to run out of ideas. I followed my passions—things I was interested in and knew a little something about. Then I thought about how I could make those things available to my audience. Why not share those passions with others?
Marcie Flinchum Atkins teaches fourth grade by day and writes in the wee hours of the morning. Her book-nerdiness shows through because she is a certified school librarian and also holds an MA and MFA in children’s literature from Hollins University. She blogs about making time to write and how to use books as mentor texts at: www.marcieatkins.com.