So you're writing. Good for you! It ain't for the weak of heart, is it?
You've started (or finished) a story you feel passionate about. Kudos!
You've been told by your friend/agent/publisher that you need to have a platform and you keep imagining one of these.
And although this is a great metaphor for a writers platform and blogging in general, it's not what they are talking about.
Platform the means in which to get your voice to your audience. It will help you grow a fan base, friends, and hopefully book buyers. Potentially your platform will bring in new readers and get your name out there. In the publishing industry your name is your brand.
So a platform (as seen by publishers) is mainly for growing your readership (even if it's just a blog for now) and branding your name, so that people know who you are.
Did you know that when you submit a manuscript to an agent/publisher, if they are considering it they often times google you looking to see if you have a blog (website, Facebook author page, Twitter account, etc.)?
So You're Gonna Blog
FIRST! Spend a couple of days (or weeks) reading blogs. What do you like to read about? What do you like about the layout of your favorite blogs? What grabs your attention? What are your pet peeves? You can learn a LOT just by reading other people's blogs for a while. This helps you so that when you start you don't waste months or even years struggling to get readers because of random content, poor layout, or accidentally slowing down your page, etc. Plus it will give you a feeling for the voice you want to have. What are you attracted to? This will attract others like you!
Ready to start?
There are a number of different ways to start a blog.
It actually can get very complicated and there are a lot of different things to take into consideration. I am going to assume that you like to get the most bang for your time and effort and give you a simple and effective way to do it. But do understand that there is more than one way to skin a...blog.
Free blog servers- With very little effort you can start a blog on
CLICK HERE to see a couple more that I have never used, so I won't be talking them.
Oh, my goodness this is all too much for me! I don't want to write a blog! Do I have to?
A simple way to create a platform is a clean professional looking website.
It really doesn't create much readership but it's better than nothing.
Weebly.com offers a free website service
Wix.com as well.
You can also just focus your attention on social networking without having a blog or website. That works just fine for some people.
Picking A Name
If you are creating a brand (remember, getting your name out there) the best blog URL and blog title is... your name (or pen name.) You want to get that name in front of people as often as possible. You want them to remember who you are when they see that name again later (on your book!) and you want them to remember your web address when they look for you again. You don't want them saying, "What was Joe Schmo's blog address again? Happy Happy Joy Joy? Or something like that?"
If your book is close and you feel like you will be shopping/publishing it in the next year or two then I suggest securing your domain name now. There are many places to purchase a domain.
What is a domain?
It's the address www.JoeSchmo.com
You only need a platform if you plan on selling books. If you just want to write and you are not worried about publishing or selling you don't need a platform