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Author Platform: How to Build Your Online Audience and Stay Sane

E.J. Wenstrom shares a few steps you can take while you're building your online author platform that can save your sanity.

Digital platforming on social media can feel endless. If it’s not leading to book sales (and let’s be honest, it probably won’t) it can feel fruitless. But that doesn’t mean building your author platform online isn’t important.

Over time, all those individual connections you make add up to a following, and a following contributes to a readership. It can also be great for networking with publishing professionals who can help your career grow.

So, sorry, I can’t excuse you from online platforming. But I can help you stay sane while you do it. With a strategic foundation, a few great tools, and established boundaries, any author can build a platform without the overwhelm.

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Here are a few steps you can take while you're building your online audience that can save your sanity:

1. Set quotas for post frequency.

Posting to social media can seem like a bottomless endeavor. If posting once a day is good, then three times is even better, but not as good as 10 … it spirals out of control quickly.

Remove that pressure by setting a daily or weekly posting quota.

Whether you’re a newbie starting at one post a week or a seasoned pro with several a day, there is no wrong way to set a quota—as long as it is a number you can reach comfortably and consistently.

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2. Take advantage of the right tools.

Once you have a target set for posting frequency, you can use online tools to further manage your time. Social media can feel immediate and perpetual, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.

For me, Buffer was a true game changer. This awesome tool allows me to set a regular, automated schedule for each social network, then queue up posts en masse during time-blocked planning sessions (or with the Chrome widget, whenever I’m skimming the web and find something worth sharing). The posts then release according to my preset schedule. So I might be at my day job, but my social media is still working for my author platform.

My latest addition is Recurpost, a tool that allows me to create a library (or multiple libraries) of my online content to share on a regular, rotating basis—all on a schedule I have pre-set. Once it’s running, it will keep posting your evergreen content without you ever having to think about it again.

Even better, a lot of great social media tools are free.

3. Start with what you love.

Much like exercise, you’re most likely to stick to a routine if you love the activity. Why make something hard, when it could be fun?

Each social media network has its own dynamic. If you’re not sure which you enjoy, pick a few and give them a good, old-fashioned college try. Then, Marie Kondo-style, ask yourself: Is this bringing me joy? The one you answer “yes!” to is your entry point. Focus on that network first.

Note: “No social media brings me joy” isn’t your easy escape from platforming. It just means you haven’t found your community yet! Pick a topic you are passionate about related to your writing and dig deeper with groups, hashtags or chats.

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4. Check your guilt.

I sometimes feel guilty that I only post on Instagram when I’m at events. I’m a platforming strategist for Pete’s sake—I should be able to rock all platforms at all times, right?

Reality check: I’m also human. I work full time and write novels and even try to squeeze in a run or say hi to my husband on occasion. So when the guilt creeps up, I remind myself that no one can sustain that level of presence on their own, no matter their expertise. No one knows better than those of us working behind the scenes that those sustaining that level of platform have a team behind them (or a lot of time to dedicate to the web).

You’re human too. So when the anxious voice in your head implies you’re not doing enough or should be doing more or you could log in and do a quick bonus post right now, shut it down.

Remind yourself that you’re an author, and you’re many other things in your life, too, and you can only sustain it all so long as you don’t wear yourself out. If you follow these steps, your persistence will grow your author platform better than any high-activity burst. Allowing yourself space away from the screen can be an important part of managing your time, well-being and sustainable platforming efforts.

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