[Podcast] Author Ryan Frederick on Successful Platform BuildingNov 17, 2023
“How can my book be part of a larger whole?”
It’s the question Ryan Frederick, author of Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life, asked himself when he published his book.
Ryan realized something important: when you write and publish a book, people view you differently. You are now an authority on your subject matter. And your words carry weight.
Ryan decided to use his newfound credibility to extend his platform.
For thought leaders, publishing a book is only the first step to building credibility and establishing yourself as an expert. The second step is successful platform building. Basic platform building must be done prior to the launch of your book. But, in some instances, a book is the impetus for widening an author’s reach.
Successful platform building helps you network within your area of expertise and form long-term relationships and build a business.
When it comes to extending your reach through a platform, where do you start?
How A Book Can Extend Your Platform
Building a successful platform as an author is a strategic process. It requires careful planning and consistent effort.
Ryan recommends three places for new authors to start:
Speaking Opportunities. Speaking engagements are a great way to connect with readers beyond your immediate network. And reach a broader audience.
The connections made at speaking engagements can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and more opportunities to expand your platform.
Also, when an author is invited to speak, it implies a level of expertise and knowledge that can boost his or her credibility. This leads to increased visibility and recognition within your niche.
Workshops. Another way to use your book to extend your platform is through consumer workshops. Hosting a workshop allows you to showcase your expertise in your subject area. Teaching and guiding participants further reinforces your authority as an expert.
Workshops also provide a deeper dive into content. And they help individuals better understand how to apply principles from your book to their lives. You can also receive immediate feedback from your participants. Feedback helps you refine your content and delivery to best serve your audience.
Finally, consistent workshops can lead to the development of a dedicated community of followers. This community can be a valuable asset for your platform, while fostering engagement and loyalty.
Courses. Similar to workshops, courses allow an author to connect with their audience, dive into specific content, and foster community. Successful courses can also open up opportunities for co-branding. For example, Ryan’s course allowed him to co-brand with wealth advisory firms.
Marketing Courses 101
Before you create a course and market it, you need to determine if a course is a good idea for your platform.
Ryan started by asking himself: Do I have the wind at my back? Or do I have more head winds? Meaning, does your course fit into a cultural conversation that people are interested in?
For example, Ryan’s book and course are about making decisions that concern the second half of life, and more specifically, determining where to live when you’re nearing retirement age. With more people living longer and increased concerns of social isolation and loneliness, thinking about the future and where you live is a topic that will likely remain relevant for years to come.
Consider the message of your book. If you believe it’s timely and relevant to current culture, then a course might be the best marketing tool for your platform.
Here are some insights on how to market courses:
- Define Your Vision of Success.
Ryan encourages all authors to start by asking themselves, What does success look like to me?
For some authors, the act of writing and publishing a book is a significant achievement in itself. To them, publishing their book is the end goal.
For other authors, they want to use their book to extend their influence. If you have a broader vision for your platform, consider how a course fits into your vision of success. Start by clarifying your goals and expectations. For instance, if you want to expand your reach, determine which themes or topics in your book will appeal to a broader audience. If you want to enhance reader engagement, determine how you can deepen the relationship with your readers through a course.
A course allows you to provide practical value to your audience and directly engage them. Think about how a course can complement your book. And how it can create a seamless learning journey for your audience.
Ryan’s most important tip: Make sure your course aligns with the overarching message your book conveys.
- Stand Out in a Crowded Space.
The online course landscape is competitive. To be heard, you must find a unique way to share your message.
Ryan claims there’s no universal formula for success. He encourages authors to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. For instance, your content may be uninspiring or fail to hold a learner’s attention. You will need to implement different interactive content throughout your course—such as videos, quizzes, discussions, etc.—to determine what your audience prefers. You might also find that your course’s structure is ineffective. A disorganized or confusing structure can make it challenging for learners’ needs. Research popular courses and determine which structural elements would work with your course’s topic.
A common struggle is effectively marketing a course. You will need to pursue various strategies—social media, email marketing, partnerships, etc.—to determine which strategy best promotes your course.
Embrace informed trial-and-error to discover what resonates best with your audience.
- Implement an Assessment Strategy.
To engage your audience further, implement assessments within your courses.
Assessments not only help participants gauge their understanding of the material, but they also provide an opportunity for you to collect their contact information.
You can use these email addresses to build your email list. And you can continue to provide valuable content that keeps your audience engaged.
- Exercise Patient and Persistence.
Just like writing a book, building a successful platform requires patience and persistence. There will be challenges along the way, and it will take years to widen your reach.
Ryan’s final piece of wisdom: Writing a book is a catalyst for expanding your platform, connecting with your audience, and making a meaningful impact on the lives of others. But your book must directly serve the needs of your audience. Only then will it help you with successful platform building.