Build Your Platform Separate From Your Product
The concept of a personal platform has come up a couple times recently, first in a conversation I had with Cory Miller.
He had recently sold his company iThemes, and was thinking about how he had built that platform for a decade. Most of his marketing efforts went into iThemes, building up the website, email list, and social media presence. Even though he was the central figure at iThemes, selling his company meant selling his platform.
If his platform was instead his personal blog, he could have sold iThemes, and kept his platform for his next venture. His advice to me was to build a platform separate from my product.
Your platform is how you connect with your audience, and it could be the most important thing you own. Without a platform, how do you build a business? How do you sell your product?
I asked Brad Touesnard if he wanted to sell his business on my podcast. He said no, because Delicious Brains is his platform. If he sells his platform, he has a big check, but nothing else. If he wants to make a new product, he has no audience.
If you own all or most of your company like Brad, your platform can be the same as your brand. The best type of platform is separate from your product or brand, that way it can survive an acquisition or a product failure.
How to Build Your Platform
A great example is Copyblogger.
Brian Clark built his very successful copywriting blog before ever having a product to sell. Eventually he did have products to sell, like ebooks, courses like Teaching Sells, and even a SaaS platform called Rainmaker. He kept making new products, but his platform was always his Copyblogger site. When he had something new to launch, he could sell it to his Copyblogger readers.
Having a platform separate from your product means you don’t have to try to start up a new content marketing campaign for each product. You just keep cranking out content on one site, and pitch your products from there.
Syed Balkhi started WPBeginner 10 years ago. It started as a blog for WordPress tutorials, but as he started selling products, it became a place for him to funnel traffic to his various entities. He can now build a plugin for popups, write an article about the best WordPress plugin for popups, and put his product at the top. He will instantly get a ton of sales.
Most of us start a product and put all of our energy into the product site, but is that the best long term strategy? Building a separate platform may not be viable for many founders, since a product can take up most of your time. Building up a content based site takes a lot of time and energy, and usually doesn’t see any financial returns for a long time.
Justin Jackson built up his personal website and podcast before launching his newest product, Transistor.fm. He also started a community for bootstrappers called Megamaker in 2013. Justin’s platform is his blog, podcast, and social media presence, which all feed into his products.
Building your own platform means creating content that you own that is not tied to a product. As long as it’s all yours, and you have a way to connect with your audience, then it’s good to go. That could mean a your own personal site where you collect emails like Brian Casel, a blog like Copyblogger, a podcast, or even YouTube channel.
The reason I started this site was to build a platform separate from my products. We’ll see how it goes.
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