Almost two years ago I decided to write a book, and it has consumed my every thought and waking moment since then. Attending a writer's conference was eye-opening for me, as I realized that before attempting to self-publish or even approach an agent, I had to have a platform. What was the ideal? 10,000 Twitter followers. I'm sure my mouth dropped open in the seminar when they said that, as I was running about 250 followers at the time.
After I started corresponding with three different book agents, they all said the exact same thing. The way publishing works today, nobody will want your book if you don't have a well-established platform. "Work on your numbers," they all said. That meant that I had to get my Twitter followers, Facebook followers, and blog followers up in the thousands.
Well, when you only have a few hundred you're dealing with, the loss of 5 can feel like a real blow. After all, it probably took a month of hard work just to get those 5 followers.
All day long I kept feeling like a nobody.
That seems to be the curse of social media. It is constantly there, reminding you that you're not as famous, not as effective, not as big as someone else out there. You can log on to Facebook, read through updates and then log off, feeling like an incompetent mother. You can scroll through your Twitter feed, read about other people "jet-setting across America to speak at my next conference," and be reminded that you're still sitting at home on your dreams.
For this reason alone, I know many people who have taken social media fasts, because they recognize that all of this self-focus is both unproductive and unhealthy. But a social media fast is not really the best option for someone trying to write a book and build their platform, so we must learn how to deal with it.
This same feeling must be shared by many others, as just yesterday both Jeff Goins and Beth Moore posted on the same thing. Their words were encouraging and challenging. Here is what both of their articles spoke to me personally:
- Stop making social media about you. Use it as an opportunity to minister. Use it as a way to learn about other people, to promote and encourage others. When it becomes about you, it becomes a problem.
- Don't make comparisons. This is the hardest part. Even if I focus on encouraging others, on building them up, I'm still bombarded with what everyone else is doing that I'm not. Yet for every choice that person is making, I'm making a different choice - a choice that is better for my life and my family. Yes, I may not have 10,000 followers; I may not have a book coming out next month; I may not be speaking at that large conference - but I am spending valuable time with my kids and my husband, and that is worth more to me in the end.
- Beth Moore asks: "What is your passion? What is it that you are bursting to do [for God]? That's probably the stream of your calling." I love that quote, because it reminds me to go back to the basics- love God, love others. Will my platform matter in the end? It is not the most important thing. I want to spend the majority of my energy on what I've been called to do - minister to others.
- Focus on who you are reaching, not on who you aren't. If I'm spending all of my time thinking about who I'm not reaching, then I'm not spending that time with the people I am reaching. I only have 400 followers? That is an opportunity to reach 400 people from inside of my home that I would otherwise have no contact with. That is amazing!
I also think it's important to unplug from social media throughout the day. Having it up and on constantly is not only distracting, but can affect our moods based on what we read. It may be helpful to have specific times you log in, as well as specific times you work on building your platform - not sporadically all throughout the day.
So, how do you manage this pressure? I'd love to hear your thoughts.