Thursday, October 8, 2020

What Does the Term "BORROWED PLATFORM" mean for Writers?


by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

What is the meaning of the term borrowed platform? Well, I’m glad you asked, because those two little words helped me land a writing contract for my book that releases this month. 

I shared last month about my “third time’s a charm” story of acquiring a contract with Revell for my parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories, after speaking to editor Vicki Crumpton three years in a row at writing conferences. 

To recap briefly, I shared the idea for my book during a one-on-one session with Vicki at Blue Ridge in 2017. She liked the idea and said my agent, Cyle Young, could send her the proposal. However, she mentioned that I should have a blog, to build an audience, and she extolled the virtue of connecting with others through social media sites. 

I spent the next year learning how to blog, tweet, and post on Instagram. Prior to that conference, I’d only posted on Facebook.

At Blue Ridge the following year, I spoke with Vicki again, and she said I’d made a great start, but my numbers needed to be higher on the sites. In other words, I needed a larger audience or platform. I put a lot of time into making cute memes to go along with my daily postings of silly holidays to celebrate. I gained more followers, but the process seemed slow and daunting. 

I’d heard about borrowed platform at conferences, and I decided to try that avenue. My numbers alone on social media were nothing grand, but if I could write for other sites with larger numbers, then I could borrow those numbers as part of my platform, because my bio would reach those same followers on that particular site. 

I spent almost a week, working late into the night, reaching out to over fifty homeschooling blog sites. I shared with the site owners my twenty-five-plus years of homeschooling experience and my writing experience, and I offered suggestions for blog topics that I could provide each month. 

Out of all those emails, I only heard positive responses from three. I heard back from several with a “thanks, but no thanks,” and most didn’t respond to me at all. I’ll admit, I was discouraged at the small number of responses, but, I began to blog monthly for two homeschooling websites and bimonthly for a homeschooling, online magazine. 

(And the cool, God-wink moment? One of the positive responses I received, from a homeschooling mom in Atlanta, just happened to be related to friends from our church, and we figured out we’d met briefly at a Christian concert several years back. She pointed out in the email to me that she’d used the homeschooling devotional I published back in 2005 for years with her kids! And, after I’d written for the site for over a year, my college daughter volunteered to help with a Discipleship-Now weekend through her Baptist Collegiate Ministries organization, and guess what family she wound up spending the weekend with as the host family? That same homeschool family! Isn’t God cool like that?)

Well, by the time I met with Vicki that third year, I was indeed able to show her that my numbers on Facebook had grown to more than 4000 friends and that I had grown my other social media sites. 

But the tipping point for her “yes, I’d like to publish this book,” came when I showed her the borrowed platform from those homeschooling sites. I used my Atlanta friend’s numbers specifically and showed Vicki that my words and bio reached this many people each month: 
  • Monthly page views on the website: 32,700
  • Nearly 2,000 email subscribers 
  • Facebook likes: 8,205
  • Instagram: 603 (her newest social media community at that time)
  • Twitter: 3,400
  • Pinterest: 25,945 followers
And that was just one of the three sites that I wrote for—the other two sites had similar numbers. 

Those numbers represented one segment of my target audience for my future parenting book, and since then, I’ve added other borrowed platform numbers from two parenting websites.

Borrowed platform can help you reach the target audience for your manuscript proposal. Find blog sites and websites that represent that audience and offer regular content. Many will say “no,” but some just might say yes. And those readers can become YOUR readers and part of your platform! 

TWEETABLE

Julie Lavender looks forward to autumn each year, because summers in south Georgia can be hot and sticky! But she’s especially excited about October this year because of the launch of her newest book, 365 Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories. Julie would love for you to check out her book for all the parents and child caregivers in your life, and it’s on sale right now, until launch date, for just 5.99 with no shipping cost from the Baker Book House website! See here for details: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/39538

21 comments:

  1. You're always helping and teaching; I'm always trying to learn Ms. Julie. Another keeper for my growing reference library. Thank you ma'am.

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    1. And, J.D. .... you're always encouraging!!! You are so good at that. As you know, I love sharing what I learn along the way with my sweet writer friends. Thanks, as always, for commenting and making my day brighter with your joy and enthusiasm!!! Blessings, my friend! (Tell Diane hello for me!)

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  2. thank you for this information. Is there another name for this strategy other than “borrowed platform“? I couldn’t find anything in my research on this name. Appreciate your assistance.

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    1. You know ... there probably is another name for it, but I've only heard it called "borrowed platform" at the writers conferences I've attended. I had actually googled it for any other names as I was writing the article, and I didn't find much with this name. It actually sent me to totally different subjects. I'll try to research, and if I find more, I'll respond again!!

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  3. This is good info. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You are so welcome, and thanks for the comment!

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  4. You have just given me the answer I needed. An agent told me the same thing this past summer; I need to work on my platform. This seems like the next big step. Thanks so much!

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    1. You are so very welcome!!! Praying that you'll be incredibly successful with your efforts!!

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  5. Jul;e,

    You have valuable insights in this article about using a borrowed platform. Thank you. You also showed every writer that it takes hours of effort and work to "borrow" a platform from someone else. That week of contacting 50 homeschool blogs was only one aspect of it. The possibility for every writer is there with creativity and a willing heart.

    Terry
    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

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    1. Thank you so much, Terry, for your comment. YES - I hoped NOT to discourage, but I did hope to point out that it's not EASY to acquire that borrowed platform, but that it is incredibly valuable and worth the effort!!!

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  6. I had not heard of this before! Very helpful! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Barbara, and I hope it was very helpful! Like Terry mentioned above - it's not easy and it is definitely time-consuming, but the end result can be very beneficial!

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  7. Thank you for this encouragement. Keep writing. :-)

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    1. Thank you, my friend!!! It's fun to travel this journey with fellow writers and share what we learn as we go!!! Blessings, my friend!!

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  8. Hi Julie, What great information! I was not familiar with the term either, although I've done all those things. I just never added up all the numbers. Thanks for sharing this insight. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Marilyn! That's what I love most about conferences is the wealth of knowledge that's available in one place, and I try to absorb as much as possible! I first heard the term at a conference and decided it would work for my writing journey! It's been a blessing to me!

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  9. Thank you for sharing this information. I had never heard this term. Does this also include blogs that are reblogged on a follower's site?

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    1. Yes, it's my understanding that a reblogged blog would count for this, however, I think from what I learned at conferences that it more often applies to something that is recurring ... But, I think it would still apply, because your writing is then placed before the eyes and ears of the platform of that new site!

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  10. Great info! I've been asking questions and wanting to learn more about this. Thank you!

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    1. I still have more to learn, but I hope this helped answer some of your questions! Thanks for commenting!

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  11. This was such a wealth of information that I posted it on our Word Weavers Volusia County closed FB group as well as The Writer's Gathering, recently. I didn't want to lose it, as I knew it was a keeper, and I'd want to reread it. I've never had numbers sign up for my blog, so soon I will put in the hard work as you did and see what happens. I hope to see you, at least to say "HI" this weekend at FCWC. I'm doing a day trip on Saturday. Peace and blessings!

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