When Seth Godin, Ryan Holiday, Kevin Kelly, and others say artists, entrepreneurs, and pretty much everyone else need to build a “platform,” I always thought they meant a metaphorical platform. As in, a combination of brand and tribe. While that is true, today I discovered another, more obvious layer of meaning in the phrase “building a platform.”
This week I built my new website, the one you’re reading right now, and I realized building a platform also means literally building a platform. I don’t mean a wooden structure sitting on a stage from which I shout to an audience, but that’s not too far off, as a website is the technological version of that. A website is where we showcase our art and sell our wares. But a website doesn’t just pop into existence. It needs to be built.
Thus, building a platform isn’t just about building a brand and getting fans, it’s also about building the actual website, creating social media accounts, creating and installing MailChimp and Google Analytics accounts, setting up email accounts, opening bank accounts, creating an LLC, making logos and other marketing assets, taking professional photos, and so much more. Building all this stuff takes time, expertise, and money. It’s far faster, easier, and cheaper than building a traditional brick and mortar business (or, for that matter, a concert venue or event center with a big wooden platform on a stage), but it does require some investment to create. All this becomes the infrastructure of our platform, from which our art, brand, and tribe can resound and flourish.