Building a platform vs working for exposure

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As a new author, it can be difficult to balance building a platform versus working for exposure. While these concepts may seem similar, there is a big difference. Building a platform means that you can reach more people with your writing later on. The goal of a platform is to cultivate a group of fans who love your work and want to buy everything you put out. You then market directly to those fans. Working for exposure means that you post something in a popular place (for example, a guest post).

Q: When does it make sense to work for exposure vs building a platform?

A: When it helps you sell more books.

The trouble with exposure is that it may not convert very well. For example, if you are given a position on a popular blog’s Facebook page, how many of those people then go to read the article? Then, how many go to your website? Then, how many go on to Amazon? Then, how many go on to buy books? Each time you have to pass through a barrier, you lose a bunch of people. That means that one or two guest articles really doesn’t sell books. It makes more sense to have a contest, collect email addresses of people interested in your work, and then give them lots of free samples. The more they consume and enjoy the free stuff, the more likely they are to buy books from you.

So, when does it make sense to work for exposure via guest posts? When it brings traffic to your site and helps increase your own website’s Google rankings. The reason why this is important is because showing you’re popular helps make you more popular online. People and search engines don’t have time to complete in-depth side-by-side analysis of every website. Instead, we gravitate to read those websites that are more popular. By showing you’re popular, the new stuff you write gains an extra boost. Once you gain enough clout, it no longer makes sense to work for exposure… unless, it helps sell books.