Growing an online platform can be a lot. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of focus, and it is a lot of time.
I’ve spent two years on YouTube and now it is my full-time job, so I want to talk to you about how you can set goals and strategies that are manageable as you grow your own platform. I have five steps that I applied as I was growing my own platform that I found to be really useful, and I hope you find them useful as well.
Five steps to grow your platform
1. Develop a plan
Make sure you write down your long-term goals, and from there, break those down into short term actionable items. What is it you want to do? Do you want to sell products? Write a book? Teach people? Inspire people? Decide what it is you want to do, and plan it out in 2-3 long term goals. From there, break those 2-3 larger goals into 10-15 steps each and you have a much less overwhelming, trackable path of getting to where you want to be.
2. Stay focused on your goals
This is advice I gave myself a few years ago and still go back to even now. There are so many rabbit holes you can go down in becoming a digital creator, so many people selling you shortcuts and fast tracks, and these rabbit holes can feel REALLY GOOD – like you’re actually doing something compared to the grueling hours you’re putting in with slow (but steady) results. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news….it is very unlikely any of those are going to work. While it might look like your favorite creators popped up overnight, I’d be willing to bet a lot that there are years of hard work, self-doubt, and dream chasing that are hidden behind that successful grid you’re looking at.
While it might be tempting to get sidetracked into the newest way to get 10,000 followers overnight *guilty* – the truth of the matter is success online comes with putting your head down, ignoring all of the distractions, shortcuts, and promises, and doing the work. A great way to re-center your focus when you find yourself getting caught up on the shiny thing is to read through your goals – the long-term and the short-term. Stick to those, stay focused, and you will see growth over time.
3. Create consistently
When I got started with YouTube and working as a solopreneur – consistency was not my strong suit. I had a bit of the idea that a lot of creatives do, that my brilliance only came along on whims, that I wasn’t capable of forcing it – but I realized that I was ignoring a very important part of being a creative – and that was practice. Committing myself to a consistent content schedule, consistent work hours, and consistent practicing and honing of my skills were essential steps in achieving the very large goal of making a career out of YouTube.
4. Establish a process
Learn how to use and operate project management software – there are so many options out there like Monday, Trello, Asana, etc. You are going to want to learn and integrate project management into your day to day sooner, rather than later. When running your own business – especially one that spans across different channels of income – it is really easy for things to get lost in the cracks. In my business alone, I have my Instagram content calendar, YouTube video schedule, monthly newsletter, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Always write it down
If you find yourself saying “yeah but for me, it isn’t that much and I’ve got it under control in my head” you are wrong, and if you aren’t wrong now, you will be when your business expands beyond your list-making capabilities. I’m saying this as someone who used to be the queen of mental lists. It is best early on to establish habits for keeping track of the many things you do each day – even before it feels fully necessary. Use your project management software to keep an eye on those long term goals you set, and to keep ticking off the must do’s to reach them. Use it as a way to schedule content, ensure email responses get out, tick off daily to do’s like engaging in comments or posting online, and as a way to know when you are done at the end of the day.
It is easy to get lost in the maze of a business that is all yours – so having a list that can be completed each day gives you permission to turn it off and ensure you keep operating at your best – ie avoiding burn out.
5. Expand your team
Okay, so let’s say you’ve been putting the time in, growth is happening, and you’re seeing the results. Suddenly your inbox is getting the attention of brands, your creating content that people are watching, and you’re ready to expand. I cannot tell you how many people I meet, especially creatives, who at this point continue to operate alone. Now I am going to say something that I have had to say to myself, and it might sound a bit rude but trust me:
You are not an expert on everything.
You are not the best at everything.
If you take a look at most any other business operation, like say a restaurant, it would be silly to see the chef handling the bookkeeping unless out of absolute necessity right?
Investing back in your business
When you start to achieve success, and you’re seeing financial gains, it is best practice to put as much as possible of that back into your business – and that means hiring. If you are a creative, and your expertise is in filming or writing or editing or being on camera, then you should not be spending the majority of your time sorting through your inbox, managing your schedule, or hopping on calls unless you absolutely have to. I hired as soon as I could possibly justify it, and continued to build my team at every step. I wanted to make sure that I remained doing what I do best and brought people in who can help support me and my dreams by doing what they do best.
“There is no prize in doing this all on your own”
There is no prize in doing this all on your own, and depending on how busy things get, there can be real consequences. Consider mapping out your time in a given week and how much of it is going to what – from there, identify the things you are an expert at – whatever else is left, try to find someone to join your team and assist you in accomplishing all of that so you can focus on what it is you do best.
A lot of work, a lot of opportunity
As I said earlier, growing a platform online is tedious, it is a lot, but it is possible – and there is so much opportunity that comes with doing it. If this is something that you decide that you want to do, I hope you find these tips useful, they’ve been really useful for me in my journey of growing a platform, and I wish you the best of luck.