When Rise Up Writers began, I wanted to help Christian writers and speakers deal with the icky feelings they had around building a platform, so they could reduce platform tension. That hasn’t changed.
I kept hearing what I still hear today, “How do you grow a platform without feeling icky?” “I don’t want it to be all about me.” “Growing a platform feels selfish.” And many other words that convey similar messages.
The common cry from Christian communicators is to honor God and fulfill the call to write. But platform? Growing followers for social media and email lists? For many, it feels too self serving.
The thing is, if our focus is on serving self, it will feel icky. At least, I hope it does.
There’s a reason for the feelings and thoughts that don’t feel good.
There’s also more to the picture.
Tension Isn’t Bad, It’s Necessary
Consider a tension rod for hanging curtains. No tension, the curtain falls. Too much tension, the rod breaks. In both cases, the tension rod is useless for the purpose it serves.
With healthy tension, the rod fulfills its intended purpose—to hold a curtain.
So it is with us. We are humans created in the image of God. As believers, we have the power of God working in us to shape us into who He designed us to be.
When we lean into our gifts, our story, and the work of God within us, our created design serves good purposes.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
If you experience unease, it may be a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in your heart. This is a good thing. Hard hearts won’t notice this tension at all. Hearts headed towards hardening or ineffectiveness will dismiss tension and never face it. This is dangerous for anyone who truly wants to let God’s creative work shine through them.
If difficult emotions and hard to face situations get dismissed, they don’t go away. They go underground, which isn’t healthy for anyone. What stays hidden in darkness keeps the brightness of God’s light from shining through.
Don’t Ignore What Fuels Platform Tension
Emotions rooted in fear, guilt, and shame will keep you from doing the thing you want to do–honor God and fulfill the call to write. When difficult emotions surface, explore them. Ask God to reveal what’s underneath. Healing and growth are there for you as you bring them honestly before God and face them.
Need help processing icky feelings or difficult emotions? Want to pursue healing and growth so you can live freer as the communicator you’re designed to be? Consider Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets to facilitate the process with God.
One of the most powerful and beautiful opportunities I see for Rise Up Writers is the growth that happens when they respond to God’s call and lean into the tensions that come with it. When we allow God to work in our hearts with the tensions, fears, and doubts we experience, we grow in ways others may not.
I want to see Christian communicators benefit from this tension by letting God have deeper access to their hearts. It’s so worth it.
At the same time, I understand this tension can keep us stuck. Feelings of fear, doubt, and apprehension can bring on shame and a desire to hide. It takes time and effort to uncover what blocks us from moving forward so others can enjoy what God put within us.
Consider the following ten tips to reduce the icky feel of platform tension so you can rise up as a Christian communicator. We need you.
10 Tips to Reduce Platform Tension
1. Revise Your Definition of Platform
We need to reframe what building a platform means. It includes numbers, but it’s not about numbers. This conversation is bigger than I can get into here, but for now, please consider platform as a place of positioning.
Platform is where you stand so others can hear and respond to what you’re saying.
If we hold ourselves back from getting on a platform, we keep our audience from hearing us. We decide for them. God never asked us to decide for other people. In fact, it’s harmful when we do.
Each of us is responsible to steward the gifts God gave us. God is responsible for the doors we can’t open, for the movement in people’s hearts we have no control over, and for how He uses what we offer.
For platform, think about the places where God has given you an opportunity to use your voice for kingdom and life-giving purposes. Is it when you speak at an event, on your blog, on social media, in your church, in your community, or somewhere else?
How you envision platform will impact your ability to engage in your space.
Consider using Unleash Sheets or going through the content from our 2019 Unleash the Writer Within Event to help you dig deeper.
(You can still benefit from the content even though the live event is over)
2. Get to Know the Ones You Serve
A mind focused on numbers forgets the nuances and value of humankind. To reduce the icky feeling of platform building, discover your audience’s needs and speak their language.
When we fostered, we had multiple Hispanic children in our home. We didn’t know their language, and they didn’t know ours. Thankfully, the Hispanic community at our church came to spend time with them. Our children smiled when others spoke their heart language. I imagine it helped them feel seen and loved.
Each of us has a different heart language and heart needs. Our audiences may have similarities to us, but there will be many differences. We can only reach their hearts if we’re willing to dig into our own.
When you share content and check the boxes of what you think needs to be done, step back. Pray. Ask God to show you the people you’re serving. Then evaluate the content you created, and consider whether it is likely to connect with them.
As you do this, ask questions. Make space for your audience to engage with you so you can get to know them better. You might start out in trial mode, wondering if you’re doing it right. The more you engage with those you serve, the more you’ll get to know them.
3. Build Connections With Your Readers
Believers often say platform feels icky because it feels all about self. It can be, but one way to keep it NOT about self is to be sure you’re connecting with those you serve.
This is another topic bigger than I can go into here. In summary, connecting with ourselves (head & heart), with others in our close circles, and with God, impacts our ability to connect with others.
Connection with readers happens when we treat them as the valuable individuals they are, not just the person who needs what you offer. It also happens when we make our true selves available, not just a presentation of self that seems good. Let your unique reflection of God shine through. Don’t hide it.
When we stand where we’re supposed to be and we use the voice God gives, we’re on a platform. It can feel lonely. It’s easy to feel as if it’s about you when eyes are on you. Readers want an author they can connect with. This means they need to see you and get to know you.
Only when we are available for connection, can we connect with others. That means making space for engagement. When someone takes the time to respond to the work you’re doing, responding back helps them feel seen and valued. Engage sincerely with those who comment, like, message, and share.
Sometimes the simple things get ignored, and we can’t develop rich relationships with everyone. But it makes a difference in creating loyal readers. And it helps reduce platform tension.
4. Remember, You’re In Trial Not On Trial
The work you do doesn’t turn into the work you will do–overnight.
We constantly try things out. You won’t know what works best, or at all, until you try something new and it does.
As you develop your voice and your core message, you also test new ways of sharing content, how to engage on social media outlets, how to find your audience, and more.
Consider. How will you connect with readers? How can you serve best? Could it be through more inspirational, educational, or humorous content? Your way of connecting will look different from others. Only you can discover what works best for you and your audience.
You fine-tune the tools that work best for you, your message, and those you serve.
You are not on trial. There is no judgment if you get it wrong. And you probably will get it wrong more than you’ll get it right.
It’s kind of like signing up for something new and being in “Trial Mode” for a while. Except, it happens repeatedly as you grow as a writer/speaker.
5. Choose Growth
Leaders and creators have unique and beautiful opportunities to grow.
Because we don’t have someone telling us how things ought to be done, we choose growth steps for ourselves. We evaluate what’s worked for others, what’s doable for us, and how we might do something similar, but different.
Only you can write like you write. And no one can tell you your specific path to growth. Only God can, and it requires trusting what we believe God is saying even when we’re not sure.
This causes fear for many. Our human tendency is to want someone to lead, but many wrestle with the tension of letting the One who created us lead us. Especially when we struggle with what that looks like.
We continuously face new decisions in our efforts to communicate effectively. Making the right decisions only happens when we allow God to work in and through us.
Let the tension nudge your heart towards growth. In practical terms, it may be learning how to use various tools that improve efficiency or learning from experts on how to connect with audiences better. Spiritually and emotionally, we may have unhealthy beliefs and unhealed hurts. Our audience experiences the fruit of our growth and healing.
6. Support Others With Similar Messages
To honor God and faithfully respond to what He calls us to do, we must remember we do not operate alone. We are one valuable voice in a world of valuable voices, and we’re all part of God’s bigger picture.
A common fear among writers and leaders is that others will do what we want to do, but do it better. Truth is, there are many times when several people write, or speak, similar messages. Sometimes, it happens around the same time frame.
I often wonder about the work of the Holy Spirit in these instances. God’s universal message spoken to many people as if it’s one, large movement of God. You get to take part. Please don’t bow out.
Don’t ignore what God’s given you because someone else might do something similar.
The temptation to doubt our work, as given by God, is from the enemy. His goal is to keep us from letting God’s light shine through us.
The tendency to compare, prove ourselves, or duck out altogether is also not of God. It keeps us from connecting to Him and displaying His beauty to others.
We need not feel threatened by the work others are doing. Instead, we can see the activity of God through others and be grateful for it. Their work is still not yours. Their assignment is not yours.
Consider sharing their work. Pray for them. Support what they’re doing as a unique expression of a similar call.
God will use you when you are faithful and respond.
7. Value Self to Value Others
If we want to serve well, we have to offer value.
We need to believe we have value and then communicate that to others.
We offer value through our words, our work, our connection to people’s hearts, and through how we see others as valuable.
However, we can’t value those we serve if we don’t value ourselves. First, we receive our value from God. Then from others in our intimate circles–those with whom we have reciprocal relationships.
Writers who let others determine their value will live in fear of rejection and as slaves to approval. They seek value FROM their readers, rather than provide it FOR them.
If we do not value self, we deny the value God assigns.
8. Let Your Light Shine
The fear of building a platform, the fear that builds too much tension, can keep us hidden. It also keeps the work of God hidden.
If God is at work in us, we will develop our gifts and learn to use them well. This includes letting others know what we offer, why it’s helpful for them, and how our work meets specific needs. We have God’s Good News to share with the world! The way we offer it will look different from how others offer it.
Find the voice God gave you. Face the fears that trouble you. Confess the darkness that covers you. Allow God’s penetrating love to reach even deeper within you.
Only you can choose not to hide so God’s light shines through you.
9. Steward What You’ve Been Given
God gave you life.
He redeemed your life with His to give you access to His life at work within and through you.
God also gave you various strengths, gifts, experiences (and even weaknesses), so you can experience more of His life in you. He’s always at work redeeming what the enemy intends for destruction.
You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. ~ Genesis 50:20
You’ve been given much. It’s your job to use it and to nurture it.
Cultivate the soil of your soul so your work produces abundant fruit. Explore the unique ways God wired you to reflect Him.
As Christian writers and speakers, we must pursue things that feel uncomfortable and scary. When we pursue these things, we make way for knowing more of how much we’ve been given and how God wants us to use it.
Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Don’t hide your talent, friend. Use it to the best of your ability and ask God to multiply the increase where He will.
10. Serve in Real Life
One reason writers and speakers pursue platform growth (in the sense of growing social media connections, an email list, speaking opportunities, etc.) is to find the people who need and want what they offer.
Another reason is to prepare an audience for a future book publication, which requires a decent-sized and growing platform.
Sometimes writers begin with these good motivations. But they shift to striving for numbers, which keeps them from serving well. If unhealthy tension is not recognized and tended to, a writer can become hardened to spiritual nudges, focusing on platform for the sake of popularity.
Whether you’re in the beginning stages of building a platform or growing it, if you are not serving in real life, you minimize the impact of your message.
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~ Matthew 20:26
If you are doing the work you’re called to do, and it includes building a platform, then do it for more than numbers or future book goals. Keep it about the people by serving others in real life too.
For example, if you’re writing a book to help women with eating issues, help others in your community who struggle with this. Beyond the screens.
Make sure you do your own work. Grow. Heal. But also make sure you connect with real people in real life. This will make a huge difference in your ability to help others online, in your credibility with publishers (should you choose that route), and in your ability to stay focused on serving others over self.
I hope these 10 tips are helpful for you. There are many more we could consider, but these provide a great start. Join me and other fellow writers in the Rise Up Writers Facebook Group, and we can discuss this and other was to reduce platform tension.
As writers, we have tasks to learn, grow, and improve. These activities help us serve better. However, we can get caught up in the tasks and details with such zoomed in focus that we lose sight of the bigger picture. The reason we’re doing this all in the first place.
Even though we take seriously the study of our craft (writing craft, speaking, etc.), we don’t let craft supersede connection. Even though we learn to market well, we don’t focus on progress over people. At least, I hope we don’t.
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia and lose sight of the people God connects us with. It’s also easy to step back, bow out, and decline the work that helps us grow into the person He’s called us to be so we can serve where He calls us to serve.
Notice the tension you feel around platform. Ask God to reveal the sources of it. Use Unleash Sheets if you’d like help. Pray with others. And let the tension help you see God at work, maturing you spiritually and emotionally as you grow as a writer.
Platform is where you stand so others can hear and respond to what you're saying. How you envision platform will impact your ability to engage in your space. Connecting well leads to serving well. Cultivate the soil of your soul so your work produces abundant fruit. One of the most powerful and beautiful opportunities I see for each Rise Up Writer is the growth that happens when you respond to God's call and lean into the tensions that come with it.
- Finding the Voice God Gave You
- The Writing Life for Christian Communicators – The Pedestal
- How to Evaluate Content Creation and Reduce Platform Tension
- What I Want You to Know About Rejection and This Writing Journey – Part One
- What I Want You to Know About Rejection and This Writing Journey- Part Two