The 5 Platform Personalities: What Type Is Right for You?

In today’s noisy world, there’s no other way to be heard than with a platform. You have to fight for attention — that’s just the way it is. But if you think that means there’s only one way to communicate your message, that’s just not true.

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A professional speaker doesn’t connect with an audience the same way an author does, nor should someone who writes fiction follow the same game plan as a nonfiction writer — at least, not exactly. The rules change, depending on what you write. So what do you do?

If you aren’t one of the typical types of bloggers trying to make it online, is there any hope or breaking through the clutter and getting your message heard? Here’s the good news:

There’s more than one way to build a popular blog.

After years of studying the most powerful communicators in the world, both online and offline, I’ve discovered five basic types of bloggers that I call “The 5 Most Powerful Platform Personalities.” And before you start building your audience, it would be wise to figure out which one best suits you.

The Journalist

The Journalist builds his platform on asking questions. The only requirement for this type of platform is curiosity.

When I set out to start my blog, I was nervous. I was no expert on writing, so what right did I have to tell other people how to do it? I didn’t even have a published book.

Then I found out about Darren Rowse. Darren, as you may know, started one of the largest blogging communities in the world. How did Darren build his platform? Did he wait until he was an expert?

No. He began his journey by asking questions. And as he publicly shared the answers he got, his curiosity attracted an audience of hundreds of thousands of people. Now, he is considered a leading expert on blogging, and it all began with asking a few simple questions.

If you are a naturally inquisitive person, this may be an excellent approach for you to consider.

The Prophet

The Prophet builds her platform on telling the truth. The requirement for this type of platform is a passion for authenticity. I can think of few people who have done this better than my friend Jamie Wright.

Jamie authors a popular blog called The Very Worst Missionary, on which she riffs and rants about faith, life, and other stuff that bugs her. She complains and cusses and confesses. In short, she says all the things missionaries wish they could say, and people love her for it.

Ask any of her readers why and they’d probably tell you, “Because she’s real.” She tells the truth — the dirty, ugly, nasty, wonderful truth. That’s what a prophet does.

Of course, prophets are not always so popular. They are unpredictable and often offending someone. But that’s not their goal. The goal is to simply tell the truth, whether people want to hear it or not. Another example is Seth Godin, who is an iconoclast in the business world.

Seth calls out the brokenness of the status quo — whether it be in marketing, education, or charity work — and challenges us to something better. And sometimes he catches a lot of flack for it. That is also part of the job description of a prophet, so be prepared for some criticism if you take this approach.

And remember to not be cynical for the sake of being cynical. Good prophets do not only condemn the dark; they also call us into the light.

The Artist

The Artist builds his platform by creating art — whether it be music, painting, or entrepreneurship. The requirement is an eye for beauty.

One of my favorite artists is Jon Foreman, the lead singer of the rock band Switchfoot. Jon communicates the truth of his message through the words he sings and the notes he plays. He challenges his listeners through powerful art that causes you to ask questions long after the song is over.

Artists speak to our hearts, not our minds. They show us through their art that another world is possible. Having sold millions of records, toured the world many times, and appeared on The Tonight Show, it’s hard to say this hasn’t worked for Jon and his band.

Another artist who has recently risen in popularity is a blogger and author by the name of Ann Voskamp whose blog encourages readers to notice the everyday moments in life we might otherwise miss. The gift of an artist is they give us eyes to see.

Want to get a video walk-through of all of these blogging personalities? Get instant access to a recent webinar replay in which I spend 90 minutes teaching you everything I know about blogging. Click here to watch it.

The Professor

The Professor builds her platform on facts and information. She does extensive research until she has achieved mastery. Of course, there is always more to learn, but this type of person knows more than most. The only requirement is a longing to learn.

A great example of someone who has built a platform this way is Jim Collins. Jim is respected speaker and author. He has written Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall — all bestselling business books based on extensive research and case studies he and his team have done.

These books are not light reading. They are full of charts and information and case studies. The Professor loves data. And if you are going to build your expertise this way, you too better love reading, studying, and analyzing (or find a team that does).

The Star

Perhaps, the oddest type of platform to build (and the most visible) is that of The Star. I used to call this The Celebrity, but people got the wrong idea. These people aren’t just famous for being famous. They are known for being charismatic, for being naturally likable.

A product of a media-saturated culture, stars are a new breed of influencers. They woo and endear us, even sometimes scandalize their audiences, and for the most part, we love them for it. They are doing what we ask of them — sharing their lives.

But of course, not everyone can be a star. This kind of personality earns his audience through charisma. Often, the person is attractive or talented, but not always. These people earn their attention because people want to be around them, and this is often because they want to be around people. They’re a party looking for a place to happen.

An example of this type is Ashton Kutcher. A talented entrepreneur and well-known actor, Ashton has something that makes him especially interesting to fans and customers. He is charismatic, full of energy, ideas, and excitement. As a result, people love listening to him. Another would be blogger and best-selling author Tim Ferriss, whose mantra is basically, “If I can do it, so can you.” This is the message of a star: I’m just like you.

Networkers fall into this group, as well. They have influence, because they’re good with people. They may not be the up-front-and-center person, but they are charismatic, nonetheless.

People like stars because stars tend to like people (or at least pretend they do). You can’t be a star if you’re a misanthrope. It just won’t work. More than any other personality, this one is contingent on community.

So what type are you?

These are the five main types of platforms. I’m sure there are others, but these seem to cover most of the blogs out there. If you have a message you want to get out in to the world, you need to identify what type of voice you have and, therefore, what type of platform you should build. I hope this helps.

If you’d like to learn more about this, you should check out a recent webinar I did on this topic.

A version of this article originally appeared on goinswriter.com.


Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national bestseller The Art of Work. For thoughts on writing and life, you can join his free newsletter.

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