Want to build your fan base by attracting more clients and customers to you and your products and services? Then build a platform. A platform is media lingo for having a solid base from which to pitch your work. It’s about numbers, about how many people know what you do. It’s about building your following, that you can use to then build it even more.
So, how do you build your platform? It’s really not hard. The following tips will help get you started:

1. Make sure your niche is narrow and solid.

Research your target market until you can narrowly define who it is in that market that you are going to focus on. Make sure you get really clear on your "who" and your "what." Be certain who your ideal client is and what problem you are solving for them. Then decide what you’ll call yourself and/or your service/product. Make it a brand. Give it a unique name that will catch others’ attention.

2. Decide on the best web address (URL) for your business.

The easiest way to get search engines to like you is to have a URL that has your keywords in it. For example, stopyourdivorcenow.com or artellawordsandart.com.

It’s ok to have a long URL, since most browsers will prompt the visitor to the site after just entering a few letters once they’ve visited it once. And a lot of people will bookmark the site as well. Besides, it’s easier to remember if your URL spells out what it is that you do.

3. Know your market.

Your target market is your best source of information for what they need from you to help them solve their problem. Ask your friends and family to become part of your R&D team and use a free survey instrument like Survey Monkey (surveymonkey.com) to gather relevant and very valuable feedback from them to help you better understand their needs and tailor your offerings to those needs. This is undoubtedly one of the fastest roads to building a successful fan base.

4. Get educated about Internet marketing.

You know you need a website, but there’s so much more you can do online to build your business. A good place to start is with learning more about keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) that will drive traffic to your site. Visit http://www.keyword.com/SearchEngineOptimization.htm for a basic understanding of keywords and how they can positively affect your placement in the search engines. Put yourself on a self-guided curriculum to help get your work known online.

5. Smile!

Have a professional headshot taken. One marketing tool you should have is a press kit and/or speaker sheet with a professional photo of you. You know that cropped photos are not professional and having your friend take a "nice" picture of you is not the same. Remember, what you put out is what you get back. If you want high-quality clients, you need a high-quality headshot (that goes for all your marketing materials).

6. Create and memorize your 30-second intro.

Here’s mine as an example:

I teach solo professionals the 6 steps to marketing their business to 6-figures in half the time they could do it on their own.

Notice how it expresses what I do, how I do it, and for whom I do it. I don’t say, "I’m a business coach" or "I’m on online marketing consultant." If I did, people would respond with, "Oh, that’s nice." Not exactly the reaction I want. I want to pique their interest. "Oh, really? Tell me more."

Feel free to use mine as a template for creating your own.

7. Write, write, write.

Write free articles and submit them online. Add a bio box to the end of each article. This should include your name, website address, and other contact info, etc. See my bio box at the end of this article as an example. Google "article submission sites for (your niche)" to create your own list of submission sites.

8. Create a press kit.

As a mailer, this should be a professional looking folder with a pocket 9 x12 (so 8.5 x 11 paper will fit inside) perhaps with your logo on outside, and cuts to hold a business card. You’ll also need an 10 x 13 envelope to mail it in, unless you are emailing your kit – in which case, I’d highly recommend encrypted PDFs to send.

You should include at least one business card, any press releases you’ve sent, a short bio, a photo of you printed on good quality stock with your name and phone number either on the back or printed in the margin, copies of any published articles you’ve written, as well as any unpublished articles you’ve written the media can use, published articles written about you, published articles supporting your work, brochures, fliers and other marketing materials, fact sheets, including a backgrounder on your business, key points, topics you’re an expert on, testimonials and success stories, and samples of your work – guides, workbooks, product catalogues, etc. And don’t forget to include a short personalized cover letter.

Building your platform takes consistent effort. Getting your message out there often enough, increasing the number of people who know about you and your offerings. Then constantly adding value for your "fans" will position you as an expert, which will help you immensely when you want to publish your book, be interviewed by the media, or to command higher quality clients/customers.

© 2005, 2007 Alicia M Forest and ClientAbundance.com

Alicia M Forest, MBA, Multiple Streams Queen & Coach™, founder of ClientAbundance.com and creator of 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success System™, teaches professionals how to attract more clients, create profit-making products and services, make more sales, and ultimately live the life they desire and deserve. For FREE tips on how to create abundance in your business, visit http://www.ClientAbundance.com.