Platform Size Is More Important Than Quality For Online Success

Quality is overrated when it comes to making money online or writing a bestselling book. Instead, growing your platform size (your website and social media presence) as large as possible is the most important criteria.

We all know that bloggers can make a lot of money online. But after blogging consistently since 2009, there’s been an overemphasis on quality and an underemphasis on marketing.

Sure, Google keeps telling us that Expertise Authority Trustworthiness (EAT) matters. But after all these years, if EAT really matters, how can there be so many successful personal finance websites written by people who do not have finance backgrounds?

How can there be so many large websites with posts predominantly written by freelance writers with no firsthand experience?

The reason why is because the quality of content and the EAT of the author doesn’t matter as much as marketing and branding.

Platform Size Over Quality Example #1: Blogging

I spoke to a popular blogger with no finance background. He dropped out of college, never worked in finance, and doesn’t have his MBA. Instead, he is a marketer with a team of eight writers who churns out search engine friendly content in mass.

He also successfully marketed himself as an early retiree, telling the world he doesn’t work much at all. But in reality, he said he works over 40 hours a week managing his team of writers and doing business development deals.

He lamented he worked so much that he gained a lot of weight and can’t seem to lose it. We’ve all been there before. We need to reminded that no matter how much money we have, it doesn’t matter if we don’t have our health.

Due to his marketing prowess, he was able to sell his website to a large financial website for millions. After the large financial website failed to maintain it, he bought the website back for pennies on the dollar.

After his website was initially sold, he was able to charge the buyers $20,000 a month for use of his “likeliness”! This was incredible since he had no finance background, is morbidly obese, and not a handsome man.

As a not very handsome man myself, I was inspired to learn of this fact. It made me believe that anything was possible!

Learn to build your brand online. The stronger your brand, the greater the premium you can charge. You can also get lucrative brand ambassador deals as well.

Platform Size Over Quality Example #2: Bestselling Author

After publishing my own Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That, I joined a fraternity of non-fiction authors. Similar to blogging, authors tend to help each other out of similar status.

One of the benefits of being an author is getting access to unlimited free books by the publisher. It’s partly a benefit and partly in hopes that I help market new books by the publisher.

So I asked for one book from an author with a large social media platform. It is an excellent book full of useful data and charts. However, the book is very dry. There is no storytelling or ah-ha moments. Just data and charts.

But you know what? Because of the author’s massive social media platform, his book became a New York Times bestseller. As a member of the elites, he is able to churn out hit book after hit book. As a result, he will continue to make huge book advances for years to come.

If the author didn’t have an already huge platform, there is no way his book would ever be a national bestseller. Hence, if you want to be a bestselling author, you must first build your platform size for many years.

Part of the reason why Buy This, Not That became an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller is due to Financial Samurai, my free weekly newsletter, and corporate partners attracted to my brand.

I also have a top personal finance podcast that has over 1.5 million downloads. But that took 5 years to build!

Without my platform, there is no way Buy This, Not That would have become a national bestseller. Only 0.3% or less of nonfiction books get on the list. But I had to provide quality free content for years and build up my platform beforehand.

Focus on great marketing. It is a long game.

If Your Platform Also Has Quality, Even Better

The ideal scenario is to have a huge platform with great content quality. If you can do both, then you will have great success online.

The reason why being a professor is one of the best professions in the world is because it has both status and the ability to make a fortune. Savvy professors can use their status to consult, write books, and invest in promising startups.

Professors usually have Ph.Ds and therefore have the knowledge quality and credibility. By then leveraging their university’s reputation, they also have platform.

Recommended Platform And Quality Split

Since 2009, I’ve focused on creating as much high-quality content as possible on Financial Samurai. However, if I were to start all over again, I would spend as much time marketing my content as I do writing my content.

Instead of spending 90% on quality and 10% on marketing I would have spent 50% on quality and 50% on marketing.

If I had, I’m sure Financial Samurai would be at least twice as large. However, because I don’t seek fame, just fortune, I dislike marketing myself or my site. Self-marketing goes against my very nature. Hence, my marketing efforts have been very mediocre.

When Buy This, Not That launched on July 19, 2022, I had to force myself to go on podcasts, YouTube, and TV. It was an uncomfortable experience that had it’s fun moments. But after two months of marketing, I was glad the experience was over.

Build The Platform Or The Quality First?

To build your platform, you need credibility. The right strategy is to first build your credibility on social media platforms with a younger audience. Once you build your follower count there, you can then build your platform on bigger social media platforms.

For example, let’s say you are an Arts major from Portland University. You want to market yourself as financial expert from a humble background. Even though Portland University costs $70,000+ to attend and you have no finance experience, you can still do it!

Build your credibility on TikTok where a younger generation resides. Once you’ve build a large enough following on TikTok, then you can go to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Even if people realize you don’t have an Expertise Authority Trustworthiness, by then it’s too late. You already have a large enough platform of your own where advertisers, partners, and competitors must pay attention.

Anything is possible on the web today. For some, getting ahead online will be harder than others. But I firmly believe no matter who you are or what your background is, making a living online is easier than ever before.