Why We Must Be Advocates, Not Platform Builders

creativity art of storiesWhen we write, or we create art, or anything for that matter, is there a cause, a reason, an underlying passion, a mission?

When I began my podcast and was looking for great people to interview, I’ll be honest, it was more about me. I didn’t realise this at the time, but looking back, I was looking to grow my podcast (not a bad desire in itself) and I wanted guests to help me do that.

I did – and do – want to share great stories, whether they’re from well known people, or less well known stories But on reflection, back then I wanted names for what they could do for me, not how I could serve them.

It wasn’t to serve them. It wasn’t to learn from them. With the big names, wasn’t about advocating a particular message or cause  It was simply to use their platform to advance mine. And fortunately, I didn’t get hardly any of the “big names” I wanted back then.

Thank goodness I didn’t. Because back then, my attitude was dead wrong.

Hearing stories from others – many of them were or have become good friends – and learning from them, actually showed me how poor my attitude had been to others. I’d not intended to be obsessed with ‘platform’. But I realised that on a subconscious level, I had been.

I was reminded everyone has a story and there’s many stories which need to be heard, which many of us haven’t – and all are valuable. Getting big names is great, but only if you’re interested in hearing their story, in serving them, in building relationship with them for their benefit as much as yours.

It has to be about the cause, the topic, the message – not about the ‘name’ or your platform building project.

And it reminded me of something about creativity.

If building a platform is the end goal, or if you find a cause or niche simply for the sake of building a platform, that’s not integrity. That’s not authenticity.

Some of the best blogs – and books –  I’ve read were born simply out of an individuals passion and commitment to a particular topic or cause, not out of a desire to grow a platform. Rob Bell has said many times he creates the work that’s in him to create. He said on his podcast once:

“There’s no grand plan. I just create the next thing.” – Rob Bell

And this is what I want for my work. My goal shouldn’t be to build a platform for it’s own sake, but to have messages to I desperately want to share, causes to advocate for, and to create work which promotes those messages and supports those causes. And to use my (relatively small) platform as a space for others with messages I care about, whose voices need to be heard, to share their message too.

It’s Not About Your Kingdom

`All about me gsu comNow, does this mean, as artists, we stop creating for it’s own sake? Of course not. As a writer, journalling and free-writing, (in music, it’s jamming, in art it’s free-painting or sketching) is writing not to advocate a cause, but to find our inner voice. To give space for our souls to breathe.

And this is absolutely vital for our growth.

I’m a massive advocate of this ‘free-creating’ type of work and always will be. Sometimes it’s actually good to share that work to encourage others.

But the work we publish, the work we promote publicly can’t simply be to build our own kingdoms. So often I see writers find a cause to advocate for because they need one to grow their platform and develop their brand. Or pick on a trendy cause to write about because, again, it gets traction.

You know what that is? It’s deceitful. It’s maniuplative. And it’s totally self-centred.

I’ve been guilty of this too, at times. I hope, now, I’ve moved beyond that. But I still need to keep my eyes open, and keep accountable to others, just in case. We all do.

So don’t set out to build a platform. Set out to find what you care about, the messages you have to share, the causes you want to advocate for – and then go create and share work which supports those messages or causes. Do it well. Do it professionally. Promote it. Then surrender the outcome

Because it’s when we align our passions, with our talents, that we find our purpose and our calling (you can tweet that).

And, if you do build up a bigger platform, use it for good. Give it over to people without a voice, but who have a message to share. To people who support the causes you do.

The goal isn’t to build a platform. It’s be true to the passions, the causes we care about, and align them with our talents. And use whatever platform we have, big or small, to advocate for those messages, those causes.

Be an advocate, not a platform builder.

That’s where we really start to make a difference. And that’s where we find life.

Question for Reflection:
What’s the next thing you want to create…and why?
Let me know in the comments below?

Like this post? Share it on Twitter.


Want writing coaching? E-Mail me at james@jamesprescott.co.uk

(Picture Sources: artofstories.com / gsu.com )

Share this post:


  1. Amy Boucher Pye on March 21, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Love your vulnerability, James. I’m sure we’re all guilty of fearing for our own platform at times – and fear can propel us to share unwisely. I love your sense of advocacy over kingdom building.

    • ANNIE EVE on March 21, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Amy Boucher Pye, I completly agee with you. James has hit the point !!!

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Thanks Amy, that’s really kind, very grateful.

  2. ANNIE EVE on March 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Waou ! It is consistent ! Thank you for this testimony It’s a great help for me. I’m through a time of reflexion and reorientation. Need to be an advocate for christian women who need to write their story. The plaform is not the goal. It’s a place to just meet the good persons, for good reasons. You are doing well James, see you soon, Blessings

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Thanks Annie, grateful for the encouragement and glad the post was helpful. Blessings to you.

  3. Bob Nailor on March 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Never looked at it from THAT perspective… using others to promote yourself. Well, sort of, but not as… you’re right. Getting BIG names to help promote yourself, it is selfish and in its own little way, self-destructive. Great post.

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Bob – getting big names is great, but it’s not the point. If you can get them, that’s awesome, but the motivation and purpose shouldn’t simply be self-gain and ego, but to serve others. Thanks again Bob.

  4. Diane Rapp on March 21, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Never thought about supporting a cause in my writing but I believe it sneaks into stories because there are things I care about. I believe in free enterprise and self-government and those ideals are shown in my sci-fantasy series. I also believe that animals might be more intelligent than we know and humans must protect them from abuse. The animals in my novels are real characters that people grow to love, so my cause is showing more openly. Thanks for making us think.

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Welcome Dianne – you make some good points here, great comment. Good to get a ‘fiction’ perspective. Thanks.

  5. Kimberly Dawn Rempel on March 21, 2016 at 6:33 pm


    This hits me between the eyes. You’ve caught me.

    For over a year I’ve felt my writing has been drained of life. My ghostwriting and blogging for businesses has gone well and gotten clients results and they think I’m awesome and that’s fun… but it hasn’t satisfied my soul.

    I wasn’t writing for me. It’s just like you say – I was building a business-a platform. It was all about the task.

    But I’m returning to writing what fulfills me. Sure, I”ll still do the business stuff and work my butt of to please the daylights out of my clients, but I’ll use my platform not for the primary purpose of “building a platform” (insert robot voice) but of simply expressing my thoughts, sharing insights, and delivering my authentic self for no other reason than because it satisfies me to do so.

    Can you feel that? That’s a fresh breeze of air wafting into this stale room.


    Thanks for calling us out James. We need it 🙂


    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Wow, thanks Kimberly – that’s so encouraging to hear. So glad this post was helpful, really appreciate your kind words. Thank you.

  6. Tamara Letter on March 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Yes! This! I blog about random acts of kindness on http://celebratekindness.wordpress.com and I find the lure to build something bigger and better deters me from my bottom-line purpose: to inspire others with kindness. Thanks for validating my purpose with your words and giving me the green light to write and share, without pressure to be something I’m not!

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

      You’re so welcome Tamara – glad this post inspired you, and thanks for the kind encouragement!

  7. Elyse Salpeter on March 21, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I don’t know – I think people go to blogs because they want to a) learn something b) be entertainined. If all I do is yap incessantly about myself, for my inner voice to be heard, I can’t imagine I’d have too many people coming back over and over. Unless I was very humorous in my narrative… I think we have to have a point and a message.

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Yes, agreed. It can’t just be navel gazing. There has to be a purpose, and there has to be something for others to take away.

  8. Jim Woods on March 24, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Love this. Platform building is not what we are meant to do. RELATIONSHIP building is what we are called to do. And great art brings people together.

    • James Prescott on April 1, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Absolutely Jim – thanks for the encouragement.

  9. Pat N Stewart on May 10, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Very good message. What Jim said below about relationships building is sort of the key to all success in my thinking. My career of 30 years was all about that. Now that I am retired and moved three states away, guess what has followed me! Right. I’m enjoying your blog and it makes me feel a little fragmented in my own blog now…guess I am still the multi-tasker…breast cancer, faith, birding, respecting God’s gift of our natural and wildlife, living our best lives. http://www.livingwithahopefulheart.com

Leave a Comment