The Basics of Building a Platform

Taiwan Dog FashionLack of platform (which here can be defined as your ability to help a publisher promote your book) is the number 1 reason we turn books down at Baker, and I’m sure we’re not alone.

It’s simply easier to come across solid concepts and great writing than it is to find an influential platform.

While building a platform is hard work (don’t let anyone tell you different), it’s never been more accessible.

Brief setup: In December 2012 I started a series of posts on how to write a book proposal. I got two posts in before realizing the series would be far more helpful to folks if I actually coached a writer through the process of crafting a book proposal. After a brief contest of sorts I decided to work with Gary Neal Hansen. My strong hope is that others will be working on their book proposals as I coach Gary through this process. So far I’ve posted about motivation, concept, and bio.

As Gary and I talked about his bio, we both realized that while he has a great concept and he’s a skilled writer, his platform could use a little help. And we decided to do a little experiment.

What if he took the next several weeks to really be intentional about his platform? What could he accomplish?

We talked through the basics of Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and RSS readers. Gary had already read Platform by Michael Hyatt (AL), which is a great place to start.

I encouraged him:

  • to read Jeff Goins’s and Mike Hyatt’s posts on Twitter
  • to install BufferApp, which is a web-based application that helps you preschedule tweets and Facebook posts
  • to check out the videos at platformuniversity.com
  • to think about installing NetVibes, which is an RSS reader. A good RSS reader will enable you to check a hundred blogs in an hour.
  • to think about blogging more regularly

About that last one, I mentioned two things.

  1. Seth Godin, who blogs daily, was once asked, “Don’t you ever get writer’s block?” He said back, “No one ever gets talker’s block.” If you have something to talk about, you have something to write/blog about.
  2. Mike Hyatt says he shoots for 500 words in his blog posts. That is about one single-spaced page in Word. That’s it, and it’s okay to write even fewer words. The important thing is consistency.

After thinking about it, Gary came up with a platform-building action plan, as follows:

  • use bufferapp and NetVibes to tweet four to six times a day (except Sundays), with tweets that go out via Buffer going to both Twitter and Facebook.
  • post twice a week on his blog. He wrote, “The thing that will make blogging possible is the target minimum of 300 words, which contrasts strongly with my previous target of 1000.”
  • do some interactive posting on Facebook

Gary’s current stats:

  • Facebook: 349 friends
  • Twitter: 110 followers
  • Blog: 1000 views in 2012

We’ll check back in on these stats at the end of this series to see what movement if any has taken place as a result of his action plan.

A brief word about Facebook and Twitter. My Facebook friend count got up to 1600 or so when I started to feel uneasy about posting pictures of my family. I certainly didn’t know all those people and didn’t like the idea of strangers having that kind of access to me and my family. It’s something to think about. I figured out how to transition my Facebook personal page to a business page, thinking I would start a new personal page to connect with family and close friends. I haven’t started that personal page yet, but I thought this might be worth sharing.

As I told Gary, I’m a newbie platform builder myself (I have about 1630 Facebook likes, 700 or so Twitter followers, and I currently average about 2000 blog views a month), so I would relish hearing any tips or advice from others in the comments.

Also, if you’re following along or just joining in, consider writing down your own platform-building action plan in the comments (along with your current stats, if you like). Then when we check back in on Gary’s stats in a future post, you can report to us all what movement has taken place for you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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61 thoughts on “The Basics of Building a Platform

  1. Thanks Chad!

    And any of you who want to help me meet the challenge can
    “friend” me (Gary Neal Hansen — still have not transitioned to a professional page),
    or “follow” me (@garynealhansen)
    or subscribe to my blog (www.withgiants.com)

    …or all of the above!

  2. Great info, thank you!
    Twitter: 371
    About Proximity Facebook Page: 166
    2012 Blog Views: 23,086

    I started my blog/writing last February. The things that have helped me most are networking. I also work with the Global Team of 200 and Exodus Road that connect me to other like bloggers. I also post daily M-S. I don’t know if I’ll always keep that pace, but it really jump started my work. I also host guest posts and myself guest post on other’s blogs. That has helped gained new readers and form friendships.

    I would like to check out platform university. I also need to try BufferApp. The other points I have done. I also hope to find a (reasonably priced) upgrade for my blog.

    One thing I do struggle with is the fear of overdoing social media. (My personality tends toward behind the scenes) It’s hard for me to feel like I should and can
    post regularly. Even on my facebook page I only post 2-3 times a week. And probably 1-2 times a day on twitter.

    Platform building is very hard. I think you need to extend grace and patience to your own journey, or you can go crazy counting numbers and striving. I try to close up my computer/ phone from the time my kids get home until they go to bed.

    • Indeed, Lisa. Hyatt said it took him four year before he hit what he calls an inflection point. At that point he went from hundreds of views to 20,000 per month on his blog. He just had to hang in there… It takes time and perseverence, and, I would add, a commitment to quality, connection, and service.

    • Thanks, Lisa.

      Using Buffer is helping me in two ways. For one, posts made there go to Twitter and also to Facebook, streamlining the process. Second, and more importantly, on Chad’s advice I’m using Twitter to post more links to blogs, articles, and videos that I find interesting — this is in hope of being helpful and building a community of shared interest. Since Buffer has a browser plug in, it is only a click or two to send any page (or an interesting quotation you’ve highlighted) into the queue to go out to Twitter on a pre-set schedule.

      I am of the same mind regarding the risk of overdoing social media. A hard struggle, and I hope other introverts will share how they’ve made it workable!

  3. Hey Gary, following you on twitter now.

    One of the best platform-building things I ever did was “invent” a hashtag–#Christfic. I hadn’t found a tag for Christian authors to share their books and keep up with new Christian fiction. Since I started it, my face pops up for “People” when people use/check the tag. I started having people follow ME first, instead of vice-versa. Another tag I’ve recently found is #momswrite. I love that it’s a smaller group of moms who are struggling w/writing/balancing family, etc.

    So I guess my advice would be to USE HASHTAGS! And respond to comments on your blog, FB or twitter. It’s just polite. I usually stop commenting on blogs where I consistently go unacknowledged. To me, it seems like Southern hospitality, blog-style.

    I’m over 1300 followers on twitter now. That happened about ten months from when I started tweeting. So it’s not as daunting as it first seems!

    All the best w/your platform building, Gary!

  4. Thank you for these platform pointers. With over 3,400 friends on Facebook (over 2,000 on Twitter), I was careful to not post pictures (or even the names) of my young kids. I shied away from my city and any other location details. Pictures w/my kids were group shots with low resolution and from a distance only. Now that they’re older (10 and 11), I’ve relaxed those rules.

    I still never announce when I’ll be away from home or traveling until after the travel is over. Call me paranoid… but…

    Transitioning to an author page on Facebook has been slow (780 likes). So now I just run both pages. I get 7,000 – 12,000 views per month on my blog, though I only blog rarely, randomly, and occasionally (<monthly). I don't know if that's good or not.

    I enjoy social media as a way to connect w/more people. The relationships, though virtual, are real — in a sense. It's the trivial stuff that helps us connect most. I post an encouraging devotional quote each morning, and something fun or funny each evening.

    My Plan:
    1. Copy Gary's plan.
    2. Except for blogging 2x per week. Not ready to commit to that right now.
    3. Going to friend/follow/subscribe to Gary just bec you asked.

    Thanks for this. Blessings on your proposal, Gary.
    Bill

    • Thanks Bill! I’d love to hear what you did and how long it took to build toward those numbers.

      And Chad — at what point do someone’s numbers say “Platform!” to an editor doing acquisitions?

      It strikes me that there is a separate question of what do with the social media platform once it is established. I was really impressed by the way Rachel Held Evans worked Twitter in the run-up to publication of “Year of Biblical Womanhood” and the weeks since. Zillions of her followers were zapping photos of their newly arrived copies, tweeting them, and getting retweeted to the masses, all of which made me feel like I’d better get on board quickly!

      • Gary, Interesting mention about Rachel’s book. I was on the “launch team” for it and did a review on my blog. While she definitely is doing great things with social media, I would say she had some unique opportunities for “virality” because of the nature of her topic. The people who follow her have a STRONG personal connection to the topic (that biblical womanhood is not definable, nor applicable in our culture in the way it was in the Bible)…so there was strong personal incentive for that camp to get the word out. With a polarizing topic like that, the forces rally. It’s like politics. :) Not every writer’s topic is going to generate that kind of force, even with a loyal following. Just a thought to consider.

  5. Gary, I just followed you on Twitter. Isn’t this fun?! I love making new friends and mingling with Christ-minded folks. Excited to see what’s going on with your ministry/writing.

    Chad, these posts are tremendous! Love the sense of community here.

    I created an author page on FB sometime ago to keep my writing life separate. I enjoy connecting with folks there and I post daily (sometimes twice) with occasional photos for fun. I prefer Twitter over FB because of the fast-moving pace and the feel of “up-to-the-moment” news. A word about Twitter: Again, I’m crazy about making friends, sharing Jesus, learning, encouraging, and writing. However, I will not knowingly follow “eggs,” spam, porn, offensive rants, or streams of profanity. I’m a Christian and I’m not easily shocked, but why “go there” when the content is of non-interest to me? While numbers are an important part of platform-building, I don’t follow-back just to increase my numbers. Thoughts anyone?

    A word to the others above: AboutProximity…You have such a beautiful, fluid writing style. I’ve enjoyed learning more about you over on your blog.

    Heather: You’re an encourager. I appreciate your dedication to the writing craft and your willingness to share with others.

    Bill: I do wish you’d blog more. God’s words through you are profound. I can’t remember the exact status from your FB page the other day, but it was truly Holy Spirit-annointed.

    • Thanks, Cynthia, for following, and for the good word about boundaries on Twitter! I had some really weird stuff come my way in the first weeks, and find it is good to take a peek before following back when it is someone I don’t know.

      Though my Facebook page is technically a personal page, I started it as my book was approaching publication, and have never put family photos there and rarely post family stuff. It has been very helpful for connecting with past students, who are among the most eager to see what I write anyway, as well as with people who make contact regarding the book or whom I seek out because they’ve blogged about the book or otherwise said something nice about it somewhere.

      I’m drawn to the idea of a professional/author page, but wonder if the current approach works well enough for the present. Thoughts anyone?

  6. I started my blog at the end of 2011, so 2012 was my first full year. Current stats:

    4200 Facebook fans/email subscribers/RSS readers (I don’t use Twitter)
    23,000 Unique visitors last year
    65,000 Page views last year

    I’m certainly not a huge blog, but I did some things that got the ball rolling. Here are my “tips” from the things that have been most helpful so far:

    1. If you can, invest in Facebook advertising. I used Facebook advertising to get my subscriber snowball going. That helps a TON in getting momentum. If anyone is interested in more info on how to do that, I could say much more. :)

    2. Blog every week, at least once a week, but don’t feel the need to blog more often than you could put up a quality post. I only blogged 1-2 times per week last year because I wanted to go for quality over quantity – and can’t do more quality than that in a week! This is one reason I really don’t like page views as a metric. I could get many more page views if I blogged more often, but what seems to matter much more for purposes of an author is unique visitors (since that represents the book buyer potential!). In other words, I have 2k-3k unique visitors at my blog each month, but since I only post 6-8 times in a month, my page views are relatively low compared to other blogs with a similar following. I was disheartened when I saw a well-known agent once say in her blog that she would look for 15,000 page views per month. But then I realized, I have the platform to achieve that now, I just don’t have the posting frequency to do so. I guess what I’m saying is that you have to be careful about what metrics you choose to measure your “success”. Unique (return) visitors for me has been the key to watch as it represents potential book readers.

    3. Write headlines that make it clear what you are going to write about. Very few blog fans are so dedicated that they just *have* to check in with every post you write no matter what you do to draw them in. Whether it’s through a Facebook link, email subject line or RSS reader listing, they are going to click or pass depending on your headline. I stay direct to the point and try to be compelling:

    4. Learn – really learn – how Facebook works. Google “edgerank” to learn how Facebook prioritizes posts in your fans’ news feeds. You might assume that every fan sees your posts. Not even close – usually only 5-10% of fans will see anything you post on Facebook. So if you have 400 fans, maybe 40 of them will actually see your Facebook post. Then only a percent of those will click through to your blog. The numbers can get small fast, so you have to learn how to use the Facebook platform to your advantage.

    5. Write content that people want to share – that’s what will grow your readership a lot. I keep it in mind with every post I write and usually get 40-100 people sharing each one on Facebook. It makes a big difference!

    6. Determine what the key words are that your personal brand should be associated with. Then be sure to use them on your site so people will find you through searching Google. This is one of the biggest growth generators! I use the words “Christian parenting” in most of my posts and if you type “Christian parenting blogs”, Google usually shows mine at the top of the search results. This brings me a lot of traffic.

    My goals for this year are to double my platform and to build relationships with other bloggers via guest posting. I have sort of been in a blogger silo for the last year, but I realize the value in relationships with other bloggers, so I want to do a better job of connecting this year.

    Sorry for the book here! Marketing is my job, so this stuff gets me going. :)

      • haha – No brilliance! Just the result of trial and error. :) Thanks though – I hope it’s helpful!

        I did mean to ask a question. In the proposal, should you include information about sites where you guest post (and where you could presumably post about a forthcoming book)? Would that be considered part of your platform, as long as you don’t combine numbers from those sites?

    • Wow, Natasha, that is really helpful. Also really challenging and a bit intimidating!

      I would love to hear more about Facebook advertising as you suggest. If you have more to say than you want to put here, and if you blog about it somewhere, I hope you will put the link here.

    • This is very helpful information! Thank you! My education is in psychology and we do a lot with research and statistics. I like how you have explained the importance of what you use to measure your success and what those measures really mean. I recently switched blog homes (from blogger to wordpress). With my old blog I consistantly got 15 to 20 views on every post within a day of posting. But that was usually it. I had a very small, yet loyal, following. My total page views were pretty good, but I had a lot of posts, not a lot of unique readers. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

      • Hi Paul – Great! Nice to meet a fellow stats person – my background is in marketing and statistics so I am very research oriented. If you haven’t already set up Google Analytics on your new blog, you should. Then you can be in analytics heaven as you grow (Gary, I was going to mention that to you too, if you haven’t done it already).

  7. Chad,

    This is my first time on your site and I found it through a ReTweet! Thank you for sharing this information with us. I found it helpful, and I will be returning to your site for more tips.

    Over the 2012 summer I began building my “platform” by finally breaking down and opening a FaceBook and Twitter Account. FaceBook – not a problem getting friends. Twitter – that’s another story. Not too many people I know bother with Twitter, but I have acquired followers through various loops.

    In late Septemeber I pushed myself a little farther and entered the world of blogging. I am happy to report that in three months time I hit 1,000 pageviews.

    I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) where useful information and different resources are never ending. Through the organization I was given the opportunity to have my blog listed in Book Fun Magazine at no charge for the 2013 year. I took advantage of the opportunity and I am also pleased to report that I have traffic entries coming in via Book Fun Mag.

    What I have taken away from these experiences is that – just like any other job – writing takes work. Whether I find it fun, frustrating, or intriguing it needs to be nourished and molded.

    Thanks again and I’m looking forward to visiting in the future!

  8. One my blogging partners, Jonathan Howe, posted a fantastic primer on blogging how-to’s. LifeWay’s executive team trust him immensely and he has produced great results for them and for us. We’ve been in existence for 5 months (to be fair, all the contributors had a strong platform already), but we had 30,000 views in those 5 months using Jonathan’s keys as our basic foundation.

    This might be helpful to Chad, Gary, or other readers.

    http://projecttgm.com/2013/01/four-keys-to-better-blogging/

  9. Another great post, Chad. Thanks for the helpful tips. My blog has grown steadily but slowly over the past six months since I upgraded to a professional theme, and I’m sure the reason for the slow growth has been my hesitation to really jump into platform building. My reasons for this hesitation are varied, but I do know I need to focus more effort in this direction if the message is to reach a wider audience. Thanks again!

    • Joshua, thanks for the comment. Two things come to mind in response. The first is something I’ve somewhere along the way that resonated with me: gradual growth is good growth. The second is that I can totally relate with your hesitation. For one thing building a platform seems so egotistical. If that’s one of the reasons you hesitate, I commend you! Eventually i just decided that if i was going to do the work of blogging, i really wanted people to read it, so i jumped in as well as i know how to and can sustainably do. God knows beer and porn companies don’t care about promoting themselves, and i tend to think what i’m doing is at least if not more important than what they’re doing. I suspect what you’re doing is pretty important too. Shout it from the rooftops!

  10. What wonderful advice–you’re doing such a great service to writers. It’s a real gift.

    About using Facebook: I resisted using it for a long time, in part because of the idea of broadcasting everything to everyone. When I finally jumped in, I set up an author page as well as a personal page.

    But Facebook now allows me to put friends into different groups–family, ‘platform’ etc. That means I can post family pictures just to my family friend list. I didn’t have 1600 friends though, so it didn’t take much time to sort people into the different lists.

    I still prefer an author page as well–I like having an intentional place for things related to my book, and a place to interact with readers.

    • After I deleted my personal page on Facebook I got onto Google+ because my family started using Google video chats to keep in touch. Google+ also has the categories for friends, family, etc. I also like this method since I can share pictures of my daughter with family only. Now I have Google+ for family only and I’ll do my writing publicity through Facebook.
      I also prefer having a separation between the two types of profiles.

    • Hi Annie – It’s true that you can separate people on Facebook, but there are some very important reasons why if you want to use Facebook as a platform builder, you should have a fan page specifically (not just a personal page you use for author activities). Facebook treats the two types of pages differently. Personal pages don’t get indexed by search engines (fan pages do), personal pages have a friend limit, Facebook doesn’t allow personal pages to advertise, promote business or run competitions, and perhaps most importantly, only Facebook fan pages come with all kinds of analytical data that tell you how people are interacting with your content so you can improve (this is KEY!).

      There are easy ways to convert your page to an official fan page – just google “how to convert personal page to fan page on Facebook” for info.

  11. I deleted my personal Facebook account 8 months ago. I haven’t missed it at all. When I feel the need to share a funny thought, I text my best friend or tell someone in person. However, I have been focusing more on developing myself as a writer and recently (last night) I created a Facebook page for myself. Then I read this post today and feel like I made a good move.

    My platform, which until I read this post was just my plan of action (now I know more of the jargon, Thank you!), was to push whimsical and “tweet” style content through the Facebook page and write more focused and deliberate posts for my blog, with more regularlity. I’m still trying to decide what the blog posting frequency should be: twice a week, on specific days only, every day, or whatever. I’ve thought about opening a Twitter account, but I’m going to ease my way into this. My stats are very beginner right now, so I don’t have anything to report on that front.

    For the rest of January my goal will be to update my Facebook page at least once a day, and with 20 days left, write at least 10 more significant blog posts (I aim for 400 words as a minimum, but I often go over, and am perfectly fine with ideas that don’t quite make it to that limit).

    Chad, your timing on this coaching project has been perfect for correlating with my own ambitions. I’m really glad you followed the impression to do this and share it with the rest of us!

    • Paul, welcome aboard. Your action plan sounds doable. Just one eensy weensy piece of advice: remember that what gets scheduled gets done! Thanks for comment, and please let us know at the end of the series how your stats change as result of your action plan. Enjoy the journey!

      • Scheduling, formal scheduling, has always been an issue for me. But I might just have to do it this time. I can see the benefit of consistently posting every tues and friday, for example, versus two posts a week but one on monday and one on wed and then the next week one on thurs and one on fri. I’ll work formal scheduling into my plan. Thanks for the response

  12. I’m really enjoying the comments in this post, even though I’m late to the discussion. I started blogging in October, and do about 2 posts a week – right now I’m averaging about 3,000 page views a month, but I’m not quite sure how to track unique viewers. Twitter is at 207 followers, and I comb through my followers to delete spam accounts. I started a facebook page in December and did spend money to have posts promoted (shown to more people) – and it helped – I hit 200 likes in my first month.

    My action plan will be to post twice a week or more on my blog, and to tweet at least once a day.

    • Addison, sounds like you’re off to a solid start! I just watched the second of Mike Hyatt’s videos at platformuniveristy.com, and he has some great content there. You might find that useful. Thanks for commenting!

  13. Note to self: Don’t make a public commitment to blog twice a week while in the middle of teaching a two-week intensive class. Made it the first week but tanked the second, trying to keep my head above water in my job. I’ll be back on board this week.

    I really do like Buffer for pre-planned posts to Twitter and Facebook. It took a bit of fussing to make the schedules match for both, but now as long as I’m on my game and keeping the buffer full, four posts will go out each day. The challenge is keeping the buffer full. It means I have to dedicate some time to thinking about what I’ll post and finding articles, blog posts, and videos that I think the people I want to follow me would be interested in. Some of this will come more naturally with time.

    I can say that early on the results are good in terms of Twitter followers (142 as of today) and blog visitors and views (59 and 91 respectively in the last two weeks).

  14. Thanks for this post, Chad!

    I have to admit I’ve avoided twitter all week because of ReWrite. Last year was such a great experience! I wish I could have attended again, to have re-connected with you and so many others. I missed it terribly.

    Even so, it’s great to be able to connect online like this.

    This is a bit intimidating putting this all out there, but I love the idea of charting progress and having some sort of accountability. Thank you for the challenge.

    Twitter: 2153
    Facebook: 670 (personal) and 341 (fan page)
    Blog Stats: 22,000 views in 2012 (Averaging 1500 views/month so far in 2013)

    GOALS:
    – I need to learn how to use Google Analytics. This won’t help me grow my platform, but it will help me understand what I have and how to improve it.

    – I want to post more consistently, both in content and frequency, on my blog. I post too infrequently (some weeks only once; other weeks 4-6x) and tend to go off topic too often. I would like to consistently post 3x/week, always related to my brand, which is “pursuing God in the dailies.” Eventually, I would like to get to 5x/week, but right now consistency trumps frequency.

    – I want to syndicate older blog posts more efficiently through social media.

    – I want to seek and pursue guest blogging opportunities on larger networks and online communities.

    • Tanya,

      Missed you at ReWrite. Had a terrific time!

      These are some great goals, Tanya, and I want to encourage you to go for them! I’d love to hear from you again in a few months to hear how it’s going.

      I understand a lot of people use Google Analytics. I use the JetPack plug-in.

      I hear you about consistent posting. I wonder if that would become more sustainable (for both you and me) if we varied up the type of posts we publish. What if one of those three is just a quote or a picture, for example?

      For syndicating older posts, check out the Evergreen plug-in, which is how you found this post!

      Regarding guest blogging, try sending out at least one pitch a week. Also, try becoming a pillar in the comments sections of blogs whose audiences you want to connect with.

      Hope this helps. To read how Gary’s and my platform grew, see this post: http://www.chadrallen.com/2013/09/17/5-ways-to-take-your-writing-to-the-next-level/#comments

      • Thanks, Chad! I appreciate the encouragement and tips.

        Re: Google Analytics … I use JetPack as well, but have been strongly advised by a marketing/web guru friend of mine to also do Google Analytics. Allegedly, it stores greater data with increased flexibility. The one factor I’ve found most interesting is the “bounce rate.” It lets me know how long readers stay on my site. Getting a “view” is great, but if the visitor hangs around for only 3-4 seconds, I know they’re not actually reading my stuff. Most likely they got there by accident. It’s all very interesting stuff.

        Thanks, again, for all your help. I’ll have to check in with you around Christmas or the New Year. :)

        • Thank YOU for this great info. Another item for the to do list! This blogging journey is nothing if not an education. Do check in later in the year. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

          • Hey, Chad. My year is almost up so I wanted to come back and report.

            First of all, let me talk about my goals. It’s been a very difficult year for me personally, so I didn’t meet many, but I am choosing grace over guilt. :)

            While I failed to master Google Analytics or blog consistently, I did implement Evergreen and achieve a degree of consistency in social media. I also made some great connections for guest blogging and broader network exposure.

            So, what happened? Well, my numbers grew, but they definitely reflect the focus of my consistency. Check it:

            Twitter: 2366
            Facebook: 923 (Friends) + 22 (Followers) + 506 (Fans)
            Blog Stats: 1400 views/month but my subscriptions went up.

            This is an increase of over 650 in less than a year. This doesn’t factor in subscriptions (blog, youtube and newsletter), all of which have also increased; I just don’t have the numbers from last year to compare. All in all, not bad, considering I’ve totally slacked on the writing the past few months.

            New goals:
            1. Return to regular blogging
            2. Revitalize newsletter
            3. Get busy with e-publishing. I have stacks of manuscripts just sitting here. I need to get them out there.

            THANKS for challenging me in this way! I appreciate the stimulus to be accountable and take responsibility for this gift of ministry.

  15. I just noticed the date on this post!! LOL. I clicked over from twitter and immediately started commenting without realizing I’m already 10 months behind. Oh, well. It’s a good exercise anyway. ;)