I’ve solved the online platform thing

Men wear suits. Many women wear suits. Working from home, I  wear pajamas exclusively, but the point stands: suits.

Suits  are uncomfortable, expensive, and boring. They’re designed to samify people, iron out pesky differences. Broad shoulders all around.

Suits work so well because they comfort wearer and wearee. They take the decision-making out of it. There’s nothing relevant to say about a person in a suit. Snob out about the brand, sure, but if someone tries that on you, just pretend your boxy Jos A. Bank is actually some hipster bespoke deal made by an eccentric boxer in the middle of nowhere.

The thinkerati lauded Steve Jobs for his turtleneck-and-jeans combo, but (a) let’s admit it, super-unflattering and (b) Jobs squandered any saved energy on explaining the turtleneck-and-jeans philosophy to every reporter.

No one writes breathless prose in Fast Company about the fact that some dude wears a suit to the office. Yet it saves plenty of cognitive effort.

So, how does this apply to maven-types like us who, let’s admit it, mostly write our last-minute newsletters in bed?

Online platforms are the new fashion, that’s why. So long Gucci, hello GoDaddy. Our platforms are how we’re evaluated by the world, how we establish our personal brands. And it’s equally exhausting.

Authors are supposed to have online platforms. Being invisible on social media used to be a power move for elite authors, but those days are over. You need a website, a newsletter, a podcast. You need all the things. As an author, you can listen to good advice from smart people and learn best practices, but you’re still left with far too many options.

I mean, what color should anything be? I have no idea. Red?

We have formal wear, why not formal websites? We can do this, people. There are enough thought leaders on this list that, if we get in alignment here, we may be able to get the ball started globally. That means worldwide. Here’s what I’d like you to do:

  1. Delete your entire online presence. All of it.
  2. Make a new website. No CSS or styling of any kind. Put a big H1 at the top with your name. Because we need to know your name. (You can forego that if you own the domain.)
  3. Underneath that, put an H2. “I’m a behavioral economist.” Whatever. Your thing. Five words max, including the “I’m a.”
  4. Now a bulleted list. “I’ve written these books:” “Listen to this one podcast episode.” That sort of thing. Up to three things. Really, what more can you ask of people?
  5. Links to buy stuff. Up to three things: a course, training, whatever. Focus on the expensive stuff, we want high margins. Write “Buy these things” in front so it’s clear what the point is.
  6. Put in a JPEG of your signature, for class.

And we’re done. That right there is a formal site. Simple, focused, effective. No decisions, just action.You’re welcome.


p.s. It occurs to me that ties add a splash of visual interest to a suit. We probably need something similar for a formal site. As a finishing touch, select one word of your choosing anywhere on the page and throw a <blink> tag on there. Nice.

Subscribe to The Maven Game

Don’t miss out on the latest essays. Sign up now.