March 27

How building your online presence could change your life and your readers’

I believe writers bring new life. I believe good research, conveyed in compelling prose, can change minds, move hearts, and transform the world. I am also coming to appreciate that writing does not have to come in the traditional journal article or book format.

The purpose of writing is to transmit your ideas to the reader so that the reader is transformed by your ideas. Printed articles and books have been the traditional way, only because that’s what technology has allowed. But, now! Interactive e-books, youtube videos, podcasts, blogs. All of these formats rely on the word – written or spoken. Taken together, they are all manifestations of the same message – your transformative message.

14-03-27 BuildingOnlinePresence

When I stumbled on the website of Harvard Psychologist, Dr. Dan Siegel, I was blown away and completely inspired. I’d been reading his books on child psychology (in the hopes that I don’t screw up my own kids), and I googled his name.

Dr. Dan Siegel has one of the most extensive online presences I’ve ever seen of a single academic. He has parenting videos that walk you through a simple principle of his research and how it can apply to your family. He has DVDs that complement his books and take you more in-depth into the topic. He has audio clips that you can download that teach you mindfulness exercises. He has online courses geared toward mental health professionals, parents, and people who are just interested in practicing mindfulness. He has a digital journal that curates the latest neuroscience articles and makes them digestible for non-academics. He speaks at events – not just conferences – but events where real people attend.

(By the way, I’m very intrigued by the business model of his subscription-based digital journal. I’m investigating now, and I plan to post about it soon!)

What’s the point of this kind of extensive, online platform?

I hear you. Being a writer/researcher/academic is already so difficult and time-consuming. Just putting out occasional articles is downright laborious. But I’d like to shift away from all of the perfectly good reasons to be content with your lot in life so far.

Let’s think instead, what does this kind of online presence make possible?

Helping people.
In the first few moments on Dr. Dan Siegel’s website, he greets you with a quick video, and you have the immediate sense that this is a genuine person, who wants to help you improve your mental life. Just imagine how many people have been introduced to mindfulness and better mental health practices by his website alone.

Do you desire to help others? Maybe you write about art history. Wouldn’t it make your day to talk to an interested stranger about your favorite historical art piece and lead him to love it as much as you do? What if, through that one conversation, you could inspire him to take up a passionate hobby in art history? This is possible. These conversations are happening on the Internet now.

Making money.
When you provide value to others, you can (should!) request value in return, the easiest form being money. Dr. Dan Siegel’s books have changed the way I view parenting. Am I completely glad I paid the $15 to buy his ebook? Yes! Has he provided such positive value to my life that I would seriously consider buying his $299 e-course for parents. Absolutely.

And don’t shake your head – there are hundreds of thousands of people out there buying e-courses, right now. Think about how many adults would love to go back to college and take art history? Well, you could package your course that you already teach to freshman students and sell it online. This is happening.

Renewing passion in your work.
If we’re being completely honest, how passionate are you right now about your work? Would you say your passion has slipped a bit? I’d hazard a guess that’s because you no longer feel that your work has an impact on anyone, that no one is directly benefiting from your work. But can you imagine the kinds of emails that Dr. Dan Siegel gets? I’m sure he gets at least one a week that says, “I found your mindfulness techniques on your website, and they’ve changed my life!”

When was the last time someone said that you changed their life? Maybe if you had an online presence, from which you could reach out and talk to real people, your work could make a difference in someone’s life. I can think of no better way to renew passion in your work than that.

Your doubts

Yes, I know that Dr. Dan Siegel is a Harvard academic, so he gets all kinds of advantages, passes, and prestige that most researcher/writers don’t get.

BUT, I believe that these elites are opening the door, paving the way and legitimizing online presences for you and me. There is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t have a similar online presence. It may start off small, but I believe that there are people out there whose lives would be changed by you and your writing. How will you reach them?

How to start building an online presence?

Simplest answer: Start with a blog. We’ll get more into the nitty gritty in another post. If you’re ready to jump in, I recommend It’s free and easy as pie. You can also start with the book that changed my life: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt.

Now, go start building your online presence!

What do you think?

Is Dr. Dan Seigel’s online presence is a fortunate exception to the rule? Or is this the beginning of something new and exciting? Leave a comment below. Let's talk about it.


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