It took me 13 years to learn this blogging lesson.

You’re busy, so I’ll get right to the point. Here’s one of the most important lessons about blogging and your platform.

Your platform isn’t for you.

It’s not yours.

Your name might be on it. It might be your smiling headshot that folks see each day on your blog or your twitter profile, but the platform is not for you.

It’s for other people.

It’s for serving other people.

Readers, friends, family members, this is why we blog.

Not to get, but to give.

If you don’t share your platform, it will suffocate you. I speak not from theory but from experience. I used to think my platform was mine. I got lost in things like New York Times bestseller lists and affirmation and attention.

But then I learned that my platform is not for me.

It’s for others.

Like Terry.

She’s a survivor of addiction and trafficking. She’s also the barista at Thistle Farms in Nashville, an amazing organization. Last week she was trying to win a scholarship to go to Texas for Barista School.

Terry

At the time I wrote this, she was in second place.

My platform became about Terry. I’m not sponsored by Thistle Farm. I didn’t get anything out of trying to help her win other than knowing that you and I got to help change the entire arch of Terry’s life by doing something as simple as sharing a platform.

Voting ended yesterday. The results will be announced soon.

I’d love Terry, who lost years on the street only to bounce back with a comeback, to see her votes skyrocket today.

My favorite thing about this was how different Terry looks from the other people in the contest. She is not hip looking or a young 20 year old, she is a survivor. She has scars and heartache and is daring to write the next chapter. She is why I write, because people who were living on the streets can get new starts and dare to chase dreams regardless of their age.

Dare like Terry.

And when all is said and done, own your platform, don’t let it own you.

33 Comments
  • Alex Ivanovs
    Posted at 02:57h, 07 February Reply

    Hey Jon,

    great gesture. I write to serve others. I write to learn about myself, and the things I love. I don’t see how it’s possible to not write for others, when something is open to the whole world to see. 🙂

    Good luck to Terry – I voted.

  • LarryTheDeuce
    Posted at 04:36h, 07 February Reply

    Funny. I wrote a post a few weeks ago that will post next week. It’s about who my blog is for.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 05:29h, 07 February Reply

      Awesome!

  • Matt McWilliams
    Posted at 08:01h, 07 February Reply

    I thought it was about me until I started getting letters saying things like the quotes below.

    I told my wife…how do I stop writing now? I might only have a few hundreds readers each day, but it’s changing some lives, so it’s not my RIGHT to stop. I can stop writing no sooner than I can stop feeding our daughter. It’s what I am called to do.

    “Your blog keeps me going”

    “I know you’re not my official mentor, but you ARE my mentor.”

    “Your blog is an answer to prayer.”

    “you can challenge me on a daily basis by your blogs where others are hit and miss. Thank you for everything.”

    “You have certainly changed me for the better. Please don’t stop what you are doing. It means a great deal to those of us, who were not taught these things…at least not like you do. I have learned from you and have gotten encouragement and confidence from you. “

    • Sara
      Posted at 08:39h, 07 February Reply

      This is awesome! I get these comments from friends and family about my tiny little blog, and it definitely keeps me feeling like I’m not crazy to want to do this writing thing. 🙂

      • Matt McWilliams
        Posted at 13:28h, 07 February Reply

        That is AWESOME!

        Give it a little time and you’ll start getting them from all over. Georgia, Washington, England (!), and even Kenya and India. Crazy.

  • Carleen
    Posted at 08:20h, 07 February Reply

    Go Terry Go! She’s got my vote and I pray that her dream comes true! Much love!

  • phyllis
    Posted at 08:21h, 07 February Reply

    I had the privilege to meet Terry yesterday at the cafe. She is a lovely woman and I’m glad you’re using your platform to help her.

    Says a lot about both of you.

  • Jason
    Posted at 08:22h, 07 February Reply

    I totally agree. Sounds like Ziglar would have too. Thx for the reminder Jon.

  • Jordan Campagna
    Posted at 08:34h, 07 February Reply

    1748 and in first place now!

  • Sara
    Posted at 08:37h, 07 February Reply

    Wow. Sounds like I need to get to praying about who and how I can serve with my platform. Thanks, Jon.

  • Jeri
    Posted at 08:45h, 07 February Reply

    Wow. This was so humbling and such a necessary reminder. I just launched my blog this week and I’ve already found myself struggling not to get caught up in blog views and visitors. Today my blog will be about Terry too.

  • Jennifer Short
    Posted at 08:50h, 07 February Reply

    1.9K and in first place. Let us know the results, please!

  • S. Maddox
    Posted at 08:51h, 07 February Reply

    Is it terrible that I don’t understand this post at all? 🙁

    • Kevin Haggerty
      Posted at 09:15h, 07 February Reply

      Yes. Yes it is.

  • Emily
    Posted at 08:54h, 07 February Reply

    Just voted for Terry. Thanks, Jon!

  • Dave Arnold
    Posted at 09:06h, 07 February Reply

    Thanks for this much-needed reminder! I’ll vote for Terry.

  • Sean Buck
    Posted at 09:20h, 07 February Reply

    So awesome, I voted for Terry too.

  • Rob
    Posted at 09:37h, 07 February Reply

    Wow. Looks like she has a strong lead now. Way to go Team Acuff!

  • Amy
    Posted at 09:39h, 07 February Reply

    I voted! Go Terry!!!!

  • Cavegirl Kindra
    Posted at 09:56h, 07 February Reply

    You go, Terry. Many happy pourings to you!

  • Jeremy Lundmark
    Posted at 10:06h, 07 February Reply

    The idea of building a platform to share is a large part of what Ive done the last 5 years. I want to build a megaphone that hard working pastors of small churches can use to get their message out.

  • Jamie Lapeyrolerie
    Posted at 11:44h, 07 February Reply

    I love this. You’ve definitely shown us readers all the amazing ways to use your platform for others, whether for a hopeful barista to little kids in want of an education in Vietnam. It’s awesome to know whatever size platform you have, you can still use it for awesome things! (Here’s what I’m working on 🙂 http://booksandbeverages.org/lets-change-the-world/)

  • JP
    Posted at 11:46h, 07 February Reply

    2500 and counting! 🙂

  • charquinta
    Posted at 12:19h, 07 February Reply

    LOOK AT WHAT GOD DOES…MY MAMA WENT FROM 3RD PLACE TO 1ST PLACE…SHE IS ON HER WAY TO HAVING A FREE TRIP TO BARISTA CAMP TO BE CERTIFIED!!! WE HAVE OUR MOMENTS BUT I AM PROUD OF HER..10 YEARS CLEAN OFF THE STREETS FROM DRUGS AND PROSTITUION… GOD CAN WORK MIRACLES IN A PERSON’S LIFE I TELL YOU…GO CHECK OUT THE THISTLE STOP CAFE’ AND COME BY…ITS WONDERFUL…FREE WIFI..AND A PLACE THAT WILL EASE YOUR MIND WHERE YOU CAN RELAX, DRINK AND EAT… (In her own words: I’m the head barista at Thistle Stop Cafe, a social enterprise run by women survivors of addiction, prostitution and life on the streets. Becoming a barista has given me purpose and passion that I’ve never felt before. Help me celebrate 10 years clean this March by voting for me to Barista Camp 2014. I believe Love+Coffee can change lives…they changed mine. -Terry #loveheals)

  • Carrie Ann Tripp (@CarrieAnnTripp)
    Posted at 16:12h, 07 February Reply

    Voted! What an amazing thing you’ve done for someone today! A lot of someones, actually.

    See, I needed to hear the words you have written.

    I often view my blog as “giving” lessons, but perhaps it’s time to give even more. Thank you for showing a real life example!

  • Michael Bryant
    Posted at 16:38h, 07 February Reply

    I quit using Facebook months ago. Is there another way to vote for Ms. Terry???

  • Sherri Adelman
    Posted at 19:30h, 07 February Reply

    I am so absolutely bummed. I went to vote but voting was over. Thanks for what you did to help Terri. I wish I would have seen this sooner. Any word if she won?

  • MICHAEL FōKKEN
    Posted at 22:23h, 07 February Reply

    I think this says she got it on the facebook page –
    ‘I think it is safe to say….. “Terrie, Do you have any luggage?” YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

  • Renee
    Posted at 07:37h, 08 February Reply

    Great story about Terry. And thank you for the reminder. I think that “it’s not about you” can apply to many things in life. I have to remember that!

  • Chery Gegelman
    Posted at 07:53h, 08 February Reply

    Beautiful story with a great point! Thank you Jon!

  • Nick
    Posted at 12:45h, 08 February Reply

    So happy you posted the link on Facebook because I totally missed this post but saw the FB link and voted. Let us know if she wins!

  • Chad Parks
    Posted at 14:24h, 12 February Reply

    One of my fav blogs you have written!

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