The Art Of Easy Self-Promotion (Part One)

    August 22, 2003

All selling starts with self-promotion. Before anyone will give you money, they have to know something about you. They need to feel comfortable with you and to trust you. This means that they have to get used to seeing your name and your story.

Writers and other creatives find self-promotion difficult. If this is you, that’s fine. You can become a superb self-promoter without changing who you are. You find it difficult because you’ve been told stuff like: “Good work speaks for itself”, and “Do a good job and recognition will come”, and “Don’t blow your own horn”. Those aphorisms may have worked 150 years ago. They don’t work today.

There’s a reason Pizza Hut and Macdonald’s advertise, advertise, advertise. They have to do it to survive. If they have to do it, when they’re so highly visible, it makes sense that you need to promote yourself as well. Everyone’s busy today. If I read an excellent book, I may remember to tell others, but chances are I won’t. If I have a great meal at a restaurant, I may tell others- — if I have time, and if I remember.

YOU must tell people who you are, and what you do. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done, and that would be a tragedy, because you’ll miss out on dozens of opportunities which would have flowed into your life as a natural outcome of your promotional efforts.

Creative self-promotion is an art, and it all starts with your attitude.

Enthusiasm: decide to have FUN with self-promotion

Your attitude must be based on enthusiasm. Nothing sells like enthusiasm. Are you enthusiastic? If not, tell yourself that you are. Keep telling yourself this at least 15 times a day for the next month — yes, this is an affirmation, and affirmations work. Put a little note on the corner of your computer monitor, or on the dashboard of your car: “ENTHUSIASM— I am enthusiastic!”

Your second affirmation for the next month is: “Self-promotion is fun!”

You may feel silly at first, repeating your affirmations, but if you find marketing difficult (promotion is an integral part of marketing) it’s because you’re letting your attitude get in your way. And because your attitude is in your mind, you can and must change your mind.

So for the next month, put the proper foundation under your future marketing endeavors by working on your attitude. At the end of the month, you’ll see a real shift, I promise.

Act “As If”

Are you a success? Of course you are. You’re as successful right now as you will ever be, because success begins in your mind, in your vision of yourself. From today, start acting as if you were already a successful self-promoter.

I’m not recommending that you indulge in any outlandish behavior, or that you pretend. Let’s see how acting “as if” works.

Here’s a scenario. Your vision of yourself is that of a successful feature writer for newspapers and magazines. In order to become that success, you act as if you already were successful — you promote yourself and your work.

What does a successful feature writer do? That person networks, chases up ideas, and writes and sells feature articles. You see yourself as a success, so you research and write article proposals and network. Not too many weeks down the track, you sell your first article, and then another.

You keep on acting “as if”, because you know that one swallow doesn’t make a summer. At this stage, acting the way a success acts is becoming more natural to you. You feel comfortable networking and interacting with others — and guess what? You’re handling self-promotion just fine.

Networking: the basis of self-promotion

To become successful and comfortable promoting yourself, you need to be comfortable writing and talking about yourself, your work, and your experiences, and you need to do that every day. In other words, you need to network.

If you’re a writer, you can start by networking with other writers. There are hundreds of thousands of bulletin boards and discussion groups online. Whatever kind of writing you’re interested in, you’ll find other writers who share those interests.

Type your interest into the Search box in Yahoo Groups:

I just typed “freelance writer” into the box, and the query returned 72 matches.

Join two or three of these groups.

In your first couple of weeks as a member of the group, listen more than you interact. If the group is mainly social in nature – — that is, there’s a huge amount of chatting completely unrelated to writing — you may want to reconsider your membership. Try to find a group which has some social interaction, but which is also focused on writing.

The groups you join will ask you to send a short bio introducing yourself and your interests to the other members. Please do this. If you’re very shy, writing this may be torture. Please persist! I promise you that this kind of thing gets simpler after a while. After you’ve struggled through four bios of various lengths, you’ll no longer sweat the process.

Read my “Maximizing The Effect Of Your Freelancer’s Bio” online for help with your bio —

When you’re used to sharing your bio with your peers, sharing it with people who can buy your work will be no problem at all.

Good luck with your self-promotional efforts. Remember, easy self-promotion starts with your attitude, so work on that first.

In Part Two of this article, we’ll cover easy ways to promote yourself and your work.

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