011: Self-Promotion is a Misnomer (and Other Things You Wanted to Know About Marketing) [Podcast]

Do you want to be this guy, standing on a corner and shouting about your latest blog post? I don’t either.

“self-promotion"
Photo credit: seesix via cc

Most of us think we have to be big-time self-promoters for anyone to hear about our work. Thankfully, that’s just not true.

Self-promotion is a horrible term, because promoting ourselves doesn’t really work. What we say about ourselves isn’t actually the most effective way to promote our work — it’s what other people say about us that gets people’s attention.

In this episode of the podcast, we tackle some questions submitted through my Facebook page about self-promotion and marketing.

Click to listen.

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

The artist’s dilemma

A reader named Phil submitted this question:

I’m struggling with marketing myself. Any encouragement?

Let’s be honest. Most artists don’t like to promote themselves. Even if we did, we wouldn’t say so because it’s not socially acceptable.

As artists, this tension between creation and self-promotion poses a problem. We know if we don’t talk about our art initially, no one will.

So do we wait to be discovered? Do we grab a bullhorn and start shouting our message? What’s the right response?

Why Steve Jobs couldn’t sell me on Apple

I knew about Jobs a long time before I bought an Apple product. As brilliant as Steve Jobs was, he wasn’t the most reliable source for talking about how great Macs are. It wasn’t until all of my friends were using Macs and iPhones that I started to think that there was more to this company than hype.

Think about that. I wasn’t persuaded to buy Apple products because the founder of the company told me they were great. I bought a Mac because all my friends raved about how much they loved theirs. I trusted the word of people I knew, rather than the product’s creator.

The same thing is true of you and your work.

Don’t promote yourself

Whatever other people say about your work will be ten times more effective than anything you say. So the best thing to do is to not promote yourself. Instead, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create a small group of dedicated followers around your idea or story. Start with one. Then add another and another. These people are your tribe. (Click here to discover how you can build your community and get the attention your writing deserves.)
  2. Don’t ask for anything from your tribe. Instead, ask what you can do to help them.
  3. Help them in any way you can. It’s that simple.

If you do this enough, for enough people, your tribe will help you (tweet that). They will share your work with their friends because they want to, rather than because you’ve asked them to.

Note: In this episode of the Portfolio Life, we also 
covered how to turn your blog into a book, why focus is something you create, and more marketing questions! Make sure you [listen to the whole episode] to get the scoop.

A small request

I’ll be honest with you. When I start something new, like this podcast, it’s still hard to promote myself. So I’d love it if you’d help me out and leave an honest review.

Also, if you have any questions for future episodes like this one, let me know 
(just shoot an email to jeff at goinswriter dot com).

And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please tweet about it or share it with your friends on Facebook.

What part of the writing life is the hardest for you? Share in the comments.