Self promotion is the big necessary evil of our time. That might sound extreme, but it’s something that every creative, business owner, or freelancer I know struggles with.
We used to feel squirmy about our resumes and portfolios – listing all of your accomplishments, showing examples of your best work, talking yourself up in the introduction of a Word Doc. But now, self promotion is constant and necessary. Now, not only do you need to brand yourself, but you need to be consistent with that personal branding of yours, and then promote it.
It’s exhausting, and it can be uncomfortable, but it’s something we all have to deal with. To help you cope, here are four different techniques and tips for promoting yourself, along with some confidence-boosting thoughts:
Craft a formal press release: Press releases feel old school but they’re still very widely used, and they can only help. Include all the important details about what you’re promoting, but keep it brief and don’t be aggressive with your follow-up.
Let your friends know, but don’t stop there: Maybe you’re promoting the launch of a product line, or a specific event. Of course you’re going to tell your friends, but have you considered contacting a selected handful of editors, writers, and bloggers? Pro Tip: Take a look at the bylines of some of your favorite sites and publications, and consider reaching out to the writers directly rather than “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Come right out and ask: So long as you’re polite, so long as you did your research, so long as the work, product, or service you’re promoting fits with the person you’re speaking to, there’s no harm in asking for what you want. In fact, a simple “Do you mind sharing this with your audience?” along with a few straightforward sentences about what you’re promoting may get you greater results than the best press release ever written.
Give it time to breathe: When does self promotion become icky? When it becomes overkill. Allow a little breathing room between your promotions – even on social media – and don’t be too forceful.
When it comes to the art of self promotion, what works is self deprecation if you need it (I do). But what doesn’t work is self consciousness, because frankly it’s boring. We’re naturally drawn to confidence and to confident people, so be that person and no one will know the wiser. And anyway, self promotion is basically a given these days, so don’t expect anyone to be surprised or think you’re full of yourself. This isn’t a networking event from 1989, and you aren’t wearing a pantsuit. This is you, sharing your talents and ideas with an audience who most likely wants to hear them.
Writer’s Workshop Writing Prompt:
In my column on writing a personal narrative, I asked you to share something personal related to Valentine’s Day. (This was my favorite resulting post.) This week’s prompt is about self promotion. What I want you to do is promote yourself in some way – whether it’s writing a promotional post about your freelance services on your blog, or doing a little humblebragging on Twitter. Either way, tag me and Jess if you do – we’d love to see!
I’m Robin – a freelance digital journalist with about seven years working in media. My primary experience lies in fashion, lifestyle and design writing, and I've worked at places like Teen Vogue and Refinery29. In addition to my work, I also write about the independent fashion community (which I love) and chronicle my experiences as an expat on my blog.
I've worked in many sides of the industry – from magazines to agencies to e-commerce. I'll be sharing what I've learned about writing and digital communication both from my professional experience, and from the experience I've gained as a blogger.