Yes, the title is absolutely a play on the famous book, Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway. After all, many of us in life are a little anxious when we venture out to do something that scares us, but we do it anyway. In my experiences, however, many creative professionals do not follow that credo when running their businesses.
After we muster up the courage to follow our dreams and either start moonlighting or freelancing on a full-time basis, it seems that we get timid when it comes to promoting ourselves. How can this be? Every business has to promote itself. Using proven tactics that corporations use isn’t a bad thing—look how successful those businesses are!
I hear from many creative professionals that say they don’t focus on self-promotion because they don’t want to come off as arrogant, or that marketing themselves is “too corporate.”
Instead of convincing you that you need to promote yourself, I’d like to offer up some practical tips to help you overcome the fear. Once you eliminate that horror, you likely already know which marketing strategies to use. But first, you must get out of your own way.
1. Legitimize yourself.
When you think of yourself as a business, a real legitimate business—because you are—that is the first step to getting in the mindset. You know that real businesses have to promote themselves, right? As a solo professional, you don’t have a marketing or public relations department, so you have to be your own. And believe me, you have to do even more to promote yourself—because no one else will conduct this essential function for you.
If you want to earn money and win over star clients, you’re in business. And promotion is a business practice. So it is something you have to do, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t make you corporate; it makes you smart. It doesn’t make you arrogant; it makes you savvy. One way to get over the mindset that you don’t have to market yourself is to think of it like accounting—that’s something you probably don’t enjoy, but you do that anyway, don’t you? I hope so! You and your business are one in the same the minute you choose to be a solo professional…that’s just the truth.
2. Remember the rent.
Big businesses know that money matters. They track money to keep tabs on their performance. Another way to get over your fear of self-promotion is to think about money. Keep it coming in and you can do what you love. One way that legitimate businesses keep moohlah rolling in is by—you guessed it—promoting yourself.
3. Leverage your creativity and strengths.
No one says that self-promotion has to be a complete drag. If you play upon your strengths, you can use tactics quite effectively. Be creative with it, because you are a creative! For instance, I have had very positive results using email and online marketing techniques because it enables me to draw upon my writing skills. If you asked me to speak a seminar, I definitely would not be in my comfort zone. You get to choose how you promote yourself and your business…why not do it in a way that lets you express yourself and draw upon your natural gifts?
4. Enlist the troops.
Whether you are drafting an social media message or working on a brochure, it’s always good to garner some feedback. While that in and of itself may be scary, it may also help you to be more comfortable putting yourself out there. Putting in time and attention to your self-promotion efforts can only make them better. So if you have reservations about promoting yourself, make sure what goes out to the world is the very best. The good news is that there are plenty of other creatives with the same hesitations regarding self-promotion—so you can likely enlist their help to make sure you are best publicizing your business.
What do you fear most about self-promotion? How can you ease those fears while still putting business first and marketing yourself?