Can you learn to love self-promotion?
I know many self-employed creatives really struggle with self-promotion. It’s a struggle that I’ve dealt with myself for many years. I’d like to tell you the story of how I’ve learnt to love it and find it enjoyable – and share some information about a workshop at the end.
I’ve been freelancing for 15 years now. For many of those years I worked as a contractor, doing training jobs in the corporate world. For the past five years, I’ve been running my own small business and finding clients directly.
It’s a challenging thing to be self-employed – it can feel so validating when things go well, for example, when a client has a big breakthrough or landing a great new contract.
But one thing I learnt early on is that to have an ideal career, you have to be really good at marketing and self-promotion. It’s something that I’ve always resisted and almost despised. I hate having to ‘sell myself’. It gives me the feeling of pressure.
Which is why I searched for a way to make it easier for myself. If I can deal with my own fear of self-promotion, then there’s probably some great learning for my clients, who also have this struggle.
Three years ago I met and worked with Bev Glick – a former rock music journalist who had also set up her own coaching company, teaching storytelling to small business owners. We discussed this dilemma for creative self-employed people. We talked about how difficult it is for so many people to raise their profile.
From many discussions, we realised one thing.
At the bottom of the frustration there is a painful thought that says: “People will think I’m annoying if I market myself. I’ll be judged.” This thought means we resist picking up the phone, writing blogs or letting people know what we are up to.
This thought leads us to feeling frustrated that we’re not getting the work we want, that we are not moving forward. We feel we are not living the life that is possible for ourselves, if only we could get over the fear.
So I asked a question and that was, “What would make the antidote to this fear? What would make it joyful and meaningful?” As I spoke to Bev about this we realised that it could be a reality.
Joy also comes from self-expression – from being completely authentic. As I talked with Bev, I realised that the essence of marketing is about uncovering the deepest story that describes the philosophy behind our work.
Bev asked me why I set up my practice – why I want to help creative people – and I recalled the time when my brother was dropped by a record company at the height of his career. I remember the pain he felt and how devastated he and his band members were. He recovered, but I have no doubt the scar is still deep.
From that moment I developed a longing to work with creative people, who can be so vulnerable. I felt such a strong sense of injustice that I had to find a way to put it right. My path led me to doing PR for a pop music education company in my 20s and then, later on in my career, to set up my coaching practice.
When I tell this story, I am connected with the deepest feeling that drives my work – and I am also sharing why I do what I do.
This, I realise, is part of my brand and my marketing message. By telling this story, I build trust with my clients.
It also feels hugely motivating to know that I am doing something that feels really important. It makes me want to let people know about my work. I want to share my passion and let other people know that what I do can make a difference.
And over to you.
If you are feeling frustrated with your work and want to have the kind of profile where you are well known for doing work you love – then learning how to do effective marketing and self-promotion can be a turning point in your life.
I believe that our destiny relies on our ability to show the world who we are and what we stand for. When we hope that great work will come our way and feel somehow frustrated that we’re not being picked for the right jobs, then perhaps we need to learn some some skills to help us get out there.
I am running a workshop on 6th July 2017 in London. Here is the link to the workshop details: The Brass Tacks of Trailblazing PR and if you would like to grab one of the early-bird places, buy your tickets here.
The deadline for the early-bird price for the workshop is this Thursday, 22nd June. I would hate you to miss out on this brilliant opportunity.