“Do as I say, not as I do…”
I have a confession to make. I’m a self-marketing failure.
There. I said it. While I offer business advice and marketing to others, and watch them succeed, I struggle with getting myself out there and promoting myself. Ironic, isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m improving every day. Constantly learning and applying that knowledge to my work. But it’s a process. And I think it’s one a lot of creatives struggle with.
I had a great conversation with a mentor recently, when talking about where my business is, where I want it to go, where I want to focus, and what I offer. I talked about struggling to gain an audience and following, and that I only have a small Facebook following. He paused, and said “You help other people with marketing, but you have so few followers?” He’s not wrong, when I said it out loud it did sound ridiculous.
Funny thing is, when I write content for other people, it does well. It gets likes and reblogs. But for myself? Crickets. That is, if I even can come up with something to say. It’s not the technical HOW of marketing, that I’ve got down. I know all the tips and tricks. Hell, I have a business related Master’s degree. But if I don’t know how to sell myself, or talk about myself, none of that does me any good.
Part of it is that, deep down, the reality is that I didn’t really think of myself as something worth selling! As someone in an admin role, I was used to being behind the scenes. I love seeing others succeed, especially when that means seeing a creative get the praise they so deserve for their work. Meanwhile, I hide in the background, happily so. To be honest, I didn’t even think of marketing my services until a friend suggested it after I helped them.
In that way, I’m the same as many of my artist friends (including my husband). We all struggle with thinking that we aren’t good enough, our product isn’t good enough, it’s not worth sharing, it’s not something anyone else will want to see or hear. We struggle with seeing our own self worth, and even more, with seeing our own story as one worth telling.
Our own brains, the traitors
If you’re like me, your train of thought around what you do goes something like this:
“I can do this! I can’t do this. I am TOTALLY doing this! Who am I kidding with this? I AM ALL POWERFUL. I’m nothing and nobody.”
Has anyone ever complimented your work, and you’ve responded by putting your own work down? “Aw, it’s not that good, I just…”
Yeah, I thought so. Me, too.
Whether it’s our own crippling self-doubt, struggles with self-esteem, or just worrying that self-promoting would come off like bragging, we all seem to have that voice inside us that tells us we’re not good enough and we should not promote ourselves or our work.
My current one is “How do I entice people to join my husband and I on OUR journey to being free and living our creativity when it’s still scary and a huge struggle?” We are both still trudging along with day jobs, trying to make ends meet and pay off debt while still trying to be creative and grow our art. How can I ask people to trust me to show them the path while I’m still struggling?
Honesty IS the best policy
It’s about being honest. I can’t promise I’ll make you successful. I can’t promise you freedom. What I CAN do is share my positive attitude, suggestions, support, my business experience and knowledge, where we’re trying to go, and how we’re working to get there.
I can promise you passion and honesty about our own struggles and our successes. I can promise that I care as much about your art and business succeeding as much as you do.
I can share my journey to discovering myself and improving my outlook and attitude and what’s working and where I came from and where I’m heading.
I’m learning now. As I help others put their words and visions out there, and teach them that their story is worth sharing, I’m also learning how to tell my own story, that my own stories are worth sharing, that they may resonate with someone else.
I’m finding my voice and my confidence. And I want to pay that forward and help you find yours.
Want some tips about self promotion as an artist? Check out this article.