I suck at self-promotion

My reluctance to promote myself has become a glaring weakness.  I noticed it most recently when I barely lost the ’48 hours in Denmark’ competition.  I got 239 votes, and the winner got 255.  Know what I did to promote my application?

A post on Twitter and a blog post.  That was it.

Not once did I directly ask anyone specifically to help me out — I relied on the kindness of my followers and subscribers to spread my message for me.  And it worked, to a great extent.  But I could have won easily had I spent a couple hours trying to get a few more people to take action.  I didn’t even tell my friends about it.  So stupid and lazy on my part.  My fear of spamming and annoying people has erred on the side of paranoia.  The irony is that I’m very willing to promote people I know and support; I just feel weird about promoting anything that revolves around me.

I’ve lived in a romanticized world for too long.  I used to believe that content was king, and that if something was good enough, people would come en masse.  This just isn’t true.  You have to work to get your message out there, because people simply don’t have the time or desire to discover you on their own.

So I’ll be experimenting a bit with self-promotion this year (in a way that doesn’t feel sleazy to me).  Stay tuned because my first move is coming within the next few weeks.

9 comments on “I suck at self-promotion

  1. I actually voted for you on the site. One of my business mentor’s told me a few years ago, “Look Mike, I want to help you, but you have to make it easy for me to help you.” Most people who create value (such as yourself) have a much easier time getting help from others because you also give. With that being said, tell people what you need them to do (in very plain English) and if they don’t have to do a lot of work to help, they will. Make it easy for us to help you and we will. I will at least.
    Mike 2.0

  2. That is something I have been working on as well. Networking has always been a huge weakness of mine, as well as asking for favors. If you come across any good books or info please share!

  3. Please don’t turn into a webcock. As much as I like gapingvoid I had to stop following him on twitter because it was nothing but LOOK AT ME! I HAVE A NEW PRINT! GO BUY IT! Over and over again. Yes, we get it, you have a new print. Now shut the fuck up.

    Maybe I’m the last one on the internet still wearing the “content is king” blinders but I think that if you’re good enough life can’t ignore you.

    I know you’re disappointed about the Denmark thing but this feels a little like sour grapes. From what little you’ve told me about what you’re currently working on you’re not sitting around with a video camera going “put me in coach.” You’re doing a lot better than most people your age.

    I think Umair made this point recently (or maybe I dreamed it up after smoking the last of the opium, who knows?), he said: you can either concentrate on what you’re selling or how you’re selling it. In the first case, you continue to make better and better products because that’s what you’re focused on. In the second case, the product doesn’t matter as much, just how efficiently you can move it to market.

    One minor loss shouldn’t change your whole strategy.

  4. @mlguenther – Though I’ve never read it, several people I trust have recommended “Never Eat Alone.”

    @Ben – Haha, I can assure you I won’t turn into Hugh Macleod. I get tired of his constant barrage of self-promo, too. What I’m interested in is a healthy balance — one that my current readers won’t get sick of, but will also help me grow a quality audience.

    I wouldn’t disagree with you — if you’re good enough, people can’t ignore you. Ultimately, I know that content, more than anything, is what matters. But there has to be a mix, otherwise certain people will never know that content is there to begin with.

    I’m actually not really disappointed about the Denmark thing — I plan on spending a lot of time there in the future anyways — I’m just disappointed in myself because more effort on my part would have tipped it the other way. That’s what this post was about: not depending so much on other people to get you to where you want to go.

    So I guess the only thing that’s changed about my strategy is that I’m going to work harder at both things: making my content better and growing my audience (which, until now, I’ve depended entirely on organic word-of-mouth).

  5. I was very shy about promoting my own content until recently.

    My thoughts are it’s ok to promote yourself it you’re adding something of value. So, people that read your blog want to read an interview with you elsewhere. Promote that elsewhere (otherwise they might miss it).

    So a good promotional strategy is to arrange lots of interviews and guest posts elsewhere – then promote them. There is extra value in that, more you! yay!

    It’s perfectly ok to promote ways for people to get more of you. How can I hire Charlie? How can I get Charlie’s advice on my project? How can I find Charlie’s best articles? How can I be interviewed for Charlie’s eBook?

    All these ‘add’ things to your audience. What you should avoid doing is ‘taking’ from them. Which is to say you shouldn’t take their time on something that only benefits you.

    Voting for you to go to Denmark only benefits you. That’s a take. Voting to read your blog posts with some of the top minds in Denmark adds. It’s up to you which you promote.

    Not sure I explained my point of view well enough there. Let me know if it helps.

  6. @Rich – Guest posts are great if you choose the site wisely. Otherwise it can be a huge waste of time. I did a guest post for a site last year, when I was still trying to figure stuff out and didn’t really know what I was doing. The ROI was ridiculously low — maybe 5 more people came to my site, and none of them stayed. Idiot move on my part.

  7. Voted for you; sorry you didn’t win. If I can help out for another project, please let me know.

    I have a hard time trying to promote my blog without hounding people to stumble, tip’d,reddit, etc. my articles.

    I’m looking forward to see what you come up with.

  8. I am sorry you didn’t win, although it’s been more than 3 years. i found this blog because i am having the same issue, and i haven’t found a solution yet.

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