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How To Promote Yourself When You’re Not Into Promoting Yourself

You know you have to promote yourself and your work. On the other hand, even though you instinctively think that something that has taken time to produce deserves to be seen, the idea of self-promotion might make you feel slightly queasy. 

This article focuses on the idea that creating your own content should give you a basis from which to feel confident about self-promotion. And how, when you find a group, space or community you feel a part of, you may well find that other people will do the promotion for you.

Why Does It Feel Uncomfortable?


Something that has held me back over the years has been having more of a focus on producing work rather than promoting work (80% creation, 20% promotion). But I also know that that doesn’t make sense, why would something that took hours to produce warrant so little time being spent on promotion?

When I say “promotion,” I don’t mean spending budget on advertising, but doing what needs to be done so that the work gets seen by others.

For some people, perhaps the big thing holding them back from promoting themselves is fear. The fear that what they create doesn’t offer much to others. Or it could be the fear of being called out by others.

In a recent article on why no one is subscribing, I shared that it took me a year to get my first organic subscriber for You Are The Media. What had held me back most was threefold – that no one knew me, everything I shared was about what my company did (not how I helped) and my work wasn’t being promoted.

Self-promotion and building visibility is for many, not only a step into the unfamiliar, but also a bit of a chore. But if you don’t do it, no one else will. Sitting quietly, waiting to be noticed doesn’t work.

If what you create offers value, you have to share it. When you share it with the right people, things becomes so much easier. You know who you’re speaking to and it’s no longer an anonymous mass. If it makes it feel easier, look at this as being about communication rather than self-promotion.

Putting You At Ease

One of the greatest advantages at your disposal is the vast array of spaces you have around you to help you put your stake in the ground. When you’re starting out producing work, this should become your most powerful marketing tool – a way of growing awareness and visibility. 

Look at it this way, it doesn’t have to be just about you doing everything, other people can help promote you too. Self-promotion starts from developing a voice that invites others into the conversation, rather than always being about you.

Whether you’re promoting yourself or looking to get others to help you spread the word, your efforts rest on two pillars: 

CREATING ORIGINAL CONTENT – your work itself is your marketing. Original content that has your stamp on it is what helps people make a decision on you. For instance, the majority of clients for the commercial arm of my business, We Are The Media, started as subscribers to YATM. When the time was right, they took the step towards us working together. Conversations led by the content can lead to a sale.

FINDING YOUR PEOPLE – whether you create a group yourself or become part of a community that already exists, it’s easier to get yourself promoted when others know you. The promotion that takes place within and among members of a group is organic, nothing feels forced and in the same way that you promote others, others will be promoting you. 

Let me share a short story of what being part of a group looks like. In February 2020, Matt King attended his first-ever YATM Lunch Club (it was the last event before the pandemic struck).

Matt reached out to me afterwards and said that one thing he would like to do in the future, would be to host a YATM Lunch Club. My reply to Matt was to just get involved and feel a part of things. Where we are today, Matt hosts YATM Learning and is a key person in the YATM community. He has produced videos for a section of YATM Online and he has produced his own videos for YATM Learning. What Matt did was he got involved.

Being a part of YATM has helped Matt to be seen by others and now more people are aware of his project (he’s even being promoted in this article). Becoming involved has meant much more than a handful of new LinkedIn connections, Matt has, for example, been presenting his own workshops for other groups such as Dorset Growth Hub. When you are a part of something, it is easier for others to promote you. 

I asked Matt, ‘has being a part of YATM helped your visibility?’ He replied, “From the moment I came into the YATM space, I knew that I wanted to help out. I could see that this community was something I wanted to be a part of – everyone is supportive and the culture within the group aligned with my own brand – as Doug Kessler excellently pointed out in an online workshop, my brand is all about collaboration and networking (and all that stuff that leads to sales, that’s my idea of fun) and I was living that out by being a part of the community.”

“You see, I didn’t join the group to promote myself but I wanted to be a part of a community that felt natural, the by-product of doing that is that people can see who you are and when you join a group where authenticity is celebrated and revered, it becomes far easier to just be at ease.”

“It also means you merge with other communities and quite often, people come into your space because they also align with what you are doing – it has allowed me to have more opportunities and more sales opportunities on the back of it all.”

What Can You Do?

Being seen and promoting yourself is not as difficult or uncomfortable as you might think. Here are some pointers for how you can start making it happen:

Regularly create and share.

This could be short videos or regular emails. Having that all- important capacity to come back to something again and again, is what helps people become attached to you (and it’s a key factor in what marketing is all about).

Find your medium.

If you know you are not the most confident speaker, then starting a podcast won’t be for you. I started with writing but what about you? Not everyone needs a place online, but those who want to nurture a personal brand need a home base.

Respond to everyone.

From a Twitter comment to someone replying to you on a LinkedIn post, it pays to reply. It’s just plain, good manners to acknowledge others. And if you’re after courtesy and involvement, that can only be a good thing. Don’t create any distinctions between who those who seem to warrant a reply and those who don’t. 

Comment on people’s work.

It can’t all be about you. Take time to write something more than ‘nice post’ or ‘agreed’ on what others share. Reply, giving your own perspective or thoughts because this acknowledges that what they shared struck a chord with you. This is a way of bringing others closer to you and also, in a roundabout way, offers another way of promoting yourself and your perspective.

Make the most of the communities you are a part of. 

For instance, I reach out to people in the YATM community and promote one of them at the start of every Thursday for the YATM Takeover. If you are part of a group, reach out to the organisers/founders from time to time, it can trigger a thought process and a reply or idea back.

Start small with your own event.

This could be a lunchtime event on Zoom, but what it does is give you the impetus to work on something that builds up to a delivery. The key here is the value you are creating for others, so if you are promoting an event it feels easier where the message is about what others will learn. It also gives you every reason to share social posts ahead of and after the event.  

Make it easy to subscribe.

When people subscribe, you have a platform from which to promote your work as frequently as you choose. Make that first step simple for everyone. Don’t hide it away and be clear about what they’ll be receiving from you. Win people over by having a dedicated space or spaces to direct people to, be that an email footer or landing page.

Make your content about helping others.

This is an approach, rather than a tactic. The only way you can feel truly comfortable promoting your own work and/or having others actively promoting you is when you’re always offering something of value to the audience you’re creating for, the group you’re a part of and the sector you’re in. 

Be confident.

Promotion ultimately comes down to confidence and, as I say in this article, confidence comes from doing, “Having confidence makes stepping out of your comfort zone easier – you allow your intuition to come into play, you start speaking from a position of authority and you don’t let fear hold you back.”

Lets Round-Up

Promoting yourself is not about pleading for the attention of others. It’s about stepping up with an assurance that what you are sharing will matter to someone else. 

When you realise your content is something that others need to hear, watch or read about, then you start making that huge shift that takes you from reticence to confidence to authority. 

Never make excuses. Don’t put so much effort into the production element that the promotion side becomes an afterthought. 

Promotion starts with the original content you share, backed up by the group (or community) you are a part of. Find your space. You owe it to yourself, and to others, to get all that hard work out there and seen. 

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