Saturday, January 24, 2009

30-Day Marketing Challenge: The perils of self-promotion, part 2

Being creative is one thing. Promoting your creativity is quite another. Yesterday, I took a stab at confronting the fear many of us have that marketing is impolite and pushy. Today, guest blogger Kristen Fischer, author of Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs, takes a different tack to Roz Spafford's dilemma.

I understand that so many creative people feel timid or rude for promoting themselves. But let me tell you the truth: If you want to be in business and make your creative talents profitable, marketing is a must. Some creatives I know are just creating to create, so marketing isn’t necessary. But in this case—trying to sell a book—marketing is vital.

I know because I’ve done it. I’ve published two books, Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Ups and Downs and Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. The first book was self-published, so I had to do all the PR. Luckily for me, I have a background in journalism, so I at least knew how to craft press releases. The hard part was getting out there, and getting in people’s faces about it.

While that can make you feel presumptuous, it’s important to let go of that perception.

Most of the people you’ll do business with understand that promoting yourself is essential. And if you do it in a polite, non-pressuring way, they’ll want to hear what you have to say.

For my second book, I secured a small publisher. They’ve helped me get access to more valuable connections, but the legwork is all on me. This time, I had to talk to some pretty large news outlets to promote the book. They didn’t think I was rude or arrogant—they wanted to hear what I had to say. When you do PR, especially, it’s important to remember that these people are looking for fresh content. They want an insider interview. Offering one doesn’t make you rude. But you do have to seek out interviews if you want to build a strong platform for yourself and profit from your creative abilities.

The days of being “discovered” are rare and in many cases long gone. We live in a huge world and many people are leveraging things like the Internet, newspapers and magazines to get noticed. So if you want to be in business as a creative, you’ve got to join in. For many that means creating a website and partaking in activities to boost your image and credibility in the field. Again, people don’t do this to stroke their egos in most cases—it’s just necessary to stay visible in a crowded marketplace.

My full-time job as a freelance copywriter means that in order to get projects, I have to let people know why they need me. I’ve never had anyone comment that I was annoying or arrogant; instead much of my unsolicited contact has resulted in more work and strong business relationships.

I am always amazed at how many people marvel at what I do and expect to get the same results without investing in things like a website or business cards. These people don’t take time to network and can’t fathom writing a press release about their latest project. Then they ask me why they’re not doing so well…and in some cases expect me to share my secrets of success. There’s no big secret with me: I’m in business using my creative talents and I treat what I do as a business first and foremost. Otherwise, it’s back to cubicleville for me.

So I’ll say it again: Marketing yourself is necessary if you want to stay in business doing what you love. Find your own way to do it that makes you assertive yet approachable and you’ll see your creative career take off.

Photo by Abulic Monkey

No comments: