If there’s three words which have always brought discomfort to me as a writer, they would be ‘marketing’, ‘promotion; and ‘hustle’. They are major parts of the work of being a writer I really don’t enjoy. I know I’m not alone in that struggle either. Many of us struggle with promoting ourselves and our work, “getting attention,” as it were.
But if we want to get our work out to a wider audience, the reality is we’re going to have to market and promote our work, we’re going to have to hustle.
The big conflict I always had was how to market and promote my work authentically – to promote my work, maybe even ask people for money, but to do it with integrity, honesty, and decency. To market without being deceitful or manipulative.
But it is possible. I discovered this almost by accident.
Back in 2012 I’d been promoting my work for a year or two, using a lot of tactics used by successful bloggers to help promote my blog and increase my following – but making little headway.
Then I took some time out to connect with my true, authentic voice. And it became the most creative period of my life. Blog posts pouring out of me – often two or three drafts a day. These became not only a series of blog posts, but an e-book, ‘Dance of The Writer’, which I decided to give away free on my blog.
I used all the same tactics I’d used before – but it was different this time. I was sharing something I cared about. I was sharing something which was part of my story. I was sharing something true to me, which I genuinely wanted others to hear. I had become more interested in helping people than getting people to read my work.
And the book, the posts, connected with people. A lot of people.
Suddenly my blog following and subscriber list began growing quicker than it ever had before. My work was getting out to more people than ever. And it’s been growing steadily ever since.
Here are four basic lessons I learned in this period, and since – lessons about marketing with integrity, four key tips to overcome my fear of marketing and finally, getting attention for myself and work.
1) Serving others – The time when my platform grew the most was when I was more interested in serving others than growing a following. The people I know who grow platforms fastest are people whose heart is to serve. If all you are interested in is building your own kingdom, people will know.
2) Know your story and tell your story – Again, the time my platform grew them most, were when I was most true to my own story. Your story, your perspective is unique. It might be similar to others, but it’s uniquely yours. This is what people are dying to hear. You.
3) Be generous – When I found my story, a story I wanted to share with others and serve them with – I gave away a free e-book, and wrote blog posts, for my own blog and guest posted for others. I gave some of my best work away for free. And this makes such a difference. An e-book, guest posts, helpful FB posts, and Facebook lives are all ways to help people for free – it’s a way to give people work / advice which you could legitimately charge money for, for nothing.
4) Meet a need that you care about – one way I grew my platform more recently was by looking at a basic need people had – building a daily writing habit — and creating something which met that need, my free 31 day writing challenge. This is an area I had expertise in, a cause I cared about, part of my story, and a way to serve. It’s often where people’s needs meet with our passions, that we find our authentic voice, which makes marketing a lot easier.
If you put these four principles into practice, then marketing and promotion will come almost naturally. In my experience, when we’re really excited about a cause, when it’s part of our story, and we ally that with generosity and a desire to serve, suddenly marketing comes far more naturally.
Try putting these four principles into practice. Spend some time free writing, connect with your authentic voice, and then create and promote work you care about – and see what happens.
My bet would be marketing comes a whole lot easier when it’s a cause you care about.
What has been your experience marketing and promoting your work so far?
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