Self-promotion. It’s a necessary evil of being self-employed, but probably the thing that most people dread having to do. There are countless blogs, websites and books dedicated to the subject – how to do it, how not to do it, and how not to come across as an arrogant annoying person. To be fair, I think that’s the main concern with self-promotion. This is the Oxford English Dictionary definition after all –
Promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way.‘a conceited, self-promoting charlatan’‘a self-promoting political publicity stunt’
Now, I challenge anyone to read that and then say that they feel totally comfortable with the concept of self-promotion, either online or elsewhere. Generally, people don’t tend to feel confident when they’re outlining their skills and achievements. Personal statements are notoriously hard to write, and you only have to watch the Apprentice to see how easy it is to go badly wrong. Creative people have the hardest job though. I used to work more frequently as an actor, and although I miss this being my full-time job I don’t miss the constant need to tell people about yourself. You might be on stage in panto every night, but you still have to be looking for the next role, updating online profiles, sending out CVs, and generally reminding the casting world that you still exist. If you have an agent the promotion part becomes a bit easier, but you still have to be able to sell yourself at audition. The problem is that actors are often very insecure people and are more likely to have mental health problems than the general population. They’re working in an industry where they are the product. You open yourself up to very personal judgement on a daily basis and it’s not easy.
Being an anxious, insecure person myself, I decided to do less acting and more of something different. Of course, I didn’t make it easy for myself – I now do a lot more knitwear design and making. This is another creative profession which requires me to tell people about what I do. I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and this blog for business, and although I often find it really fun there are days when it feels incredibly hard. I have to promote new designs, and every time I post I wonder if it looks boastful or if people are reading and thinking that my work is rubbish and I should just shut up. However, I absolutely LOVE reading other people’s blogs and social media posts! I always like to see what people are making, get little snippets of their day to day lives, or discover new patterns to knit and pretty things to buy. This gives me a wee bit of hope that there will be people out there like me, reading my posts and finding them interesting. If there are people who see my latest update and think “ugh, not again”, I’m very lucky that none of them have chosen to comment and tell me that yet!
I’m currently developing my business to cover more than just knitwear design, so I know that there’s going to be a lot more necessary but dreaded self-promotion in my future. The more time I spend working on the business, the more I discover other creatives who are making beautiful things. I’m planning to feature some of them on this blog, perhaps as an independent maker Christmas gift guide, because they deserve to reach a wide audience.
Are you self-employed? Do you hate the whole promotion side of things? I’m interested to know how other people deal with it, and if you manage to be confident or press “Post” with a tentative finger like I do!