I get a ton of emails every week from people asking how to promote themselves. Instead of replying individually which would take many hours I’ve decided to post a series of blogs on promotion, media kits, blogging, and personal branding. First one up is promoting yourself.
Don’t be afraid
Okay, so promoting yourself can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Here are a few simple ways to put yourself out there.
1. Business cards: Yes, I’m starting with paper. Business cards really come in handy when you are out and about and happen to meet someone you can network with, or someone interested in your project or idea. Vistaprint has very reasonable prices and ready-made layouts if you are not a designer. If you are a designer or know one willing to draw up your card, even better. Adding that personal touch can really make a card pop.
2. Start a blog, get on social networks, join communities that have to do with your projects and start writing. Remember to keep it simple and timeless. Don’t overdo it with the advertisements. You will get much more traffic and build an audience by forming relationships based on mutual interests than if you just post up promotional ads for your work. For example, you have just painted the most beautiful piece of art that ever existed. Don’t spam up your page with adverts for it. Talk about the painting process, what music were you listening to at the time? What was inspiring you? Join a illustration groups like this flickr group or participate in something like Warren Ellis' Remake/Remodel . Join social networks like facebook and twitter and search keywords for groups. Don’t forget to join in the conversation. The more you interact, the more people will pay attention to you.
3. Send links to your favorite magazines, blogs, etc. The press is always looking for new stories, books to review, authors to interview etc. This can sound a bit scary, but remember that editors and reviewers are people too. Once you get over the intitial fear of contacting people it becomes second nature. Don’t be too pushy, but do your research on the magazine, blog, etc and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, your blog, and how it pertains to their website or publication. Later you can send a press kit if you have one (I will talk about this is a later post). But in the meantime keep it simple. Most people weren’t born with a list of contacts – they were just brave souls willing to put themselves out there for the sake of their work. Remember: fortune favors the bold.
4. Email your favorite writers, bloggers, artists, designers, and musicians. If anything you’ll be making someone’s day and it never hurts to tell someone you are a fan. Sometimes those very people you admire become fans or friends of yours. Networking with creative people will inspire you to get out there.
5. Determine your personal brand. What genre do you write for? What’s your style writing wise and personality wise? In order for people to identify with you, they must get to know you. They have to feel connected to you in some way. What makes you unique?
6. Do your research. Look at other artist's websites, designer's sites, and artist reps’ websites and blogs. There is some great information out there. One of my favorites is Nubby Twiglet. Her website offers designers great tips and marketing insights. http://www.nubbytwiglet.com If anything, you should subscribe to her blog for the plethora of information that is there for the taking.
7. Promotion takes perseverance. Take an hour or two every day to research who you will market to, answer questions or add your own to the artists groups, email, and blog. If you can set aside time every day to promote yourself it will seem less overwhelming, and you will eventually have a constant flow of feedback. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your following.
8. Do something unique! At my publishing company Knickerbocker Circus, the typewriter is part of our brand. So what did we do to kick off our companies first book and web launch? We took over a dive bar in NYC for one night and allowed attendees to use our vintage typewriters. Writers tapped into Bukowski and Burroughs’s energy as they freewrote the night away. Our fans also took to the streets for They Be We, wheatpasting posters around the city and encouraging others to join the collective. As for me, I sent my rep a package filled with buttons, mirrors, and other trinkets to bring with her to meetings and send out to clients.
9. Don’t wait until everything is perfect. There will never be a right time to submit that piece or unleash that genius blog of yours. If your content is good, people are not going to judge you if you are on livejournal or wordpress. The key to all of this is, again, putting yourself out there. Stop listening to that inner voice that says, “I don’t know” or “I can’t”. Just do. If you make a mistake, learn from it. Try as many things as possible. You will find your niche eventually. There is always room for improvement and all of us are works in progress.
10. Be consistent with your blogging and social networking adventures. Figure out a schedule that is realistic and works for you. Maybe it’s three days a week or maybe it’s just Mondays at high traffic times. Just don’t post content to post content. Make sure what you are posting is quality and true to who you are. People can smell bullshit a mile away.
*And remeber even though a lot of this focuses on the web. Sometimes postcards can be a nice surprise for an art director. They get so many emails every day that a piece of paper is sometimes all you need to stand out in a crowd