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10 Ways Writers Can Beat Self Promotion Fear And Market Themselves

self promotionSelf promotion and marketing are essential if a freelance writer is going to be successful. Yet many freelancers hesitate to market themselves and their writing.

Often they simply find other things that are “more important to do” the market themselves.

Some recognize that they choke up with fear when they start to take action on marketing plan.

If you identify with this it may seem as if you’ll need deep psychological counseling or other kind of therapy before you can let go of your fears and actually do some self-promotion. But maybe not.

While I’ve benefited immensely from counseling from time to time I also know that what really happens is we heal ourselves.

With that in mind here are 10 ways writers can be fear of self-promotion and begin to market themselves and their writing:

Name your fear so you can look at it

Simply naming appear is probably the first step in letting it go. As human beings we seem to want to name things; in naming it’s as if it gives us some control over what we’ve named or developed some understanding that we didn’t have before we named whatever. This seems to work well with fear.

Dig down so it’s not just the surface name

While it’s a start to say “I’m afraid to market myself” you’ll have more success if you actually named the fear. Consider saying something like this, “when I think of marketing myself I break out in a sweat.” Or “I’m afraid people will reject my marketing, or even laugh at me.” Then you can ask yourself if this is true, or if that’s the worst thing that can happen. Often this approach will lessen the fear.

What does fear of success really mean?

We often hear about the fear success. I think what that really means is wish afraid of the change success might bring us. If I’ve truly successful, the usually unconscious thinking seems to go, I’ll probably have to leave my friends behind. Or ‘people will disapprove’ or … you get the idea.

When it’s fear of change identifying the exact change we fear is helpful. If I’m afraid, for example, that I’ll have to leave my friends behind, once I know that I can examine that fear and see if it’s true. In many cases it’s not and I can let it go just because it’s not true.

Sometimes the fear will be true and were faced with the choice. Regardless by being becoming conscious of what we really fear, another form of naming, we are in a position to take self affirming action which often is learning how to market ourselves.

What do others think about your self promotion?

Years ago Rev. Terry Cole Whitaker wrote a book titled, “What You Think Of Me Is None Of My Business.” The title really says it all. We don’t have any control what others think and when we worry about it were only imagining their thoughts. It may be that were actually projecting what we think of others on to them instead of taking ownership of it ourselves. Once again getting in touch with what’s really going on in our heads often helps.

You’re lucky to be able to be a freelance writer

You might recognize how lucky you are to be able to be a freelance writer. You have the writing skill and you’ve carved out enough time so you can freelance at least part time. The chances of you being able to continue freelancing and even moving to full-time are much smaller if you don’t market yourself and your writing you know that’s true; what are you going to do about it

Get present – you’re okay right now

When the fear strikes one of the quickest ways to let it go is to notice right here right now you’re okay. Maybe you put up an ad on Google and fear is running rampant. Get present was where you are and what’s happening right now. Sometimes this takes only a couple of deep breaths and sometimes you’ll have to work harder to notice that you’re fine just the way you are right here right now and that the ad or whatever has nothing to do with that.

Make a list of how self promotion could go right

When you’re thinking about some marketing, say putting up your website finally, instead of worrying about all the things that could go wrong, make a list of the things that could go right. If you find yourself involved in negative self talk around this exercise stop it! That’s just self sabotage and you do have some choice about it.

Increase your knowledge of marketing

Sometimes our fear of marketing comes about because we don’t know what were doing or we don’t know how. Spend some time learning how. An hour a day for we reading marketing information on this site or the web will surely show you two or three things you could do. Pick one of them and try it daily for a week.

Remember, it’s hard to get worse at something you practice. Your marketing is likely to feel very awkward in the beginning and as you do more and more of it you will get more confident and the chances are your marketing success will increase as well.

Find an accountability partner

An accountability partner is simply somebody you check in with daily or weekly and tell them what you plan to do. I think daily works best and ideally your partner will tell you what they plan to do. The next day when you call each other you can first let your partner know if you did or didn’t do what you could plan to do and then list your actions for the current day. It needs to be okay with both of you that you repeat the same things over and over again and that there’s no judgment only listening.

We have an accountability thread over in the about freelance writing forum and many of us use it daily finding it quite helpful.

You’re in service to your clients

Remember that the real way to success is to be in service your clients. That doesn’t mean you subjugate yourself to them but it does mean that you’re in the writing game to help others get the writing done they need.

When you’re clear on the service aspects of your business it often becomes easier to market simply because you recognize you can’t be in service to clients you don’t have. Self promotion and promoting your writing is the best way to find clients to serve.

Do it anyway

This is number eleven, and it may be the most important. Don’t let the fear of self promotion and marketing stop you – do it anyway.  Market, promote even though you’re quaking in your boots as it were. Keep breathing and market and see what happens.

Got any thoughts on marketing you’d like to share? Tell us in comments.

Write well and often,





{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Jeana

    It was a genuine pleasure to read this article, as it touched on several deep seeded issues for me. Fear of success, and fear of rejection. I’m a self taught writer, and am only now pursuing a formal education to enlighten myself on the finer details of business and marketing. Needless to say, I’m excited about the prospect of being officially ‘educated.’ Perhaps the thing I fear the most, regarding returning to school, is that it has been over 20 years since I graduated High School. Does this make me a late bloomer? Perhaps, but as the saying goes, ‘Better late, than never.’

    I’d love nothing more than to jump onto this forum indicated in the article, and among some of the commentors. Being accountable is something I could greatly benefit from, as staying focused and on task can be challenging to an artistic and creative mind.

    In closing, thank you to the Author of this Blog for imparting your wisdom to those of us who gravely need it! If I wasn’t as excited about the prospect of Freelancing before, I’ve gained a certain sense of zeal for the idea thanks to you.

  • Great advice as always, Anne. And I love Sarah’s comment about successful marketing means you’re focusing on the client’s needs, not your own.

    And accountability is really important, for me anyway. A week or so ago I even mentioned how helpful the accountability thread on the Freelance Writing Forum has been for me. It’s like a semi-public to do list, and for people like me who enjoy the feeling of crossing something off a to-do list, it just magnifies that self-contented sense of accomplishment.
    Paula Hendrickson recently posted..Weaving MagicMy Profile

  • Gaines

    I have a master’s in mental health counseling and have worked in the field for more than 15 years and you are right on. Also, all counselors know that we don’t really drive the solution it is the client. Many times they don’t realize that though.

    As a freelance writer, I don’t fear self promotion as much as dread it. The dread coming from the fact that it can be very tedious and time consuming. I do it though because it is required in order to survive in this business.

    Every occupation has some elements people are going to despise (or at least mildly loathe), but those tasks are usually necessary. I loved talking to counseling clients, but I detested the paperwork. So I became a writer!

    • lol… good for you on choosing writing… these days it doesn’t involve as much paper as it once did… and yes, marketing does take time… although I find if I do a little bit consistently it takes smaller chunks from my writing.

  • Hi Anne, the thing about fear is that it focuses your attention on yourself. Successful marketing depends on you focusing on your client’s needs. Focusing on meeting those needs will help you to focus less on yourself and hopefully lessen the fear. Great article that could be applied to all kinds of situations in life.
    Sarah Charmley recently posted..Author Interview – Meet Carys JonesMy Profile

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