I was talking with a colleagues the other day and we started exchanging tales of how we were had both been embarrassed to market our writing. I was glad to be reminded because I’m not embarrassed any longer. Apparently being embarrassed to step out there is something we can all get over.
I suspect you know what I mean by being embarrassed to market yourself and your writing.
- You hesitate to get your website up because you don’t know how to make it perfect.
- Writing an About Me page is agony and easy to put off.
- If you get an email asking how much you charge your embarrassed to admit you haven’t figured it out yet.
- And sometimes you’ll even turn off your phone rather than risking the awkwardness of talking with the potential client.
With the possible exception of the website I think I’ve been guilty of every one of these things back in the day.
So how did I stop being embarrassed?
At least not in the beginning. I found ways to let people know I was a writer and they could hire me even though it was agony to do so at first.
I remember ordering my first business cards that said I was a freelance writer. I quickly put some in my wallet and then I began to practice handing them out. By that I mean I would surreptitiously’s stick one under a plate in a restaurant, or put up one or two on the bulletin board in the laundromat.
It wasn’t long before someone asked me what I did and I was able to say “I’m a writer.”
I wasn’t comfortable when I said that but I said it anyway. I discovered that people didn’t laugh at me when I said I was a writer. Many of them were not particularly interested but if they were and asking questions, I was mostly able to answer them. Some were even impressed or so it seemed. I soon learned how to dig a business card out of my purse and hand it to the person who would ask and they would thank me taking it graciously.
Several years later my then teenage son commented, “Mom, I think the reason you get so many writing jobs is because you tell everybody you’re a writer.” I thought about what he said and realized he was right.
Nike’s also right
It turns out the way to get over fear of marketing yourself is to market yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to buy a full page ad in the New York Times, although that might be fun and might even be profitable who knows. It does mean you have to do things that you’re not comfortable doing. But what’s wrong with that?
None of us were no not born knowing how to write and yet we found a way to get words on paper.
None of us were born knowing how to market ourselves and our writing, yet it to be successful, we have to find a way to get the word out.
It turns out that shoe company is right – just do it™. It won’t be comfortable in the beginning it probably won’t be successful in the beginning either. But as I’ve said many times about writing, is hard to get worse at something you practice. This is also true of marketing.
Websites and about pages can always be rewritten, new business cards can be ordered. You can figure out your rates and learn to save them with confidence and then you can figure out how to raise your rates with confidence. You can begin to focus not so much on your needs but on the needs of your clients. When you begin to see how your writing can fulfill the needs of your clients marketing becomes much easier.
Does the embarrassment go away completely?
My colleague and I agreed there still are certain situations where were each embarrassed to market ourselves and our writing. But we learn to do it anyway. Last year, for instance, I was asked to give a speech before all a conference crowd of about 500. I was nervous and it was obvious to the audience that I was not a professional speaker, but that’s not why they wanted to listen to me anyway. I wasn’t bad and I know that next time I’ll do a better job.
Write down the five things that frighten you most about marketing. Put the list in the order of what frightens you the most. Now starting at either end of your list figure out how to do one thing. Here’s what part of my list might of looked like when I first got started:
- I’m afraid to tell people I write
- What if I tell them I’m in the writing business and nobody hires me?
So I started telling people that I was writer. I discovered they didn’t laugh at me a check couple of people sort of chuckled but I was able to ignore that. My next step was to order business cards which is a way to tell the world you’re in the writing business. I began to hand them out
In other words I began to market myself and my writing. I didn’t call it that exactly. I called a telling people I write and handing out business cards. I hadn’t realized at that point this was marketing, but it was and it worked over the long haul.
You can do exactly the same thing, or better.
What scares you that you can go ahead and do this week to market yourself and your writing?
You can join my effortless, elegant, easy, without selling out, marketing for freelance writers list at no cost to you and be sure you get early notice of new marketing info.
Write well and often,