Ways to Self-Promote without Being (Too) Annoying

Tips for self promotingFirst off, if you are a creative entrepreneur of any kind (blogger, artist, photographer, musician, etc.), you've probably already realized that promoting yourself and your projects/business is absolutely vital to your success. And for many of you that probably makes you feel SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE. I think many of us (myself included) grew up hearing that we shouldn't talk about ourselves too much as it might come off as bragging or like we are full of ourselves or something. But, if you're about to launch your latest line of handmade necklaces and you don't tell people… well, chances are no one is going to buy one (because they've never heard of it!).

Self-promotion is key to a creative entrepreneur's success. It is absolutely vital and there's really no way around it. If you're still in the boat of I-don't-feel-comfortable-promoting-myself, let me gently encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. You can do this. You really can! And there are lots of ways to self-promote without being (too) annoying. But the bottom line is you have to give yourself permission to talk about the things you work hard on. Here are five ideas to get you going:

1. Start a newsletter/email list

Ground breaking, I know. But here's some real truth, we didn't start a mailing list for the first six years we had a blog. We already had multiple books and an app out before we ever started one. So silly! I think for a long time we thought no one would want to sign up for an ABM newsletter, but we were wrong. The great thing about an email list (or newsletter, I'm using the words to mean the same thing here) is users have given you permission to contact them by joining the list. They WANT to know if you have a new product out or are offering a sale.

You can find about one million articles online about starting and maintaining a newsletter. One resource I really like is the Smart Passive Income Blog, so check out Pat's site if you haven't already. There are also lots of different sites that can host your email list. (I recommend using a reputable one as there are legal considerations when you start a newsletter—mainly that users are able to opt out anytime they choose. So pick a site that can facilitate this.) We have used and liked MailChimp, but it can become costly the more your list grows, so do your research and find a source that works for you.

Once you have a newsletter, just remember these three things: make it easy for users to find it and sign up (don't bury it in your website design or no one will sign up since they can't find it!), occasionally reward users for subscribing by offering a special discount or a free download of some kind (depending on what type of products or services you offer), and don't be afraid to use your newsletter often. We used to be very afraid that if we sent out too many newsletters everyone would unsubscribe because it might feel too spammy. If people want to unsubscribe, they will. Don't worry about it. Just make sure you are offering real content with each newsletter and see how your users respond, then adjust accordingly.

2. Host a giveaway

Everyone loves getting something for free, right? I know I do. Hosting a giveaway is a great way to remind people about your projects but also offer them a chance to win something. Let's say you just launched your first e-course. Hooray! You post about it online and wait for the students to start rolling in. After a few days or a week your post is buried and forgotten. So how can you remind people without being a broken record? One option is to give away a few "copies" of your course. This will generate interest, and it's a way to get your course in front of eyes again without having to say the exact same message you posted before.

One word of caution on giveaways is you have to be strategic and also cost effective. If you're promoting a digital product, like my example with the e-course, then you can afford to giveaway as many copies as you like since there are no printing or shipping costs involved. But what if you make custom wedding dresses for a living? How can you possibly host a giveaway? If it's not cost effective to giveaway a custom wedding dress, what else could you offer that relates to your product/service? Could you create a downloadable mini wedding planner you could giveaway? Do you have the skills to create a necklace or other accessory that might not need to be sized and can more easily be made and shipped without costing you an arm and a leg? Sometimes you have to get creative to get your idea out there. 

3. Offer a discount or sale (for a set amount of time)

This is a similar tactic to hosting a giveaway. Basically when you host a sale you get to talk about your project again but without being a broken record (because you're informing everyone about the sale). If your discount or sale is only for a set amount of time, even better! This gives people a more immediate call to action letting them know they only have so long to take advantage of the sale, and it gives you the ability to talk about your sale at least twice: once to announce the sale, and once toward the end of the set time to remind everyone the sale is about to end. Setting how much you can discount your project for is up to you and your margins. 

4. Publish related (free) content

This is most effective on a blog or website, but it can also work on many social channels as well. Let's say you are publishing a cookbook. The day comes and you blog your heart out about your new cookbook! OK, great, now what? It's two weeks later and you want to remind everyone about your cookbook again, but how can you do this without being totally annoying (and you already hosted a giveaway too :)). Why not post an original recipe (not found in your new book, or one that is), and at the end of the post say something like, "If you enjoyed this, then you'll love my new cookbook where you get over 100 original recipes. Click here to learn more!" Yes, it's got a touch of sales-y in there for sure, but what you really just did was give people something for free and then offer them more if they want it. That's not annoying, that's actually a lot of work and really nice. And it's a great way to remind people of projects!

5. Incentivize others to promote too

If you don't want to do all the talking yourself, or if you want to reach people that you don't currently have a connection to, then I highly recommend you look for ways to incentivize others to promote your project. The ultimate example of this is to set up an affiliate program. If you're not familiar with affiliate programs, google it. But basically it's a way to partner with others so when they promote your project and sales are made, they receive some set amount of payment or a percentage of the sales. 

Other ways to get others to help promote is to offer them your project early or at a discounted rate. For example, when we released both of our apps, we sent goodie bags with iTunes gift cards to friends and other influencers a week before the launch. They were able to learn about our app, download it for free, and get a few goodies while we hoped they might like our new app and post about it on their channels. If you go this route, know that not everyone you send a goodie bag to is going to necessarily post about your venture. But if they like it, they might. And if they don't, just chalk it up to the cost of doing business. 

I could probably write another 1000 words on each of these five ideas, but I think I'll leave you with these thoughts for now. If you have questions regarding any of these, or if you have other small business questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks for letting me share and to all you creative entrepreneurs reading—GO YOU! We're totally rooting for you here at ABM. xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photo by: Sarah Rhodes.

  • Thank you! I think I’ll forward this post to some of my Facebook friends who use their personal accounts to constantly promote themselves/their products… there’s better ways!

  • Love this! I constantly try to improve my blog as well as promoting it. Thanks a lot! x
    FOUND SOME PAPER BLOG

  • This post is very helpful for a long time blogger like me who just decided to monetize it now. Thank you so much Emma and we really appreciate all the information you have been sharing with us!

  • After just launching a blog this week, these ideas are a little ways off at this point (probably important to get a reader base first), but these are really great goals to work towards. Thank you for continuing to post about the inner workings of blogging and giving insight as to what works for you all! You’re definitely doing lots of things right, so it’s great that you share that knowledge with those of us that have a lot more to learn. 🙂

    http://www.modcircus.com/

  • Thanks Emma these tips were really helpful! My big question is how to attract/network with sponsors — it would be great to hear your thoughts on it

  • love love love these types of posts! ABM is so inspirational and I value your advice and information on your personal experiences. Please keep these posts coming! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • For those asking for advice on starting a blog from the ground up, I highly recommend their blog e-course. It really hones in on making your blog consistent and offering something that no other blog is offering (or very little are). I feel its so important now in a day when everyone and their mother has a blog. It gets very intimidating and disheartening. But the blog course really let me feel that I need to be consistent and passionate about the topic of my blog. It really is about getting what you put into it. Good luck to all of you starting your blogs!

  • Love these tips! And thanks for sharing Pat’s site!! Finding reputable websites with real advice and tips for blogging has been like finding a needle in a haystack! #lotsofpeopledontknowwhattheyretalkingabout

  • These are great tips! I love it when experienced professionals are willing to share what they’ve learned! I think something I’ve also seen people talk about is to make sure that your entire online presence doesn’t become self-promotion. If you normally tweet 10 times a day, don’t let all 10 of those tweets turn into promotion once you have a new book/project.

  • Thank you Emma for lots tips and insights.
    My business has been running for a few years and only recently started blogging. I started my blog to try and give something back to my lovely customers in terms of tutorials etc but also to challenge myself as I’m quite a private person. I would really like to connect with like minded bloggers but not sure how to go about it ??

    Love your blog x

  • this is so great! I never even thought of the newsletter idea:) thanks so much for posting this. I agree with a few bloggers (krystin, Molly) with how newbie bloggers can get ourselves out there from the start. Although, this post was super relevant and helpful! I will definitely keep it in mind!

  • I’m not sure if this is the best place to leave this feedback but your blog doesn’t appear to work with the bloglovin’ platform anymore. I can usually scroll through all my subscribed blogposts but whenever I get to an ABM post it leaves the bloglovin’ platform and takes me directly to your webpage. Then I have to refresh bloglovin’ and continue reading my blogs. Any way you all can fix this?

    Thanks!

  • I 2nd Molly- with a new blog and the goal of gaining a reader base, these are great tips for the future.
    Thanks for all of the helpful information!

  • To be honest with you, I think that using a blog is the absolute #1 way to promote yourself. In your case, I love the Livestream idea and its made me fall back in love with ABM because it personalizes it.

    I’m just getting back into blogging again, after a long stretch of time away and I love to be unconventional.

    Here’s the thing about newsletters. I always sign up but then when they come in I never read them. I find them to be a waste of time. Not specifically your newsletter but any newsletter.

    As far as contests, yes they work and are fun but most of the time, readers know they aren’t going to be the one to win. Free stuff, say a free downloadable with no strings attached, on the other hand, people flock to.

    The main thing I think I’ve learned about self-promotion, after five years of blogging on again off again, is that readers love a real personality, they love a personalized experience, whether its in your blog or in a product. People like a story.

    They want you to be the real you. If that kind of personal connection happens people will invest in you, like a relationship. When this happens, people will promote you organically and naturally.

    The other thing is, do things your way. What works for ABM might not work for another blogger, brand, or company. Find that original thing that you have and play up that feature. Sorry this is so long but hey, had to put that out there. As always, my favorite posts from ABM are when you let your personalities shine through. By the way, the livestream idea is brilliant!

    Love,

    Laurali Star

  • Love this post. I’ll graduate with a business degree in the Spring of 2016 and plan to devolope my business immediately following. This post is definitely something I’ll tuck away.

  • Muy interesante.
    Es verdad que puede ser dificil hacerlo pero explicado asi parece mas facil.
    Gracias!!

  • I wish I had an idea for a blog, because I would love to take advantage of these tips you post! I think it’s very nice of you all to pass on your knowledge to promote the success of others.

    And Emma, I always love your posts and writing style. Fun, yet intelligent. The fact that you’re an avid reader really shines through. Cheers!

  • What a great post! You should do a follow up about self promotion on Instagram specifically. I think a lot of people struggle with finding the balance between effective and annoying. How many hashtags is too many hashtags??

  • Thanks so much for these ideas! I’m always hesitant to self-promote because I’ve experienced a few awful people that try to sell you SO HARD on a product they are incapable of normal conversation. I’m always afraid of becoming THAT GUY who makes people uncomfortable or want to avoid them. It’s a delicate balance!

  • What a great article! Definitely saving it. But I’m in the same boat as you, Rebecca! As an also fairly private person, it’s a challenge to know how to connect with other bloggers. I would love to see a post written on this 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this post!! It”s super helpful. I find self promoting to be soo difficult – so much self-doubts. You’re right though – small businesses do need to promote themselves.

  • Molly + Allison,

    Go you for starting your blog!!!!! That first leap can be terrifying so just know I’m giving you a big high five!

    Focus on making your new blog something YOU love and are proud of—and have fun! These other thoughts are things that can wait until you feel like you’ve got your footing. Don’t overburden yourself with the road ahead, just enjoy what’s right in front of you this week.

    -Emma

  • I agree. Pat does a very different kind of site than we do at ABM but I think his advice and perspective is top notch so I’m happy to recommend him as a resource.

    -Emma

  • Emma – thank you for highlighting the fact that the art of self-promotion doesn’t come naturally for many people. I think women are especially taught at a young age not to promote themselves too much. It’s so important for us to stick together and help each other out. On that note, I’d add to your list that, for those who are predominantly bloggers anyway, networking with other bloggers is a great strategy. The more you promote the work of others, the more that encourages them to share yours.

  • Emma, thank you for this post! I officially launched a fashion design business/Etsy shop this week, so this was just what I needed to read. (Especially since I love reading each ABM newsletter – you guys are pros!)

  • I’ve definitely struggled with putting myself out there and realize how important it is to do so if you want to go anywhere. There’s a lot of helpful information out there but it’s great to see the blogs you follow give you their input on the subject. It seems to carry a little more weight for me. Great post!

    http://www.equaluprise.com

  • Thank you for this 🙂 I make embroidery hoops and have a shop on Etsy and just started selling them at my friends vintage shop. I’ve had my shop for a few years but seriously it is so tough(and scary!) getting your name out there. I loved loved this post and am excited to put some of these things into action!Thank you! You guys are awesome.

    Andrea

  • Thank you for this post Emma! I found it to be really helpful…we launched a fashion app at the end of last year (www.dressedapp.net) and have struggled a bit to get the word out. I haven’t wanted to push it too hard on my recently launched blog for fear of exactly what you said – being annoying or sounding like a car salesman! I’ve definitely taken some tips on this post on ways to promote the app on my blog. Do you have any suggestions for reaching out to other bloggers? We’ve done several large pushes to connect with press and the blogging community about the app, and though we got a few responses, it’s been very slow to ignite. I’d love your insights! Best, -Kara

    http://www.thedressedaesthetic.com

  • Well said! Love the newsletter tip. I totally think how much it would work in the business setting… why not with ourself as well?!

  • Thanks so much for sharing these tips–it is great to hear advice from fabulously successful bloggers. And I agree with many of the new bloggers here who voiced the need to first grow a larger readership. (And I admit I’ve been a bit intimidated and haven’t done much to reach out to the blogging community.)

    Having said that…would new bloggers be interested in joining some sort of facebook group or google+ community where we can support one another? Bring questions? (I have TONS) Or just follow each other in support?

    oh, and looked for the blog e-course mentioned earlier–is it still available?

  • It’s a bit hard to connect with others at first, I’m very private myself and I’ve only been blogging for a few months now. I’ve just had to hold my breath sometimes and post positive and relative things on the blogs I love! Many bloggers are very friendly, and you’ll probably see yourself making connections very quickly 🙂 good luck!

    -Kayla

    http://www.lunafayebeauty.com

  • What a breath of fresh air in the sea of “advice”. I know so many sites and blogs are well meaning and I’m so grateful but it can get overwhelming. Because I respect what you guys are doing here at ABM your advice is highly regarded. I also appreciate knowing what you have actually done rather than an “experts” analysis of trends and reports. I hope I don’t sound negative or grumpy I truly am happy to hear your perspective. Thank you very much!

  • thank you 😀

    would love to know your thoughts on my new post Jadiee’sLittleBlog

    MyBlogloving

    MyFacebook

    Have a nice day

    Jade

  • Many thanks for the tips! I’m actually quite confused about the mailing list / newsletter thing… I started with the wordpress subscription thing then tried the malemute one when it was recommended by my new theme provider… and I’m back to wordpress…

    If you have a blog do you send newsletters as well as new posts straight to subscribers’ inboxes? Why go to something like mail chimp etc when wordpress has a subscription included that you set up in your web server?

    Thank you

    Clouded x
    CloudedDottedMind.com

  • I always find posts like this one so helpful. I have just started my blog and I guess it can be frustrating when you spend hours on a post and you only get a few hits. I know that it will take a while to build up a following but tips like these should hopefully help quite considerably. So thank you! 🙂

    In terms of self promotion can anyone recommend any hashtags for DIY bloggers? I know of #bbloggers for beauty bloggers and #lbloggers for lifestyle, does a DIY/ craft one exist? If not there should be one!Perhaps we could create one.

    cloclocreative.wordpress.com

  • Thank you! Most of the tips I already knew about but they always seemed a bit abstract to me. With these clear and practical examples and explanations I can really picture how it works and how it could work for me, thank you for sharing!

  • My brand has grown exponentially this year and I’m struggling with who my audience is now, and what I can/can’t post. I don’t want to be too self promotional, but on the other hand, I am my business. What’s a girl to do? Love reading the comments here, very helpful.

    Esther
    founder/designer, http://www.cuteheads.com

  • I’ve been holding off starting my own facebook page because I’m afraid of asking people to go and “like” it but on the other hand I feel like it would save everyone else on my feed from getting all of my blog and work updates if they’re not interested. Gotta work up the courage and just do it! Thanks for the tips.

    Danika Maia
    http://www.danikamaia.com

  • I’m with your, Rebecca! I’m looking for ways to connect with other like-minded bloggers… to find that community that I’d love to have online! I have a tribe of followers on Facebook, but they are real-life friends. 😛

    I think the hardest thing {so far} for me in blogging is finding my voice… I used to blog regularly as a young teen, but getting out of the habit and now trying to get back in it has been difficult. And so much of blogging seems… so… lonely. It takes a while to build a readership, and getting comments seems even more difficult!

  • Thanks so much for sharing your tips! It’s always great to hear from fabulously successful bloggers. I find, though, that I relate to the comments about being new and needing to build a readership first before taking on some of these steps. I’ve also been shy about connecting with the blogging community–gotta fix that!

    Having said that, would any new bloggers like to start a facebook group or google+ community where we can support one another? We all have unique strengths that as a community could be quite a powerful resource (I know I have lots of questions!) Or at least just follow each other in support?

  • Such great advice. Sounds so obvious and sensible, but I’ve not done any such things and I’ve had my blog (bubbling away) for 4 years now. I am just about to change blogging platforms and update and tweak my site – so this info has come at exactly the right time. Thanks do much for taking the time to share! x

  • Great tips. I’ll apply more of it. I’ve hosted several giveaways events to promote my blog, but I surely have to manage my blog(s) way more serious and consistently. THanks again 😉

  • This is such a good post! I really like the newsletter idea.

    Jenna | Jenna Loves Beauty

  • This is really helpful thankyou! I’m quite new to the blogging world so any advice is super helpful 🙂

  • Have found your article just at the right time. I have been researching how to promote my little business on line to increase our profile locally. We are situated 2 hours away from most cities and so do not have the city vibe to draw from on a day to day basis. I loved reading your article and it has totally inspired me and reassured me that I can put my little business on the online map.
    Thank you ABM x

  • Thanks for the insight! I just stumbled across your blog via bloglovin and I’m in love. So far my blog is merely personal, and I haven’t the slightest knowledge how to go professional but it’s definitely something I’m interested in. Still trying to find my niche, I guess. Happy Easter! x

    Louise
    http://louiseplace.com

  • Very useful tips, taking notes as I would surely use some as I intend starting up my photography business.

    Hi all,

    Please check out my blog, Wordsbykoko.blogspot.com

    Thanks 🙂

  • This is so helpful for new bloggers, especially considering how successful you are! Thanks so much for this, one of my biggest problems was how uncomfortable I feel trying to get word of my blog in a way thats not annoying, so thank you so much!

  • It has pretty much gotten to the stage in my relationship with your blog that if you ladies told me to jump I would. So so so good!!!

  • This post is BEYOND appropriate for me right now, it’s like you guys are spying on me hah I have THE hardest time with this. I’ve been trying to get my store, etc. together for years now and I thought once I had more stuff in place that I would just naturally come to a point where I would feel fine about letting people know what I’ve been up to but it has definitely not happened yet. I’m trying, slowly but surely, but it is so much harder than I expected (and frankly, I’m probably making it wayyy harder than it even needs to be). Thanks so much for the great post! Keep up the good work! :o)

  • Thank you so much Emma! This is totally very helpful! Something the beginning style blogger and jewelry maker like me needs to learn.

    Here is my blog has more styles and inspirations of beauty if you wish to learn more.

    http://www.siammpatragirl.com

    xoxo

  • Hi Leah. That is exactly why I have a personal page for my fan page. My real page is an admin on my fan page. It is just too much for my friends and family. They are probably not my ideal audience. Now I just share about once a week. These are great ideas. I gotta get my newsletter up and running now!!!

  • Self promotion is must but we should not over do it. Affiliate marketing is a great idea to promote one product. There are many affiliate network you can join and that too free of cost. Anyways nice post Emma.

  • An additional thought — somebody may have written about this already but I haven’t read all the comments: something that has created a lot of really nice contacts for me is when I’ve asked for help. The easiest thing to ask for has been “proof-knitting” for the knitting books that I’ve been making. That’s when I discovered how many people actually read my blog and were ready to do something: it was a small blog, and in Swedish only, but in half an hour on a Saturday morning I had 40 people asking for patterns to test! Later, all of them were so happy about the book — and, I presume, told some friends each. And when I had more patterns that needed to be checked, the response was even bigger.
    The real point of this was of course that I did need help and got it and that people were happy to help. And most of what these kind knitters made was photographed (so that I could post the photos on my blog etc), then sent off to charities who work with baby packs. A win-win-win-win!

  • Thanks!! This was super helpful for me. I recently started my own business and it is sort of scary. Below is a little about my business. If anybody is interested contact me it would be very helpful! Thank you!
    xoxo