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How to best promote your work when you’re a reluctant self-promoter

Marcos Luiz for Unsplash
Ian Schneider for Unsplash
William Iven for Unsplash
Daniele Riggi for Unsplash
Lynnaire MacDonald offers 5 strategies that may help you to grow your audience and promote yourself


Chances are, you may be a reluctant self-promoter. It’s very much a Kiwi trait - we’re humble and self-deprecating and while we passionately cheer our fellow artists on, we might not be so hot at shining the light on ourselves and our work.

I can honestly say that I owe about 99% of the opportunities I’ve had in my career as a film publicist and social media marketer to being a smartass.

I don’t mean being a smartass in a derogatory way, as some of the biggest and most exciting opportunities in my life have arisen because I’ve been cheeky enough to ask for them in a playful way that doesn’t come off as pushy. It’s something I’ve had to develop over many years, because to be completely honest… I’m very much a reluctant self-promoter too.

I talk to a lot of creatives about their work, and I often hear them express the difficulty they have in promoting their work. Sometimes there is a reluctance in reaching out to people for donations to their crowdfunding campaigns, marketing themselves on social channels or reaching out to media outlets to secure coverage or a review. It’s something I understand- sometimes it’s not easy! But your work deserves to be seen and appreciated.

Better yet, we’re now in an age where connecting to audiences both here and overseas is easier than before with the development of social media. The world is literally at your fingertips. Here are some tried and tested strategies that may help even the most shy of creatives  grow an audience and promote your work (even when you’re really reluctant to do so):

1. Authenticity is key

You don’t have to be anyone else. You don’t have to try and put on airs and graces with people. Being yourself and sharing your passion for your art well and truly resonates with your audience. People are passionate about art and artists, so let them into your world and your process.

2. Work out what’s stopping you

It’s a good idea to drill down and find out why you’re reluctant to promote your work. Find 5-10 minutes  to sit undisturbed with a pen and paper, or hop on your laptop. Take a few deep breaths and clear your mind. When you’re ready, think about promoting yourself or your work and identify any thoughts or feelings that come up around it. Write them down.

Now, step outside of yourself for a minute and imagine your best friend thinking and feeling what you have just written down about self-promotion. For each thought or feeling you might want to write a statement that re-wires or challenges that thought. You might even want to enlist the help of a trusted friend to roleplay through the scenarios, with your friend reading out your statement and you playing the role of your friend to refute and re-frame it positively. It may sound a bit silly, but it really does work.

3. Ease in 

Don’t feel comfortable with social media but enjoy writing about your work and your process? Think about having a blog and a mailing list via MailChimp. You can also post an event on The Big Idea which can be particularly effective for promoting upcoming events, exhibitions and performances.And while you may not feel confident with social media posting yet, you may know someone who does, and can lend a hand to get you started.

4. You don’t have to do it all at once

While it’s a good idea to have a social media presence established and think about publicity outreach for your work, you don’t have to do it all at once! If it’s easier for you to start with one thing and then add other strategies later, then do so. After all, good things take time, just like the Mainland Cheese ads always used to say.

5. Remember your why

I say this so often because it’s applicable across different scenarios . If you start to feel really reluctant about promoting your work yourself, remember WHY you started being an artist in the first place. This helps to not only bring you back to your centre, but it also provides a boost of inspiration to propel you forward and give you the courage to work through your reluctance.

Lynnaire is a publicist and social media marketer and the founder of Film Sprites PR, a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for film. Film Sprites PR has worked with filmmakers in the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada since 2014.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

15 Mar 2019

The Big Idea Editor

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