A content creator’s guide to self-promotion
If you want to earn money from your creative work, you’ll need to find ways to promote it. Here are tips for how to put yourself out there in an effective way that feels good to you.
Top things to know
Why creatives often find self-promotion difficult
Why your current self-promotion strategy may not be working
Four effective ways to self-promote
How to create a robust self-promotion strategy
Anyone who regularly publishes writing online, or produces YouTube videos or podcasts, wants to be read, seen or heard. Nevertheless, many of these people shudder at the thought of advertising their work.
You might be feeling the same way: you do good work, but you don’t shout about it. At Steady, we hear the same reasoning time and again in conversations with journalists, podcasters and other content creators — some of them may sound familiar:
“My work should speak for itself.”
“I don’t have time for promotion.”
“I don’t want to spam my community.”
“I don’t know anything about marketing.”
Behind these explanations there is usually another truth: a lot of people are just uncomfortable with self-promotion. After all, it’s often less about promoting the work and more about promoting the person behind it. And a lot of people who want to be visible also desperately hope they won’t be perceived as wanting to be visible.
And this subtlety is one of the main reasons why it is so difficult for creative professionals to get the attention they want and deserve.
Even social media creators, who may appear in their selfie videos and personal shoutouts to be comfortable with self-promotion, can struggle to get the visibility they need for their work to take off. Why? Because as well as conjuring your self-belief, effective self-promotion requires a bit of strategy.
“My posts don’t get seen, what can I do?”
Here’s a common case: you started making videos on social media. People loved your flare and you grew a big following quickly. Then the platforms’ algorithm changes. Now in order for your videos to get good visibility, you are required to post twice a day. As you don’t have the time or creative energy to keep up with that, your new content does not make it to people’s feeds, so even your fans don’t get to see it. That’s really frustrating.
It also demonstrates that when you promote yourself online, you need to approach it as a kind of online marketing ecosystem, whereby all parts support each other, and so all must be maintained in order for any one of them to thrive.
Four effective ways to self-promote your content
1. Find your true voice on social media—but use with care
Love it or hate it, social media is perhaps the easiest way to get eyes on your work, simply for the fact that most people are on there. You can experiment a little to find a vibe that suits you and your creative output – maybe it's humour or a funky design. Not everyone has to do live selfie videos to get noticed. Feeling true to yourself, when promoting yourself, is possible. And you might even end up enjoying it!
But it’s too risky to only use socials to build and connect with your community. As mentioned before, algorithms dictate who gets to see your work. Social media platforms are also becoming increasingly unreliable: for example, an Instagram bug (Opens in a new window)temporarily suspended thousands of accounts. That’s why it’s really important to have a backup…
2. Use newsletters as a backup for social media
Sending out newsletters is one of the most effective tools at your disposal. They allow you to connect directly with your community, and to be independent of the algorithms and changing whims of social media platforms. Collecting the email addresses of your fans is a great reassurance that whatever happens on another platform, you will not lose your fanbase’s contacts.
You can start collecting your followers' email addresses and send them newsletters for free on Steady.
3. Get smarter with your content marketing by using SEO
If you regularly publish articles online, they could be really really amazing, but it doesn't matter if no one gets to read them. When your intention is for your work to reach new audiences outside your loyal following, you need to consider implementing search engine optimization (SEO). For your articles to appear high up in a Google search result, you have to craft your writing in such a way that it speaks to both the human and the algorithm.
Talking to the algorithm: There are some simple SEO tricks that help your article rank highly in a Google search. One is putting keywords in the title. For example, if you have written a piece about the COP 27 climate summit in Egypt, you should not title it “Shambolic Sharm el-Sheikh.” You need to get “Cop 27” in there.
Talking to the human: Try not to sound too robotic when inserting your keywords. Even the robots are trained enough now to recognise when an article is written purely for SEO purposes. Always keep in mind your overall goal: getting your great content that you are proud of noticed, not just getting noticed.
Another easy-to-implement content marketing strategy is to add a newsletter signup button to every article you publish online.
4. Access other creators’ audiences with partnerships
If you write articles, try to publish on platforms outside your own that receive a higher volume of traffic. Remember to include your newsletter signup button at the end of your article and link to your socials.
Podcasters: Get interviewed by fellow podcasters specializing in your niche (ideally ones with a bigger following than you). And, once again, don’t forget that all-important newsletter shoutout and sign-up button linked in the comments!
The creator’s self-promotion pay-off
Once you set up your different online marketing elements and have them referencing each other (newsletter signup buttons, link-in-bio etc) then you need to get in the habit of regularly maintaining them. Posting at least once a week is an advisable rhythm, to keep your audience’s attention and remind them that you need their support.
Setting up a self-promotion strategy does more than just get you more followers. It takes you on a personal journey. You may have to initially overcome some self-consciousness, and then harness your patience as you wait for the newsletter signups, and then membership numbers to grow.
At Steady, we always say: Creative work deserves more than a like. Loyal fans know that, too. That’s why the most sustainable funding comes from your community. And promoting yourself is the first step on that path.