5 Self-Promotion Tips That Aren’t Sleazy

Aug 18 2011 by James Clear | 18 Comments

5 Self-Promotion Tips That Aren't Sleazy

As a web designer, you’re probably having to constantly sell your ideas and promote yourself. You have to sell your work to your clients, your co-workers and your bosses.

The struggle, of course, is that self-promotion can be a tricky game to play.

On the one hand, if you don’t speak up for yourself, no one else will.

On the other, blatantly tooting your own horn can be uncomfortable, and if approached the wrong way, your efforts might be perceived negatively by many.

We all want to present our ideas in the best way possible and to have clients knocking down our doors to get a taste.

But how can we do it without being a snake oil salesman?

For some ideas on how to tastefully market yourself, read the following five self-promotion tips.

1. Create Something Worthy of Promoting

Your reputation is attached to the work you do, the ideas you promote and the actions you take.

The best way to make self-promotion easier is to build a product or service that you’d be proud to pitch. If you love your latest work and believe that it’s the best you can do, then how much easier would it be to sell someone on it?

We all get excited when we do a great job. Sharing that enthusiasm is a great way to be a world class self-promoter and doing your best work is a surefire method for avoiding sleazy marketing schemes.

If you don’t believe in the work you’re promoting, then how can you expect anyone else to believe in it?

2. Stick to Your Guns

Before you start promoting your next great idea, spend some time deciding what you are willing to do.

Some people create a new project and tell everyone they know about it. Other people share their ideas with a close group of trusted business partners.

Spend some time deciding what type of promotional tactics you’re comfortable with.

If you jump in headfirst without thinking things through, then you might find yourself in murky water.

3. The Conversation Should Be About Results and Outcomes

Usually when we try to get a client onboard, we talk about why we’re a good fit for them — but we do it in the wrong way.

We say things like:

  • "I have more than 10 years of web design experience."
  • "My portfolio includes clients from large brand names to small boutiques such as…"

The only problem is that few clients actually care about those things. You need to start the conversation by promoting the benefits of your services, not the experiences you have had.

Clearly explain what the client will receive when they hire you. Show them the results they will get for their time and money. Use numbers and percentages that offer clear proof of why you and your idea are better than the rest.

Start with the value you provide, and end with the experiences you have had in delivering it.

4. Start in Listening Mode, Not Promotion Mode

When we start to market our ideas, we usually begin by searching for an opportunity. We look for an opening to pitch our ideas to anyone we meet.

However, you’ll probably find more success when you listen for other people’s problems instead of forcing your solutions on them.

Take your foot off of the promotion pedal and spend a moment talking and engaging with potential clients.

Listen to their stories, their thoughts and their problems. Once you discover what people are struggling with, you will find it much more natural to introduce your services as solutions to their problems, rather than ideas they never asked to hear.

5. Don’t Try to Be Someone You’re Not

It may sound cliché, but just be you.

It’s easy to find yourself in an uncomfortable spot when you try to promote like someone you’re not.

If you’re not the next Billy Mays, then don’t bother with shouting and yelling your way to new clients.

If you don’t like speaking to large groups, then stick with one-on-one conversations (and vice versa).

Despite our faults, humans are excellent judges of sincerity. If you don’t come across as genuine and trustworthy, then your self-promotion efforts will be in vain.

Further Reading

Want more? For more tips on promoting your ideas, building fruitful relationships, and marketing your business, check out these articles:

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About the Author

James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda, a site about earning more money, more time, and more freedom. Join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter on Earning More to receive the 7-part Freelancing 101 Course and proven tips for earning more. Connect with Passive Panda on Facebook.

18 Comments

Steve

August 18th, 2011

I cannot over-extol the utility of starting in listening mode, both as a former web designer and current lawyer. People don’t want to hear about you, they want you to understand them.

Anna Green

August 19th, 2011

Very useful blog, there of are good tips here for business that are looking to grow there client base, and promote there services.

Andy

August 19th, 2011

Excelent the comment of point 3! Thanks!

Nadia C

August 19th, 2011

I totally agree with you, James and Steve. Everyone’s ‘me, me, me.’ Might as well adjust your thinking to that way.

Cobus

August 19th, 2011

I think if you work is good, it will speak for itself and you don’t have to brag about it. Most of your clients will be either referred by your friends/co-workers or following a credit link on a site you designed.

Mark Armstrong

August 19th, 2011

Great post, James, thanks.

For me, the line that really jumped out was: “start the conversation by promoting the benefits of your services, not the experiences you have had.”

I shall try to remember that!!

Sofia

August 19th, 2011

James, did you ever hire anyone? Have you ever been on the part of the boss?

Jessika Tarr

August 19th, 2011

Thanks for this article! I am a visual artist, but these tips are helpful for me as well.

Daquan Wright

August 20th, 2011

Nice piece, I like the part about start in listening mode and end in promoting mode. :)

It’s a nice way to establish a personal connection. When you listen to them, you know what problems they have and it’s easier to address those problems with your experience.

Jamie

August 21st, 2011

One of the benefits my network of woman entrepreneurs get is promotion. It is so much better received than self promotion.

martijn

August 21st, 2011

i agree, my solution i show my future clients some “happy clients” from the past see for yourself and let me know what you think :)

http://www.good-sound.nl/happyclients/

# 11 12 and 17 are in english

Ray

August 21st, 2011

Great tips… I think many of us sell ourselves short in order to not come off as arrogant or self conceded. If you are authentic and know that you can deliver, there should be no shame is good self promotion.

aAnioz

August 21st, 2011

Nice writing James, it is really inspiring and a step to step follow up guide. Thanks for the words.

Swamykant

August 22nd, 2011

Excellent tips. Thanks for share.

Matthew Wehrly

August 22nd, 2011

Hi James,
Great post! I would have to agree with all of the other comments and want to add that channel is just as important as tone, commitment, understanding, and sincerity. The integration of social media and other electronic communications has blurred the line between appropriate methods of communication. Depending on the type of relationship you are trying to build with your clients, a simple email or tweet could look inappropriate. Keep up the good work!

Matthew Wehrly

ThatsGravy Designs

August 23rd, 2011

Thanks for these tips, it was very insightful and encouraging.

gouthami.b

August 27th, 2011

Nice tips here.Many more are there

MSaldiv

August 30th, 2011

Useful guidelines!

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