How to Promote Your Work Without Selling Your Soul

If you have a passion, a message to share with the world, or even if you have a career that hinges on growing a “following” you have to embrace social media and build a thoughtful personal brand.

But how do you market your product—especially when you are the product—without becoming self-involved or coming across narcissistic? Here are nine tips to keep your wits about you when you’re trying to promote your work online.

Build a platform through consistency

Your audience should know the kind of personality you will exude online. If you post well lit high resolution photography with quick-witted brief captions, don’t follow it up with a grainy photo of your lunch and a Eeeyore-esque lengthy tirade for a caption. Be consistent both in your voice and the quality of content you publish.

Determine your “why”

Why do you want to share your work? Why do you want to tell the world about your new gig? Get clear on the purpose of promoting yourself and your work online.
 Get clear on who your audience is and who you want to reach.

Promote your content where they hang out online. If I am looking to get my work in front of 40-something business professionals, I’m not going to promote it on Snapchat.

Provide value to your audience

My mantra for online content is to keep it PUFI: pleasant, useful, fun or interesting. And the best content creators strive for a balance of all four of these. How are you serving your audience?

Avoid self-congratulatory content

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” -Proverbs 27:2 There is a way to celebrate your own success without saying “Look how awesome I am!” Be gracious.

Show up for others

Be generous with encouraging and supporting others online, liking, retweeting, and sharing their content. Give others the credit when you can. Express gratitude.

Moderation is key

Do you find yourself obsessing over editing a photo and then poring over the likes and comments you get? Do you get anxiety when you think a post isn’t performing well enough? If your social media posts are governing a lot of your thought life, get it in check.

Take a sabbatical

Maybe you need to remove social from your phone. Do what you need to, to make sure your life feels rich and rewarding without the “you” show online.

You don’t always have to be “on”

There are going to be seasons of “heads up” time promoting work and seasons of “head down” time where you’ll be hustling to do the work. Do not give into the pressure that you need to be publishing something every day. That can lead to burnout. Your health comes first.

Don’t overthink it

Social media is temporal. Today we often fall victim to “perfectionism paralysis” and can avoid posting any thought, photo, etc because we’re afraid it might be taken the wrong way or criticized. Be brave enough to put yourself out there. If you do it authentically and with good intentions you can connect with others and even encourage them.

With the advent of the internet and online communities, you have an incredible opportunity to reach like-minded folks and grow a loyal tribe like no one in any past generation ever has. Remember, the online space is a good servant but a terrible master. Keep it in check, use it for good, and take a break from it when you know that you need to.


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  • Sandi Mele

    “The online space is a good servant but a terrible master.” LOVE this!! I related to so much of what was said in this article. I have a follow-up question about the point on self-congratulatory content. Is it wrong to snapshot reviews or comments from clients and post them to an IG story? I’ve noticed that when I do this (in a humble way!), it can create momentum in my business. For example, when I see others post comments from clients, I helps me recognize their clients are happy and their business is successful. But I DO realize it’s a heart thing, and when I notice myself posting each and EVERY nice email I get from a client (removing their personal info of course), it can be too much and not coming from a place of humility. Any other thoughts on this?