I’m sure we have all, at some point in our lives, been told of the importance of self-marketing and the image we present on the internet. Self-marketing has, of course, always existed in one form or another. However, in the last 10 years, we have seen a dramatic change in the way companies, businesses, and particularly entrepreneurs, have been able to market themselves on online platforms. So, what does self-marketing and branding look like in this day and age, and why is it so important?
Knowing Your Value
Depending on what industry you operate in, the concept of self-marketing and its importance can vary. As a writer, for instance, much of your success and exposure within the Creative Arts industry relies on you and your determination to getting your name out there. It’s hard for companies and businesses to discover your talents, if they aren’t first showcased on an accessible platform. Nowadays, with the ability to design your own website, Instagram page, or blog, it has become much easier for artists to market themselves to the world and create a solid foundation through which to build their career upon.
But what does it really do?
Essentially, you become a commodity.
By successfully promoting yourself and garnering traffic online, you are able to show prospecting employers that you are a valuable and popular product, and thereby strengthen your own credibility.
Take book publishing for example: as an author trying to publish your first novel, what you come to realise is that writing is the easy part. It’s the proposing, marketing and selling where the real challenge sets in. But if you’re able to show a publisher that you have a substantial following and audience, then they will already see you as a worthwhile investment for their business. As audiences = consumers.
It really hammers home the phrase: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and even further, who you are known by.
The Reluctance Dynamic
Yet, while some embrace digital and self-marketing, others completely reject it. I often struggle with social media and digital platforms, and the impact they have upon our lives. There is no doubt that the internet seems to promote a sense of self-glorification, judgment and perfection. The underlying ideology that content or experiences don’t have value without first obtaining the validation from others, presents such a problematic foundation for self-marketing and the way we engage with social media. And I think many reject the idea you have to promote yourself online, because of this. It’s almost like the fear of aligning yourself with the negative sides of the internet is truly what holds people back or turns them away from engaging altogether.
However, utilising social media platforms for self-promotion, doesn’t mean that your brand’s authenticity has to suffer as a result. Self-promotion is strange. It’s the same feeling you get when you’re asked what your strengths are, in a job interview. You neither want to undersell yourself nor seem overly arrogant about your abilities. However, self-marketing gives you the creative licence to be able to show the world exactly what you want them to see, and in doing so, maintain your brand’s, and your own, agency.
Don’t get me wrong, self-marketing can be a really daunting prospect. Opening yourself up completely to an online platform in the hopes that it will help boost your self-commoditisation and career can be scary. If I could hide away in a cabin with my notebook and pen for the majority of my career I probably would. But once you let go of society’s expectations of what your online presence should be or look like, and instead claim it as your own, you’ll only see your brand flourish and grow.
So, How Can You Market Yourself Successfully and Authentically?
Know Your Image
This is the most important factor. If you don’t know your own image and voice, then it will be impossible for others to as well. Discover who and what you want to present as your brand, and try to be unique, as it will only set you apart from others.
Choose an Online Platform
The entirety of the internet and its platforms are at your disposal; whether that’s your own website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and many, many more. Each has their own benefits and style to suit your brand.
Create a Portfolio for Yourself
Start to gather a portfolio of materials you wish to be posted online or kept to show prospecting employers. What you display in your portfolio is key to how your image will be presented to the world, and the success of your self-marketing.
Like I said before, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Making connections and networking is key to self-marketing and promotion. You will be able to gain more experience and knowledge from your connections, while also utilising them in a way to expand your brand.
I suppose the question that stems from all of this is, can I be successful in this day and age without self-marketing through an online platform? And while there are certainly ways you can achieve this, accepting how self-branding and promoting operates now, is definitely something we should all strive to embrace in one way or another.