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How to Let People Know What You Have to Offer Without Being Annoying

Today’s episode is all about how to promote yourself without coming across as an arrogant jerk. It’s in response to a question from a reader, but I know that this is something that a lot of people struggle with. It can be tricky conveying your talent, experience, and expertise without being annoying, but it is possible. I share 13 tips to make it less daunting.

Young Woman Shouting with Megaphone by Lars Zahner on

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why serving others is more important than pushing your talents
  • How you can use your passion to stimulate questions and conversation
  • Why sharing what you don’t know can be a powerful way to attract new readers
  • How you can grow your own reputation by crediting other people
  • Why it’s important to accept help
  • How modesty can undermine your message
  • How to know when to stop talking about what you can offer
  • The most powerful thing you can do to create a positive impression
  • Why comparing yourself to others can be toxic
  • The secret to being a great influencer

Further Reading and Resources for How to Let People Know What You Have to Offer Without Being Annoying

Other episodes with tips for finding new readers:

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to the ProBlogger Podcast episode 55, where today, I want to answer our reader’s question about promoting yourself without coming across as arrogant or as you put it, a jerk. You can find today’s show notes at 

I received an email this morning from Samantha, at least we’ll call her Samantha because she did ask to remain anonymous. She writes, “I’ve been blogging now for a few months and have built up an archive of posts that I think are useful for those who might find them but I’m struggling with one big question, how to get people to read? I’ve listened to some of your episodes on growing readership and I understand the techniques that I probably need to use but my problem is that I’m scared to start. Most specifically, my issue is that I don’t want to get too self-promotional and come across as a complete jerk by overdoing it and always being in people’s faces. Can you help?”

This is a great question and it is one that I’ve heard many times over the years and it’s something that I’ve struggled with as well over the years. Many of the times that I’ve been asked this question, it’s come from Aussies and I’m not sure whether it’s tall poppy syndrome which seems to be something that we struggle with as Aussies; we don’t like to be seen to be self-promotional. I think perhaps cultural issues do come into this, at least in part but it may also be a personality type of thing as well. Some people seem more comfortable promoting themselves than other people.

As Samantha does say in her email, we have talked in previous episodes about finding readers. Specifically, if you want to get into some of the techniques to finding readers and promoting yourself, you might want to look at episodes 33–37. Those five episodes, we do talk about the topic quite a bit. But this question does remain and we really didn’t address it in those particular episodes about coming across the wrong way when you’re promoting yourself. 

You’ve got to believe in yourself to some degree, you’ve got a talent, you’ve got some sort of experience, or you’ve got some sort of expertise. Most of us do have something that we feel comfortable in talking about but we don’t want to come across as a complete jerk as Samantha says. So, how do you convey what you can do for people, what you do know, and what skills you have without alienating everyone else who’s listening to you?

What I want to do today is suggest a few different things that I think are helpful in this whole area of self-promotion, […] things to be specific. These are not techniques. These are more mindset things and bigger picture strategies. The first one that I want to talk about—we won’t talk about it for too long because it almost goes without saying—really, you want to do good stuff.

If you want to be found on the internet, you need to have something worth being found. You need to be doing something worth promoting. If you’re a blogger, you need to be blogging well. If you’re blogging on a specific niche, you need to understand that niche, have some skills and worthwhile things to say. Obviously, that makes it a whole heap easier if you’ve got something of quality to promote. I don’t really want to talk about that one too much because I think it almost does go with that saying, but it’s foundational. 

Number two is that you need to really think about this whole activity of putting yourself out there in a different way than self-promotion. Think about it as an exchange of value rather than self-promotion. If you’re always thinking about promoting yourself, it’s a bit of a selfish place to start from. “I want people to see me.” That’s a bit of a selfish way to think about it. 

I would encourage you to think about how you can serve others, how you’re going to use your talent to improve the situation of those around you. Rather than promoting yourself, you’re promoting something that you can do for other people. I think this is a bit of a subtle mind shift. When you begin to see what you’re doing and putting yourself out there is a way of helping people rather than promoting yourself primarily, it begins to change things, at least it has for me.

My passion is to help bloggers to improve their blogs. I know I do have some experience. I’ve been blogging now for 13 years and I’ve developed some skills. I don’t have every skill that is needed but I do know some stuff and I know that I need to get myself out there in order to help people. If I just stay in my own little shell, I’m never going to help anybody and I’m never going to do anything meaningful for anyone.

Rather than thinking about, you’ve got to promote yourself, think about getting yourself out there to help other people. This also means you need to become a listener, you need to understand the needs of other people around you, and offer your talents when the moment is right rather than pushing your talent upon anyone who cares to listen to you. Get inside that mind shift of thinking about what value can you bring rather than how can I promote myself?

The third tip is to lead with your passion. It’s much better to lead off when you’re meeting someone new or when they first discover you on Twitter, for example, by talking about how passionate you are about your topic rather than leading with your list of achievements, list of skills, or list of qualifications. Perhaps, instead of on your social media or accounts, leading with, “I’m a social media expert,” “I’m a rock climbing expert,” or, “I’m a guru in productivity,” lead with what you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about rock climbing, I’m passionate about social media, I’m passionate about productivity.

There might come a time where you can list your skills, achievements, and qualifications, but people are much more interested in connecting with people who have passions. I admire people who have passion and I want to talk to people who have passion. Passion stimulates conversation, passion stimulates questions which may open up opportunities for you to share what you’ve achieved, what you know, and what you can do. But instead of starting with those things, lead with your passion. It’s a gentler way into the conversation.

Tip number four is to be a learner, be a learner and to share what you’re learning. I personally would much prefer to pay attention to someone who is still on the road to their destination, someone who is still open to new ideas, someone who’s still learning. I’d much prefer to connect with that type of person than someone who is already at the summit and who is presenting themselves as someone who knows everything there is to know on a topic.

Maybe that’s just my personality but I suspect that most people are like that. They much prefer to know someone who is ahead of them in the journey but who is still learning. Be someone who’s reading, who’s asking questions and gathering knowledge, and who’s upfront about the fact that you’re doing that. Ask questions in public, share what you’re learning and what you’re reading, share what you didn’t know yesterday that you know today. This actually shows to people that not only do you know some things, but you are gathering knowledge and you are continuing to hone your skills and qualifications. I think this helps you to present a more relatable person who still does know something.

Tip number five is to tell stories and to give case studies. When the opportunity does come to share your skills, achievements, and qualifications, they’ll come across much more naturally if you embed them within a story rather than just listing off what you know, what you’ve done, and what you’ve achieved.

Stories are so much more relatable. They show the context of your qualifications and expertise. They create memories and they’re much more likely to leave a person feeling that they’re connected to you rather than they just admire you. I think stories are so powerful in building a perception of expertise in a particular topic.

The key here is to make sure that the story is relevant to the context and the conversation that you need to share them into. Don’t just try to manipulate conversation so that you can tell a story. That comes across a bit arrogant, too. Keep it natural, but do have stories that you can share when the opportunity arises. 

Tip number six is to give people facts and let them interpret those facts rather than interpreting for them. It’s very hard to argue with a fact but it’s easy to write off an interpretation of a fact. Now, let me give you an example of this. On Twitter, I see quite a few people talking about how they are a guru on a particular topic.

I’m thinking particularly in the social media spaces, a lot of social media gurus or social media experts, self-proclaimed social media experts at least. That’s always going to be debatable. What can’t be debated is how many Twitter followers do you have, how many books you’ve written, how many blog posts have you read, how many readers you have, what your stats are. These types of things are probably better to lead with rather than “I am a social media guru.” That’s an interpretation of a fact.

Just lead with the facts. Put it out there what you have done, if you do need to put those things out there at all. They come best when you are telling a story but sometimes, the opportunity does arrive to lead with a fact. Let other people make those interpretations of who you are and what you are. They can arrive at their own conclusions rather than you having to tell them that you’re an expert or you are a guru. 

Tip number seven is to not compare yourself with other people, particularly in public. Rather, compare yourself to where you’ve been. I came across a really interesting study—I’ll put a link in today’s show notes—that talked about how self-superiority claims can be one of the worst things that you can do. When you talk in public about your self in comparison to another person and how much more you know, how many more skills you have, what they don’t know, what they can’t do, and what they haven’t experienced; when you put someone else down in a public way, that can do a lot of harm to you. It’s one of the worst things that you can do. It can really hurt how people perceive you. 

The same study found that on the flip side, one of the most powerful things that you can do to make a good impression upon people is to make what they call self-improvement claims. Showing where you once were and where you now are. This creates a much, much, much more favorable impression upon someone.

I do this in some of the talks that I give when I’m doing a keynote, I often talk about how, when I started blogging, I had no credentials to be a blogger. How I’d had 20 jobs in the last 10 years and I didn’t know how to code anything, I had never written before, I only had a C-grade average in English, and how, for the first three months of my blog, I didn’t know how to make text bold. It’s a little least I run through that shows, how I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started. That’s my before (if you like), but my after is that I’ve got 4 or 5 million readers per month today, that I’ve written a book, and I get to travel the world.

I talk on that second list about some of my qualifications, about some of my achievements but I do so comparing it to where I started and how I knew nothing. That type of contrast is very well received. People loved those before and after snapshots. If you do need to talk about where you’ve gotten to, what you’ve achieved, and what your qualifications are, one way that you can soften that a little is to make your self-improvement claim, to paint the before and the after picture, and particularly don’t compare yourself to others. That comes across as very arrogant and it can really hurt your reputation.

Tip number eight is to share credit where it’s due. You have probably achieved some really great things. You probably do have some qualifications and some expertise in a particular area. You’ve done some great things and that’s great, it’s worth talking about these things. But in most of those cases, at least in part, they are probably due to circumstances that are outside of your control or at least are partly due to the work of other people as well. 

When you give credit to other people or to other circumstances that were outside of your control, that’s not belittling who you are or what you’ve achieved but it gives context and I think that’s really important.

So, a few examples of this. When I was in my last year of high school, I was second or third in my year level, I think I was third. Now, that was an achievement, that was something that I was proud of. The reality is, at that year level in our school, I was a part of an amazing group of students. I was in a politics class. It was a very small class and there were about eight or nine students in the class, but they were amazing. We collaborated together as a group and we spurred each other on. And because we’re all working together, we raise everyone’s marks. When people would congratulate me on my marks, I would always point to the fact that I did it with this other group of people. Yes, I did work hard, but it was partly because of the work of other people around me. 

Another example of this is the ProBlogger event that we run. I regularly get compliments at the end of that event about how great the event was. Most, I could quite easily take credit for, but I know that it’s the result of a lot of hard work from my team. While I contribute to the team, my team really puts on that event. So, I always give them praise and always reflect back to people who give me compliments, that is, at least in part if not almost completely, due to the fact that I’ve got a great team.

Similarly, when I started blogging, I had a wife who worked full time while I worked hard to build my blogs. I didn’t bring much income into the family at that time, and yet, she continues to work full time. I acknowledge today that I’m where I am. A big part of that is to do with my wife and the fact that she worked really hard. I was incredibly gracious with her time in those early days of my own blogging. 

I don’t bring myself down and my own achievements down by giving credit to other people, but for me, it’s about giving context. It’s about showing that it’s just not me who’s gone to bring me to the point that I’m at today. It’s my wife, it’s my team, it’s my colleagues. I guess it’s about humility. Humility shouldn’t be false. It’s not about putting yourself down, it’s about telling it as it is and giving credit where it is due. I think this really helps when you are promoting yourself because it means you’re not just promoting yourself, you come promoting other people as well and the contributions of other people.

Tip number nine is to not go too far with modesty. While nobody likes a bragger, excessive modesty can also come across poorly. It can make you seem like you almost don’t believe in yourself. It can also come across as false modesty at times. What I’m saying here is it needs to be balanced. Believe in yourself, celebrate your successes, put out your skills but also do it with humility. 

In the context of the things that you don’t know and the […] used to have and the flaws you have as well. I think people receive that so much better. If they can see that you’re a normal human being, that you’re relatable, that you can have things that you could have and things that you’re still working on. 

Tip number 10 is to let other people promote you. There are times where letting other people have the microphone to talk about you is very appropriate and more effective than anything you could say about yourself. I think it’s been scientifically proven, I can’t remember what the study is, but people pay a whole heap less attention to what you say about yourself and they pay a whole heap more attention to what other people say about you. Being a bit strategic about that can sometimes be effective. Testimonials can be particularly used effectively. 

Although, I have to say, sometimes I read testimonial pages and I do wonder who wrote them. They can come across as a little bit boastful if you have too many of them or if they’re too hyped up, so you do need to be a bit careful about how testimonials are presented. Certainly, they can help a lot, particularly if it’s the right person giving you kudos and credit.

Having a wingman, having a wing woman to work with, who you work in tandem with can also help. I know some podcasts that I listened to, this works particularly well when two people are interviewing another person and they each give each other props along the way, which helps to build credibility of the two interviewers rather than one person just talking about their own experience all the time.

Tip number 11 is to build meaningful relationships rather than just shouting at random people. You want to spend your time investing in relationships with those you meet rather than trying to get your business card into the hands of many people. This is an analogy of when you go to a networking event. I personally would rather spend my time in a networking event having really meaningful conversations with four or five people over an evening rather than trying to get out there and put my business cards in the hands of 200 people. I’d much prefer five people feeling like they have a deep connection with me, a meaningful connection with me rather than 200 people having some vague idea of who I am.

When you are promoting yourself, go deep rather than wide. There are probably situations where going wide might work, particularly when you’re invited to speak at a conference or something like that. Lots of people can hear your voice for a few moments and that can be an effective thing, but particularly, when it’s an opportunity for one-on-one, I think it’s really important to go as deep as possible. So, be genuine with people, respond to questions, engage with people.

When we’re thinking online, particularly, don’t just be a broadcaster. Don’t just shout at people with your tweets. Actually talk with people, respond to people, engage with people. It is much better to have deeper, meaningful relationships with a few key people in your industry than to be known by everybody. 

Tip number 12 is to read the mood of the moment. There are times where self-promotion is more acceptable than other times. For example, a job interview. That calls for some self-promotion. If you go into a job interview and you don’t sell yourself, that shows that you aren’t really that interested in the job or you don’t believe in yourself. That kind of situation, you do need to sell yourself.

On the other hand, if you go to a dinner party, it calls for some restraint, it calls for a different type of conversation and interaction. There may be an opportunity during that dinner party to be self-promotional in an indirect way by telling a story, through a meaningful conversation, but it’s going to be a different situation. 

Similarly, some personality types or people from different cultures may have different expectations, higher levels, or different levels of what can be appropriate in terms of promotion. You need to really learn to read the signals and respond appropriately. When someone asks you to tell them what you know, who you are, and what your experience is, that’s an invitation. But don’t force that type of information upon people who aren’t asking. Learn to read the signals and respond appropriately.

The last tip, tip 13 that I want to give you, encompasses a few of the things I’ve already talked about, it is to be generous. The secret to being a great influencer is to use the influence that you’ve grown for the benefit of those that you influence. That statement has a few too many “influences” in it. Let me say it again for you. The secret to being a great influencer is to use the influence that you’ve grown for the benefit of those that you influence. If you have expertise, if you have skills, if you have the knowledge, if you have the experience, if you have qualifications, those things are completely wasted if you spend your whole life simply gathering them up for the benefit of yourself. 

In my opinion, those things are for the benefit of those around you and this is actually the quickest way to grow your influence; to become well-known. When you are generous with the things that you have, use those things for the benefit of other people. When you are generous, when you exercise the gifts that you have for the benefit of those who are around you. The recipients of your generosity will see who you are, they’ll see what you know, they’ll see what you can do, and they will shout it to the world for you.

This is the best self-promotion that there is, in my opinion. It’s not promoting yourself, it’s simply being useful, it’s simply being generous to those around you. Some of those people will just take from you and they’ll never shout to the world but you’ll be amazed how many people will tell other people about you, what you know, and what you can do if you’re just generous to them. You’ll not need to promote yourself anywhere near as much as you might think if you take on this idea of generosity.

Use the influence, use the skills, use the knowledge, use the experience, use the qualifications that you have for the benefit of the others. Be generous with those things and I believe opportunities will come your way. 

I’ve just bombarded you with 13 tips on how to self-promote or not to self-promote in some cases. I would love to get your feedback on this. This is all fresh stuff that I just came up with in response to Samantha’s question this morning, and I’m sure there’s much more that could be said on this particular topic.

Again, if you want more tactics and techniques for growing readership of your blog which you can build on some of these things that I’ve talked about today, go back to episodes 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37. There’s a whole heap more tactical stuff there, but I hope that these 13 things have helped those of you who are struggling to get out of that place of just building your blog, writing great content, and don’t really want to come across this too self-promotional.

I hope some of these have been helpful for you and your own blogging. Most of it also (I think) is applicable, no matter whether you’re a blogger, you’re a YouTuber, or whether you’re in business in some other places as well.

You can find today’s show notes at where you can give me your feedback on today and let us know what you would add on today’s list. Look forward to chatting with you in episode 56 of the ProBlogger Podcast. This is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger.

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What did you learn from today’s episode? Do you have other tips that have worked for you? What will you try next?

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