This post is based on episode 55 of the ProBlogger podcast.
So you’ve been blogging in your niche for a while now. And the more you’ve written about it, the more you’ve learned. You’re now considered somewhat of an expert in your field. And your archive backs that up, with lots of great content that can really help those looking for answers.
But how do you spread the word about your content (and your expertise) without sounding like a jerk?
This is a question I’ve been asked a lot, particularly by Australians. (I think it has a lot to do with ‘tall poppy syndrome’, where people don’t like to boast about their achievements.) And I’ve asked myself the same question a lot over the years.
So this week I’d like to offer you tips for promoting yourself without sounding like a jerk.
1. Do good stuff
This may seem pretty obvious, but it needs to be said: make sure your content is worth finding. If you’re a blogger, you need to be blogging well. If you’re blogging on a specific niche, you need to understand it and have something worthwhile to say about it.
Promoting content that fails to deliver may do more harm than good. Because even if you build up a solid archive content down the track, people may never bother coming back a second time.
2. Don’t think of it as self-promotion
As I mentioned earlier, some people (particularly Australians) don’t like to boast about their achievements. And that’s exactly what self-promotion can feel like.
So don’t think of it as promoting yourself. Instead, think of it as promoting ways you can use your talent, knowledge and expertise to help other people.
My passion is helping other people improve their blogs. I’ve been blogging for quite a while now, and in that time I’ve learned a lot and developed some skills and expertise. But I can’t just sit and wait for people to come to me. I need to get myself out there, find people with questions and issues, and let them know how I can help.
And that’s what you should do too.
3. Start with passion
How often have you seen the word ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ on someone’s Twitter profile? It’s become such a cliché these days that most people either ignore the claim or laugh at it.
But when someone says they’re passionate about something you react differently. You feel compelled to read their content just so you can find out more about who they are and what they’ve done.
Passion is infectious. It stimulates conversation, which then gives you a way to talk about what you can do for people.
So start with your passions, because people will find them much more interesting. And they’ll find you much more interesting as well. There will be plenty of time to talk about your achievements later.
4. Be a learner, and share what you’re learning
Another reason to avoid words like ‘expert’ and ‘guru’ is people might think you’ve stopped learning, and are no longer open to new ideas or new ways thinking.
I’m not interested in hearing from people who think they know everything there is to know about a topic. I want to hear from people who are still learning by gathering knowledge and asking questions.
And then sharing what they’ve learned with others.
So don’t be afraid to let people know you’re still learning. Share what you’ve learned. Share the things you’ve tried that haven’t worked as well as those that have. And never stop, because you will never know everything.
And that’s okay, as long as you’re honest about it.
5. Tell stories
When you get the opportunity to talk about your skills, achievements and qualifications, don’t just rattle them off as if you’re reading a list.
Tell a story.
Not only will it seem more natural, it will also put your achievements and qualifications in context. And your reader will feel a connection rather than just an admiration.
But don’t try to manipulate the conversation you’re having just so you can tell your story. Just have them ready for when the time is right.
6. Let people interpret the facts for themselves
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people have the word ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ in their profile. And what puts a lot of people off about these claims is that it’s all open to debate. What makes someone an expert? And who decides whether someone is one or not?
But facts are much less open to interpretation. So rather than claiming to be an expert on something, talk about the number of followers you have, or the number of books you’ve written about the topic.
And then let them make up their own minds about you.
Ideally, you’d include these facts in a story rather than lead with them. But if people ask you point blank about your credentials, feel free to use the facts on their own.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
The only time you should ever compare yourself to someone else is to point out why they are better than you. Don’t ever talk about how much more you know, or that your skills are better than theirs. Because you’ll be seen only as someone who puts other people down to make yourself look superior.
And that can seriously affect your reputation.
Instead, compare yourself to what you were like previously. Show them how much better you are now than when you first started.
When I talk about my blogging journey, I often mention that I had no credentials when I started out. I talk about having 20 jobs in ten years, about my average English marks at school, and how it took me three months to learn how to make text bold.
Of course, later on I’ll talk about the number of readers I’m now getting every month, and how I got to travel the world.
People like to see other people succeed. It makes them feel that they can do it too. And using these before-and-after snapshots is a great way to show you have succeeded.
But your success doesn’t need to have anyone else failing.
8. Give credit where it’s due
You’ve probably achieved some great things over the years. And while you may have accomplished a lot of these achievements on your own, there’s a good chance you had someone helping you with some of them.
And if that’s the case, you should acknowledge those who gave you that help.
In my final year of high school, I received the third-highest mark for my year level. It’s an achievement I was very proud of. But I also know it had a lot to do with being part of an amazing group of students.
That year I was in a small politics class with eight or nine other students who were amazing. We worked together, and spurred each other on. And so whenever people congratulated me on my marks I would always point out the other people in the group, and how much they helped. Yes, I worked hard. But I’m not sure I would have worked as hard if I didn’t have them supporting and encouraging me.
It’s the same with the ProBlogger events. People often compliment me for organizing and running such a great event, but most of the work is actually done by my team. So I make a point of thanking them publicly for all their hard work, and let people know who most of the credit should be going to.
This isn’t about putting yourself down. It’s about telling it like it is, and giving credit where credit is due.
9. Don’t go too far with modesty
I think we’ve established that no-one likes a bragger. But a lot of people don’t like excessive modesty either. Not only can it come across as false modesty, it can also make it seem like you don’t believe in yourself.
So you need to strike a balance. By all means point out your flaws. After all, no-one is perfect. But don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements and celebrate your successes.
10. Let other people promote you
Letting other people talk about you is often far more effective than anything you could say about yourself. People will pay far more attention to what other people say about you than what you say about yourself.
Testimonials are a great way to show what other people are saying about you. And a testimonial from the right person can give you a lot of kudos. But make sure they’re not too ‘gushy’, and don’t have too many or it may come across as boasting.
11. Build meaningful relationships
Some people attend networking events with one goal: to get their business card into the hands of as many people as possible. But I’d much rather make meaningful connections with four or five people during the event than leave with 200-odd people having only a vague idea of who I am.
Similarly, when promoting myself I try to go deep rather than wide. And I suggest you do the same.
Of course, if you find yourself speaking at a conference then going wide might work, Having a large audience hanging on your every word can be a great opportunity to spruik yourself a little. But when you have the opportunity for some one-on-one time with people, you should make the most of it. Engage with them, listen and respond to their questions, and be genuine.
And you should do the same when you’re online. Don’t just tell people about yourself in your tweets. Engage with them. You’re much better off making real connections with a few key people in your industry than having everyone know you a bit about you.
12. Read the mood of the moment
There are times when self-promotion is perfectly acceptable. Job interviews are on obvious example. If you don’t sell yourself there you’ll come across as someone who either doesn’t want the job or doesn’t believe in themselves.
But you wouldn’t want to try it at a dinner party. There you would need to show some restraint, because it’s a different type of interaction. You might be able to bring up your credentials and achievements as part of a story, but it won’t be anything like that job interview.
You also need to consider people’s cultures and even personality types. While some may find your self-promotion quite acceptable, others may not.
So how can you tell when it’s appropriate? By reading the signals and responding appropriately. If someone asks what you know, who you are, and what your experience is, by all means talk about your credentials and experience. But don’t force it on people if they don’t ask for it.
13. Be generous
Want to know the secret to being a great influencer? It’s pretty simple. Just use what you know to help those you influence.
What’s the point in developing all those skills, and all that knowledge and expertise, if you’re not going to share what you’ve learned? Being generous and sharing your expertise will not only help others, it will also help you by growing your influence. People will quickly discover who you are, what you know and what you can do.
And shout about you from the rooftops.
This is the best self-promotion because it’s not really self-promotion. You’re simply being generous and useful to those around you. Yes, some people will take everything you have and give nothing in return. 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 generous to them.
So there you have it: 13 tips for promoting yourself without sounding like a jerk. And now that you know the best way to promote yourself (or not promote yourself as the case may be), I want you to give it a shot. Tell us one thing you’re going to do, and then let us know how it goes.
Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash