Whether you’re a writer or a content producer, there is one task you can’t avoid: marketing your work.
But how can you do it effectively in this growing atmosphere of distrust, clickbait titles, aggressive, displeasing, and annoying marketing tactics?
I never understood the need to market my work until I unexpectedly landed a job in writing and marketing. Before taking this job, I viewed marketing as something used to manipulate people’s opinions and influence consumer habits, but today, I realize marketing should be nothing but a natural and organic extension of my long-term projects.
Why marketing still matters
I always tell the awkward stories of my childhood when I need to explain the importance of adequate marketing to skeptics.
Being a quiet and timid introvert, afforded me the uncanny opportunity to observe my classmates. During those quiet years, I noticed that the people who spoke the loudest weren’t always right, but they were always the ones getting other people’s attention and respect.
Bullies, charismatic people, natural leaders, those who spoke loud, clear, and with confidence were the ones getting my classmates’ and teachers’ attention, while soft-spoken but brilliant people were ignored and openly mocked. This was as true in my childhood as it is today.
This bias isn’t fair, but it is simply the reflection of basic human nature. And the only way to overcome this unfairness is learning to play the game. If we don’t learn how to play it, our work will forever stay hidden and out of reach from those who could benefit from it the most. Because being “found” by the right people is becoming increasingly difficult in this endless sea of noise.
But what if my product/book/service isn’t good enough?
Thinking about marketing can surface a lot of insecurities. But, despite the challenges and difficulties, I came to view marketing as something that can be fun and rewarding.
It all started with my wedding. While organizing my wedding, I choose specific providers not only for the quality of their work but also because of the way they made me feel. I also choose NOT to work with some providers specifically because of something they said or done.
Let me tell you a story of how bad marketing made one specific service provider lose a sale.
I had only a few weeks until the wedding and my stress levels were through the roof. Among the countless bullet points on my endless to-do list, I had yet to chose and buy my wedding dress.
I visited many shops and dragged my family and friends with me on countless occasions. Until I finally found a dress that filled me with a sense of “wow.” I found it for the first time while I was visiting a bridal shop with a friend and immediately scheduled a second visit to show it to my family.
During that second visit, the lady who helped me get dressed took one quick look at me and immediately started explaining I was making a terrible choice because a girl like me should not wear a dress like that.
She went on saying that my family and friends would not recognize me in that dress and that what I really needed was a simple gown to match my plain complexion. In other words, she told me in from of my family that girls who dress plainly on workdays, should not use big and beautiful princess-like dresses on their wedding days.
Coincidentally, the gown she deemed appropriate for “girls like me” was almost twice as expensive as the dress I originally wanted to buy.
I wish I made this story up to illustrate my point. But I didn’t. That day I came home empty-handed and with tears on my eyes. It took me another month and many visits to finally find the princess-like dress of my dreams.
Why I am telling you this story? Because I want you to understand how most marketers make people feel – inadequate, insecure, and fearful. Those are powerful emotions that drive some people to act but, at the same time, they can alienate other people and they are definitely not the only emotions you can use to attract customers to your products and books.
Needless to say, in the store where I finally bought my dress, the shop owner treated me like a princess, and because of her, I still look back and remember that dress and the experience of buying it very fondly.
Marketing and… creativity?
Most writers (myself included) think about marketing after the post or the book was written, published, and sent to the world. Marketing, for most of us, comes as an afterthought rather than a well-defined long-term creative strategy that we act upon long before publishing our work.
This is why most writers struggle to attract visitors to their blogs or convince people to buy their books. Because marketing wasn’t taken into account since the early conception and product design, most attempts at “selling” these products either come across as feeble or aggressive leading to virtually no sales.
We are forgetting a simple fact: marketing is also a creative endeavor, not merely a mechanic or formal task. We should be using our creativity to design our marketing strategies, not simply view it as something disconnected from our work.
Have you noticed how organic and authentic marketing feels when done correctly by your favorite authors? I started analyzing what made some writers particularly good at marketing. I stopped listening to videos and courses provided by marketers, and instead, I obsessively analyzed what real writers were actually doing.
I started following people who marketed their work in creative ways and started taking note of the way they spoke about their products, posts, and books.
After a while, a pattern became obvious: all highly successful writers with a strong online presence had developed their unique marketing style and they had started interesting conversations with their audience long before they attempted to sell their products or books.
These people were were also unafraid of promoting and praising other writers, and many actively engaged in collaborations with other artists and openly spoke about their sources of inspiration.
Instead of viewing others as competitors, they viewed them as partners.
Instead of focusing on beating an algorithm or the competition, these people found creative ways to contribute to the community. Instead of trying to dominate the market, these people thrived because of their uniqueness and fearlessness.
Patience, consistency, creativity, and time
Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every 5 minutes, a new book gets published on Amazon. And every day, 4.4 million blog posts are published across the internet.
There are plenty of people speaking “loudly” these days.
Some marketers navigate this harsh environment by playing the trump card called FOMO – also known as the fear of missing out. They create urgency, play with people’s insecurities, make them feel inadequate, and present their products as the only possible solution.
I dislike this tactic because it leverages negative emotions, and I believe the world is cruel enough as it is. We don’t need marketers to remind us of our flaws when remembering our strengths is what we so desperately need.
Instead of creating urgency, volume, and making people question their value, I believe in creating quality. And the only way to do this is by first listening to the wants and needs of people around us. But this simple and straightforward strategy does take an unpredictable amount of time to come into fruition.
You may already be doing all of these things and still see no results. Maybe you’ve been blogging for some years, creating products for a while, trying to be as creative as possible when marketing your work… and still not be able to consistently sell books, short stories, or products.
The harsh reality is that most creatives will never find their audience or their niche. Most writers will never get an engaged audience. Because success is a mixture of skill, patience, creativity, and luck.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.Seneca
It could take years before people start noticing your work. Or you may never success at finding the audience of your dreams.
But those years will not be wasted if you take every chance you get to be better. If you decide to approach marketing and all your creative endeavors not as a race or a test, but as learning experiences.
Do not classify these experiences as “successes” or “failures”, simply view them as stepping stones in your long journey. No one can tell if you’ll get to cross the finish line, but I can certainly tell you that if you truly enjoy writing, you’ll live a life that’s worth living if you keep pursuing that dream.
What do you do to stay motivated when no one pays attention to your work? Tell me all about it in the comments below 👇👇