If the thought of creating a “brand” to promote yourself makes you uncomfortable, maybe it’s time to view the self-promotion process from a different perspective.
During the International Freelancers Day conference sponsored by the International Freelancers Academy, conference organizer Ed Gandia interviewed social-media marketing expert Laura Roeder about how to become the “go to person” in your field. Laura specializes in teaching small businesses how to create their own fame. During the interview, she emphasized that her approach doesn’t require pretending to be someone you’re not, or puffing yourself up in a way that seems phony.
Before starting her current business, Laura Roeder was a freelance graphic designer. And, like many freelancers, she met most of her first clients at networking events. The problem with this approach, said Roeder, was that each time she introduced herself to someone new she had to start from ground zero, explaining who she was and what she did. The process was long and time-consuming, taking hours away from the time that could be spent on performing billable work.
When Roeder switched from web design to social-media consulting, a project she did for an actor-friend helped her discover a self-promotion process that can make it easier for self-employed creative professionals to find their next gig.
“Through that process, I saw that you can really make yourself famous,” said Roeder. “And you really need to. You can really create your own community. And that can be a very, very small community because you don’t need that many customers.”
The goal is to create a circle of people who know who you are and will approach you when they have projects you can help them with. So, instead of trying to sell yourself to every person you meet, said Laura, you create fame for yourself within a relatively small community of people.
“The thing you have to remember is that every single person starts at zero,” said Roeder. No website or blog starts with traffic. And every mailing list starts with zero people. It’s a process that takes time and effort. But once you start getting small amounts of online exposure, the cumulative results of your efforts will begin to snowball.
One way to start attracting traffic to your website or blog is to get yourself interviewed, advises Roeder. “When you watch an interview with someone, it automatically positions them as an expert because we think why would they bother being interviewed if people didn’t want to hear what they had to say?” Being interviewed is a way to make people think you’re an expert, without you having to say it yourself.
Finding places to get interviewed has become very easy, says Roeder, because so many people now publish blogs and podcasts and have a constant need for fresh content and ideas. To get herself known as a specialist in motion graphics, Roeder went to the iTunes store and searched for podcasts related to marketing. She made a list of all of the podcasts that small-business owners might listen to, then approached the creator of each podcast one at a time. In a very brief e-mail, she said, “I’m a freelance designer and I specialize in motion graphics. I thought your audience would like to hear a few simple tricks you can do to make your motion graphics look great, even if you’ve never done them before.”
The important thing is to pitch interview ideas that the audience will value, said Laura. You have to figure out why an audience might want to listen to what you have to say.
Another way to create fame for yourself is to offer to write guest posts on blogs that are read by people who might want to hire you.
“What’s cool about guest posting is that it’s all indexed on the Web,” says Roeder. Thus, when a potential client Googles you before they hire you, they will find a page filled with articles that you have written and interviews that you’ve done. Even if you post on a dinky, little blog that doesn’t have a lot of readers, it still lives in Google forever, so people will continue to see it.
After you have been interviewed on podcasts or written guest posts, make sure that visitors to your website see where you have been featured. Posting small icons or logos of all the sites on which you have appeared quickly creates a visual impression.
One other tactic you can use, says Roeder, is to ask to be a speaker at the conferences you would like to attend. It can be as simple as sending a nice note expressing your enthusiasm for the conference, then mentioning that “if you’re looking for more speakers, here are some topics I can talk about.” Conference organizers won’t always say yes, but you aren’t likely to get invited to speak unless you make it known that you’re interested.
Gandia wrapped up his interview by asking Roeder to share some parting thoughts.
“The most important thing is to just give it a shot, even if you don’t feel like you’re ready,” said Roeder. “In my experience, no one feels like they’re ready.” Don’t wait until you reach some sort of pinnacle in your career, because working to create fame for yourself is partly how you reach that pinnacle.
To learn more about Laura’s “Creating Fame” online training program, visit: www.lkrsocialmedia.com.
To see some of the inspirational online training that the International Freelancers Academy offers to solopreneurs, visit their website.