No Shame in Shameless Self-Promotion

marqueeYou have decided to wake up famous every day. You have a product or service that is valuable to others in some capacity, and you are committed to excellence. It is time to come to terms with the phrase “shameless self-promotion” and what it means to you because: (a) you should be doing it, and (b) you will be accused of doing it.

If shame is “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety,”  then to be shameless is to lack consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. You are not conscious of impropriety because, being committed to excellence, you are not guilty of being improper. Therefore, anytime you tell others about what you do, you are engaging in shameless self-promotion.

In her blog post Proud to be “shameless” author Brenda Coulter says:

If we sold cars, wouldn’t we put up signs at our places of business, advertise in the newspaper, and even think about doing radio or TV spots? Sure we would. So why do we call it “shameless self-promotion” when it’s not ourselves we’re promoting, but our books [or programming skills, or art, or…]?

There is nothing wrong with asking others to promote you. Artist Rachel Cotton  is asking others to comment on her web site or reference it on their blog in exchange for raffle tickets, of sorts, with the prize being one of her own metallic prints. What is particularly famous about this approach is that she promotes both word-of-mouth about her art, and she sends a piece of it into the world to promote itself from someone’s office or living room. Because it is unlikely that people will go out of their way to enter the contest if they don’t actually like Rachel’s art, her promotion creates a much more authentic “buzz” than if she were to give away something like an iPod.

You have something to offer the world. Offer it.

If someone criticizes you for shameless self-promotion and it makes you cringe, check yourself: Are you still being first-rate in all that you do? Are you still offering something of value to others? Is your promotional message, “Look what benefit I can provide to you” as opposed to “Look how cute I am”? And, perhaps most importantly, Are you experiencing some measure of success for doing what you do?

If you can answer “yes” to all four questions, then smile, say, “Thank you for sharing,” and dismiss the cutting remark for what it probably is: jealousy.

So, you’re famous, and there’s a billboard down there marked Leave a Comment. Go ahead! Be shameless!

3 thoughts on “No Shame in Shameless Self-Promotion”

  1. This is a great post. So many people have been brought up with the baggage of believing there is something bad about promoting yourself, with the idea that one must wait quietly for fame to come. The only people who would teach this are those who don’t want us to be famous, those who are perhaps jealous or would feel threatened by what we might accomplish, or those whose own self-esteem is so low that they are incapable of promoting themselves in any way. There is no shame in telling other people, through all available means, consistently and relentlessly about what you do. How else are they going to find out? No one is going to do it for you.

  2. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Nicole makes an excellent point. If I ran a bakery, I would have flyers and promos everywhere to keep my cakes selling. Why is it when we are promoting something more within the realm of creativity that we get a little shy on the marketing side? I am just as guilty as the next guy of that shyness, but I also must depend on the sales of my artwork to pay the bills. I find more shame in not paying the bills 🙂

    Thank you for including me in the “proud to be shameless” category. I am indeed proud. So if you haven’t seen my work – totally check it out and let me know your thoughts (shameless plug).

  3. Thanks for your thoughts (and plugs)!

    If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door. However, if you: (a) build it; (b) tell people about it; (c) pave the path to your door; and (d) hand out road maps; then people (with rodent troubles) might show up to buy one or two.

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