...making it simple for you to write powerfully
book a workshop
  • Your Shopping Cart

Because YOUR Self-Promotion Sucks

Why Your Self-Promotion Sucks

This guy's message is a little obvious

I just consulted a musician in England.  When I asked him what he did he said, “Well, uh… I guess… uh… it’s hard to explain really.  I write songs… and I play gigs…”


That’s a terrible way to make an impression that someone will remember.  I say this not because I’m the world’s best at it.  I struggled for years trying to tell people that I was a Spoken Groove artist who performed with an incredible guitarist in bars, festivals, churches, universities and business meetings.


“But what’s your show like, Peter?  Is it music?  Is it rap?  Is it funky white boy dancing?”


“Well… uh… it’s like Dr. Seuss took a walk through the ghetto and decided to become the white, jive king.”


That always made them smile.  But they still had no clue.


When I started teaching writing workshops in schools, I noticed how much easier it was for people to tell others what I do.


“What do you do, Peter?”


“I teach writing workshops in schools.”


“What ages?”


“Middle Schools and High Schools”


“Wow, cool.  How long?”


“An hour per class gets them understanding the simple tools that make writing powerful, producing their own work and marveling at how much fun it is to do something they thought was boring.”


“And how much does that cost?”


“$700 for an entire day of workshops at one school.”


See how much easier it is to tell someone about school workshops than Dr. Seuss, funky white boy dancing Spoken Groove?  Here are the easy steps you can use to apply this to your own art / business / story…


1. Put Yourself in a Box.

Limit your focus to the main people who like what you do.  Exclude the others.  You’ll find more like the ones who like you.  You won’t have to bother with the ones who don’t.  You’ll become king of the “Summer Clothes for Weasels” store.  Once you’ve conquered that mountain you’ll be prepared with experience to branch out to reach the weasels at other times of the year.  And then you can apply your creativity to the clothes of other mammals.  Artists hate doing this.  Businesses do it more readily, but still not very well.  The ones who decide to focus get signed, promoted and supported, and sell lots of whatever they create.


Example:  I’m a singer/songwriter who sounds like Mumford & Sons and weaves musical stories about the challenges of college students, using my guitar, stomp box, loop pedal and warbly voice.  Anyone can get excited about and repeat that.


2. Decide What’s Free and How Much You Get Paid.

Sometimes exposure to a crowd is worth more than getting paid.  Speak, perform, write, cook, etc… for free when it’s a big group who doesn’t know you.  It’ll result in people asking you how much you’ll charge them for what you did well (if you’re any good).  Then be ready with a number ahead of time so you can say your “normal price” confidently.


The only difference between a person who gets paid $500 to speak and someone who gets paid $50 is a decision ahead of time  (Feel free to apply to your price range).  Even if someone doesn’t have $500 to pay you, once you’ve said $500, they’re going to offer $400, $300 or $150, at the lowest.  That’s way more than $50.  If they don’t pause or have to think about it for a little bit, you charge too little.  Money’s good, especially when you do good things with it.


3. Make Sure Your Supporters Get Paid.

Artists think that the quality of their art drives success.  Businesses think that the quality of their products sells them.  Speakers think that their ability to inspire a crowd puts them in demand.  Those matter, but not to make you successful.  If the audience isn’t getting more than they expect, they won’t keep up with you or tell anyone about you.  If a record label or publisher isn’t making money or increasing their profile, they’ll stop working with you.  If a restaurant who’s letting you play dinner music isn’t getting more customers or increasing their average dinner ticket with alcohol, appetizers, etc… they’ll stop paying you to play.


Find out what will make your investor or fans happy and make sure they get more than they hoped.  Even better, align what you get paid with them reaching their goals.  If you’re playing at a restaurant, charge them a small amount at the beginning and have it increase monthly as their food/beverage sales go up.  If you’re a performer, put on a silly costume, do a crazy dance, decorate your stage with something huge or tiny, or interact with the crowd more than they expected.  If you’re a business, deliver a better experience or service than they could have imagined.  Your audience/customers will love you.  The people who support you will love you.  You’ll make money, even before you ever become famous.


4. Tie your Social Media Efforts to the 3 Goals Above.

Do it.  Keep doing it.  Stay consistent at doing it.  Pretty soon you won’t be self-promoting.  You’ll have a crowd of people happy to promote you to the world.  And that’s way better than one person shoving a bullhorn in your face to make you listen to him talk about himself.


Share if you think others would likey...
Leave a comment


  1. Great thoughts! This pushes me further with the way I’m currently marketing my work. Thanks for sharing!

    • peternevland

       /  April 4, 2013

      You’re welcome, Derek! Glad to be able to help you. 🙂 What specific actions are you taking to apply it to you in Indiana (is it still Indiana?)?