It's not being self promotional to talk about what you do - Kathleen Celmins
It's not being self promotional to talk about what you do

It’s not being self promotional to talk about what you do

Working for yourself is a lonely venture. Working for yourself after moving to a new part of the country where you don’t have very many (okay really not any) friends and also starting a new business in an industry where you’re not familiar?

You know where this is going.

It’s hard. Impossibly lonely. And worse yet, no one understands what you do.

That lack of understanding is largely my fault. At first it was a lack of confidence. “Marketing,” I’d mutter, if anyone ever asked what I’m working on, hoping they’d go away.

If pressed, I’d fumble through an explanation. “I create marketing campaigns for digital entrepreneurs.”

“Oh,” they’d say, and lose interest, letting me off the hook.

Which was fine. It should not have been fine, because a new business does not grow from muttering and trying to get out of a conversation about what I do.

But as I started helping more people get amazing results, my confidence grew.

One client got 160 new signups for an annual membership based on the Black Friday campaign I created.

One made $60,000 on a quiz I made (not including the people who bought more after the quiz just from being on their list!).

Everyone saw a massive uptick in email subscribers after working with me, and not just email subscribers… email subscribers who were more likely to eventually buy something.

And that’s all in the last year!

I almost never talk about my role on Stacking Benjamins, the podcast where I was a partner for three years. My offline friends don’t know the podcast, and my online friends barely know I was on it, and if they do, they thought I must have been a virtual assistant or something because I wasn’t on the air or involved (much) in production.

But I wasn’t a virtual assistant.

I joined forces with my partners and turned the brand into a profitable one. I created systems to make producing three shows a week more seamless. We went from basically breaking even to earning more than six figures in a year based on what I did.

So why don’t I talk about it?

It’s funny, given that I chose to go and create a marketing company, but I sincerely LOATHE being seen as grandstanding or being too self promotional. I’m sure the reasons are varied and complex and have roots in sexism or what-have-you, but the truth is, if you don’t tell people what you’re working on, how on earth can you expect them to work with you?

It took going to Statement Event for me to realize how much of a disservice I’m doing to my business by staying quiet.

I spent a large part of the last year trying to get away from the online personal finance community. All personal finance content can be summed up by “spend less, earn more, invest the difference,” and as I was realizing it was time for me to part ways with my old partners, I knew I didn’t want to be a part of that content anymore.

But going to Statement Event, a two-day conference geared toward women in money media reiterated what I already knew: the people who still do create content in that space are changing lives and I want to help them.

Maybe it is feminine to stay quiet about what you do, but also the creators have spent years developing their expertise on how to be smart with your money, which means they haven’t spent years figuring out how to get their message in front of more people. And they don’t know the tech, so they stall.

They don’t create the course that more than a dozen people have asked them to create.

Or they do, then they put a “buy button” on their website and send one email (MAYBE) to their list, and when they don’t sell many (or any), they think they have a content problem.

In this space, it’s almost never a content problem.

It’s a marketing problem.

And those are way easier to fix, because the fix for a subpar course or digital product is typically along the lines of “burn it to the ground and build something out of the phoenix that rises from those ashes” which no one wants to hear.

Where am I going with this? And what does this have to do with Statement?

Statement Event is the brainchild of Stefanie O’Connell and Emma Pattee and this was the second year. The highlight for me was the second day, where I sat at a table with six other women, some of whom I’ve known for the better part of the last decade. Everyone had 20 minutes to talk about, and get advice about, their business.

That was amazing.

In fact, I think I got more out of talking to other people about what they’re working on than I did asking for their help. And I got a lot out of asking for help.

I read something somewhere (which does not make it easy for me to credit my source!) about how when you own your own business, you are the wine in the bottle.

You know your varietal, the alcohol content, the things your wine tastes like, the specific gravity, the oakiness, the vintage, and other wine-related words.

But you’re in the bottle, so you can’t see the label.

Not only that, if you’re the wine in the bottle (and yes, let’s take this to a ridiculous conclusion), and you’re in a wine store, you can see the other bottles and know things about them that you simply can’t know about yourself.

So when we tell other people things that we know about their business from an outsider’s point of view, they’re floored.

“Your label says something different than what you’re going for,” we say. The person takes notes, changes things, adjusts their reality, when what we’re doing is talking about what is so obvious from outside the bottle.

Speaking of wine, I wanted my session to come last, at the end of the day, after the bottles had been opened.

I talked about what I learned over the past year, and realized that I would be SO happy to get to guide more entrepreneur friends through the promotion side of their business. So I said that.

“I hate seeing people leave money on the table, and I can look at someone’s business to see where there are revenue opportunities, specifically in the digital product creation corner. How do I get more clients?”

The response was overwhelming. A friend I’ve known for a long time, Erin, said, “You’re telling me you can solve a problem I’ve had for over a year and I’m just learning about this now? That’s a problem.”

Liz agreed but saw the other side. “It’s better to be not promotional enough with your friends because that’s easier to remedy than being too self promotional.”

Good point.

So when I got home, I put together slides discussing some of the things my clients have accomplished with my help.

It was wonderful.

And even if it doesn’t lead to more business, it was really helpful to hear that talking about what you do isn’t self promotion.

One of my offline friends talks about work on Instagram, and I know more about where she is in her career than any of my friends OR FAMILY FOR THAT MATTER know about where I am and what I’m doing.

And that is so silly.

I realized what I was trying to do with the Chamber of Commerce is what I should be doing in a community I’m already in.

It’s not enough to know something.

You have to be known for knowing something.

And the only way I’m going to be known for the things I know is by … talking about them.

I want people to come to me when they’re stuck on something and need some advice.

I want to help people give their websites makeovers.

I want to guide entrepreneurs through the promotion process.

I want to help my friends make more money.

Because there’s nothing wrong with making more money. The “wrong thing” is letting that money go to someone else who isn’t as good as you are but is better at promotion.

If any of this resonates, let’s talk.


Case study:

How we earned $100,000 in a year on a digital product

Get the three things that made the most difference when we marketed a digital course and it earned $100,000 in just 12 months.

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