“You don’t feel like a realtor yet,” I said to a friend recently, and then I watched his whole face change. While he’d been licensed and practicing for six months, it was true: he hadn’t yet made the shift in his own mind. And it was getting in the way of his marketing.
This happens to artists a lot, too: we often have a hard time believing the label. For some, no amount of training, sales, certification, reviews or success will be enough for them to truly own the title. In some ways it’s harder for performers and creatives in general, as we don’t have a licensing authority smacking a sword on each shoulder and dubbing us “real”. It was somehow a relief to find that those in other professions can get caught in the labeling mire as well.
Believing the status
So… how do you see yourself? What’s keeping you from embracing the label you so richly deserve?
It’s a simple truth, and a common quandry.
Self-promotion is essential in what we do.
Sending a message about yourself into the world.
You must believe your own message.
The surprising truth is that you may need to send it first, and believe it as soon as possible. This “fake it ’til you make it” more may seem like a cliché, and it does indeed come with some risk. But so does doing your promotion half-assed. The risk will be there no matter what you do. But if you do nothing, or don’t try hard enough, you’re sure to fail. You just have to believe in yourself enough to get moving.
For performers, branding can seem like a foreign concept, rather than an organic part of what they do. Turning our very personal work into a saleable product pushes all of our buttons, raising hackles and revealing questions, such as:
- Who am I?
- Who do I do?
- Who would be interested?
- What do I offer?
- Where do I work?
- Or, Where does my work live?
Part of the value of learning to do your own publicity, at least for awhile, is that you’re at the helm when these questions MUST be addressed, and the process offers a cogent chance for reflection about goals, audience, and the basic question of WHY your work is meaningful, and to whom.
Start simply, and get some of these questions answered for yourself. If your whole career is too much to wrap your head around, try taking on a single project, a single job or just one aspect of what you want to do. You’ll be able to set your next goals with far more clarity and purpose. Then…