How to sell yourself when it makes you super uncomfortable

As you may or may not know I recently relaunched my portfolio and opened a little store filled with illustrated goodies. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long while but it wasn’t until recently that I was confident enough in myself to start selling my work and my skills properly. I don’t really like talking about myself, as much as my regular blogging may suggest otherwise, and I certainly don’t like trying to tell people I’m talented, in part because I’m still trying to convince myself.

Throughout the process of setting up the store, and of writing this blog for over a year, I’ve come up with a few ways to get more comfortable with selling myself as someone who’s very uncomfortable with doing so and I thought I would share my learnings with you too, on the off chance they can help someone else.

DECENTRE YOURSELF

You are not the centre of the universe. No one cares as much about your self-promotion or your latest project as much as you do. I don’t say that to be mean, because as soon as I realised that talking about my work became a lot easier for a whole number of reasons. First, it took the pressure off for my work to be perfect. Second, once I realised there are very few people who see every tweet/Instagram (thanks algorithm)/blog post it dawned on me that it was okay, and actually necessary to talk about my work more than once. Third, it meant that I could, and should sell myself harder. There are very few people I see talk about their work and I go “oh no, wait, that’s super arrogant”. If I see someone doing good work 9 times out of 10 I’m just excited to see it.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SHARE

This sounds really basic but having something you’re really proud of and want to share with the world makes promoting it so much easier. For me, that means making sure I’m undertaking a project for the right reasons e.g. making things I think will make people happy or serve a purpose rather than just having something to sell. It also meant, for my latest big project, my store and portfolio ***LINK***, testing the website with friends to check that it was ready to go out into the world before I even thought about sharing it with you guys. Things don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be happy with them.

TALK ABOUT THE WORK

Once you have work you want to shout about from the rooftops, make sure you’re talking about the work. If you’re uncomfortable selling yourself, sell the work. It’s way easier to talk about some great greeting cards rather than how great you are as an illustrator. Even when you’re talking about your process rather than focusing on your own artistic epiphany (who even has those) talk about the people you designed for, the tools you used, the problem you want to solve, that way you’re making your work personal without having to talk overtly about yourself. The sneaky trick with this one is that you’re inadvertently showing off your skills.

DIVERSIFY YOUR CHANNELS

If you’re feeling self-conscious about spamming people, diversify where you talk about your work and how you talk about it. Rather than tweeting please buy my hand knitted socks 5 times a day, try writing a blog post about why knitted socks are super cosy for winter, or do an Instagram story of your snug feet, or even try and get featured on someone else’s site. Building awareness doesn’t have to mean hitting people over the head with something. Integrate your promotion into useful content and people are far more likely to engage, and you’re far more likely to feel comfortable about doing it because you’re adding value while writing about yourself.

ASK FOR HELP

Ask your friends and family what they would say about your or how they would sell your products. Using their words can take the pressure off you and help you see your work from someone else’s perspective. If you feel a bit more confident, ask them to share your work as well. That way it’s not always you talking about your own work, and you can tap into their networks too.

JUST BITE THE BULLET

At some point you’re just going to have to accept that you’re wonderful and say it loud and proud. Embrace your inner Beyonce and just own it.*

*I’m still working on this one.

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