BUSINESS

How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs)

Mayi Carles

Some people are just so great at talking about what they do + why they do it. They pull people in with a selfie + get everyone around them invested in their lifestyle in mere moments. You people, go away. This post is not for you. Kidding, you can stay… just don’t laugh at the rest of the world who really struggles with this self-promoty game.

Personally, the hardest part of my job is talking about myself to total strangers.

This past Monday I was put to the test. My super talented friend + professional hustler + public speaking powerhouse, Stefy Cohen, invited me to participate in a Girl Power conference. As the avalanche of ladies approached my booth, my heart raced as if I were riding a roller coaster, the upside down kind. Then, Loser FM started playing in my head: What if they don’t like me? What if everyone thinks my book is over-priced? What if my homemade granola isn’t good enough? Does this lace dress make me look pregnant? Wait… I am pregnant!!!

The front line is scary. I know.

Putting yourself on the line can be hard. It’s way easier to stay in bed. Tempting even. But you cannot leave your mark if you’re hiding. Even Batman has to leave his cave to fight crime + save Gotham + change the world. World’s not gonna conquer itself, I keep reminding myself.

I think many creatives struggle with promoting their work the most because, well, the work is so personal. But our small biz empires aren’t gonna create buzz for themselves. We must take the initiative to get out there + make a name for ourselves.

My goal with this post is to help you warm up your self-promoting muscles, so you feel more confident + less icky sharing your unique gifts with the world, because in doing so I’ll freshen up my un-slimmy marketing tactics + take them out for a ride, I’m getting rusty.

Here’s 20 promo-moves that won’t make you feel pucky + will definitively not annoy my tribe. Get grabby!

Sidebar Note

1. Start with how you can help them. 

The truth is people are not that into you. What they’re really after is what you can do for them? How your products + services can make their lives better? Ego stand aside. Narrow down your calling into a short + easy to read blurb. Then, place this comprehend sentence somewhere prominent on your website. I wrote mine with my 10 little fingers, so it felt like a personal hand written invitation to connect. How can I be of service? You can see this note on the right hand side of my sidebar, above the fold.

2. Let value take a front seat + self-promotion sit in the back. 

Focus on delivering outstandingly useful content that always adds value. If you share the best content in a way that’s helpful + actionable + practical, believe me, no one’s gonna think you’re a sleazy telemarketer. In fact, your audience is gonna be so eager to hear from you, they’ll probably subscribe to your newsletter just so they make sure they never miss a thing.

3. Teach what you know. 

Each one of us is an expert in something – a lawyer is an expert in law + a hairdresser is an expert in beauty care + a guy who sells hot dogs on the corner is an expert in street food. Start positioning yourself as an expert in your field by offering your educated 2-cents. Online, you can create blog posts + write guest posts for other websites that let people know you are an authority in the field. Offline, you can position yourself as an expert by teaching a live class + writing an informative article for a local newsletter or speaking at conferences.

4. Brand everything. 

Your brand is your company’s personality. Extend this over everything you do, from adding logos to your e-mail signature to your video backdrop. Create an identity for your brand + use it in all your marketing collateral + websites, anywhere that your business is represented really. Think about who your brand is + how you want to present it to others. How do you want to be portrayed? When you decide what you want your brand identity to be, create a brand book (also known as a style guide) so your brand stays consistent + tight. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some other examples of brand books.

5. Don’t forget about your printed material. 

When you send thank you notes to your clients, is your logo on there somewhere? When you hand out fliers, are they customized to match your brands look and feel? When you create downloads for your blog posts or products, do you remember to add your website in the footer? Well, you should. Consider looking at printed collateral designs that other graphic artists have created to get some design inspiration.

6. Add that fancy code. 

Now that smartphones are so popular, having a QR code is a great way to subtly attract new business. Placing a convenient QR code with a link to your website on your marketing items will make it more likely that potential customers will actually follow through. QR codes can also be set to dial a phone number so that customers who are interested in your services can quickly find out what you can do for them.

7. Use social media to be social, duh! 

Sharing content for the sake of sharing content is a one-way broadcast. Engaging with your community is a conversation. One is “how can I gain” focused, the other is “how can I give” centered. Guess which one works best? Exactly! Don’t just pop on social media every time you have a new promotion or update your website. Be an active member of your community.

8. Create social content that your followers want to repost.

Asking questions + sharing quotes + posting brainteasers or even making jokes are all ways to try to encourage socialization. This, in turn will help get the word-of-mouth out about your brand + help drive up sales. And don’t forget to ask for the share – “tag a friend” or “send this to someone who needs to hear this.”

April Bowles

9. Nobody can say what your business does better than an enthusiastic customer or friend.

This is the picture my bestie April Bowles-Olin posted on Instagram as soon as she received her Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook in the mail. I instantly regramed it + got a boost in sales that day. Make an effort to follow up with customers + friends who have recently bought products or services to gauge their satisfaction. Ask them if they’d be willing to give a referral + provide a testimonial or share a cute picture, which many are happy to do. Use these gems you’ve collected on marketing materials + highlight them on your website + social media platforms. Getting referrals + testimonials + visual proof that your stuff rocks, not only increases your trust factor, but it generates more leads, which means more money in your piggy bank. The best marketing of all is happy clients.

10. Go to a networking conferences or event.

But remember it’s not about who talks the loudest or hands out the most free lollipops, you have to be brave enough to get vulnerable + make genuine connections. That’s how me + my business partner April Bowles-Olin clicked. We sat right next to each other at Marie Forleo’s Rich Happy and Hot LIVE. For us, building a friendship that would last a lifetime was far more meaningful than doing small talk with hundreds of women in a 2-day event. When it comes to relationships, always choose quality over quantity.

11. Don’t be a stranger, keep in touch. 

Meeting new people is important in self-promotion, but once you’ve met someone new, you have to be willing to maintain the relationship for it to be truly beneficial. Keep up with your former + current clients to let them know you still care. Sending out birthday greetings + VIP promotions is a great way to make them feel appreciated. Take the time to respond to posts on social networking sites. This extends to more than just clients + business relations. It also includes your friends + your neighbors + your old college buddies – everybody that means something to you, regardless of whether or not it has the potential to lead you to new business opportunities.

12. Consider doing some pro bono work.

Working pro bono isn’t just for lawyers, every business can benefit from the great word of mouth that comes from donating your time + resources. True tale: I’m such a loyal Kiehl’s customer that I got a call the other day to book a free facial, and I could even bring a friend. I was so astonished by this act of generosity that I told everyone I know how much I love this brand + how amazing their products are. You can’t beat the kind of glowing recommendation that comes from making someone’s day.

13. Craft your elevator pitch.

Nine seconds– that’s the amount of time people will pay attention before getting distracted by the next shiny object. Naturally we must find the quickest + easiest way to explain what you do (and practice it), so that during brief encounters with potential clients, you are able to make the most use of your time. They call it an “elevator pitch” because it should be short enough to last an elevator ride while still making an impact.

14. Be human. 

The key to self-promotional is to maintain a sense of humility. No one likes a bragging + boasting brat. Be a human being, not human spam.

15. Host community outreach efforts.

For instance, if you’re a cheese shop, host a tasting every Thursday. If you’re a painter, have open studio nights the first Monday of every month. If you’re a yoga instructor, let clients bring a friend for free on Sundays. These are all great ways to try establishing a repertoire with local clientele.

16. Tell good stories. 

Storytelling is an accent art. It is less about language + more about making people feel something. In the words Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

17. Tease em’, just a little. 

It’s not enough to create interest, you have to stop your reader from thinking, “Oh, that’s probably going to be about X + Y + Z. I bet I know that already.” Psychological tests reveal that most people assume they know more than they actually do, so you definitely want to make sure you’re not losing readers who “think” they know what you’re going to tell them. For example, Heartmade readers who see this headline: “How to Self-Promote” might assume she already knows how. As a result, she doesn’t feel compelled to read the article. That’s why: “How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs)” works much better. Ultimately, you’re poking should let your peeps know, “Look, I know you know a lot, but you don’t know this.” And this really encourages the curiosity gremlin to wreak havoc.

18. Host a giveaway. 

The secret to hosting successful giveaways is to first set an intention – why you’re doing this? Do you want to reward current readers? Attract new followers? Celebrate a special event? Build a relationship with a brand? Do you want more fans for a FB page? More backlinks to your blog? Ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of it. When you know why you’re doing a giveaway + what you want from it, you’ll be better able to decide your giveaway criteria. And for the love of all things holy, please keep your requirements for entry as simple as can be.

Work in Progress

19. Think process, not end product. 

I’m talking about behind the scenes footage + outtakes + pencil sketches + bloopers + rough drafts – the stuff the camera captures just before or after you get it right. People wanna see it! They are hungry for the uncensored + unPhotoshoped + unedited version. There is power in this rawness. The messy material + on-set secrets + project sneak peeks can help you tell a deeper, more engaging story about your brand.

20. Take time to browse blogs that are of interest to you + leave thoughtful comments.

Of course, if a particular entry strikes your fancy. Commenting on other blogs is a great way to promote your business + do some potential networking. However, your comment can’t look like an advertisement or a self-promotion. That will likely be flagged as spam. Instead, leave an honest + heartfelt comment or ask questions that can start a dialogue between you + the blogger you admire.

Self-promotion should become a part of your daily routine, to the point that you forget you’re even doing it.

I’m confident that if you incorporate some of these tactics into your marketing outreach campaigns, you’ll be kicking butt in no time.

Now, I would like to hear from you. Can you think of other tips + techniques for more sensible + effective self-promoting ? What are some of your favorite self-promotion moves? Drop them in the comments below. 

I’ll be back next week with a new article. Stay tuned + thanks for being part of the Heartmade family.

 
BUSINESS

14 Tools I Can't Live Without (Well, Maybe I Can, But I Don't Want To)

Mayi Carles

This is a question I get asked pretty much everyday, to share what’s inside my toolbox. Today I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite things – tools I can’t live without. Well, maybe I can live without em’, but I choose not to. 

You might be surprised to see how very little I need, actually. A few basic supplies + very simple platforms that make life a little easier.

But you know what?  At the core of it all, we are already everything. You have you. I’ve got me. Our unique abilities + talents + perspective + skills + ideas + visions + the way we use all that goodness to articulate what we are. Everything else is extra frosting.

Here’s my list of favorite frostings… I mean tools:

1. 0.5 Mechanical Pencil. Got one in my purse + one in my nightstand + one on the car + one inside my beach bag. It’s my writing tool of choice.

2. Micron Ink Pens. When accuracy + minute details + preservation count, there is no pen that stands a chance next to the unparalleled archival quality of Microns. The finer-points are great for technical outline work + the bolder ones are perfect for hand-lettering projects.

3. 8.5″ x 11″ White Paper. Fancy right? Were you expecting me to recommend a glamorous sketch book or art journal? The truth is, I tried using a tablet once + many other gadgets, but I always come back to my plain ol’ blank piece of paper. My illustrations all start there, humbly. And that’s good enough for me.

4. Giant tube of titanium white paint. I usually buy Americana (or Liquitex when it’s on sale.)

5. Of course, other colors too. I splurge on these 3 shades because they’re the ones I use most often in my Design Studio: Natural Buff + Light Portrait Pink + Foliage Green.

6. 000 Brushes. Tight, but still flexible. Natural bristle, suited for acrylics. I’ m not loyal to a brand, but I usually know how I want the brush to feel on the canvas + shop accordingly. I usually purchase 20 at a time because they lose their shape quickly, and due to the nature of my work, the moment they get messy hair, they no longer serve their purpose. To give you an idea, I used 38 brushes to complete all the Life is Messy Kitchen illustrations.

7. Plastic Paint Pallets with Paint Wells: Here’s where I pour + mix (or not mix, which is what the independent paint wells are for) my paint colors. I love the way they can be completely wiped clean at the end of the day.

8. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap. Essential to clean my hands + my brushes too, believe it or not. I used to get these ugly rashes when cleaning with heavy-duty stuff like turpentine. Not anymore. Love Mrs. Meyer’s. Strong enough to remove tough messes + soft enough for my 10 little fingers. My favorite scent is Lemon Verbena.

9. Image Scanner. These days I use the Canon CanoScan LiDE 120 Color Image Scanner, Canon’s lowest-cost flatbed scanner. Lets me do high-quality image scans without paying extra for film-scanning features or photo editing software I really don’t need.

10. Life is Messy Planners. The organized system for creatives that provides “just enough” structure for your journey to take your brilliant ideas from light bulb to done without becoming a correctional facility, and “just enough” wiggle room to unleash your unique gifts + honor your most valued forms of currency, freedom + happiness. Planners are my BFF. Saved my life a couple of times already. Helped me make room for what truly matters to me + Expecto Patronus any dementor that stands in the way. No wonder it’s not just me using them, but 7 thousand other artists + creatives + innovators + small business owners. Because they were designed by someone who speaks your language… moi.

11. MadMimi. This is the e-mail marketing platform I use to send all my e-mails + stay in touch with my favorite people. It’s very intuitive + allows me to create fully customizable campaigns without making my head hurt. Above all, I’m a loyal customer because of their out-of-this-world customer service. Have never seen anything like it. They reply within minutes (if not seconds) to my needy (and sometimes frantic) e-mails, providing quick answers + solutions to my every question. Makes me wonder, maybe MadMimi is operated by minions. It’s the only explanation for their awesomeness.

12. Harvest. I used to dread invoicing, then I found Harvest. In my opinion, a simpler + much better way to work + run my business. I use Harvest for all my time tracking + billing needs. Managing clients + organizing projects + preparing invoices has never been so ridiculously easy. One of my favorite features is their seamless integration with PayPal + Stripe, making it less annoying for clients to pay with one click + freeing up my time to bake cookies. Win-win.

13. PayPal/Stripe. I use both as my payment processors. PayPal is a trusted brand + has a long history of processing payments on the web. Stripe, well, they are the hottest new payment processor on the block for handling credit card payments in a very secure way. These days, I get about 50% of my orders though PayPal + the other half from Stripe.

14. Creative Cloud. For only $40-something bucks a month, I have all the tools + assets I need to create my best work more efficiently. Creative Cloud includes all-new versions of my favorite desktop apps – including Photoshop + Illustrator. These days, when I’m not editing pictures or cleaning up my illustrations on Photoshop, I’m vectorizing my work or creating printables on Illustration.

That’s what’s on my go-to kit. Really. You will be given 10,000 options at the art supply store + the Mac store + Amazon + everywhere! My advice? Just stick to your gut + your budget + allow your creativity to take over from there.

I know it’s fun to hoard bundles of fancy brushes + expensive software. Trust me, I know. But,  you are your best asset – not the tools. Use what you have. Do what you can.

What tools can’t you live without? Any brands + platforms + hacks you’ve tried + fell in love with?

BUSINESS

How To Be Original

Being Original Poster

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been copied.

Raise your hand if your work has ever been plagiarized without remorse.

Raise your hand if you thought it was rude + disrespectful, not only to you but to the entire human species.

Raise your hand if you considered dropping your “copy cat” a nuclear bomb. It’s okay, it’s safe here.

It’s true, the internet is making it easier than ever for people (ahem lazy people) to steal. The story of the student who registers for a course + compulsively takes notes + three months later (flick magic wand), launches “their version”, is happening more and more often. It’s a jungle out there.

Simultaneously, there’s a big coalition happening. When brands take a sharp left turn at the normal stop sign, they trip the whole system. Weird is impossible to imitate.

There are one too many Gucci rip offs, but there’s only ONE Gucci. Rembrandt had “painter assistants”, but no one remembers their name because there’s only ONE Rembrandt.

Today I want to talk about being original. Standing out, so no one, no matter how hard they try, can pass off as YOU!

Click play to watch a very especial episode with a very special cameo appearance!

Let’s recap!

Wanna be original? Here’s a place to start:

  • Recognize the areas of your life in which you are living disconnected from your true self.
  • Proclaim who you want to be.
  • Work it! Develop + express your individuality.
  • Accept that YOU might not look like the YOU you thought about in your head.
  • Practice your authentic muscle.

Your turn!

As homework I want you to make a list of all the things that make you “unidentifiable”. Original. Authentic. Drop them in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Despite my continuos brainwashing efforts, my little sister Laura (we are 11 years apart), actually, doesn’t want to copy me. What is wrong with her? Seriously.

BUSINESS

My Pre-Friday Video Time Ritual

True tale: Found a battalion of eggplants in my fridge this morning. Pondered: “I can’t freeze them. I don’t think I can juice them. What am I gonna do with these?”

I Googled.

A Baked Eggplant Parmesan link popped up. I start salivating.

Clicked on the link. No pictures. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Next.

Couldn’t get pass the pic with a flash. I mean, have you seen how radioactive food looks with a flash?

After 5 rounds of clicking + whining, I’m basically about to lose it. Mayi’s hungry people. H-A-M-B-R-E!

Lightbulb goes on: You Tube. Cue the celestial soundtrack. That’s where I met Dani Spies. Where have you been all my life girlfriend? Her clean twist on yo’ mama’s Eggplant Parmesan had me at play.

Made it. Ate it. Danced the champion song. That’s when I had the revelation: People wanna see how you do it!

Sure they like how to’s. Bullet points + checklists are nice too. Pretty pictures without flash are super. But sometimes, most times, people just want you to show them, not tell them, how it gets done. Skip the advice + the tips + the tricks. Show me, please!!!

Now, this goes against everything I’ve been thought + know to be true. Mayi, that’s me talking to myself, “You don’t give people the fish, you show them how to fish so they never go hungry again. Right?” Right.

That’s years of Catholic School for ya’.

But what if (stay with me for a sec), what if instead of giving people the 1 2 3’s + recommending them what fishing gear to get or empowering them to find their own fishing style, I just show them how I do it. Follow along. Like karaoke.

At first, I suspect they will just copy. Copying is bad, but not if you’re baking Eggplant Parmesan for hubby or not launching an Eggplant Parmesan e-book tomorrow.

First attempts are scary, so we’re tempted to follow the instructions word for word. But practice seeds confidence – confidence to break the rules + play + experiment + tweak a little something here + whoops why not add some carrots there. Bam!

We don’t stay amateur for very long when we admire our mentors. We honor their guidance by making up our own recipe.

Until now, I’ve only shown you how to fish. Today, for the first time E-V-E-R I want to show you exactly how I fish, so you can copy me, if you want. So you can practice with a life vest or like we call them around here “flotis”. So you can reach confident. So you can find your voice. So you can make it yours.

Your own is good.

To start the show not tell saga, I’m letting your inside my entire pre Friday Video Time ritual. Ta daaa…

I want to hear from you!

Was this helpful? Did you like it? Was this crazy? Am I crazy? Okay don’t answer that last one.

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