Jewelry making. Fine art. Writing. No matter what the field, you'll hear that promoting not just your work, but yourself, is essential. As important as creating pieces that capture people's interest.
I can't say I agree with this completely. I'd rather not think of myself as a Brand, because I'm not Goldfish Crackers (no matter how much I love them)! I'm just me, and I'd like my jewelry to speak for itself as much as possible.
However! And this is a big however. There's just no arguing with the fact that if I want to sell my work, I need to find people to buy it. It's like the old question of a tree falling in the woods with nobody to hear it. Sound waves need ears to translate them into sound. We need people to translate our art into sales.
That said, I think staying true to who I am as a person is important, and one thing that makes my pretty curly hair turn white from stress is the idea of pushing myself on people. Of, frankly, being rude. Or unhappy. Or bored. Or unbalanced. This is why I came up with a list of guidelines for myself. I'll share them with you, in no particular order.
1.) Make it fun!
Quite honestly, I wouldn't keep a blog if I didn't enjoy it. I like writing. I like giving myself advice. I like talking about the cool people and things in my life, and for the love of all that's sparkly, I love anything related to sequins. I think that if I'm not enjoying myself, it will show. I won't seem genuine. Which leads me to...
2.) Be genuine!
I pledge that I will only read and subscribe to blogs that I find interesting. I'll leave comments on Flickr photos that impress and amaze me. I'll enter contests for companies whose products I love, and I'll support charities whose causes I would support, exposure or no exposure. Promotion for the sake of promotion is for car dealerships, not me. This is because...
3.) I'm dealing with people!
I always want to keep people in mind. They're not sales, they're not blog stats, they're individuals with their own wants and needs and thoughts and feelings, and to treat them otherwise would be terrible. I pledge to leave interesting comments on blogs, not just invitations to check out my own. To support other artists in the way I'd like to be supported, and should the opportunity present itself, to mentor fledgling jewelry makers/writers/whatever. To make friends!
4.) Because it's not always about me!
I think this one speaks for itself. I'll just add that I want my work to be noticed, but other people work just as hard (or harder) and deserve their share of the spotlight. Who am I to try to steal it away from them?
5.) Stay balanced!
With all the available options for promoting my work, it seems like it would be easy to get so wrapped up in submitting work to contests, looking for teaching opportunities, posting and commenting on blogs/photos, that I start to neglect the rest of my life -- especially if I've followed the first rule and am having a blast. I pledge to pay attention to Mr. Sequin, my friends, my health, my other interests. To laugh, create, love, eat, sleep, bathe, and to spend time in the real world where there are blue skies and chocolate cupcakes and bunnies. Never underestimate the importance of bunnies!
That's all I can think of, but I'd love to hear your suggestions. What are your rules for self-promotion? How do you maintain that manners/exposure/life/work balance? Curious sequin enthusiasts want to know.
Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!
Edit: I almost forgot to mention this post by author Maureen Johnson. A few months back I did I search for "I am not a brand" on Google, and her post was the first to come up. It was a breath of fresh air and sanity, and re-reading my own post, I can see how much she inspired and influenced me. Kudos, Maureen! And cookies. With chocolate chips. And toasted coconut. And caramel.
Edit again: Also, check out this post by Christine Kane. Marketing tips for authentic people!