The Real Reason You’re Not Marketing Yourself

What’s the real reason you’re not marketing yourself? Maybe you hate social media (or at least you do when it comes to promoting your book or yourself). Let’s face it, it’s more fun to post pics of your cute dog, or your vacation than it is to come up with a thoughtfully crafted post enticing someone to get excited about your new book, or class, or essay, yet again.

A lot of us don’t like the way it feels to “sell,” or we don’t like the stigma attached to it anyway. I hear it all the time from my clients: “I don’t want to look or feel salesy.” I get it. I don’t either. It’s gross. We don’t want to be one of “those people.” You know the ones that are so overtly selling their thing, over and over. (eyeroll) What’s even more gross is when they’re trying new tactics that just feel so obvious.

And yet the rub is that we do also want people to know about and buy our work. We do, in fact want to make a living with our creative work. This dichotomy is nothing new, generations of artists have been lamenting about it.

So, how do we find a way around it?

After over twenty years as a creative and entrepreneur, I can tell you I’ve tried most every way of getting out of it. LOL. The funny thing is, that drive—to find out better, more true-feeling ways to connect to my people without feeling like a used car salesman—is actually what brought me to the work I do today.

This tension between sharing our work confidently versus feeling like a sleazeball, actually has a lot more to do with psychology, mindset, and social influence than it does with marketing tactics themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve designed fun, effective, totally doable marketing plans for clients (or even myself), that barely get executed. Here’s why.

How to get past “the ick”

In order to get past the ick we feel when carrying out our marketing we have to first realize that it’s a mindset issue. And we have to take a look at why we feel what we do, understand it, and recalibrate. Let’s look at this on a micro-level, ONE singular Instagram post.

Sample Instagram book launch graphic post & all the worries that come with it - The real reason you're not marketing


Maybe you can relate to some of these ideas. Now, let’s look a little deeper at what causes all of these anxieties.

Sample Instagram book launch graphic post & why we worry - The real reason you're not marketing yourself

Are you beginning to see why there might be more holding you back than just not feeling like marketing yourself or your work?

In my experience, you need the following elements in order to lay the foundation for an effective branding and marketing strategy:

  • You need to understand the value and uniqueness of what you’re doing
  • You need to understand who your audience is (readers are) and WHY they want what you have to offer
  • You need a plan for how to reach them effectively
  • You need to work on your mindset hangups around self-promotion
  • You need a no-brainer implementation system so you’ll stop making excuses and just implement

But, what about Overnight Success Stories?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret; the reason you often hear, “I don’t know how I did it,” or “I just got lucky” from many “overnight success” authors and artists is that they had someone in their corner who saw, understood, and took up the mantel on their behalf. Either that or, they just focused so much on the work and genuinely got lucky with it hitting the right market.

In both cases though, they (whether they did it themselves or not) built a loyal audience, distributed their work, and showed up repeatedly. While there are things to learn from those folks, it’s not a cohesive recipe for success for most of us.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are two ways to be successful as an author in our culture: 1) work hard + get lucky, or 2) work with experts, come up with a strategy + work it hard to put yourself in the way of luck.

Now that’s not to say that some of these mega successes didn’t work their asses off too, but that’s a discussion for another time. I don’t have a magic wand to grant you that kind of success. Man, I wish I did. But I do have the next best thing: over 20 years of branding and writing experience to equip you for way #2.

So let’s get back to what you can do today, right now.

Right here and now, we’re ONLY looking at the mindset portion of this success equation. This is because it is likely the real reason you’re not marketing yourself or your book effectively. If this is true for you, it might show up something like these examples:

  • Feeling overwhelmed when it’s time to come up with social posts
  • Not sure where to start, or what the best method is for promotion
  • Feeling like you don’t want to spend a bunch of time, money, or energy on something that may or may not work
  • Feeling frozen when it comes to deciding what to post on social, or how to share your work with your audience

I want you to do a few quick exercises to help you unpack what’s holding you back. And I created a handy-dandy worksheet to make it even easier. You can download that here:

#1 Next to each concept, I want you to write down how it makes you feel.

For this exercise, we’re going to use the simple example of posting something on your favorite social media platform—whatever that is. Imagine you’re going to post the ideas that are on page 1 of the worksheet.

Here’s an example:


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

It’ll only take a minute or two, so go ahead and try it out.

#2 Once you’ve done that, I want you to go back and next to those emotion words I want you to write reasons you might have for feeling this way. (AKA the reasons you’re not marketing yourself)

No one is grading this, so be honest with yourself. And if you can’t seem to figure out why, just keep asking why til you get down to the core. (Here’s how to use that method – link to article?)


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

#3 Now, on the next page, I want you to write out next to each post idea, what might be possible if you post it?

Here’s an example of what that might look like:


(Screenshot of section of worksheet)

#4 On the final page, are two questions.

First, I want you to write in your own answer to What might be possible for your work and career, if you became more comfortable with promoting yourself in a way that feels good to you? (Think of your work, sales, speaking, or teaching, interviews, income, better book deals, happy readers)

When you begin to see what’s possible it’s a first step to reframing how you feel about a situation. At the core though, most mindset issues trace back to your own sense of self-worth and place in the world. That’s why I have one final question for you:

What’s really at stake here if your readers can’t find you? How do they lose if you don’t share your work? This is important for you to realize.

It might sound cheesy for me to say it, but you and your work are worthy of recognition. You know how I know? Because you took the time to read this far (and do this work) in an article about trying to figure out what’s holding you back. That’s progress my friend, and that means you’ve already got a growth mindset going on. And when you’re open to growth rather than stagnating in a fixed mindset, you can change. You’re my kinda people. 😉 This is the kind of mindset stuff I infuse all of my methodology with because there’s no point in learning branding and marketing methods unless you’re going to implement them.

Now, this one exercise isn’t going to solve all your mindset issues around marketing. But it’s a start. I’m hoping that it’s helped you get closer to the heart of the real reasons you’re not marketing yourself or your work.

The real reason you’re not marketing yourself in other ways too…

While this exercise was just focused on one area of marketing: social media posts, the same mindset concepts can be applied to other marketing methods, or even how you think about branding yourself. After all, branding is the foundation for all of this. You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t have to use gross methods to promote yourself. I work with authors every day who are finding ways to be true to themselves while also furthering their vision and career. I hope you’ll choose to shift your mindset to empower yourself to get your work out there. You have this passion/drive/vision/dream for reasons. I believe that. And what a better world we’d see if we were all able to step more fully into the beat of our own drums.

Next steps…

Now that you know the real reason you’re not marketing yourself, it’s time to make that shift. Your next step, should you choose to accept it, is to write down ONE way you can start showing up more in your marketing. Maybe it’s posting to social media, maybe it’s writing an essay and pitching for publication once per month, or maybe it’s being more consistent with emailing your email list. Whatever it is, pick just the one thing to start, block time on your weekly calendar to work on it, and make a commitment to yourself that you’ll do this thing you decide on for 6 weeks. Check-in with yourself once per week to make sure you’re doing the thing you set out to do. Do your best not to worry about the numbers, just focus on the value you bring and how you’ll enrich the lives of the people you serve. And I guarantee, you’re going to see some good results.

If you’re an author and you’ve enjoyed this piece, you may want to sign up for my monthly email Author Branding Digest. And if you’re not an author, but you enjoyed this, you may want to sign up for my other monthly email called Keep Going—which is all about tools, perspectives, and stories to help you on your journey even when life is lobbing lemons at you.