The Challenge of Self-Promotion
As hard as it can be to accept the level of competition in the magazine-writing business, it can be even more difficult to take on the task of self-promotion. Many writers are, by their nature, passive types who prefer to sit at their computers and type than to get out into the world and trumpet their accomplishments.
If you're a typical writer, you're probably not shy about asking questions in interviews, but you probably are shy about promoting the good interviews you've done. That's better left to the salesman, editors, and marketers who promote the magazines, right? You shouldn't talk about yourself. Your job is to get your sources to talk, so that you can create great articles.
Why do so many writers have a hard time promoting themselves?
Because as a writer, you are taught to let your subjects come through in your work. Heralding your own accomplishments is the antithesis of this. Marketing yourself forces you not only to stand in the spotlight for a change, but to brag when you have the audience's attention.
That kind of attitude is the main challenge of self-promotion that most writers face. You understand by now that writing is a business, and you probably instinctually understand that all businesses rely heavily on marketing to get their messages out. What you need to wrap your brain around is the idea that when you are seeking to land assignments, you are a company selling a product — a writer selling stories. You need to come to terms with the idea that there's nothing wrong with marketing yourself and your work to the editors you hope to interest.
Nobody likes a braggart or a nag, so you need to market yourself to editors in ways that are a bit more subtle than screaming through a bullhorn. Do think about marketing yourself all the time, but don't become so obsessed with marketing that you fall in love with your own image and annoy potential clients in the process.
There are plenty of ways to market yourself that will come easily to you, even if you're among the shyest of writers. You may even have begun doing some of the following things on your own — without realizing that you can take your efforts to another level by thinking about them in terms of self-promotion.