Which means that even if you hate marketing, you still have to do marketing.
Which means that even if you’re an introvert (like me), you still have to talk to people. A LOT of people.
In my opinion, knowing what I know now about working for myself – lots of people seem to put too much emphasis on “starting the business” when the first step should be figuring out how to get someone to pay you. That’s the real test to see whether you even have a viable business idea. Some of us waste a lot of time agonizing over the name of the business, business cards for the business, stationary for the business…without even having not one client or customer come through the door yet.
See how backwards that sounds?
We often spend way too much time on the little details of “starting the business” instead of telling people we have something to sell. Why? Because we’re afraid that no one will care (let alone buy) if we do. I know because I feel that same fear every time I send out an email or write a blog post or tell someone in person about what I have to offer.
But over the past two years, there have only been two things that have kept me in the black:
- Constantly testing and refining my products and services.
- Telling lots of people about my products and services.
This has required that I talk about myself and my work more than I’m always entirely comfortable with. But what I have learned is that it doesn’t matter if you do good work if no one knows about it but you. (Well, I’m sure it matters to the people you’re helping, but it does your business or career no good in the long run.)
Take right now, for instance. I want to tell you about my Blogging School course without sounding like an informercial. I know that very few people enjoy informercials. But I also know that there are many ladies who read this blog who want to work for themselves. So, today I’m going to tell you a bit more of my story and what made it possible for me to leave my job and go out on my own in 2010.
Yep. People still don’t believe me. I don’t know why. Blogging seems to be this mysterious thing that only the Blogging Oracle knows about. It’s not, really. The information is out there, and mostly for free if you just do a quick Google search. But as with all information, it doesn’t work if you don’t use it.
What I Didn’t Know in 2007
When I started my nonprofit leadership blog at rosettathurman.com in 2007, I had NO idea what the hell I was doing. I had no idea it would turn into a business. I had no idea it would lead me to be invited to speak in Hawaii, or to publish a popular nonprofit career book, or to grow my site to 15,000 readers/month in what is still a pretty small blogging niche. I just wanted to share my ideas about what I was seeing as a young professional in the nonprofit field, especially in the realms of leadership, diversity and social media. And to my surprise, people actually listened!
Because of so many people reading the blog, I began getting invitations to speak at conferences (I’ve given about 75 speeches since 2007) and give workshops about the issues I write and teach about. People began to hire me for consulting gigs and ask me to write for professional publications. I was even offered an adjunct faculty position at a local university! The opportunities were coming at me so fast that I started using my vacation time to meet with clients around the country, earning $10,000-$20,000 in extra income every year on top of my 9 to 5 salary.
What Happened in 2010
After a while, the work that I was doing outside of my full-time nonprofit job became more aligned with my interests than the fundraising I was doing at the time. As I began to take on more speaking, training and consulting work, it became possible for me to leave my job and start working for myself, doing work that I was even more passionate about than fundraising.
In 2010, I quit my job to work for myself full-time and haven’t looked back. Now you don’t have to do (or even want to do) anything that I’ve done in my blogging journey. My point is to let you know that the door to possibility gets blown wide open when you put your best self out there – online and off. Blogging is what has allowed me to be able to run a full-time consulting business and get paid to do what I love. And blogging is still the core of how I market myself online to bring in new opportunities.
The Truth About Blogging
The truth about blogging is that it can take YEARS to see results and for most people, it probably will. But the journey to begin seeing those opportunities has to begin somewhere. If I knew in 2007 what I know now, I would have started blogging more seriously, much sooner. I would have professionalized the look and feel of my blog earlier on. I would have promoted myself more from the beginning. I’m happy about where I am now…but you know what they say about hindsight. I had to learn along the last five years what worked and what didn’t. Now, I am able to teach those strategies to others.
The reason I created the Blogging School was to help bloggers build (or reinvent) their brands, create great content, generate traffic and monetize their expertise. It is set up as a 4-week online training course where you will discover how to align your blog with your personal brand and use your blog to advance your career or promote your business.
When I started blogging in April 2007, I never imagined the benefits I would reap as a young nonprofit professional-turned author, speaker, coach and consultant. Five years ago, I was pretty much a nobody in my industry. No one knew who I was and I had virtually no personal brand. But when I made the decision to start blogging, that’s when everything starting changing for me! My hope is that others will be inspired to start now so that they will also be able to see the power that blogging can have on their lives, careers and businesses.
So that’s my pitch! Although marketing yourself (myself) always takes a bit of courage, it definitely gets easier over time.
Even if you don’t join my Blogging School, perhaps you will be inspired to tell YOUR audience about your products and services at some point this week. You can do it in an email, with a flyer, some phone calls or of course – on your blog! Or, at least answer today’s questions for reflection below :)
Questions for Reflection:
- When was the last time you pitched your products or services? How did you do it?
- Are you currently using a blog to promote yourself and your business? If not, why not?
- What scares you the most about marketing yourself and what you have to offer in your business?