“Have you thought about getting a flyer that highlights everything you do with writing and performing?”
That’s the question a coworker asked me yesterday when I mentioned I did a show last weekend.
“You need something that shows off the blog and the performing,” he said.
And, that is how the words, “Tyece postcard” got added to the never-ending list of projects on deck for this summer.
After my show last Saturday, I started talking to another girl who performed and toward the end, I handed her my business card which felt far too formal for two women talking about poetry. Plus, it didn’t really say anything about, well, my poetry. My coworker was right. I needed something beyond my cards.
“Did you plug the blog before you performed?” he asked.
“Nah, not really,” I replied.
“Yeah, you’ve gotta always plug the blog.”
I’d venture to guess for most budding bloggers, writers, artists, performers, entrepreneurs and whoever else that self-promotion can be both a blessing and a curse. I know in the writing community, there are people who turn their nose at it and believe their work should speak for itself (I do not subscribe to this school of thought.) Honestly, I am sometimes extremely shitty at self-promotion, at least in person. A few months ago I was at a show and I had the postcards to advertise my showcase, but when the host asked if I wanted to get on stage and plug the show, I paused until my friends urged me to do it.
“This is your primary audience; you better plug it,” one of my friends said.
It’s a strange feeling–being proud of your work and always teetering the line of proud blog mama and complete narcissistic prick. I know that at least 70% of my social media content is about the blog, my events, performing, etc. But, it doesn’t mean I don’t think before I blast things or feel weird doing it. Just today I hesitated to post the promotional flyer for my upcoming brunch on Instagram for the second time. But, bitch gotta meet that food and beverage minimum.
When it comes to social media, I make a conscious effort to retweet people more (and actually retweet them, not be one of those people who jumps through extra loops to copy/paste someone’s tweet and put “RT” in front of it so I can get credit. There is an entirely separate blog post for those types of goons.) I share articles and quotes I find interesting. But, still, there will always be a “NEW POST, FOOL” somewhere in the arena of 8pm most nights, followed by a series of quotes from that new post. I figured if people get sick of it, they can click unfollow and we can all live happily ever after.
The early stages of building a brand or making a name for yourself are tough, exhausting and expensive. You often times feel like the kid in the class waving your hand erratically and shouting “Look at me, look at me!” while the teacher glances your way and then calls on the next kid. You worry that your constant promotion is falling on deaf ears. There is a lot you do that goes unnoticed. And, there are things you do that get noticed, but you never know. Last night a high school classmate sent me a Facebook message and said she reads my blog virtually every day; that’s not something I would have ever known if she hadn’t jotted down those few lines. You reach an entire population of people who are just readers. They are not commenters. They are not tweeters. They are not congratulators. They just read. They see what you’re doing; they just don’t say anything. And, those people are no less important than the people who share your work profusely; because, ultimately, they are all reading.
Even though the early days are tough, exhausting and expensive, part of me thinks they are the most rewarding. Everything feels like a victory because it’s unprecedented. The first time Demetria Lucas retweeted me, I thought it was the coolest shit ever. When Evette Dionne highlighted my blog on Clutch Magazine, I beamed for a full week. Hell, when the first person applied for my summer internship, I couldn’t believe it. What I think people don’t know is that every time I do something new, whether it’s search for an internship or host an event, I never know if it will work. Of course, I hope it does and I put my total energy into making it happen, but there is still that tiny part of me that wonders, “Would people actually take this seriously?” And, then I have to remind myself that I don’t work this hard or care about this blog this much for people not to take it seriously.