I get asked a lot about publicity; how did I get so much? Why is my name/site everywhere? What did I do? How do I market? Who do I know? When I received yet another email about it, I realised I hadn’t ever really addressed it and so here is the question and my response.
Hi Alex! I found you via the long list of Women to Invite at Conferences on Personified* and am quite inspired by your blog! My sister and I are both creative types and I in particular have been thinking of ideas for a potential portfolio website for a while now.
I think the basic reason I’ve received so much constant publicity has to do with timing and need. When I began GirlatPlay.com in 2001 to talk about taking the leap from Corporate America to freelance, there just wasn’t a lot of personal blogs out there and there definitely weren’t any blogs documenting the business process like mine. People had “sites” that said what they did or newsletters that made their work “polished” but most sites were impersonal and didn’t showcase the reality of starting your own business. I created Girl at Play based on my need; I wanted the info and thought I couldn’t be the only one who’d be interested. And apparently I was right!
The site and my words just struck a chord with people which lead to a lot of work for me; I’ve never queried or marketed my work or site. It’s all been word of mouth. I write from the heart, I write without thinking about an audience, I do what I love to do and I work really, really hard so that not just people reading will talk about me but those who hire me will talk, too. I think because I focus more on the work and sharing information, there isn’t a sense of me trying to sell something to people or an air that is stand-ofish. The site is relateable but more importantly I think, useful. And that’s why it continues to do well and why I continue to benefit from having the site.
However, had I started the site this year, things would probably be different because there are so many people blogging, so many women running their own business, and I think that it could be very easy to get caught up in the marketing and competing aspect of it all – which for me never, ever works. The more I worry about what everyone else is doing and how things look, the less I’m inclined to do or the more generic my work comes. I didn’t read other sites when I first started so they weren’t in my brain. I limit my blog reading and surfing now so that I can focus on what I can do. I think that’s the trick – make sure you know who YOU are, what your truth is and how you are useful. Don’t worry about competing, marketing, & PR at first – worry about getting stuff out as authentically as you can because if you’re copying someone or doing something just to get PR, you’ll always be compared to others and your audience won’t be able to distinguish you from someone else because they won’t care enough to. Just rock everything out as passionately as you can so that people will talk and keeping hiring you.
To this day I don’t have a PR person though I’m probably going to change that in 2008 not because I want more PR but because I need someone to handle the incoming queries for me (I admit to being bad about this because I’m not attracted to media attention, it just comes).
I’m not sure if that’s helpful to you or not. I don’t write business plans, I don’t over think it, I don’t worry about the site or my audience. I just do what I need to do because at the end of the day, that’s all I have. And it’s worked so far.
*I don’t know what this site is! But it’s a great example of having my name out there without me putting it out.