A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon with a group of fantastic writers and we had a conversation about personal marketing. I talked about the need to have, and tell, a story that is bigger then any individual artistic outcome.
I think this is so important because art is inherently upredictable.
You can't make people like your play, novel, dance performance or movie. Let's be honest, you can't even control the emotions your art brings up in others.
So my core position is that you can't control how a person feels about the art, but you can tell them a story that helps them understand you a little better, gives context to the work, etc.
Like any good group, the writers I was working with had some questions. The biggest question revolved around how much of a "personal story" an artist should feel comfortable sharing. All of us have a natural and understandable desire to keep some things about ourselves and our work private, so where does marketing fit into all of that?
Here's the answer I gave them.
The story you tell is your own choice and it can include as much or as little of yourself as you feel comfortable. On one side of the spectrum you have people like musician Amanda Palmer who have built on a career on a very transparent, very vulnerable narrative.
On the other side you have actors like say, Tom Hanks, who avoid the spotlight but have built a career on making interesting acting choices. Those choices are essentially Tom's "marketing".
My point here is that you can make a lot of different choices and still have great marketing. My other point is that you shouldn't do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
So if being on social media makes you uncomfortable, don't do it.
And if the idea of "selling yourself" makes you feel weird, don't do it.
But here's the catch . . .
You also need to be able to explain to yourself exactly WHY those things make you uncomfortable.
So if you hate "selling yourself" that's fine. But you need to be honest about why. Is it because you don't want the rejection? If you hold on to that feeling will it be a barrier to your career goals?
You have to know your comfort limits to be a great, authentic, marketer. But you also have to willing to explore and question your limits.