Five tips on how to self promote without losing all your friends.

Alison Peters is a Sydney based writer and freelance producer.  She’s written for television, magazines, and books for young people. She’s best known for her work as a reporter on the Nine Network’s Wild Life, Money, The Today Show, and National Nine News. 
Alison grew up barefoot in tropical Far North Queensland, worked in Sydney and Melbourne, and after a few years in Portland Oregon and Nashville Tennessee settled back in Sydney with her partner, their two kids, and a cockeyed dog.  
Her books for young people include Two Hours with TillyMaking Friends with SamsonTomorrow’s Olympian and  the newly released Toad Boy which is aimed at readers aged 10-14. You can connect with Alison via her website

With the recent release of Alison’s new book, she’s wondering how to promote it, and herself, in a way that is comfortable for her and won’t alienate her friends and family.

For most of us, self promotion is tricky. We are torn between wanting to see our product out there, and let’s face, make money from it, and not wanting to bombard people with ‘look at me, look at me’ type emails or facebook updates.

Knowing we all struggle with it brings some comfort that we are not alone in feeling this way but does little to help us achieve the goal of selling our product.

So, for those of you who don’t want to lose all your friends in your efforts to make a living, here are some things that have been useful to us in the past, and currently.

1. Know your target market. Unless your product is useful to literally every single human being on the planet – if for instance, you’ve just patented something equivalent to a coat hanger 🙂 – you will need to know who you are aiming your product at. For us, we wouldn’t pitch our publications to Australia Post, or the mining sector or the farming community. They have no need for our product, ie advertising to the areas we distribute to, so we would just be wasting their time and ours. Knowing who needs your product is the first step to successful promotion. The other benefit of this is if you are targeting the right people ie people who need your product, the rejection rate will be lower, and your confidence will be higher. Your strike rate will be greater because you are taking the product straight to those who need it and will benefit from purchasing it.

2. Believe your product solves a problem. For Alison, the problem her product addresses is getting kids in the 10-14 year old age bracket to want to read and finish a story. When we are lacking confidence in our product, it’s helpful to go back to the reason why we created it in the first place. Belief in our product quickly translates to an ease of self promotion. When we truly believe that what we are offering will make a positive difference to those purchasing it, we don’t need to ‘hard-sell’ it, our passion and belief will do that for us.

3. Be visible. Sometimes, we’re so conscious of not wanting to be a pest that we forget to let people know about our product at all! No one likes to be ‘spammed’ but the opposite is true too. No one minds seeing a link to your product or website, or being asked to share it with their friends, either via social media or good ole fashioned word of mouth – just don’t overdo it! And be prepared to reciprocate where you can; remember that social media is a conversation not a monologue. There’s a lot to be said for the ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ ethos. Don’t be backward in coming forward, as my mother says. It’s okay to talk about it! People will generally ask what you’re up to, what you do for work – so tell them! Conversation is the most natural and effective way to get your product known and out in the big wide world.

4. Be creative. Tell stories, share tips or knowledge of your industry, show people a behind the scenes video of a typical day in your ‘office’. If we again use Alison as an example, perhaps she could give tips on getting published, or on writing courses she found helpful, or describe in detail the editing process – any information that would help other up and coming authors. An artist might like to have someone video them creating a piece of artwork, or a photographer like Lisa from last week could have someone video her at work shooting a portrait sitting. People like to feel they have some ‘insider’ knowledge that others don’t. Allowing others to see behind the scenes gives them that feeling, which in turn makes them feel good about you, which in turn can translate to a sale.

5. Relax. It’s easy to get worked up and agitated when sales are not what you hoped. Sometimes – and you’re not gonna want to hear this! – it takes time. But with consistent effort in the right avenues, you will start to see results. Don’t forget that there is a certain amount of luck, or providence if you like, involved in sales and success. Getting your product in the hands of the right person at the right time is often beyond your control but there’s nothing wrong with giving lady-luck a helping hand, now is there?

And of course, I have to add a #6 🙂

Another non threatening way to get your message about your product out there? Advertise! Find out what local media in your area people are reading and seeing and place an ad with them. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either – a smaller ad placed consistently over six months will do more than a one off big flashy double spread and it will distribute your budget in a more manageable way. If you conduct business in the Western Brisbane area, ask me, I just might know of some cost effective advertising avenues for you 😉


Susannah has been the co-owner of Local News Publications together with her husband, Graham, since 2006 but has been involved with the company since it’s inception in 1993. She holds the position of Editor and is known for being a spelling/grammar/punctuation tyrant. Susannah writes the monthly column Personally Speaking which appears in all four publications, and which grew into her own blog over two years ago ( Susannah also enjoys being part of the volunteer writing team for overseas aid organisation Destiny Rescue.


Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended as professional advice. The views expressed in this article are solely the views of the author.



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