How Well Do You Market Yourself & Your Blog?

I’m not good at marketing myself.

This becomes extremely apparent at conventions like BookExpo America. Some bloggers are AWESOME. They walk around handing out business cards, introducing themselves, going up to authors/publicists and saying “Hey! I’m a blogger!” or “Need a new blog design? I’m a designer!”. I imagine they actually make connections/contacts, meet new bloggers, gain readers, expand their businesses (blog designers), and get the attention of authors.

In contrast, I’m the quiet girl. I don’t go up and say, “Hey I’m a blogger! Check out Nose Graze!” because I’m afraid of being the pushy girl trying to shover her blog in your face. That’s NOT to say that’s what the “good marketers” are like, it’s just that whenever I imagine myself doing that, I’m afraid other people will see me that way. In my fear of becoming one extreme (overly aggressive about my blog), I become the other extreme: too modest. Sometimes I talk to people for five minutes before they look at my badge and realize, “Oh, you’re Ashley from Nose Graze!” because I never told them; they needed to look at my badge to figure that out.

This blog post idea originated from that happening at BEA. I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell people I’m from Nose Graze, or that I’m even a blogger. Then, at the end of the convention, I saw just how few business cards I handed out.

I do think there is a happy medium, one that I should strive towards. On the one hand, you can be too aggressive in your marketing. I’m thinking of the tour hosts who add bloggers to their mailing lists without the bloggers’ permission, or the authors who walk up and down BEA signing lines handing out their bookmarks (sometimes their book is a TOTALLY unrelated genre to the line—not cool), or the blogger who brags about how their blog is SO TOTALLY AWESOME and won’t shut up about it.

Then on the other hand, you can be too silent. You don’t even tell authors you’re a blogger because you’re afraid they’ll just be like, “Oh, that’s nice” and not actually care. Or you don’t introduce yourself because you don’t want to seem pushy.

I suppose the happy medium is in introducing yourself, explaining you’re a blogger, and maybe giving one line about it… then keeping quiet unless the other person asks more about your blog. You don’t want to be too “in your face” about your blog, but you also don’t want people to have no idea it exists!

Would you say you’re good at marketing yourself?

Have you ever encountered anyone who was too pushy with their marketing?

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53 comments

  1. I find that the difficulty can often vary – depending on who you’re mingling with. Some groups seem very exclusive from the outside – but even with those people, I sometimes find I just have to introduce myself and I’m away. It takes a few nervous circles first! If I’m on my own, I’ll often find myself saying “may I join you”, and then I’ll introduce myself. Normally I then get asked what I do and that gives me a quick opportunity to explain my blog and then we continue with whatever they were discussing. Of course, the best opportunities are when you’re introduced to other people via a friend; that maeks is so much less awkward.

    1. Yes that is a very good point. I’m pretty good at carrying on a conversation if someone starts one with me, but I’m not very good at being the one to initiate it.

  2. This isn’t an issue for me at this point, since I’m just blogging as a hobby right now, and I’m not too concerned about my numbers. However, down the road I’d like to use my blog as a platform for the book I’m writing, so my blog will be evolving at some point. I’ll have to reassess how I’m doing things at that time. Great topic today 🙂

    1. I think my main problem was with connecting it to BEA. I wasn’t really concerned about numbers there, but I think if I had been better about saying, “Hi, I’m Ashley from a blog called Nose Graze!” maybe I would have met more bloggers, which would have been nice!

  3. I’m shy too. I exchanged business cards with other bloggers this year at BEA, but was too nervous to speak to people at publishing booths or approach people I recognized from our online interactions. I’m hoping I’ll be more brave if I go to BEA next year, though.

    Kimmy recently posted: Why I Love…Supernatural
    1. Yeah. I think one of the reasons I didn’t even try to talk to people at publishing booths this year is because I tried it last year and got crappy results. I would try to start a conversation with the publishers by saying things like:

      * What upcoming books are you excited about?
      * What releases should I watch out for?
      * What were your favourite books this past year?

      And so many of them just weren’t chatty. It’s like they weren’t in the mood to actually talk about those things. It quickly made me feel like “What’s the point?”

      So this year I was still discouraged from that and didn’t even try to talk to publishers. I wish I were better at chatting to people in line next to me though; that’s a great way to meet bloggers!

  4. I’m like the others, I’m terrible at marketing my blog because I just do it for me as an extension of my favourite hobby (reading) and if other people read it, fantastic… and I wouldn’t call myself anti-social (although other people have 🙁 ), but I’m a bit shy to meet new people. It sort of freaks me out too until I’ve hung around them long enough to get to know them. I’ve been a book blogger since 2005; cancelled a blog and started it back up again in 2009. I still have very few visitors… that’s how bad a marketer I am… or maybe it’s my posts? LOL I’m just not into it for professional reasons.

    … and shouldn’t publishers be a bit more friendly than what you experienced last year, Ashley if they’re promoting books? You’d think they’d be all over that. That’s just bad PR to make a person walk away feeling like “what’s the point?”.

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. I’m actually pretty good at talking to people if they start the conversation. I can carry one on pretty well. But I’m horrible at being the one to initiate the conversation.

      And yes, I’d think they should be friendly! It seems that a lot of the publishers are either not very social/talkative, or only talk among themselves. It’s not necessarily that they’re unfriendly, it just often seems like they’re not in the mood to talk to bloggers or something.. or maybe it’s just me X_X

  5. I’ve never been to any events where I would promote my blog, but I have a feeling I would have the same problem you do. I went to a new book club last night for the first time and it wasn’t until the very end, when almost everyone was gone that I even mentioned that I had a blog. If they hadn’t asked me for the address, I wouldn’t have told them the name or anything. It’s funny, because I’m actually EXTREMELY good at sales – have HAD (as in, no choice) to do it for jobs in the past and excelled. But I always hated it and when they would tell me I could sell ice to an Eskimo I really didn’t see it as a compliment. I don’t like being a sales person and it’s even harder when the product is ME. That’s just plain old awkward.

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Secrets That Kill by Colleen Helme | Audio Review
  6. Ultimately, networking is about building relationships, so I think it’s less about promoting your blog and more about making connections with people. If you ask about them, they’ll ask about you. And off you go. But as a shy/quiet person who’s terrible at STARTING conversations, I know this is easier said than done.

    I also have a difficult time handing out business cards because personally, I don’t care to receive them. So why would I hand one out? (And this is why I’m particularly bad at certain parts of marketing.)

    Amanda @ On a Book Bender recently posted: Hope(less) by Melissa Haag {Kelly’s Review}
    1. Well I think for me the problem is that I never even tell people I have a blog.. so even if we start chatting, they don’t actually know I’m a blogger or what my blog is because I don’t throw that out there. Maybe if I would bring it up, we’d connect online later.

      I guess I know what you mean about not wanting business cards. If I really connect with a specific blogger at BEA, it’s nice to have their card so I remember their name/blog. But after BEA I usually have like 50 business cards and I never go through them. 🙁

  7. Urgh, the signing line handouts were so annoying and not productive at all in my case. I definitely discarded all of those bookmarks because I just wasn’t interested! I think I struck a pretty good middleground at BEA since I handed out a lot of business cards and got a lot from other people. Generally whenever I started talking to some one in line I would ask how they were connected to the book world and then it wasn’t awkward for me to say I had a book blog and move on to some topic we had in common. I definitely didn’t chat with enough publicists though since I’m still scared of bothering them >.>

  8. I hear you. I’m not exactly good at small talk, introducing myself, talking to strangers… but if on top of that I need to market something! Just like you, I feel pushy or bothering.
    I badly need to change this, though. I’m working on a game and we need to talk about it out there. My own Coding God (who is actually more the Game Design & Artist God) is even shier than me (if that’s possible) so… I started to socialize a bit more on the Internet through blogs, FB, Twitters and so on. It’s a good start. Hopefully we get better with practice!

    Angélique recently posted: The Troop by Nick Cutter
  9. I’m also terrible at promoting myself, but I’m not a blogger – I’m a writer. For me, bad promotion equals no sales of my books and no reviews. Each time I have to approach a blogger for a review, it’s a step against my nature. I’m persevering though – what else could I do, right? I wish there was someone else out there who could do this job for me, leaving me to write, but alas… 🙂

    Olga Godim recently posted: Quality and quantity
  10. This year I was much better about talking with folks I was in line with. And as a result I did meet some great bloggers. But I too have a problem starting a conversation, especially geared towards “Hey look at me, I’m a blogger.”

    I did find most of the publishing folks friendly and informative when I was able to get them into conversation, however they always seem so busy that it is not easy to get that moment with them. I don’t think bloggers are at the top of their list of random people to talk to at conventions. Certainly, the ones I have had previous contact with were very interested and forthcoming with information.

    As long as I make some progress (in how I think I handled things) each year, I consider that a success. There is always room for improvement.

    Kristopher recently posted: The Fever – The BOLO Books Review
  11. I’m very much like you, Ashley. I was also at BEA, and I had put together business cards ahead of time, but I barely gave any out. I was too nervous. Of course, my badge said I was a librarian (because I am) so that could have been part of the issue, too.

    I do want to find that happy medium, though. I think I need to practice . . . a lot. 🙂

    Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook recently posted: It’s My Birthday & a Giveaway!
  12. I think I’m alright at it, but not that much. I don’t go up to random people and introduce myself and the blog. BUT, if I strike up a conversation with someone at a bookish event then I’ll tell them about the blog and give them our bookmark business card at that time.

    Julie S. recently posted: Ignite Me Review
  13. I very much agree with your post, I’m very shy when it comes to handing out business cards or even introducing myself. I’m planning on going to BEA 2015 but I’m from the Philippines so that means all my friends won’t be with me. It might not even be fun anymore since I only know so few US bloggers, actually I know a lot but they don’t know me so it’s kinda awkward HAHAHA Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted: Sale, Top reads Recommendations!
  14. Oh yes, there is definitely a happy medium. I am not aggressive either but I am pretty good at marketing myself. I usually can find a way to mention I am a blogger, or what ever it is, through a short conversation without it seeming weird. Just practice every time you go somewhere like that. Be a little more open/aggressive by small steps until, one day, it feels natural, and it is natural. Just start a conversation, it’s that simple.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
  15. I’m terrible at self-promotion too, so you’re not alone! I wasn’t able to attend BEA this year, but last time I was there I handed out very few business cards. Most of them were exchanges where the other blogger gave me hers first. I’m still too shy to initiate conversations or give out my card, but I need to work on that. Hoping to attend next year, and hoping to be more outgoing!

    Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such... recently posted: First rule of book blogs: THERE ARE NO RULES!!!
  16. Like you, I’m not really outgoing either. However, when I go to book events with other bloggers the ‘pack’ mentality comes into place. That is to say that when we approach a book in a group we all say “WE” are bloggers.

    Also, some events and situations are more conducive than others to conversation and introductions. I found ALA to be a lot more friendly and with more time to talk to others.

    Liza @ Reading with ABC recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Solitaire by Alice Oseman
  17. Ashley, I am EXACTLY like that, maybe even worse! It’s actually kind of a relief that someone else is as timid as me because I always felt that I was the only one. 😛 Even in real life I’m quiet and reserved and prefer not to tell anyone ANYTHING about myself — not even close friends, that’s how bad it is — because I’m so afraid that people may think, “Oh, she’s just looking for attention. Ugh!” or, “I didn’t ask you, so I really don’t want to know.” It’s become a pretty serious problem for me.

    So, no, I wouldn’t say that I’m good at marketing myself or my blog. AT ALL. But I find it so incredibly how other bloggers are able to make a name for themselves online. Like, there’s Giselle from Xpresso Reads, Steph and Kat from Cuddlebuggery, Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner, and even you, Ashley! You guys are so well-known online that even authors know about you and can recognize them in person. So I think, if I ever get to go to BEA, probably no one would know me there because hardly anyone knows my blog online as it is, which is kind of sad.

    I guess I should really work on being sociable in the good kind of way, huh?

    Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) recently posted: This Book Murdered ME: The Murder Complex, Lindsay Cummings
    1. Thank you Megan!

      I have that exact same feeling: I’m afraid people will think I’m looking for attention or trying to brag, etc.

      I actually have no problem telling people/friends about myself or my life, but I never do it because I don’t want to seem like a selfish attention hog.. but that actually results in people thinking I’m closed off or don’t want to share.. but I’m actually perfectly willing to share, and certainly would if someone asked me a direct question. I just suck at offering up that information without being prompted.

  18. I’m terrible at marketing MYSELF. I have a marketing degree, and I love the aspect of marketing, but when it comes to myself, I no good at it. I have this new book blog and I’m trying to market it but it’s hard, because I feel like I’m marketing myself – which I’ve already established as poorly marketed. So, I’m thrilled to read that others hate/or are horrible at this as well.

    Lauren recently posted: REVIEW: The End by Adam M. Booth
    1. Yes, I know exactly what you mean! It’s so much easier to market for others.. but when it comes to yourself, it suddenly feels harder!

  19. I’m somewhere in between. I’m actually usually very reserved in “selling” myself, but I felt very comfortable at BEA talking to other people in line and exchanging cards. I went through and followed the blogs of everyone I met and will try to keep track of them, so I don’t feel like it was a waste. (By, the way, I now follow your blog via email because I met you at BEA Bloggers and asked for your card!)

    On the other hand, I didn’t approach any publishers or give authors my card (except for the couple that I met in a line) because I’m much more intimidated by them! Oh, and, ironically, I was intimidated to talk to you when I saw you after that first day at the BEA Bloggers conference because I felt like you were a “big” blogger who does things like speak on Bloggers panels and I’m just a blogger who writes reviews and doesn’t have any industry connections or anything. LOL! Guess this helps me realize that we all have our insecurities! 🙂

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted: Excerpt, Character Interview & Giveaway - The Artful by Wilbert Stanton
    1. Yaaay hi! 😀 Thanks for following!

      And you’re right, we all have our insecurities. Oddly enough, I have a post all about insecurities going up on Monday!

      I secretly wonder if authors/publishers actually do anything with the business cards they get at BEA.

  20. I’m horrible about this too and I don’t really have a way to “practice” either. I don’t attend conventions or anything so networking in person isn’t really an option. I want business cards but I don’t know what I’d do with them. Mail them out with books?

    I’m sure with practice you’ll nail the perfect approach. 🙂

    Stephanie @ Once Upon a Chapter recently posted: Review: Sailor Moon Pretty Guardian Vol 4 by Naoko Takeuchi
    1. I know a few bloggers who do mail out business cards with books, and I always thought that was a pretty cute idea. 🙂

  21. Relatable! I’ve been to a couple of book signings but for the same author, and the first time I met her we were given sticky notes to write our name on so the author would know who to dedicate the book to. I sneakily put my blog name there too because I knew she’d been on my blog before, but I didn’t actually want to verbally introduce myself as ‘Amber from The Mile Long Bookshelf.’ Plus it’s a bit of a mouthful to say, haha. If I ever go to BEA – fingers crossed – I probably wouldn’t give out business cards at all… Awesome post Ashley 🙂

    Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf recently posted: My Experiences with Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  22. I know exactly what you mean. I went to Power-Reader-Day-turned-BookCon for the first time this year and I was definitely too quiet. I think you’re right about striking that balance; you don’t want to not say you’re a blogger, but you don’t want to shove it down someone’s throat. But I was so afraid of bothering the publishers or finding I had nothing to say…those convention things are scary. 😉

  23. Sometimes I wish I had more time to read blogs, and yours would be one of them at the top of the list. It’s not just aesthetically appealing and highly-read (if number of comments is an indicator, and I believe it is.) it’s full of really good information in addition to reviews.

    I know what you mean about being pushy. I made a horrified face when I read about those authors walking the signing lines, but I guess you are kind of a captive audience in those lines, and man it’s hard to find the balance when you are self-marketing as an author. I went to BEA as a complete noob author in 2012 and lots of bloggers gave me their cards, but one thing to remember as a blogger, a debut author whose book hasn’t released might have NO IDEA all of the things bloggers do. It took me 4 books to realize just how helpful bloggers can be, and now I see them as colleagues who contribute a tremendous amount to the publishing industry. Great post!

    1. Thank you Paula!! ♥

      And you’re right: it is hard to find the balance. I think I’d even be okay with an author handing out cards/bookmarks if the book people were in line for was the same genre. But handing out bookmarks for a self help book to people in line for a YA fantasy romance isn’t doing anyone any favours. 😛 Just know your audience before you try to get some marketing in!

  24. I’m appalling at marketing myself, but I’m trying, hence why I’m commenting on here. Honestly, it took me a while to work up the guts to try even conversing online, so God knows what I’d be like in person! I’ll give it a go sometime :). Thanks for sharing, it makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one too shy to tell people I blog about books

    Kyra @ The Review List recently posted: Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
  25. Well, awesome, thanks a lot. I just pictured introducing myself at conferences, and realized it’s going to sound rather hoity toity if I say, “Hi, I’m Alena Belleque of AlenaBelleque.com!” #ugh #headdesk #whydidntiseeitbefore So I guess before I go any further with my rebrand (just launched a week ago), it’s time to go ahead and switch back over to Girl Unfurled. #SIGH At least Into The Library is still awesome!! #ihatenamingblogs

    Alena Belleque recently posted: 2015 Mazda3 Touring | Mama Likes To Go Fast

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