How To Gain Exposure
“For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed." - Honore de Balzac.
At the start of the year, I spoke about all the ways I was going to grow some balls this year in my constant pursuit of achieving my goals. As one of my most popular posts for 2018, I'm glad that my no bullshit approach to new year resolutions resonated well with some of you guys. I've re-read that post a few times, as a means to keep reminding myself of the habits I need work on, but I've been thinking a bit more about my sixth point - Stop Being Shy & Start Self-Promoting - and decided to expand on it a bit more. Because it's all well and good me stating it but how does one actually go about gaining exposure for work?
How to grow, get exposure and self-promote is probably the second most asked question I get (after how to work with brands and make some dollar). The truth is I hate self-promoting! I know it's a necessity in the creative industry but why does it feel sort of dirty and shameless? For a shy and introverted girl like me, it really doesn't come easy and I can get super awkward when it comes to discussing myself and my work. I've even been so bashful in the past that when new people have asked me what I do and where they can follow me, I avoid telling them. Madness! Humility is a nice trait but if it gets in the way of potential opportunities, it ain't cute honey.
So, I had to learn the value of being the cheerleader of my own work (because no else was doing it for me!) and started employing a few techniques to ensure my work was getting seen by the right people and a bigger audience. After being on a panel for a Beneath Your Beauty masterclass yesterday, discussing some of the ways in which I've worked to build up my network base and community both offline and online, I decided to compile a short list of the techniques that have served me well over the last year. Whether your blog is feeling like a needle in the search engine haystack or the Instagram algorithm has got you down, hopefully, some of these tactics can help pick traffic up again. They might not be for everyone but you'll never know until you give it a try, right? So here goes!
1. CREATE SOMETHING OF QUALITY & VALUE.
I felt a bit like a broken record at yesterday's panel, repeatedly reminding the audience that everything we do has to be about value, whether pitching to brands or trying to sell something to our community - if you're not adding value to their lives then what's the point? Trying to get exposure for a brand, business or blog that isn't up to scratch won't leave people hanging around very long (if they even pay attention in the first place). If your shit isn't tight, your focus should be solidly on making sure you're creating quality content/products/services that provide value to your audience. Then we can talk growing a bigger audience base.
2. NETWORK OFFLINE.
There's a quote from Bobby Solomon that I love: "put yourself, and your work, out there everyday, and you’ll start meeting some amazing people." There are two important points I feel he makes here centred around networking. Firstly, that meeting new people is an important part of garnering exposure for your work. Investing time into growing my network is one of the best things I did because it opened up so many new opportunities to me that I wouldn't have had access to sitting at home and waiting for jobs to land on my doorstep. However, I would have never been able to foster those relationships without having a good body of work to show new acquaintances. It's quality work and accomplishments that will attract the right people. Networking without anything of value to offer new people creates mostly empty connections, the kind where people say they'll go for a drink with you but nothing ever comes of it. Networking takes a lot of energy, especially for an introvert like myself, so to continuously put myself out there and get nothing back is exhausting. I had to develop a smarter social strategy and quickly learned that to develop truly meaningful professional relationships, I had to get point number 1 (above) firmly under wraps before being able to network effectively.
For those, like me, that feel awkward in new social settings, never underestimate the power of your own personal network. The easiest way to start expanding your social base is to build upon the relationships that you already have, e.g. with family, friends, colleagues, schoolmates, etc... You'll be surprised at how much knowledge and opportunities might be available to you from within your own circle.
3. NETWORK ONLINE
The same principles apply to networking online as do offline. Make sure your online content is hot and then follow people online who's attention you want to get and start liking and commenting on their feed. We all spend so much of our time on socials so engaging meaningfully with people online is another good way to gain exposure. Tag brands that you're interested in working with (obviously only if their product is in the post), strike up conversations with those you admire and make sure to engage with your own community by replying to all their comments. I've found that developing good relationships online organically leads to real-life professional relationships and even some great friendships.
4. WHEN IN DOUBT, COLLABORATE.
One of my favourite points from my interview with Ellen Atlanta, former Lead of Comms at WAH, on building an engaged community, was about the power of collaboration: "if you feel like you've hit a wall in building up your community, that's when collaboration is the answer." Personally, I've found collaboration to be one of the easiest ways to grow and be exposed to a new audience, whether on my blog or on my social channels. By partnering up with other people, I've brought fresh ideas to my brand and reduced some of my own workload.
When discussing this at yesterday's panel, a lot of people asked how I went about approaching people for collaborations. I wish I had some super secret and exciting solution but really I just reached out to people. For all my interviews on the blog, I simply DMed or emailed those that I felt would suit my vision for the collaboration, expressed my admiration for them over email (everyone loves a bit of flattery) and waited for a response. Sometimes there would be no response and I'd have to email again. Sometimes it would be a no but sometimes it would be a yes and magic was created. I find that a lot of the time, the fear of getting a no prevents us from doing what we want to do but really that's just your own ego getting in the way. If you get a no, approach someone else. It's not as scary and it seems and can feel very empowering when you get a yes from the right person.
5. SHARE NEWS WITH YOUR COMMUNITY.
In order to be found, you must be findable. By sharing your work with people online and offline you'll have a better chance of attracting a new audience. Plus, you'll naturally build engagement within your own community. People generally love feeling involved in the process so don't wait until you have a finished product before sharing any news with your community. Instead, let them in on the process as you go along. Acting precious about your work, perhaps for fear that others may copy, is not that beneficial to you.
Have faith that no one can execute your idea like you can and then by making your audience feel involved, they'll become better connected to the brand, and therefore feel invested in the work you're creating. By showing them sneak peeks, behind the scenes or even asking for their advice, they'll feel apart of your journey and naturally develop into brand ambassadors for you, maybe even promoting you to others without you even asking. It's a win-win really, so make sure you are building an attitude of sharing into your marketing routine.
Make sure you are building an attitude of sharing into your marketing routine.
6. DEVELOP CONSISTENCY.
The oldest trick in the book but the hardest to master, consistency is the holy grail that we are all chasing after and the real difference between success and failure. I still find it so hard to maintain a good rhythm long term but if I’m honest, I believe consistency to be the second most important component of exposure, after quality content. It's really just about being persistent but being persistent in a regular and organised fashion. It makes sense because if you're all over the place, people won't view you as a reliable and secure brand. If you're posting consistently on your blog, Google will develop more trust for your site and increase your SEO ranking. The same goes for Instagram, as well as in real life with paying customers. It's tricky I know but we all just have to keep working at it. Don't beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon - remember no one's perfect, just get back on the horse and keep going.
7. SHARPEN UP YOUR SOCIAL STRATEGY.
We've already confirmed that video content is set to be huge in 2018 and the easiest way to get involved - if YouTube seems too much effort - is by pushing small bouts of video content on your Instastories and going Live on your social channels. The more followers check out your live story, the higher the chances are for you to be featured on the Explore page or in the Top Live section, giving you the opportunity to engage with Instagram users from all around the world.
I've also played around with holding contests/giveaways, which is a great way to grow quickly and yet is a risky tactic as once the giveaway is over, people can and do simply unfollow. However, in my personal experience, if you're offering high quality and valuable content, most people will stick around. Posting new content at the optimal time on your social platforms to get optimal exposure is always a good idea and don’t doubt the power of the hashtag. I know some people can feel weird about hashtagging but they are simply portals for people to find you, therefore using them allows easy accessibility to a new audience, am I right?
What methods have you found to be most effective in getting exposure for your work? Let me know in the comments below x