Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Shameless Self-Promotion in the Style Blogosphere

Ok, so today I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram all with the express purpose of driving traffic to my blog. It didn't take long. It's just this short ritual I've worked up around posting new content. And it works, to varying degrees, in doing what I want it to do. People respond to my posts directly or link through to Urban Fieldnotes. They stay informed about what's going on with the blog and take part in the larger conversation I want it to ignite. 

But I gotta ask a serious question of all of you, who — like me — engage in this social media circus of constant self-promotion: How do you keep yourself from getting bogged down in it? How do you keep yourself from feeling like a shameless self-promotor or a hopeless narcissist every time you tell your Facebook followers to check out some "exciting new post" on your blog? I'm no stranger to vanity. I appreciate a pat on the back every now and then, "an awesome photo!" posted in the comment section of my website. But self-promotion is not my native habitat. In fact, it feels rather foreign to me. More to the point, it feels kinda gross to me. Maybe it's the aging indie kid in me lashing out, the inner punk rocker accusing me of being a "sell out," but, it's a feeling I just can't quite shake. Nearly every time I post a new image to Instagram, I find myself staring at my iPhone waiting for it to light up with "likes," and as I do so, I feel like a small part of my soul has withered away. I start fantasizing about leaving social media altogether once this project is finished — if, in fact, it's ever finished. I dream about canceling my Internet subscription and going 100% analog from now on. Of course, I know I won't do any of that. Once you're linked in, you stay linked in. 

So how do you all deal with it? Or do you have to? Is this just some weird issue of my own, or a common emotional response to blogger self-promotion? I'm guessing some portion of bloggers don't really feel like they self-promote at all. They're just having a conversation with their readers and followers, letting them know when a new post is up the way a friend might tell another friend about some article they read. But some other portion of you must get what I'm talking about. Am I approaching this wrong? Is there some better way to think about it? And is there an alternative to social media self-promotion for a street style blogger like me? Or is this just the new normal? Are we all self-promotors now, hocking our brands on the World Wide Web like it's nothing at all? Is branding the new self-expression? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. 


  1. I think of it like this: You have people, most likely other bloggers, who follow your blog via services like Bloglovin. Then you have people, who like what you do and like seeing what you post (when they have time), but have no concept of what Bloglovin or RSS or anything similar even is. Nothing wrong with that, but they may be more apt to follow on a social media site that they frequent themselves. You have to post there, because that's where people who enjoy what you do are. They won't click the link if they don't enjoy it.

    Additionally, I like pushing out my posts on social media because of the SEO value. Those links help the people looking for what I write about find me in the mess that is the internet. While I understand where you're coming from, you're not being a sell out. You're reminding people who opt in to follow you that you're still there.

  2. When I started Lord Ashbury, for the first two or three months I syndicated every post from my blog to my Facebook page and then my personal profile. I would periodically tell my friends that this was temporary--I was trying to up the exposure to my friends overall by encouraging them to Like the fanpage. Since hitting that benchmark that I had in mind, I only very rarely share something on my personal Facebook page that was originally posted to the fan page. Maybe once a week. I find it mildly annoying when I have a friend who's page I liked basically becomes round-the-clock double posting. I say mildly, because on the other hand I appreciate the hustle. And I understand that different people and their enterprises are at different points of "success"--something that is unique to each individual and their business plan.

    I subscribe to the adage of trying everything until something sticks. But I also subscribe to the notion of getting respected to the point where that type of syndication isn't necessary.

    The question, then, is what you ultimately want. You have no-doubt seen people who were completely shameless in their self-promotion until finally they arrived. It's less attractive than the person who spends hours in the basement toiling away until their discovered. But when you realise that these are basically the only two roads that exist, you have to accept the advantages and disadvantages of each when you proceed. (I say two roads because striking a balance is like hedging; nobody becomes rich by hedging.)

    Once you accept the plan you believe will best suit you, guilt has to leave the room. Attaining success is war; you have to invade it, conquer it, and assimilate it to your culture.

  3. thanks @HerPhilly and @Simbarashe for your thoughtful responses. Plenty to think about.


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