The 3 Rules of Self-Marketing

We’ve written before about building your personal brand online, and about various ways to promote yourself through your web site. The topic is worth revisiting, though: because they’re often lacking in traditional face-to-face ways to bring in new business, web workers need to be keenly aware of their own image and how they sell their skills to others. Successful web workers are often good marketers, whatever their “real” business may be.

Now developer (and web worker) Rob Walling has published another take on the subject in his article Self-Marketing for Software Developers. Based on his years in development and management, he offers 3 rules for marketing your own skills so that you stand out of the pack. Although he’s writing for software developers, the rules can be widely applied by many types of web workers. Here’s a quick overview; refer to Rob’s original article for more depth.

Rule #1: “Knowing how to market yourself will do more for your earnings and reputation than becoming better at what to do.” Don’t believe it? Think about the people in your industry who make more money and are more famous than you. Do you think they really know more than you? Did they just happen to get lucky? Or were they savvy about how to promote themselves? My money is on the latter. This can be a tough truth to accept, particularly when you’re new in a field and still think superior knowledge will conquer the world, but the sooner you realize that marketing is important, the better.

Rule #2: “Start now.” Why? Because this stuff takes time. Building blog circulation, getting people to notice you, cultivating your social network, working your way on to the speaker list at conferences…good marketing can take years to pay off. If you put it off until next month or next year, someone else who didn’t put it off is going to eclipse you.

Rule #3: “If you have an exceptional talent, market yourself through exceptional means.” How many blogs are out there today? Just having a blog isn’t marketing any more; you need to do something different. Set yourself up as the expert on some subject, blog relevant articles on a regular basis, and mail the links to everyone who might be remotely interested: then a blog is worthwhile. Or use social networks or video links or something even more innovative. The goal of marketing is to stand out from the pack; you can’t, by definition, do this if you insist on doing exactly what everyone else does.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say these were 3 easy rules. Simple, yes, but not easy. But if you want to work your way up to reputation ladder (and justify charging higher prices and getting offered more interesting work), the effort spend in marketing yourself in innovative ways is more than worth it.