Maria Brophy


  • and make good money doing it!

    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
Art Marketing / Entrepreneur

Self Promotion is NOT a Dirty Word – 11 Ways to Market Yourself

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Self-Promotion sounds like a dirty word to some people.   I know many who have a livelihood that depends on marketing, yet they resist it.

But if you look at all of the people who have found success without the backing of a big company or a trust fund left by a wealthy uncle, you’ll find that self-promotion was a necessary piece of the puzzle.

When my husband, Drew, was in his twenties, he had a habit that drove his surfer buddies crazy; he would carry his art portfolio with him everywhere he went.

Drew had no one to rely on but himself, and survival meant getting new art commissions, which required self-promotion.

And though Drew’s job as an artist was the envy of many of his friends, they were annoyed by his “self promotion.”

When they would go to a beach party, Drew would arrive with a six-pack of beer under one arm and his big, black portfolio book under the other.  Inevitably, amongst the drunk dancing and youthful debauchery, a small crowd of people would gather around as Drew flipped the pages of his big black book.

His friends taunted him, calling him “Promo Drew.”

Drew would defend himself;  “Hey, if I don’t promote myself, who will?”

The answer is, nobody really cares about your success but you, and maybe your mother.

But, with the ease of the internet, we hold the world literally in our hands. We can tell and sell anything online, and if we are really good at marketing ourselves, we can attract fans from all over the world.

The good news about this is that we have a lot of control over the marketing of our work.

The bad news is that we have to do the work! And yes, it’s work that pulls you away from your REAL work.  (writing, painting, creating…)

Don’t feel overwhelmed about the fact that there are a million ways to market online and in person.

You don’t have to do everything all at once, now.  Just choose one method to implement at a time.  Learn how to do it well, spend time on it, and once you feel you can do it in your sleep, then add another tool, and repeat.

Remember that consistency is key.  If you decide that making videos is a good place to start, make a dozen or more.  The best thing to do is make a video regularly, say once a week, for at least a year.  Over time you’ll start to gain a viewership, and you’ll eventually see the marketing value of it.  But you have to be patient, because the value of it doesn’t always show up right away.

Below is a short list of Self-Promotion and Marketing Methods you can implement now:

  1. Website – Have a website that makes it clear what you do.  Then make sure you are picked up by search engines so that people looking for what you have online can find you (get educated on Search EngingeOptimiation – SEO – which will help you get picked up by search engines).
  2. Video – Posting online videos of you working, or of your product, whatever you’re selling, can be very effective.  People want to buy from people they know – and if they watch you on a video, they feel like they know you.
  3. Social Media – Connect with like-minded people and find your fans through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a handful of other sites for social networking. (Read this article by Lori McNee:  “Selling art on Facebook:  A success Story.”
  4. Newsletters – Build up a list of friends, family and fans and, with their permission, send out a quarterly or monthly newsletter with news of what you’re working on.  Keep it interesting enough so they read it.
  5. Press ReleasesLearn how to send press releases to the media when you have something to announce.  List it online on websites like PRLOG.COM and other press release sites, so that there is a permanent record online.  (Also, Say Yes to all Opportunities with the Media!)
  6. Business Cards – This is the most simple, cost effective method of self-promotion.  Hand your business cards to people you meet, and make sure they know what you do and that you’re available should they need what you have!  Never leave home without them.
  7. Networking – Get out of your office and meet people in the flesh!  Go to trade shows, networking events and charity events.  Some of the best deals we’ve ever made were with people that we’ve met at events.  People like to do business with people they know.
  8. Trade Show Exhibits – This ties in with networking, but gives you an added exposure factor by setting up a booth showing your art or products at relevant trade shows.  Every industry has numerous trade shows that you can attend.
  9. Teach a Class – Give something of value to your local community, show off your knowledge, and gain a few new customers this way.   If you are a webmaster, give a two hour class on SEO or how to set up a website.  If you’re an artist, give art classes.  Share your expertise, and you’ll become known as the expert in your field.
  10. Volunteer at a Networking Event – This is actually quite effective.  If you volunteer to help greet people at an event, you’ll inevitably meet everyone there.  Help clean up after the event, and most likely you’ll be rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers (the leaders are always the ones making events happen – and they’re the ones helping in the clean up).
  11. Join a Meet-Up Group – There are numerous meet-ups or groups that get together on a regular basis on many different topics.  Go to, type in something you’re interested in (i.e.  “social media” or “business” or “writing”) and your zip code, and you’ll find many options.   This will expose you to new things to learn as well as new people that can lead you to opportunities.

I hope this list has given you some good ideas on how to get the word out.  What other ways to you promote yourself?  Please, share in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading.  I’m glad you’re here!

Maria xxoo

*Photo credit goes to Graham “logo” Smith of, a guy who understands the greatness of Creative Commons license!


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42 Comments Self Promotion is NOT a Dirty Word – 11 Ways to Market Yourself

  1. Archan Mehta


    Good job: awesome list. Thank you for your contribution here.

    Harvard Business School has a marketing department and the professors and students there could learn a thing or two from you.

    You may not have a degree in business or management, but you have lived it by attending the school of hard knocks. There is so much to be said for “learning on the job.” You are a living example.

    Wish you success and happiness, as usual, and keep on living your dreams. You and Drew are an inspiration to all of us out here.


    1. Maria Brophy

      Archan, You’re right – I should be teaching those “Harvard Biz” people the REAL way to market themselves!

      The school of hard knocks sometimes can cost more than a Harvard degree, but it’s also so rewarding!

      Thanks :)

  2. Daniel Sroka

    Great list and discussion, to which I’d add two things:

    Be ready — marketing yourself is a very difficult task. I’ve worked with marketing geniuses who couldn’t figure out how to promote themselves. You are so close to yourself that it can be a real challenge to take a step back, and creating an honest (one that reflects your work) and effective (one that targets your true market) promotion campaign.

    Not only is self-promotion difficult, marketing art is a challenge. Art is, in many ways, a terrible business. You are trying to sell a luxury item with no intrinsic agreed-upon value.

    So when you start to struggle with your marketing, be patient! Know that it’s not “just you” but that you are trying to do a really hard job. Then, get back to work!

  3. Meltemi

    The business card for the artist? Your photograph Name and Company Name on one side with the year e.g. © PK 2011. On the other side a rectangular artwork [20 x 60cm down to 26 x 80mm] with the website and email address. Get 500 printed online printing houses do a good job. next year all you have to do is change the artwork and change the date. After 4 years of reprints I can offer any contact a choice, they normally take all four!

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  5. Jim Springett

    Good morning Maria, Geat article good reminders of key choices to make when looking at time and creation. One big way I market my work is on ebay, sell for a starting bid of $0.01, you say are you kidding? I have some of my work sells for a good amount and others not as much, the key is in letting people decide. Takes some courage to do this, and at first I was thinking what If it only sells for $0.01, some have, but I don’t judge the art market by one off painting sale. This helps me develop a good customer list for enewsletters, and more opportunity to sell my paintings. Thanks for your good story, and I wish your husband well with his painting.

    Jim Springett-wildlife artist

  6. Press

    Great post Maria, and great comments as well! I like that you underscored the importance of taking it one step at a time, mastering it, and then moving on. This has been a challenge for me, so I know the wisdom of this success principle. I can also appreciate (from personal experience) Daniel Sroka’s observation regarding the challenge of being so close to yourself, your product, etc. that it can be very difficult to position and promote your own unique value.

    Keep it UP!

  7. kathy Othon

    It’s just so scary! Especially when you are just going by the seat of your pants, don’t have much small talk, not chatty, but I’m insecurely trying to get out there, at this point i’m still hesitant to give out my cards and tend to give my note cards to anyone that admires them, probably not a wise business plan.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  8. Denise Mancour

    Selling and marketing comes natural for me. But selling my own art was really hard for me. I actually became comfortable at marketing my own art when I started to “own” it. I realized that when I started to believe in myself and found that “my” art was really a gift…I was free to sell. I love selling my work now and when a piece of my heart goes with it…that is what is special to me.

  9. Gayle Faucette Wisbon

    Thanks for a great article. I like your advice for choosing one method at a time. I already use some of these methods, but I’m all over the place with them. My inconsistency is not very effective. Thanks again!

  10. Philip

    Hi Maria – Finally had a chance to read this post. Wow. So much useful information, and links to even more! Thank you. Wishing you well. Philip

  11. Alex Mitchell

    Hi Maria! I’m with you on the implement one method at a time. I love to share my projects via videos and photos. I get excited about telling people and it doesn’t even feel like I’m working (and this after sending about 100 emails today). So, for now, this is my method, and I trust to get good at other ways to promote myself in the future. Step by step, otherwise I get overwhelmed and panic.

  12. Mars Dorian

    Hey Maria,

    it’s so true – especially in the beginning. No one’s tooting your horn so you have to do it yourself. With GUSTO.

    I luv your tips, only tradeshows and press releases seem to cumbersome for me. In today’s age, I want to mainly use the internet as it gives you WAY more ROI than the old skool stuff.

    Still, valuable article.

  13. rembrandz

    Hello there

    I really enjoyed all these very valuable tips. Good to realize that I have been practicing it but not quite enough.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights. I am so glad that I stumbled upon your valuable website. Am sure to frequent here often.



    As someone whose first novel Searching for My Wand is about to be released, I am reading everything I can as far as marketing goes. In fact, I’ve been so immersed in it that my head is spinning. I think you may have a point about doing one thing well. I think I need to step back and take stock of my strengths.

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  16. Bob Ragland

    I have done all of my own PR for years.I am a working class artist in
    I get paid to do my own promotion. I like it.
    I just got some ink – see Post.
    When artists don’t carry business cards, they can’t sell the cheapest
    thing they have.
    See my blog-www.Artlife 1
    I could go on an on about this.
    Great article.
    Bob Ragland-Non-starving artist

    1. Maria Brophy

      Bob Ragland, I know your work – you are a LEGEND! Thanks for landing on my blog. And thanks for your comment. Whatever you’ve been doing for promotion is working. I have read about you in a few mainstream mags….

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  18. Gill

    Hi Maria,

    I just started up with meet ups to widen my mktg.. the list is very helpfull. please do share more on how we could get more clients and how do we expand our business as well.

    thank a lot again..


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  21. Andrew Molobetsi

    I was searching online for best ways to promote my financial and tax planning practice. Your post describes exactly how I should get the exposure I need to get more customer knocking a the doo. Next stop… I am going to subscribe to your newsletter. Thanks a million, Maria

  22. Bob Ragland

    I do all of my own business. I send real mail.
    I have home shows in collector’s homes.
    I get foto stories. I copy and mail them to people.
    I read the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.\the 10,000
    hour chapter matters a lot.
    I get paid.

  23. Dontee Weaver

    I agree with that fact that you have to actively promote yourself, it could eventually result in others believing in you and promoting for you. Consistency pays off! I am currently in the process of building my brand and keeping supporters updated via
    Thanks for another useful article Maria!

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  25. Caeruu

    Thanks for this one. It opened my eyes to marketing. I’ve always hated marketing myself since I know people are annoyed by it, but if I don’t how can my art get out to people. Nice read! :)

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  28. Vicky

    Great Articles!! It’s very benefit for me, although I am not a artist. My company is print on demand company. As we know there is a need for artist to sell there art online nowadays. We would like artists can consider our website as a different way of marketing, different way of selling. Anyway, I love your blogs.

    1. maria nieto

      Thank you for your words…it seemed as if you were inside of my head reading the multiple doubts and insecurities picking at my cell stems. I am not a writer, but I did write and published a book. One book. I am 85 years old and felt the need to share my horrendous childhood in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and afterwards under a dictatorship. I made it a novel,fiction , a good story simply and directly told.
      But, it seems that writing something is not enough. Now I have to learn business if I want the book read, I am seriously resenting it. Your articles have helped me a lot. Than you!

  29. MaRitza C.

    Dear Maria, thanks for the advise, I’m going through a crossroads in my life. And truly looking for deeper more meaningful meaning to my contribution in life, I’m an artist and jack of all art, media forms.


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