On People, Numbers, and How they Add Up

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had been cleaning out the bookmark folders in my computer. I made an offhand comment about the some of the marketing advice in one of the folders, but Alyssa sort of latched onto it, because that is what Alyssa does. (You should go check out her blog, by the way. She talks about books and blows things up. In equal measure, of course.) Here is what she said:

By the way, that throwaway line on online marketing really caught my attention — you’ve done such an amazing job that I can’t help but be intrigued in how you managed such sorcery. Perhaps you could write a blog post about your marketing experiences? Just an idea :)

I always love receiving questions from you lovelies, but I must admit this one threw me off-guard - mostly because I don't consider myself a particularly stellar marketing person. And here is why: in the very beginning, I essentially refused to share my blog with anyone because I was convinced people would be annoyed and perhaps even angry with me. In my mind, marketing equated to self promotion, which equated to bragging.

And no one likes a braggart, right?

Unfortunately - and as I know now - this is not exactly the best mindset to have while attempting to get your work out into the world.

But I am a proud introvert. I don't particularly adore speaking with people in the first place, and when I suddenly feel like I'm bragging, too... well, you can see what happened. The task suddenly appeared insurmountable.

But then at last I was able to figure out a strategy that worked for me, something that allowed me to indulge my introverted tendencies and market at the same time: rather than speaking outright and at great length about my blog, I spoke about the other person instead.

Suddenly I was far more comfortable, because I was able to discuss something I was genuinely interested in - the other person's work - and possibly make a new friend at the same time. When I met someone new, rather than awkwardly shoving Six Impossible Things in their face, I would talk about them instead. And because I mainly did this work online, this generally meant that I was able to read their new book, or possibly listen to their new album. And I adore talking about books and music - it wasn't a chore at all!

But you see, something rather wonderful happens when you are genuinely interested in someone's work: they begin to gather some interest in your work as well. Which means they ask you questions about it. And then, all that's left is to supply them with a link to your blog and bam - new fan. New connection. New relationship. New person who might not only follow your blog, but also share it with others and spread the word.

I didn't truly understand it at the time, but this is the age-old rule of marketing that I was applying:

Never, ever define people by numbers.

In the beginning, I was so daunted by the task of marketing because I believed I was expected to drop the link to my blog in someone's lap and have them magically hit the Follow button. But it doesn't work that way. Self-promotion becomes annoying when you start attempting to grow the numbers rather than connecting with the people.

By speaking about the other person before I began speaking about myself, I was building a connection with a living, breathing human being, not just trying to add another number to my follower count. I think perhaps a lot of people tend to forget that, which is why we have those ridiculous automated Twitter DMs and the like. But in essence, marketing and self-promotion have always been and will always be about growing relationships.

Now, please don't get me wrong: I adore the numbers! That is why I always dedicate posts to follower milestones! But perhaps you will notice that my celebration posts have one thing in common: they say thank you. Showing my own gratitude whenever I hit a follower milestone helps me keep in perspective that all of those people are just that: people who have taken the time to reach out and help me grow my blog.

So there is my number one rule when it comes to marketing! Of course, I will be the first to say that I am certainly not the best person out there, especially since I still despise showing people in real life my blog. But this strategy has always been something that works for me and lets me extend my reach without feeling all icky and guilty about it.

Just remember: numbers are nothing more than a measuring tool. The more important thing is to connect with makes up all of those numbers: the vibrant, diverse, ever-changing people behind them.