No Time For Self Promo? 7 Tips to Save You Hours
One of the biggest objections I hear from creatives who want to get more exposure for their work, sell more products, get more clients… is:
“I don’t have time for self promo”
I get it.
We should be spending as much time as possible on our craft: honing our skills, doing the work.
spent wasted hours, days, on promotional tactics that have had little to no impact on getting me the exposure I want.
If I had a magic lamp, my 3 wishes would be:
• To go back in time and reclaim those wasted hours
• While I’m there, give fomer-me these 7 tips
• To have a pet (benevolent) triceratops
Getting told ‘you just need to get out there’ doesn’t help either.
Because there are plenty of ways to waste time ‘getting out there’ and end up with nothing to show for it but a severe social media hangover.
But, when you have a system in place, a strategy and some pretty nifty tools at your disposal: things start to happen.
You start hearing from former strangers, now potential clients. Opportunities arise. Views, clicks and purchases start trickling in from new places…
And all from as little as an hour or two a week of dedicated, well-planned time.
I want to show you that having ‘no time for self promo’ is not an excuse.
1. Create a Social Promo Calendar
Having a calendar to organise what you’re doing eliminates the time you waste thinking:
“Hmm… I have a lot t do but I have no clue what to do next! I’ll watch some Netflix instead.”
Trust me – I’ve been there! In fact I go there regularly when I feel overwhelmed… then I go to my calendar… and all is well again.
Step 1: Make a list of all your daily / weekly / monthly tasks.
For example, if you’re an illustrator it might look like:
- Find 3 new contacts for promo
- Show a work in progress on Snapchat
- Retweet/reply to 5 people
- Update work on any free portfolio sites
- Write one blog post
- Post latest work on Facebook
- Write a press release
- Update your portfolio
- Write a guest post
Think about what you want to achieve this month – is there a particular piece of work you’ve just finished and want to showcase?
Next, get your calendar together. Using iCal or Google cal or Outlook, whatever, you can set this up in a couple of ways:
1) Set up a calendar for each time-related category
So, you’d have a daily one, a weekly one…
– OR –
2) Set a calendar for each task-related category
This is an option if you want to divide your calendar into categories such as:
- Social media, content creation (as blogging, Youtube videos),
- Syndication (eg. sharing posts on other sites like Medium, Linkedin, or uploading to free portfolio sites like Behance),
- Communications (sending emails, posting mailers, messaging on Linkedin)
- Research (researching influencers and any other contacts)
When you’ve done this once, eg. for one month, it saves you so much time and doing it for future months will be a lot quicker.
2. Use Trello
Trello is like a more in depth version of your promo calendar. I’ve tried a lot of these organisation apps, but Trello is the winner. I’ve written about it in more depth before, but basically here’s how I recommend using it:
1) Organise your lists into days
You know what needs to be done, and when.
This is my preferred view, because I can see my week as a whole view, and if I want to, as a month (you can set dates for each task and then they show up on calendar view.)
Honestly, I use this more than my standard calendar, because I can add much more details about each task.
How to set up the calendar view in Trello:
1) Assign a ‘Due Date’ to a task
2) Go to ‘Power Ups’ in the Menu (right hand side)
3) Enable the Calendar
4) Optional – subscribe to your Trello feed in your iCal!
2) Organise your lists into themes
So, like your calendar options, this allows you to have ‘buckets’ for each task.
Even though I organise my lists by days of the week, I also pay attention to my themes. I use labels to assign to each task.
Additionally, I generally do certain tasks on certain days. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays are content creation, Wednesdays are for email reach-outs, Thursday for research and so on.
3) Organise by importance/urgency
Some people might organise by importance, eg. one list for today’s tasks, one for ‘if there’s time’ tasks… But I’ve found that the less important tasks will always get ignored.
So, I just have one long ‘Bucketlist’ so I don’t forget them, but I don’t kid myself either.
Alternatively, you could use labels to denote urgency too.
3. Contacts Spreadsheet
When it comes to self-promo, nothing in my experience, gets me further than direct, personal email reach outs.
There’s an art to this, and one I’ve spent a lot of time working at! It’s one of my bonuses for my Summer Campers, but I’ll share one of my top tips here: create an epic spreadsheet.
This is super important and something I didn’t pay enough attention to in the early days.
Here are the kind of details I recommend keeping track of:
1) Name (duh)
Seems obvious, but a lot of agencies and businesses get emails to ‘Sir / Madam’ because it isn’t obvious as to who will be reading the emails. I recommend doing some hardcore research to find the name of your contact out.
Worst case: you get the wrong name, but at least you’ve tried and it might get forwarded on to the right person.
2) Contact info
Another DUH, but it will save you time if you’re contacting them at a later date.
This is your ‘why’ – why are you contacting them in the first place?
It’s not your generic why – because that probably isn’t unique to them – this is a specific reason why they are on your list and is unique.
Usually, this will be delivered as a compliment of some form to personalise the email. For example, you read one of their books and it had a massive impact on you.
It takes some research, so I tend to batch this on one of my ‘research’ days.
4) Date first contacted
Usually a yes or no, but it can be handy to add a note. For example, some people will respond, tell me they’re currently busy or on holiday, and when I should contact them again. So, I make a note of that.
*I include a column for ‘Replies’ after the following two columns too.
6) Date followed up
If I had no response after a week or so, I’ll send a short follow-up email.
- Top tip: I use the Gmail extension Boomerang to keep track of emails I send, so I know when it’s been long enough to follow up.
7) Final follow up
I don’t always resort to this: but I’ve found it works well on me, so I usually give it a shot. This is usually sent out 1-2 weeks after the initial follow up.
8) Dead or alive
Rather than remove them from the list, I just make a note to say there was literally no response so I remember who not to bother again for some time.
One big advantage to using a spreadsheet for this, even at it’s most basic use (me and Excel never got on well) is the SORTING!
I love being able to sort rows, so I know who’s due for an follow up, and so on.
4. Twitter lists
Even if you never ‘got’ Twitter, I still think Twitter lists are a really great way of staying organised, and ultimately, saving time.
For me, Twitter has always been a favourite first point of contact if there’s someone I want to get in touch with.
Emails can be a bit heavy-handed, if all I want to do is say ‘great blog post! I never knew XYZ’ or ‘Saw your work in XYZ Cafe today – amazing!’
Ya get me? It’s just a quick way of getting on someone’s radar, no strings attached.
Now, lists. Twitter can get pretty overwhelming if you’re following hundreds of Tweeters, and it’s quite likely that you’ll forget about 80% of them as their odd tweet gets lost in the sea.
I use lists to segment all my contacts. They can be set to private (so, if one of your lists is ‘Competition’… may be make sure that’s set to private, or you’ll have an awkward mess on your hands where you need to make up a fake competition… #truestory)
This can be agencies, art directors, potential collaborators… go nuts. When you have everyone you follow in these lists, you can choose to view ONLY tweets from them.
So, if it’s your day for hitting up art directors, they’re all in front of you.
Or you can just check in to see what’s happening with your peers. Just being organised like this saves so much time, and makes reaching out less of a hassle.
To manage all the craziness, and see tweets from a ‘birds eye view’ (hah) I use Hootsuite.
The free account is enough for me, as I mainly use it to see incoming tweets, messages, retweets etc all at a glance, as well as see what’s happening on my lists at a glance.
It’s really just a visual organisation tool, but the scheduling feature is also great if you want to batch any social posts.
Hootsuite is where I would start, if you’re wanting to start making social media promo a regular habit, and you’re wanting to batch your posts.
Like I said the free version is enough for most, but if you’re looking to do more, I recommend also using… Buffer.
Oh I love Buffer. I try to avoid paying for services unless I’ve really checked them out and know how much time they save me.
Buffer is one that gets my $10 a month, and it’s worth every penny.
The calendar view is one of the main reasons I use Buffer more than Hootsuite – the fact you can match it to your promo calendar, and see everything as a month-view, was a huge help for me.
I spend one morning a week scheduling 80-90% of my social posts for the week ahead. This includes blog posts, work updates, promos, as well as shout outs to other people’s content.
There’s still plenty of stuff I send out on the fly, but having a steady stream being distributed daily through Buffer, really puts my mind at rest, and I don’t need to be thinking of things to post every day.
I do this for Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Linkedin, and the content is mostly the same for each platform.
For example, 3-5 tweets and pins a day, 1-2 a week on the other platforms.
For a long time I was using Buffer alone to schedule pins, but then I heard about Boardbooster.
Another game changer, that does cost a penny or something per pin, but it’s a worthwhile investment to manage a social media platform that (1) I don’t enjoy using very much and (2) brings crazy good traffic to my site.
So, I recommend reading a tutorial on this, but basically Boardbooster allows you to pin once, and it RECYCLES all your pins, if you want it to.
It can also pin sporadically to group boards (so you get in front of more eyes) from one of your own boards. It’s all kinds of crazy.
8. Later (formerly Latergram)
I know I said 7, but here’s a bonus tip for Instagram users.
Later allows you to plan all your Instagram posts in advance. Currently it doesn’t allow you to post directly to the app – you kind of get sent a reminder that takes you through it.
But basically, it’s great for people like me who would rather plan most of their posts in advance, write some meaningful caption in advance (I’m not great on the fly) and do it all from your phone OR DESKTOP.
Yes – the desktop view is the winner here – you might be able to guess why I love it…
CALENDAR VIEW 😍
Hopefully this post gave you some ideas for saving time with self promo, and helped you create more of a strategy for getting your work the exposure it deserves.