I'm shy—here's how I learned how to self-promote
Whenever I tell people I do stand-up they usually stare at me incredulously, kind of like I just told them I like to levitate in my free time. I’m shy, so not many people would guess I do comedy without me mentioning it. I know why that would make people doubtful of my stand-up abilities, but it still never fails to drive me crazy. Most people don’t get to know me well, let alone at all. I’m not someone who runs around, making funny jokes, and lighting up the room in every day conversation. Most people think I’m not your typical comedian, but weirdly enough, they’re wrong. Even though standup and comedy seem like a mediums that lend themselves to the extroverted, most comedians are actually shy or grapple with some form of social anxiety. Just because we have confidence on stage, doesn’t mean it follows us off stage.
But something I’ve learned I’m definitely not allowed to be shy about when it comes to comedy is promoting my material and myself. This was a major hurdle for me when it came to stand-up, since unless I’m being self deprecating, I’m terrible at talking about myself. I also don’t like to inconvenience people, and I don’t like to brag about myself. But I had to learn to suck it up and promote myself to get people to come to my shows.
This was a tough lesson for me, but I realized if I wanted people to see my work and enjoy it, I had to put it out there. It was definitely struggle, but now I consider it a hard earned and important skill. So how does one shamelessly self promote when you’re more comfortable hiding in your room and not talking to anyone? Read on and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned. Because the truth is, whether you’re in the arts, writing, applying to colleges, or just asking people to come to your birthday party, every shy girl can use a dose of shameless self promotion.
If everyone else can do it, why not you?
Look around at your social media profiles. I guarantee you will find someone promoting something they made. If you think about the posts you read, you’ll start to realize you never question what they’re doing or if they’re good enough to be doing it, you just believe them. After certain point you’ll realize that your work is just as good, if not better, but nobody can see it if you’re not putting it out there. I had to realize this on my own, but no one was going to come to my comedy show if I didn’t post about it, and no one was going to laugh at my jokes if I didn’t write them. I couldn’t get stuck debating whether I thought I was good enough or not, I just had to start putting my stuff out there in order for it to be out there. You can do the same.
Your ‘shamelessness’ is actually seen as self-confidence
When I say ‘shameless’ it’s mostly a reminder to never feel bad about asking people to pay attention to you. If you want people to see something you’re working on, or come to an event your planning, you owe it to yourself to tell people about it. ‘Shameless’ doesn’t really mean ‘shameless’ as much as ‘permission to be blindly self confident without second guessing yourself.’ In the world of TMI and social media, saying ‘Hey guys I’d really appreciate it if you came to my show’ is not that big of a deal. So give yourself the go ahead to joyously tell people to take a look at and appreciate your work. Otherwise, how are they going to know about it?
Being critical of others is easy, creating something and showing it to the world takes effort.
To this day I feel nervous whenever I post about a show I want people to come to. I write out the status on my Facebook (and the comedian fan page I forced myself to make), and feel like ‘Oh God, why am doing this? Why!?’ But then I hit ‘post’ like ripping off a band-aid, and get on with my day. The same goes for showing people my work. I may cringe or hate it or feel embarrassed but I post it online and send it to people anyway. Something my mom said about art and writing in the modern day, which I try to live by, is, ‘If you don’t show it to people it’s just a journal.’
And it’s true. If you’re a writer, write. Put your work in front of other people’s eyeballs. If you’re a comic, tell jokes, take a video, and put it online. If you’re a musician, make music, and make sure people have a place to hear it. Sure, making stuff is scary, and there’s always the fear of failure or rejection. And sure it’s easier to sit around and criticize people who might be perceived as doing a ‘bad’ job at these things. But not trying and not putting yourself out there can often be a subconscious safety net against failing. I guarantee most of the people sitting around being critical are not the people creating content. Not because they’re not awesome or talented, but because they’re scared of putting their stuff out there and ‘screwing up.’ But the truth is that you can never really fail when you make something you love and show it to the world. So go for it.
Participate in social media (No really)
This one I’m still learning, and I won’t lie, it is a tough one if you’re shy. If you want people to see your stuff, it really helps if they have a venue to see it. This could be a website, a tumblr, a twitter, an instagram, or you name it. It also helps if you’re active on these sites, and are always posting new content. What I’ve been told to do by multiple reputable sources (But I still can’t get myself to do regularly) is that any time you’re working with people who are related to your field, or are working on something you love, you should put it online.
For example, maybe you have a piece in a group art show. Take a picture and write a post like ‘So happy to be a part of the group show at Artsy Fartsy Gallery!’ and tag any relevant people in it. That way if any fans or potential employers are looking at your social media page, they will see that you’re active in your work. Even if you do tons of things offline but never post about it, it will look like you’re not that active. It sucks, but is unfortunately true. I’ve seen so many people in my field do social media successfully, and it works swell. They look happy, engaged, and like they’re doing what they love. It’s great. If you can do it, more power to you!
Thank people and support their work.
Once all these wonderful people start supporting you, it’s really important to support them right back. Share their projects, see their shows, go to their poetry slam, you name it. Send more love for the arts out into the world, and it will come right back to you. Also you’ll get to spend more time with your cool friends and acquaintances, and you’ll have some fun too!
Shamelessly self-promoting yourself is definitely not easy, especially when you’re shy. But I can tell you first hand that it’s brought nothing but good things my way. I’ve seen that as I’ve gotten more open to telling people about my work and being more positive about my comedy, I’ve gotten a lot more confident in myself and my abilities. Fake it till’ you make it isn’t just an expression, it’s the truth. So don’t let shyness stop the world from seeing how awesome you are or your work is. Go out there and self promote!
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