Is There Such Thing As Too Much Self Promotion?

I recently gave an online blogging class and on the evaluation form I was told “instructor (meaning me) used too much self promotion.” Too much? I thought back to what I did and yes, I did have a signature tag for my e-report on blogging content and I did mention I was giving a free blogging chat that week for the site. That was it.  This negative eval also prompted me to remember I hear “Alice, I see you everywhere,” meaning see me a lot on social media and the Internet. These comments made me think: am I promoting myself too much?

I say no. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur you have to market yourself or no one will know who you are. The same goes for a blog: if you spend all of your time writing a blog and then don’t get others to follow you by promoting it, you’ve lost a lot of time and energy. As a full time writer/editor/poet/speaker/teacher/entrepreneur I make my living by letting others know what I do. I don’t over promote by sending out a full length newsletter every day and I get worried that people will get sick of me when I sent out two event invitations within the same week. But I do have to self promote myself if I want to keep my momentum going and make opportunities happen for myself. I remember a boss telling us, “Good business doesn’t happen by accident.” So true.

I do feel comfortable talking about myself and my business in a healthy way. By that I mean I have a quality bio prepared, along with a professional headshot should anyone ask for it. I also make sure I always have business cards on me, and can give a 10-second talk about what I do when prompted.

This eval did remind me about what my family thought of my self-promoting nature when I was a kid. Coming from their generation, my parents didn’t think it was proper to brag about yourself; you should let others do it for you, except my mother didn’t like it when her friends and our neighbors told her good things about my volunteering or school work. She was afraid I’d get a “swelled head.” Instead, I was propelled to do more self promoting! Hey, I guess it worked out in the end.

But to my mother’s point: should you only let others talk about you? Yes and no—I feel you can guide what others say about you, although ultimately you have to be in charge of your business and not give up control. It’s necessary to be clear with your intentions and my intentions are to use my writing gifts to help others succeed.

I see too much self promotion if you are sending too many emails or blog promotions or not giving content that’s worthy. I also see too much self promotion when you don’t give back in social media. Do you congratulate your friends on Facebook when they garner a publication or an award? Do you comment on their links? Do you ask them meaningful questions and/or add value to their blog? Also important is to create a e-newsletters that’s not all self promotion—list tips, contests, recipes, “pet of the month,” cool facts and be liberal with cross-posting your colleagues’ events and workshops.

So, friends, keep self promoting and growing your business! And if you live in Triangle, I invite you to attend “How to Find FREE Media Opportunities” on Thursday, April 28th at the Center for Excellence (3803‐B Computer Dr. Ste. 106 Raleigh NC 27609) from 12-2pm. Here’s the link for more info. Many thanks to Beverly Mahone for putting this panel together. I’ll be on the panel speaking on blogging and promoting your blog!

Your Turn:
How do you self promote and what challenges have you faced with marketing yourself?

Posted in: Networking

Leave a Comment (8) ↓


  1. Barry DeCarli April 13, 2011

    Alice, I wouldn’t have taken your correspondence poetry course without your down-to-earth, obviously heartfelt promotion. All of your promotion comes across as a desire to show that because you were able to accomplish your goals, others can, too. It is evident that you have the grasp of ego tempered with a heavy dose of humility that allows you to be successful and to help other people do the same.

    • Alice Osborn April 13, 2011

      Thank you so much, Barry! It’s a balancing act:)

  2. Anne Beavers April 13, 2011

    Alice, let’s be real. We give seminar’s for free to our peers. It is about paying it forward, but it is also about promoting our business. It is one of the best marketing tools to generate new leads. I had a recent experience in a workshop where another business owner told me he would not buy from me because he didn’t know what digital marketing is. (and not in a one on one but in front of the class). Later I pulled him aside and said, “let me educate you on what I do”. Was that self promoting? Yes. In each workshop we give every business owner or participant time to introduce themselves. You gave of your time to help others. As a participant I would want to know more about you and your business. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope to meet you and find out more about what you do. Anne

    • Alice Osborn April 13, 2011

      Thank you, Anne! I look forward to getting to know you better as well!

  3. Dave Baldwin April 14, 2011

    My two cents – if after (4 years? 5 years?) of doing workshops and promoting things consistently the same way, you only got one negative comment about over-promoting, this is probably a non-issue. I know you as someone with strong character and integrity who gives real value. The fact that you still took this seriously enough to blog about it is a positive reflection on you.

    That said, there might be some value in looking at a different way to present what you’re promoting so that it’s less likely to trigger a reaction in the future. It really depends on whether you think this person was giving a voice to the unspoken complaints of many, or whether this was truly just a fluke. Based on having seen you in action numerous times, my gut says that this is most likely a fluke. You can’t please them all….

    • Alice Osborn April 14, 2011

      Thanks so much for adding your 2 cents, Dave! A thought for why that person acted that way: she may have felt frustrated and overwhelmed that as a writer these days you have to promote yourself.

  4. Cendrine Marrouat April 15, 2011

    Dear Alice:

    Thank you for this great article.

    The comment from your participant tells me something just as important as what you talked about in your post. It tells me that she does not know the meaning of ‘self-promotion’. And I agree with Dave. It is probably a fluke comment.

    With that being said, you are right to question yourself. While you definitely cannot please everybody, you show your willingness to deliver quality to the best of your abilities. I commend you for that.

  5. Andrea Wenger April 16, 2011

    Writing is an audacious act. You’re essentially saying, “Listen to me. I have something important to say.” Self-promotion is an extension of that. You’re not really promoting yourself; you’re promoting your message. If you create a work of art, but you don’t promote it, you’re hiding your light under a bushel. As Nelson Mandela said, “You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


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