Self-respecting, decent people cringe at the thought of someone selling herself. Images of “ladies of the evening” are evoked. But wait. All of us sell ourselves on a regular basis. Maybe we don’t do it so brazenly or sell our bodies, but we do sell our skills, availability, talents, personality and family on a regular basis.
Before you screech, “What is she smoking?,” allow me to explain. Promoting ourselves for whatever gain is, bottom line, selling ourselves. Sure we sell our skills. You do this in a job interview. Sure you sell your availability. You do this in a dating profile online. Sure you sell your talents. You do this when you try to pitch a book or a song you wrote. Sure you sell your personality. You do this when you post a witty remark on your Facebook page. Sure you sell your family. You do this when you compile a profile book when seeking to adopt a child. So, just admit it. You do sell yourself.
The phrase “selling yourself” has a negative connotation. Not only is it usually tied to thoughts of loose women in a red light district or high end madams providing “escorts,” but selling ourselves means self-promotion. People are uncomfortable with this idea because most are raised believing that it is rude to toot your own horn.
The idea that you are selling yourself out by marketing yourself is also a consideration. Whether you are indeed selling yourself out depends on your view of marketing. The term “marketing” makes one think of products which are marketed and the claims which the buyer makes to get consumers to buy them. Sure, you sarcastically think, the product makes your teeth whiter, your clothes brighter and your bathroom scale lighter if you buy the product. We take these claims with a grain of salt because we know that the goal is to sell the product. Truth in advertising is a distant priority, if even a priority at all. If we are accurately presenting our strengths, then we aren’t selling ourselves out; we are simply providing the facts to be reviewed.
When we sell ourselves, the product being touted is us. Let’s consider some common scenarios where we are required to toot our own horn. Job interviews are probably the most familiar opportunity for self-touting to occur. If you don’t convince the interviewer that you are the best man or woman for the job, you don’t get hired. So for an interview we get all gussied up, act extremely polite, and spout prepared answers. Is this really who we are? Or is it sales hype?
Want to know why Facebook causes social anxiety? Because readers assume that the persona we are selling online is who we actually are. We put our best foot forward to show the world. We post about accomplishments, great vacations, witty thoughts, etc. Come on, folks! Get real. How often do we boast about how we lost our keys, dropped food on our new shirt, can’t balance our checkbook, etc. We are selling a glorified and not completely accurate version of ourselves on social media.
Daily at my office I see instances of people selling their families. No, they don’t have their spouse on the auction block. I review profile books that prospective adoptive parents have put together to offer to birth mothers in the hopes they will be selected to take placement of a baby. Now, there’s nothing wrong with telling a birth mother what you have to offer. But where do you draw the line between that and selling yourself? Answer? When everything looks perfect, you are selling yourself. Just once I would enjoy seeing someone’s bedroom with shoes on the floor or a kitchen with a dirty plate in the sink. Come on, let’s get real! No one’s house is that tidy on a normal day.
And speaking of real, how about those dating websites? Aren’t the lonely hearts with profiles posted there trying to sell themselves? Think not? Well, I came across a “how to” site giving advice about putting together a great profile to snag dates. The article started off with the statement that today’s dating world is “all about marketing” with the person making up the profile being the product to be sold. So much for love connections. When singles connect through such sites, sales coups have occurred.
Obviously, I love to write and do so quite frequently. Unfortunately, my naive view of writing was that you write good stuff and publishers will publish it. Ha! Publishers will publish it if you sell yourself to them, i.e., can prove that you are marketable. Before publishers will look at your literary masterpiece, they want to know your platform. How many followers do you have on Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Are you well connected on LinkedIn? I was discouraged to hear from fellow writers who attended a recent writers’ conference that they were told writing is 60% marketing and 40% writing. Huh? Shouldn’t writing be 100% writing? Sadly, no.
Maybe I am a wishful thinker, but if we are selling ourselves for whatever purpose (gaining employment, finding a date, expanding our family, increasing our popularity, publishing a creative work,etc.), shouldn’t we be more concerned about the quality of the product being offered than how to hype it? You can come up with a great marketing strategy to sell yourself, but the proof is in the pudding. Someone might buy what you are selling, but what’s going to happen when they find out that the product, you, is not all that she was cracked up to be?
So it is inevitable that we will sell ourselves. But let’s sell a good product and not just have a good sell for it. Sell yourself if you must, but make sure that what you are selling is not only a good product, but also that it is really you, not a hyped up version for sales purposes only.
This post is me selling myself–my writing talent, I want you to give me your time and attention to read it. The writing is my real thoughts and not a glorified version of me. If you enjoy this post, your satisfaction will be based on the actual writing itself, regardless of how many followers I have on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. But, hey, feel free to follow me there if you want to make me more marketable to publishers.
Just WONDER-ing: How did you sell yourself yesterday? Was that the real you?