(originally posted on tumblr)
I was having a conversation the other day with a fellow blogger and writer and we both were lamenting the fact that although we both like to promote indie artists, (mostly writers and comic book creators) we are often inundated with emails, tweets and DMs from people wanting us to promote their work. (I can’t IMAGINE what editors at major publications go through). On top of that, there don’t seem to be any rules of engagement for artists, writers, and creators for how to approach bloggers, journalists or podcasters when it comes to self-publicizing their work. So from that conversation came this list of 10 Ways to Promote Projects for Free. Let me know what you think!
10 Ways to Promote Projects for Free With Bloggers, Journalists and Podcasters
(without being annoying)
- Have a website – If you don’t have a personal one, you MUST have one for your project. You really need a “home base” that you can send people to and a Facebook page alone is going to make you look unprofessional. A simple blog will do. BUT I would stick to sites like WordPress or Tumblr (which you can start for free) or Squarespace or Strikingly, which are not free, but include a domain and a server. DO NOT USE WIX OR WEEBLY. (These sites make it very difficult to change out your webdesign if you want to update it and the free versions have ads all over em).
- Have a Press Kit – You don’t have to have a publicist to have a press kit. If you don’t have a press kit, make one. NOW. There are several types of Press Kits, but if you are an indie artist, I suggest having one about you and another one for your projects. A press kit about you should answer the following questions: Who are you? (short bio), what do you do? (3 sentences or less), how long have you been doing it? Provide links to press/interviews/podcasts that you have actually been interviewed by. Where can people find you? (Website, social media, email, DO NOT PUT PHONE NUMBERS). LARGE Downloadable images that can be used by the press/bloggers about you along with a headshot, a company logo and samples of your work (if you are an artist) A press kit about your project should answer the following: What is the name of the project?What is the project about? (3 sentences or less) What are the project website and social media sites? Who is involved in the project? (names, links to their work, NO PHONE NUMBERS). Give links to press/reviews that have been done on the project along with LARGE downloadable images that can be used by the press/bloggers about you. Again, include your company logo and samples of the work/art from the project
- DO NOT hit up a major publication on social media (i.e.- The Huffington Post twitter account) and ask them to review your work blind. This is the equivalent of walking into the lobby of the NY Times building and yelling that you wrote a book. Stop it. It’s annoying, not to mention ineffective. Major publications are made up of both staff writers and freelance writers. Staff writers have no time for you (unless you have 2.5 billion hits on twitter or are actually making news) and freelance writers have to PITCH ideas for stories and ONLY if their stories get picked do they get paid. That being said…
- Do Your Research – Who wrote that amazing article about the Basquiat Revival for Slate? At the top or bottom of the article it usually states who wrote it with a link to them on social media. FOLLOW THEM. See what else they write about. Is there a smaller blogger that doesn’t write for a major publication but has a huge following on twitter, IG or Facebook? See what they write about. Read the blogger/journalist/podcaster’s site and see where your work might be a good fit. If your comic has no women in it don’t try to pitch it to a feminist website. If you are a singer, don’t try to get a review out of someone who NEVER reviews music on their site. If the blogger/journalist/podcaster did a segment about the link between Doctor Who and existential Marxism that you just LOVE, tell them! Or better yet, leave a comment on the post, like it on Facebook and retweet it!
- Engage them on social media BEFORE you want to get the word out about your project – DON’T wait until right before your launch/con/kickstarter/indiegogo drops and then demand that they promote your project (I HATE when ppl do this)
- DO comment on their posts – Both on their site and posts that they have written for major publications. If you help make their writing popular, they will get paid to write more and as long as your work is in their genre, you might get picked when you decide to…
- Write a killer pitch – The subject line of your pitch must really stand out and be engaging (Don’t just say “Press Release for XYZ Project). Introduce yourself. Describe your project or work clearly. Don’t just talk about yourself. Sell them on the project and make it easy for them to sell you. SPELL THE PERSON’S NAME RIGHT. I don’t suggest including attachments and art in the initial post. If they accept, they will tell you (or you can ask then, what they need). Here is a great article about good vs bad pitches that explains it really well.
- Be able to describe your work in 3 sentences. Most folks do NOT have time to figure out what your story is. Be detailed, but not wordy. For instance, instead of saying “She has powers that make her special.” say something like, “She’s the only telepath in her family for generations.” If your description is too long, it might get edited, written wrong or worse, edited out or just skipped.
- Swag doesn’t work online – If you’re at a con and are giving away t-shirts, posters, trading cards, etc. That makes sense. But if you want to reward a blogger, journalist or podcaster for promoting your work, a poster ain’t gonna cut it. Instead, follow them on social media, comment on posts, leave feedback on podcasts and encourage other people to support them! If they’re a freelance writer for a major publication, comment ON the publication’s website. That will give them more pull with their editor. And guess who will be more appreciated?
- DO NOT HARRASS POTENTIAL FANS/MARKETERS – DON’T send multiple emails demanding to be heard, DON’T DM bloggers on Twitter or blow them up on Facebook because they didn’t get back to you or haven’t run your review yet. You have NO idea what their schedule is, what they’re writing about or where you fall on their calendar. We can’t cover EVERY con, we can’t make every book signing, movie screening or game reveal. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or money in the bank, I’m sorry. Demanding that someone cover your work/story/con because YOU think it’s important and insulting them when they decline is not just insensitive it’s rude. Trust me, being belligerent on social media will not only get you blocked it could get you blacklisted. DO NOT DO THIS.
Remember, most of us are blogging, writing, podcasting and promoting because we LOVE whatever we’re writing about. It’s not always because we’re paid to do it. (Most of us aren’t). Remember, we have day jobs, rent, midterms, finals, kids, mortgages, etc. Every time you approach someone about promoting your work, keep that in mind and approach them with respect for their time and their efforts.