Why You're Struggling With Your Marketing

Four reasons promoting your work is hard right now

This piece initially appeared on the Bye, Social Media! website. I republished it here.

Why Marketing Is Simple, But Not Easy - And Why You’re Struggling With It

Marketing could be so easy. You tell the world about what you do in your own words and - poof! - tons of clients appear in your inbox, eager to work with or buy from you.

That’s the dream! In reality, it’s a bit more complex. Marketing is a struggle for a lot of solopreneurs. Promoting yourself can feel so icky. Or, you’re doing something but it’s not working and you don’t know why.

Online business content makes it all sound simple as a breeze. Let’s explore why that’s not always the case and what you can do to fix it.

1) You Never Learnt How to Do It

Marketing is one of these conundra that feels simple but actually isn’t easy to do. Solopreneur or small business marketing isn’t rocket science. The execution of it, especially in an authentic way on a consistent basis, can be a real headache.

Chances are that if you never learnt how to do it, you imitate what everyone else is doing - with mixed results.

I’ve observed a trifecta of doom in solopreneur marketing education and practice online:

  • Incomplete and misleading marketing and business education

  • Formulaic approaches that don’t leave room for individuality

  • Groupthink that makes it hard to step outside of the norm and into what you truly need 

As a solopreneur, you need practical and pragmatic approaches to marketing. You might hate the thought of putting yourself or your work out there. That’s understandable. At the same time, you need to find a path to ease this feeling and eventually move past it completely. Forcing yourself to use somebody else’s method won’t help you in the long-term.

A sustainable approach to marketing requires you doing the groundwork first. You don’t need to get an MBA-level of understanding for marketing and business to make things work. You do, however, need foundations that help you understand what the heck you’re doing.

The approach of “I’ll just make some content and people will come” has only worked for some. And good for them. The majority of small business owners need something more structured to build a solid foundation in their business. You’re most likely among them.

If you never learnt how to do it, copy somebody else’s formula, and stay stuck forcing yourself into a box somebody else created, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be.

The good news is that you can solve that.

2.    You’re Imitating How Somebody Else Is Doing It

How did you first get started marketing your work? Most likely, you imitated how everyone else seems to be doing it. If you’ve got no or little idea about how to do it, imitation is a logical first step.

Over time, though, this becomes a liability. Everyone else is not you. Pretending to be somebody else is exhausting. Marketing like they do is not sustainable. You won’t be able to keep this up forever. At the same time, it’s challenging to win peoples’ trust for your business, when you’re pretending to be somebody you’re not.

Instead of beating yourself up about how xyz person on the internet or your friend are making bank with standard tactics, give yourself permission to step outside of the imitation game. It will be such a relief. And, it will help you stand out.

If everyone is going left, going right will set you apart from the crowd.

3.    You’re Not Leaning Into Your Strengths for Your Marketing

A lot of marketing advice for solopreneurs relies on formulaic approaches. Do this, not that, here’s the fool-proof system. I assume that all this comes from a place of genuinely wanting to help people. It ignores that we’re all different.

It’s funny how even though we know how different people and their businesses are, content around marketing and entrepreneurship drills down on The Way™ constantly.

If you follow this type of advice, you miss out on your most important assets in your marketing: your individual strengths, talents, and passions. There’s no point in forcing yourself to network, when you hate it or write long blog posts, when an email stresses you out already.

Not everything is rainbows and unicorns in life (even though Bye, Social Media! is definitely pro-cake, pro-eating it). Your marketing gets a lot easier, when you build it around what you’re good at and what you like to do. Podcast, when you love to talk, network when you enjoy connecting to people, and take the liberty to tweak marketing channels as needed. Who says you can’t send a video newsletter?

4.    You’re Using Channels You Don’t Resonate With

Similar to the above, there’s no sense in torturing yourself with marketing channels that don’t resonate with you or that you actively dislike. I suffered through a year and a half of hating social media marketing until I finally allowed myself to let it be.

Forcing yourself to do something long-term is not the same as being disciplined. The first is like a fish trying to climb a tree. The second is the fish doing an extra lap in the river to stay a strong swimmer.

You don’t need to force yourself to do the impossible. There’s great wisdom in letting go of what is truly not yours

Join the conversation

or to participate.