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What To Do When You Are Afraid to Promote Yourself

I see this a lot with the business owners I work with: they have a great idea that they are passionate about, but when it comes to promoting it – or even talking about it! – they suddenly clam up and feel as shy as the new kid on the first day of school.

Or maybe they’re OK promoting their business, but they don’t want to be the face of it. No photos on their website, no personality behind their brand – and definitely no speaking engagements or other promotional opportunities!

If this sounds like you, don’t worry! There are some tricks I’ve discovered to boost your confidence when it comes to promoting your business.

You are not alone

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: of course it is scary to put yourself out there!  And here’s the big secret: Everyone experiences this. Yes!  Everyone!  I did, Marie Forleo did, Tony Robbins did, even Oprah did! (I’m sure of it!)

The only difference is that successful business owners push through that anxiety and discomfort until they get to the other side.  Sure, there are probably a few people out there who naturally love self-promotion, but for most of us it’s uncomfortable and frightening.  But it is something you’ll have to grow to get used to if you want a successful business, so go in knowing you’ll handle it with baby steps.

Come back to your why

If it’s overwhelming to even get started promoting yourself, come back to your why. You started this journey with an important mission in mind – for yourself and your potential clients. So, why are you doing this – for a better future?  For yourself?  For your family?

Then ask yourself: Why are you doing this work? Why this thing instead of anything else you could be doing? Is there a particular problem you want to solve? A community you are passionate to reach?

As I’ve said before, every business must solve a problem, so presumably you started this business to help people – but you can’t help them if they don’t know you exist.

For me, this was a powerful way to reframe the act of promoting my business. It was no longer about me, but about the people I serve – YOU! I realised that I’m truly passionate about helping people start their business with a solid foundation, and that people really do need what I have to offer.

When I look at my promotional efforts as it being about the work and the audience instead of being about me, it’s much easier to get myself in the groove to do the work of promoting.

Detach from your fears

Another aspect of this I hear often is a fear of failure. People are afraid to put themselves out there in a big way because they are afraid to fail.

One great way to combat this is to detach yourself from expecting an amazing outcome every time. If people ignore your Facebook post, just know that happens sometimes and look for new things to try or better ways to approach them.  If you’re not proud of the way you write your blog posts, keep learning and keep practicing. It’s a habit, not a one time event.

It also helps to have a little perspective. Many people get caught in the trap of perfectionism and wondering what other people will think if what they share isn’t perfect.

But let me ask you: do you think anyone is paying THAT MUCH attention?

I hate to break it to you, but they’re probably not.  Even my best friend doesn’t read every blog post I write or watch every video I do.

Almost certainly what feels like a huge scary big deal to you is not a big deal to anyone else.  That video you recorded where you think your hair is bad? If you’re delivering value, no one is going to care.

And, even better, that big deal won’t feel like a big deal a year from now. So just remember whatever you are worrying about now, in the grand scheme of things is not that big a deal.

So move ahead, do the thing, publish the post, upload the video and keep moving forward. Again, it’s a habit. If you want to be a successful business owner, it’s a habit you must encourage in yourself.

They say that business is 20 percent doing the work and 80 percent promoting it.  It’s an inescapable fact that if you want to succeed, you will have to promote yourself – at least until you’re successful enough to pay someone to do it for you!

But it all comes back to reaching those who need your help. If you shift the focus from promoting yourself to reaching the people who need you to solve their problem, everything else – including the fear – has a tendency to shift with it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts

Do you have a fear of promoting yourself or your business?

What triggers it for you?  If you’ve been able to move through it, what was the biggest help for you?

Please share your experiences in the comments below so that they can be helpful to others going through the same thing.

7 Responses to What To Do When You Are Afraid to Promote Yourself

  1. Dear Cat,

    I just started to build my new website with no content yet. I’m not afraid of telling people what I do. Probably because I’m blogging since 2005. :) But I must tell you that after all those years I feel I told everything. It’s just a feeling…. Sometimes I wounder if it wouldn’t be better to stick just with paid traffic and put my time and energy into creating my products. What do you think?

    • Hi Irena,

      Essentially you need some form of lead generation that leads into a sales process so that people find out about your business and then buy something. You can blog as a form of lead generation. In my opinion blogging is a long term game and you don’t have much control over who finds your content. Yes of course there is SEO but you can only influence so much. Personally for experienced business owners I prefer paid traffic going into a process that you know will turn an ROI e.g paid traffic -> webinar -> sales convo or paid traffic -> optin freebie -> autoresponder sequence. With paid traffic you can scale as you choose whereas with blogging/organic traffic you have much less control. Personally I like to do both to have a short term and long term plan for consistently growing my business. For new business owners I like to make the process a bit simpler so you don’t need to set up webinars etc. The key is to find what works for you and stick with it.

      Good luck!


      p.s. If you want more info on what I mean by lead generation and sales process there is a lot more in this webinar >

  2. Hi Cat

    This is so true – it’s hard to promote yourself! I’ve just started promoting my book Take Back Your Bladder Control with one silly exercise I discovered. Now I’m starting to promote the book (and me as part of the package) and it is tough putting myself out there but what keeps me going is the thought of reaching as many women as possible so they too can recover their bladder control. Your article is very timely and so much appreciated – it’s not about me it’s about them. Thanks so much.

  3. Hi Cat!!

    Very late comment but your article is still super helpful. I just started a lifestyle youtube channel and I feel awkward promoting myself just because I’m known to be quite reserved so it makes me self-conscious about what others will think haha. But your tips are very helpful so thanks a lot for writing this artcle (: much love!!

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