They Want You to Be the One (so stop being afraid to market yourself)

Let me ask you a question – and be honest with yourself about the answer – are you afraid to market your creative products or services?

Do you feel kind of icky about promoting yourself, wishing you could just create your amazing thing, then simply based on the awesomeness of that thing, word spreads like wildfire, the hordes find you, and you make sales hand-over-fist?

Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t happen that way.

You actually have to – gasp – market yourself.

But what I’ve noticed with many creatives is that they have this fear of marketing and selling that prevents them from getting the results they want in their business.

For example, do you recognize yourself in any of these (real life) comments from creatives?

  • “What I’m afraid of when marketing is seeming intrusive and pushy.”
  • “Marketing kind of feels like preying on people’s fears and weaknesses and insecurities.”
  • “I feel very inauthentic when trying to win over clients – it feels painful!”
  • “I wish there was another word for marketing. I associate it with being scammy.”
  • “I feel intimidated by marketing. I’m scared of harassing people.”
  • “I thought if I created good enough products, they’d sell without me having to do much but put them out there. I’m afraid what others will think of me if I market – that I’ll come off as a ‘cheesy car salesman’.”

 As a creative myself, I know how terrifying it can be to put yourself out there and try to sell your thing.   

But if you want to make a living from your creative talents, you can’t be afraid to sell, especially on your website, where your potential clients and customers are likely first coming across your offerings.  And copywriting that authentically conveys your skills in a way that aligns with your personality and style can help you market and sell without feeling intrusive or pushy.

Let me share a little story that might shift your mindset on this.

Once many years ago, I signed up for an acting class. (I actually thought I was signing up for a film studies class, but it turned out to be a class about acting for films.)

Oh well.  Since I had just moved to a new town and didn’t really know anyone yet, I decided to stick it out and stay in the class on the chance I’d make some new friends.  (Good choice, by the way.  Friends found, loneliness averted.)

Part of the class revolved around how to prepare for auditions. My goodness, but these actors were terrified of auditions! 

And although I would never be in their position, I understood what that fear must feel like – it’s the same feeling I had anytime I interviewed for a job I really wanted (back in the day when I was still a worker bee), or sometimes even now when I’m trying to land a big new dream client.

But the acting coach said something to us one day that changed my attitude about “putting yourself out there” forever:

“They want you to be the one,” he told us.

The message he wanted the acting students to get was, hey, those you’re auditioning for want you to be the right choice, they want you to be perfect for the role, they’re hoping against hope that you really, truly “bring it” in your audition so they can hire you now and stop looking.  They’d much rather find “the one” right now than audition actor after actor after actor. 

Once the acting students let this idea sink in, they realized they didn’t need to be so fearful of auditions.

It’s the same in your business.

When that person looking for interior design services or wedding photography or the perfect graphic designer comes to your website and you just happen to sell interior design services or wedding photography or graphic design services, believe me, they want you to be the one.

They don’t want to keep looking.  When they land on your website, they’re thinking, “I’m so tired of looking for someone to hire for this project, I just want to find a talented fill-in-the-blank-with-your-creative-service-here who gets what I need and can deliver the results I want.” 

And they’re hoping that you are going to be that person.

So instead of feeling shy about writing copy for your website that whips up desire for your offerings, you can feel good knowing that, rather than pushing something on people they don’t want, you’re actually connecting them with what they do want, in the form of your products and services and the results they provide.

After all, all authentic marketing isn’t pushy or sleazy, it’s simply deeply connecting with your ideal audience and communicating that you can provide a product or service that is beneficial to them, that they already want (or they wouldn’t be searching for it online and have landed on your website in the first place).

So if you’ve been fearful of marketing and selling your creative products or services, I encourage you to try the “they want you to be the one” mindset on for size.  You might be surprised by how much this simple shift in thinking can help you in your business.

So think about this now, and share in the comments section below how you’re going to implement this mindset shift into your marketing this week. 


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  1. It’s fairly easy to see the truth of this concept just by thinking about how I shop. I want to find what I’m after, get it, and be done. Realizing this, it becomes clear why it’s so important to nail down your target market. If you don’t know who’s looking at your stuff, or why they like it, you can’t be clear about how to help them see your product is the best choice to purchase.
    I still have some work to do here. I have a show coming up at the end of the week and plan to ask more open ended questions about what interested persons are looking for, for what room, and what attracts them to my work. Maybe in their answers I can find some key to help them see they came to the right place. As always Kimberley, thanks for the reminders.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment on the blog, I appreciate it. : )

      You nailed it — if you don’t know who’s interested in what you have to offer and why they’re drawn to it, you’ll have a hard time demonstrating that the service/product/creative work you offer is the best choice.

      I think the questions you plan to ask at your upcoming show will give you alot of helpful feedback you can then integrate into your ongoing outreach and marketing. Good luck!


  2. Good article, Kimberly. You’ve definitely addressed some concerns I had when first selling paintings online. I think some of these fears get magnified at the beginning, since many of our very first social media contacts tend to be friends and family, and the risk of alienating them seems too great.

    What has helped me is to weigh each marketing decision carefully, in order to become: attentive, not annoying; informative about benefits, not pushy; and, more generally, to treat prospects with the same respect and warmth as I would treat friends.

    Marketing aimed at making more personal connections (such as behind-the-scenes photos of the painting process) just feels better than “deals” worded to trick people into buying and other such distasteful marketing tactics. I aim for strong connections, clear expectations set, high standards of craftsmanship and packaging, and either repeat sales or satisfied customers that freely give good referrals.

    This is starting to work over the past few years, but I am still struggling with gaining enough relevant website traffic and email list sign-ups.

    • Absolutely! I love what you said here about treating prospects “with the same respect and warmth as I would treat friends.” Yes!

  3. Awesome post! One of my agents shared this with our group…very well done article. Thank you!

  4. Hi Kimberly- This was one of the most valuable things said on the subject I’ve come across lately- so thanks for posting!

    I was once a software demo guy – a long time ago now, but I now must admit that when I approach the concept of sales, I do insinctively cringe that I may fall into “the pitch”. Great to be reminded that what we offer as artists is something that many people out there are looking for . I suppose the trick is to connect to the right people who are looking specifically for what we alone have to offer- that’s something I am currently having a challenging time with (that known unknowns thing…)- any suggestions on strategies to test potential unknown markets?


    Tim Drew Stevenson

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your comment!

      As far as testing potential unknown markets, I’ll tell you how I did it when I decided to transition to working mostly with creative entrepreneurs . . .

      I’d been blogging about copywriting and marketing for creatives for a couple of years, and had built up a small email list. So I sent an email to that list offering a complimentary 30 minute copywriting & marketing strategy session in exchange for feedback on what the respondents were struggling with in their marketing/getting traction online/making sales from their websites, etc. I got tons of super-useful information from those interviews; the whole process helped me get a pretty clear bead on what my audience was struggling with. And that helped me create offers, and come up with relevant blog and email newsletter topics too.

      My main method of marketing is content marketing, so that process worked well for me. For artists, I always say to ask anybody who buys your work why they’re buying. And even ask people who wanted to buy, but didn’t, why they didn’t. It’s all about gathering as much audience intel as you can. You want to find out what the buyer’s motivation is, what the “why” is when they buy, and tap into that in your marketing.

      And then like I did, iterate, iterate, iterate once you get some good intel. The audience research never stops. 🙂

      I hope that helps.


  5. Hi Kimberly
    Thank you for sharing this story. It prooves to be true that marketing is not a”devil” word if the person that searches for something meets the person that offers this thing ! The “ancient” problem of supply meeting demand make the perfect couple! But to come back to the blog post YES it really makes a difference to think like ” I m the one” !!

    • Hi Angie,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment! I’m glad you got some value out of the blog post. 🙂

  6. Your articles are always spot on, Kimberly. Always helpful. The value of your blogs is amazing. Thank you!

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