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An Artist's Guide to Self Promotion

Updated on December 26, 2012

Do you struggle to promote yourself or your work?

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How do you get recognized?

Some of the greatest artists in the world are virtually unknown. They have painted pictures that rival photographs, composed music unique and complex, written stories that transport readers to another world. Why do the thousands (and possibly millions) of talented artists all over the world get passed over every day? Self-promotion.

As the saying goes, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it really make any sound?" There are the lucky few artists who quickly get recognized for their work, rising to the top like cream in fresh milk. Yet, many do not, simply because the world does not know they exist.

The competition is fierce, the field is full of people who have something to offer, and you are part of the crowd. How do you stand out from the rest? Someone must believe in you, promote you, market you, and love you.

That you.

Don't take yourself too seriously!
Don't take yourself too seriously!

The trap of perfectionism

Quickly read through these quotes and think back to the last year. Have you said the following to yourself?

  • This piece is not ready yet. It still needs something more.
  • I can't be bothered to do all the "business" stuff. I need to be inspired to work on my art.
  • I want to perfect my craft more than I want to make money.
  • I need a few more pieces for my portfolio before I can market myself.
  • I have to wait until I have the money for that piece of equipment I need to really stand out.

All of these statements have one thing in common: They point to an artist's achilles heel- perfectionism. There is something to be said for excellence, yet many artists never move beyond this stage because they are constantly tweaking and playing around with their work of art. The excuses of not being "business" minded, not having enough artwork or equipment to be considered a professional, or saying that you want to perfect your craft and not make money, are all distractions from that great big fear: What if I am not good enough?

You are good enough. You are ready for the world when you get to the point where you believe in your own creative self.

If you paint, call yourself a painter.
If you take photos, call yourself a photographer.
If you write, call yourself an author.
If you sculpt, call yourself a sculptor.

When you believe that you are capable of your talent, the world is ready for you. It does not matter if your portfolio is small, your history is green, or your brushes are cheap. No famous artist ever started with famous inventory.

Do not undersell yourself

Your work is worth something. Many artists give away their services for free when they start out. While there is benefit to building a portfolio, you want to communicate to your clients that your work is valuable. It is worth an investment, even if it is small. You don't have to charge top dollar, but charge something. Show your work, and yourself, the dignity that it deserves.

Procrastination is the enemy

Every artist struggles with the slimy problem of procrastination. "I need to be inspired!" you say to yourself. No you don't.

Do your art to get inspired.

Don't wait for that burst of energy and motivation. When it comes, use it. When it is gone, do not fall into the trap that art only comes from an epiphany or moment of inspiration. Art comes out of you because you are an artist. Not all the art you make is good, but do it anyway. The sport's world understands this concept- Babe Ruth may have been a great hitter, but he also struck out more than anyone.

Promote yourself like you would promote someone else

Imagine for a minute that you stumbled upon a fabulous book or artist gallery. You loved it and thought the world should know. What would you do, say, or write about this artist? Would you be embarrassed to share your golden find? Would you second guess yourself when someone asked you for a recommendation? Treat yourself the way you would treat your favorite musician or painter.

Do not be afraid of failure

The only people who test the limits of success are the ones who are not afraid to fail. Failure teaches us more than success, so use each mistake as an opportunity in your ladder of success. Artists fail the same way that athletes, businessman, or other professionals do. You are not exempt. Giving up or giving into your feelings of self-pity or self-hatred will do far more damage than the failure did.

Fight jealousy

In the competitive world of musicians, writers, and painters, it is easy to see someone else's success and feel that rise of jealousy or envy. You might be tempted to hold back your praise or recommendation, as if somehow that will ensure it is reserved for yourself. The problem is that is magical thinking. It simply is not true. When you promote and support other artists, you invest in your own work too. The entire art community benefits when artists work together, support each other, and promote art across the board.

When you see another artist doing something you wish you could do, learn from them. Find out how and what they are doing differently from you. Resist the temptation to be a copycat. There is only one you in the world, and if you try to be like someone else, you will rob yourself (and your art) of the joy of self-expression.

Remember, you are more than what you produce

Try not to get too wrapped up in your work. Artist's can be terribly self-focused, and there is more to who you are then what you make. You are a human being, worthy of loving and being loved. You are a Mom, Dad, child, woman, or man who is capable of a lot of different things. There will be ebbs and flows to your art, to your success financially, and to the tide of popular opinion. When you remember who you are, the ups and downs will not feel so drastic or extreme.

Now go show the world your art.


About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom of three. As a psychology major, she is interested in the underbelly of human behavior, especially as it relates to self-esteem, marriage, and parenting. She is a new freelance writer, fighting to establish herself in a market full of talented artists. She comes from an artistic family of musicians and artists, and knows firsthand, how difficult it can be to promote one's own work.


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    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      This is a great article! So well written and so true. Saw it on Twitter. I'm glad you posted it again. Voted up and Shared.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      6 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Julie, again a great hub - as an "artist" and a "writer" (there, I said it!), it feels good to be self-proclaimed! I try to focus on my love of the process and following the muse wherever She leads... :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      Loved this Julie! For a ton of reasons!

    • sparklingcrystal profile image


      6 years ago from Manila

      This is a very interesting post. It is very inspiring and it did encourage artist to sell their stuff.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      "Promote yourself like you would promote someone else"

      That's such good advice! I detest the idea of promoting my own work, so approaching the process as though I were doing it for someone else will make a big difference!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I just have to say, I absolutley love this. I found that I often times struggle with self-promotion, especially on facebook. I didn't want my family and friends to feel like I am spamming that. Therefore, anything that I place on my facebook (not in groups) is something that I truly believe in. This is great advise and definately something all of us should practice. No one else will believe in us if we don't believe in ourselves first! Well done!

      Ok- I also have to say that I love how my computer actually remembers that I copied and pasted this last night as hubpages went down and the fact that I actually remembered to come back here and comment and share.

      This is a great piece of writing. Kudos to you and for encouraging all of us diamonds yet to be found!

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      You wrote a very inspirational hub here for artists. Thanks for your statements and encouragement.

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 

      6 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Great insight. I am great at self promotion, there are some other things to overcome to get there fully successful. As I find new avenues, it gives more possibility of finding what works for me.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is so well-written and inspirational. I especially appreciate your point about learning from others and not waiting for inspiration to create. Voted up and shared!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Julie, this is another great Hub you have written. We all need to have more confidence in ourselves, I think. I know myself I never think my work is worthy of people even reading when I compare my stuff to others.

      By the Way: thanks to your Hub about PicMonkey, I did the chef's hats today. Now, I'm working on roses. Thanks for that info. Mary

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      6 years ago

      Very Inspiring!! Thank you. I just have to share this.. and voted up of course.

    • mejohnson profile image


      6 years ago

      Very helpful & sharing.

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 

      6 years ago from Kenya

      This hub is very helpful. We should not fear especially when it comes to failing. We should welcome failure as a life lesson. We should be ready to learn something new in regard to our field. This will help in being up to date in our professional field.

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      A great pep talk here, and great advice--do your art to get inspired!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Excellent article! I think you covered everything here about self promotion. I have to pass it on to my artist hubby. Voted up and shared in FB. Thank you.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thank you for the shout out, Julie! Well done article. Very inspiring.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am so grateful to have checked my hub feed today and come across this fabulous Hub Article of yours Julie. You are a wonderful wordsmith and as others have said before me this is absolutely chock full of informative advice to be read, re-read and then put into action.

      I totally needed to read this Hub today as there is nothing worse than a procrastinating perfectionist and those two words just about sum me up at the moment and I wonder why nothing is getting done!

      Big Thumbs Up with all the trimmings that go with it. :-)

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      What a super duper Hub and so chock full of great advice for those who need the confidence to step it up! Well written and highly recommended indeed! Bravo!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      This is a great article - I'm glad one of your followers passed it on or I would have missed it!

      Self-promotion can be so hard and feel uncomfortable. You've given some great tips on how to overcome those feelings!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      In this article about self promotion you ended up promoting others! I love it! I really like how you said promote yourself like you'd promote someone else. It's true that the competition is fierce and our art, writings, etc. won't be seen if we refuse to promote them! Voted up and useful. Shared! Take care, Kelley

    • Jennifer Stone profile image

      Jennifer Stone 

      6 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Great hub Julie, and very inspiring! Just the kick up the backside I needed actually, so thank you! Voted up and all sorts, all the best, Jen

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      @ttombs- it isn't really a guide or how-to in terms of social media or backlinking or anything like that. It is more about how to combat the feelings that keep us from promoting ourselves, from selling ourselves short, from staying at the level we are at because we are afraid to move forward. It is more a psychological analysis. If we can target the lies and doubts we have about ourselves, then we will find it easier to self-promote. Christy writes great hubs about the how-to's and I've done a couple, but I wanted to go for the root issues that cause us to doubt our abilities to succeed.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I guess I'm missing it, but I don't see a guide to self promoting, more like a guide about how to stay focused on creating works. But then, I've been confused before. :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My guide to self-promoting my peeps and myself is pimping. Is there any other way? :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Wow - Great hub and things I don't think about every day. Each point is right on the mark especially fighting jealousy which can be very destructive to the creative process. I think that these points could be used in everyday life as well. Awesome hub!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Excellent, I think you have covered all the bases and considered every angle, there are really no excuses left.

      ~voted up and awesome~

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania


      What an awesome and informative hub on promoting one's own work. I do have to say thatI do not belong on that list of writers but am honored you have mentioned me in it. I do not feel worthy of that title. You are an awesome writer who can write on any topic you put your mind to and do it exceptionally well! I enjoyed your section on not being afraid of failure, what a great point! Thanks Julie!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Awesome and inspirational hub for all the artists out there, myself included :) I have to tell you this one is really great for those times when I just feel like I am not sure if I am making a difference (believe me I am having so many of those moments right now). I have to tell you that you did a fabulous job on this one and very much appreciate your words of encouragement for all. Have voted and shared too!!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      6 years ago from Pune, India

      Great Hub. Yes, we are the best promoters of ourselves. Voted up and shared.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is wonderful encouragement for artists and writers. I find that it's easier to have confidence in my writing than in my artwork, and a pep talk now and then is extremely valuable. I love your advice about not giving your work away. Painters who believe that their work is worth something are much more likely to sell their work!

    • Cogerson profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      Very nicely done....I agree and practice most of your points in this hub. I especially liked the part were you should call yourself an author if you write....that simple thought process causes a degree of self-confidence. Voted up and interesting and useful.

    • nanderson500 profile image


      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Wow, great job. This is very well written. Your sister is a talented photographer as well.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like the way you presented your hub. It is really true that competition is fierce and we are the only one who can promote ourselves. I remember writing a resume and our teacher said learn to sell a product and that is you.

      Thanks for sharing this.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      6 years ago from New York

      Well done. I feel inspired to write my next hub. Lol! I've got to promote myself which I barely do. Great food for thought Julie!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A lovely piece of writing, Julie, and your points echo in the minds of anyone who travels this path. If we do not believe in ourselves, who will? The driving force of any artist must be a strong belief system in that artist. I love this hub and it inspired me on a day I'm just dragging ass.

      Thank you for a great hub and for mentioning me; if I have inspired you in any way then it is I who is grateful.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      All so true - ! Being creative is a hard market to be in...but with every occupation if you are good at what you do, confident and never stop trying to learn from people who are the best anyone can achieve their goals:)

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the pep talk! You make many great points here. I love that you encourage artists to sell their art. So many people hold back. I also love that you encourage artists to ask for payment for their work. Why is it that people assume artists want to work for the sake of art only? People should be paid for their work, including their creative work. Voted up and sharing. Great job!

      How do you insert the photo borders between sections of your article? I saw a hub on that recently, but I can't find it. Is it just a regular photo insert created to size?


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