Self Promotion: The Blog Versus the Big Box Store

The ever brilliant BlissChick sent me a note with some suggestions that might help me bring more readers to my itsy bitsy corner of the virtual world. She made some great points in a gentle and generous fashion that have really set me thinking about everything from my blog platform to my means of expression (long tangly sentences anyone?).

It also got me thinking about self promotion.

A chat with a friend today brought this phrase to my attention. At first it seemed like a real turn off. A bizarre behavior exhibited by salesmen who constantly passed out business cards.

When I realized that maintaining a blog and trying to increase readership is one big game of self promotion I started to feel a little sick. What have I been doing? Selling myself like some tattooed contestant on Rock of Love?

Of course, we engage in self promotion in countless ways – writing a resume, creating a Facebook account, telling others about our trades as healers or carpenters or pastry chefs. There are famous authors out there who wrote in isolation, only being published posthumously, but they are few and far between. Now, the artists and writers we know are also clever business people. If one enjoys recognition for her creativity it often means that the creator is engaging in some very conscious practices aimed at attracting an audience.

When I finally absorbed the shock that this Girl Who Cried Epiphany wants to engage in some self promotion of her own, I could follow my friend through a conversation about the way that this online world is shaping our vision of community.

As a 29 year old who came of age when AOL chat rooms were cool places to be, I don’t have a real perspective on how the Internet has shaped the way we engage in our passions and communicate our interests and talents.

  • What do we gain and what do we lose by typing daily snippets aimed at eliciting immediate responses from strangers rather than shaping a novel that, even if it published, promises to keep readers at arm’s length?
  • Was the spiritual quest more powerful when it was about solitary contemplation and some thoughts jotted in a journal rather than these endless field notes written not just as a record of personal experience, but as a product of some kind to be devoured by others?

Before I go spinning off to ask a million different questions sparked by this train of thought, I must return to this discussion of this grassroots movement to get our ideas and visions into the public sphere.

Is it a little frightening that we live in a culture where everyone needs to broadcast his or her stories, be they about last night’s pub crawl or the antics of the pet chihuahuas or a successful meditation session? Yes, I think it is – if we are just obsessed with spewing the unprocessed content of our lives into the electronic world as a substitute for actually being present.

BUT, I think there can be great power found in this ability to craft our lives and passions into narratives that help both writer and reader understand a little more about what it means to be human, if we do it with a liberal helping of consciousness.

My friend made the great point that, in this age of consumerism, as we watch the rise and fall of the big box stores, blogs and this non-commercialized version of self promotion is actually incredibly healthy and necessary. Bring on the Etsy sites and the late night scribblings – it is our best (and cheapest) way to stand against a monochromatic culture that is sold in bulk at a Black Friday sale.

4 thoughts on “Self Promotion: The Blog Versus the Big Box Store

  1. blisschick December 2, 2008 / 11:14 am

    The internet is, quite simply, the new town square. Nothing more and nothing less, and in that square, there are utter idiots yelling at the tops of their lungs about crap, but there are small tables surrounded by people having true, powerful discourse. There are people handing out pamphlets. People on soap boxes. And then there are people strolling through, feeling a bit more alive, a bit more connected just by observing.

    I like to think about the revolution that was the printing press. The internet multiplies that revolution, putting the power back into the hands of the writer and the reader — power that is only as limited, truly, as our imaginations and our desires and our drive.

    “Self promotion” can indeed feel icky, but only, I think, to those of us who prefer to reside in ivory towers (which would include ME!). It is the way of the world, a form of survival of the fittest.

    Now one must try to wrap one’s mind around the idea of “self branding!” Yes, YOU are officially a box of Tide. I jest, but there is some merit to this idea — especially for us idea people.

  2. brandi December 3, 2008 / 2:02 pm

    I have been wrestling with these very ideas-the draw I feel to get my creativity out into the world more, the slightly icky feeling I have in saying ‘hey I made some stuff!’

    your blog is a new refuge for me and I am so glad I stumbled across it! (I found it via

  3. Barbara December 4, 2008 / 12:34 am

    I am from the age before the internet, back when folks wrote letters as a means of connecting. It was a lovely time. I am also a fierce introvert. I get spasms of discomfort when somebody new finds my blog. Once they identify themselves and make a comment, I am OK again. One of these days, I suspect I will fold up my table and leave the town square and someone else will take my place. I am comfortable with that.

  4. girlwhocriedepiphany December 4, 2008 / 8:04 am

    Dear Brandi: That’s one of the nicest compliments I have received in a while – I think I love being a “refuge.” I’m so glad we found each other.

    Dear Barbara: I miss letter writing… Luckily, I had my first love when email was too novel to be trusted so there is a stack of love letters somewhere. I really respect your sense of detachment from your “table in the square” – maybe because this is all new to me, I find it occupying an usual space at the front of my brain now. Since I have not quite figured out what other thoughts have been supplanted by Marisa the Blogger, I am going to hope I just have shed some useless worries and unhelpful patterns.

    My gratitude for your kind comments.

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