Question for you: Who are you online? What’s your online persona as a musician and human? We all have a version of ourselves that we project online. Trouble is—the version we actually project may not be the one we intend. Especially when we’re looking to promote our music and our teaching.

Maybe this resonates with you. Like many other musicians, I’ve struggled with the concept of self-promotion. It can feel “wrong” because mostly we’re taught not to brag or boast about ourselves. And that’s part of what gets in the way when we work on cultivating our online community and advancing our careers.

We may be our “real” selves otherwise online but when it comes to promoting a performance, recording, or our teaching, most musicians get weird. We end up “hiding” behind what we think will look and sound “professional.” That’s how we end up sounding either fake and generic, or stiff and awkward—and either too “sales-y” or apologetic.

But there’s another way to approach all this. Welcome to . . .

The Tao of self-promotion for musicians

Think about it: You have music that you love and want to share with others. With people who may find your performances and your recordings inspiring, holding them as treasured memories for years. Just think how much music has enriched your own life.

All THAT is what you’re inviting people to experience with you.

Promotion is about inviting people in to experience your art and building human connections with them. It’s about developing relationships with your fans.

To do that, you need to get past your own ego and self-judgment and instead, think about the person you are connecting with.

Make it personal. It’s easier to find your social media “voice,” your persona, if you imagine having a conversation with a particular person — your ideal student or audience member.

Of course, on social media, you are connecting to many. But you want people to feel as though what they get is just for them—so write that way. As though you are writing to that ONE person.

If you approach this from a place of authenticity and openness, you won’t come across as an egocentric, attention-craving sales person (that was always my fear).

When you share your enthusiasm for the music and the projects you’re offering—and a real interest in connecting with others—you’ll come across as genuine and generous.

Look to your social heroes

Think of a few people whose online messaging you admire. Get clear about what works for you in their messaging. And use that as inspiration for your own work. Don’t copy them, but use their work as a catalyst to help you hone your own distinct voice.

There are a few blogs and newsletters I’m addicted to—because of their tone, energy, and generosity. They are Gabe Anderson (Gabe the Bass Player), Bernadette Jiwa, and (yes, I’m a groupie) Seth Godin.

For me, it’s the clarity and economy of these writers—plus the range of experience and perspective they use—that’s what I’m focusing on to help me improve my work.

Put your mission into motion

In terms of marketing, your brand is NOT your logo, your fonts, or your color scheme.

Your brand is the experience people have with you—what they’ve come to expect from you—as conveyed in part by the content and tone of what you post, forward, and comment on. In the end, your brand is something that you earn through your actions and the promises they signify.

To help you become more intentional about your posts, write out your responses to these prompts:

  1. Describe the “you” that you want people to know through your social media channels and your website.
  2. Detail the tone, intent, and personality you want people to experience through your posts.
  3. Based on what you’ve got, list five adjectives that best capture the consistent online persona you want to project.

Here are my 5 adjectives for this, my weekly Monday Bytes newsletter and other social posts. My intention is to keep my postings consistently positive, generous, energized, down-to-earth, and quick-witted. That’s my desired best self: my aspirational online persona.

And because my overarching goal is to help musicians be successful, I avoid posting material that’s too personal, negative, or of either a religious or political nature. Of course I have all kinds of opinions that I share with close friends and family. But what I post publicly online I focus towards my professional mission.

I’d LOVE to see what you come up with—post your 5 adjectives in our free MusiciansMakingIt Facebook group and we can discuss these tomorrow in our FB Live at 12 noon ET.

And if you’d like help clarifying and articulating your online persona and want to explore getting expert coaching—let’s talk.

Here’s to your forward motion,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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