Self-Promotion 101 : It’s Not About You

The past few weeks, several bloggers have written posts about self-promotion, Dressful, Grit and Glamour, Miss Vinyl Ahoy and several more. Self-promotion has always played a key factor to building your blog, but lately, it seems that bloggers are looking for a new way to promote themselves. This week, after almost three years of the forums,  IFB had to enact our first-ever set of rules due to a swarm of ‘follow me' self-promotional threads in the forums. It was so out of control, the real content, content that contains actual information was drowned out in a sea of ‘me.' One would have to question the effectiveness of posting links to websites in the hopes that it would generate a awareness and traffic. Because it were that simple, we would have easier jobs!


It's not just bloggers, companies face this problem all the time with their marketing and advertising. They believe all that's needed is to get the message out that they exist and the public will jump for joy. In reality, the only successful campaigns have one thing in common, they provide something useful.


How do you really promote yourself?

Without a real message, self-promotion is just noise. Find something to promote which you believe in, and don't worry about the rest as there's always a new gimmick to help “promote yourself.” Right now, there's the whole SEO vs. Social Media debate as Facebook and Google fight for the #1 spot (I've always fared better with social media, though not Facebook). There's email marketing, link roundups, commenting, blog rolls, Twitter, Facebook, networks, link-bait posts, advertising, giveaways, guest posting, press releases, real life networking and the list can go on. Seriously, as long as there are two people on Earth, the possibilities for self-promotion are endless, but only if you're promoting something the other person can use will they remember you.


Promote Usefulness

The best way to effectively promote yourself is not by promoting yourself, create value by doing something to help another person. Helping other people comes in all forms: by bringing them a smile to their face, by listening, giving access to a world they can't get to, helping them feel better that minute, help save them money, or help them spend it… There are infinite of way to help people with blogging, so keep in mind, people generally think about themselves. If you bring them an experience to help them, they'll be more apt to share with others.


By all means, tell people what you do! But at the core of your message, make sure it has value to another person. Before you hit publish, before you click send, tweet, update, before you say anything about your business, ask yourself:

How is my message useful to others?

    Image by ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser



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    73 Responses

    1. Fajr | Stylish Thought

      You have basically summed up the entire self-promotion argument. Blogging is inherently self-centered and the only way to make readers care is to give them something they care about. By providing value, you in turn become valuable. Great post Jennine!

    2. Suze

      It’s a bummer you had to edit the forums, but I’m kind of glad you did. It’s great to promote yourself, but that’s not the best way to do it.

      I have a facebook for my blog, but it’s not been the most successful for me either! 🙂

      (PS- thanks for the shout-out!)

      • roni

        I have a facebook for my blog so I don’t kill my friends and fam on my personal page. There’s a significant amount of people that’s not my friend who are fans of the blog. I think that’s cool!

        • Suze

          I don’t want to spam my friends/fam with my blog updates either, which is why I chose to make a page. It’s there and people “like” it, but not nearly as many as subscribe to the RSS for my blog, which is fine with me!

    3. Grace

      “The best way to effectively promote yourself is not by promoting yourself, create value by doing something to help another person. Helping other people comes in all forms: by bringing them a smile to their face, by listening, giving access to a world they can’t get to, helping them feel better that minute, help save them money, or help them spend it… There are infinite of way to help people with blogging, so keep in mind, people generally think about themselves. If you bring them an experience to help them, they’ll be more apt to share with others.”

      Jenine, I’d love to believe this. I have never been big on self-promotion because I think fashion blogging is narcissistic enough without throwing my bag of insecurities in there too. But, after almost FIVE years of maintaining a fashion blog, I can’t get any one to read it. So, I get discouraged and stop blogging as much and t he numbers drop off even more. Catch-22. I offer usefulness: advice, how-to’s, sales info, coupon codes, exposure to new designers, funny posts to make my readers laugh, etc.

      What you’re saying sounds so good. I want to tell myself that it’s true. Then I start questioning everything. Maybe I’m just not useful enough. Not unique, not interesting, have nothing to offer, etc.

      Fashion is what I *do.* It is not only my career, it is my livelihood, my passion and my hobby. I live it everyday. It hurts to think that thing I love and the thing I’ve been doing with my life for the last five years has ultimately come to naught, since I cannot seem to break into the upper echelons of fashion blogging. It’s so discouraging. If I dwell on it, I find myself in the throes of a full-blown existential crisis.

      • Jennine Jacob

        Hello my dear… I think you’re being hard on yourself, you are doing it professionally, and that’s amazing.

        Maybe your blog has a different path, a different role than say the ‘top tier’ a blog’s success isn’t only measured by it’s traffic, as I’m finding with a lot of professional bloggers who don’t get the millions, which is why being useful at the end of the day is still the most important thing.

        • Grace

          It was different when I started out. I was just doing it for me. I didn’t make any money off of it. I never really expected people to read my blog.

          Advertising and writing offers changed a lot of that. I realized that I could make money from my blog (not much, but a little). I got some coverage in some big publications. Traffic was up, and then it fizzled.

          I lost my job last year, and decided to try this out full time. When my blog and my freelance writing became the source of my income, it took on more importance. My blog is what I have to offer the world, and blogging is deeply personal for me.

          As such, I feel greedy. I want traffic and I want comments and I want money. If I don’t have these things, I don’t have an income. What happened to me?

          This isn’t to say the joy of fashion blogging is gone. I still do it because I LOVE it. But, I am at odds with myself over this issue. I see the success stories of people that live comfortably off of their blogs, and I’ll admit, I feel jealous. I am not typically a jealous person. I have to work very, very hard at freelance fashion writing and blogging in order to make ends meet. Even then, I experience some incredibly stressful months with literally NO money coming in.

          Perhaps it is time to reevaluate my blogging ethics and my impetus for blogging. If I could divorce the need from the want, I might be a happier blogger.

        • Jennine Jacob

          i think i go through that all the time, what do i really want from my blog? i know i’m not going to be the a lister, but some other opportunities come up all the time… it’s just different.

    4. Eva

      At first I was surprised that my post about excessive self-promotion made such an impact, but then I realized that a lot of people feel the same, so I’m very happy that IFB recognized it too. It’s a place that I always recommend to every fashion blogger and I believe it will be an even better community now. I read the new set of rules and think they’re spot-on. Kudos to you! 🙂

    5. Daisy Fairbanks

      Great post. The idea of giving is always the best place to start, in anything we do, anywhere. I like the idea as it’s applied to blogging. Being useful, connecting with even one reader, it’s a gift.

    6. L of Avid Accents

      I have to be honest!

      I’m sick of hearing about this topic. Self-promotion will always exist when you have eager and hungry bloggers trying to relay the posts they put effort into. I have absolutely no problem with self promotion and it’s amazing how a little success can make the “known” blogger forget they did the same thing at one point in time.

      It’s easy to recognize SPAM so erase it(or just leave because who cares). But when someone leaves a comment about your post with their blog address, get off your “fashion blogger” high horse and welcome it. There are so many readers out there, so i doubt a few links in the comments will turn your readership upside-down.

      On another note, i think there are some great tips in this article. but i, for one, will not stop leaving my blog address on comments.

      • Suze

        I think there is a vast difference having your blog address in a comment along with your signature (which I see many bloggers do) and writing a comment that is obviously copy/pasted. (like “awesome, check out my blog!”)

        I have no problem whatsoever with someone leaving their blog address in a comment they’re leaving me. Sometimes it can help me (or someone else) get to their blog faster!

        For me, it’s not the link, it’s what else is in the comment with the link.

        But you are exactly right- EVERYONE did that at one point, even if it was only once, we’ve all done that to promote ourselves!

      • Ashe Mischief

        Not to mention, there are a lot of us, myself included, who use plugins that SHARE readers last posts, to encourage other readers to check out those posts, etc.

        It’s really obvious though, when another blogger is spamming my site, disregarding that courtesy, and goes, “nice pics, check out my site LINK LINK LINK LINK.”

        I don’t think that’s being on a high horse–I think that’s asking people to respect the work I put in to my site and not trying to leverage off my hard work. And if that means I’m on a high horse, I’ll just enjoy the view.

      • Treacle

        You can self-promote without being obnoxious though, and spamming people with nothing more than “Great article, check out my blog!” is obnoxious.

        Like Jennine said, focus on being useful and helping others first, and you often get your efforts repaid tenfold.

      • Jennine Jacob

        i never forgot what i had to do to get to where i am today. i have never forgotten staying up until 2am every night working on my blogs, commenting meaningful comments, searching for the best content, interacting with other networks, emailing, researching, writing, writing, writing.

        what you do is irrelevant, whether it’s by leaving alink in a comment or not… the part this post is talking about is whether that comment has any value, that’s what’ll be the thing that sets you apart.

      • roni

        I prefer that if you leave a comment with your blog address you say something worthwhile leaving. I have a disclaimer on my blog too. LOL if you’re going to say great pictures love the blog and the blog entry is about how bad the pictures are then don’t waste your time!

    7. coco

      First, can I just say how happy I am that the IFB admins and moderators started to enforce rules on the forums? I mean, it sucks that you HAD to get to that point, but at the same time I think it really helps, because the amount of blatant ‘follow me’ and ‘help me win this contest’ threads was obscene! Lol! It kind of made me NOT want to get on the forums or check my messaged, because there were so many. It’ll be nice to see a little less of that and more discussions and actual content. So thank you! :}

      Second… This post was really insightful. I really enjoyed it, because I agree; I think bloggers sometimes lose sight of their own message and it becomes more about them, rather than their readers and how they can help them, whether thats sharing great deals or a personal experience in life or the industry. If its all about ‘you, you, you’ then readers get turned off, but if you have something to offer and something to really say, they’re more likely to come back to you time and time again; knowing they can trust you and your opinion.

      Just like all those self-promoting threads about ‘vote for me’ and ‘like my post on bloglovin’. I think people (at least I know I do) get a little irked when someone just right off the bat asks you to follow them, which its fine if they’re trying to raise their follow count, more power to them, but 50% of the time I get blogs that aren’t really something that I would personally read. So why would I follow a blog if it doesn’t offer anything that interests me? I’m not going to clutter my blog roll with reads that don’t pertain to what I like, and I’m certainly not going to recommend it to my readers if I myself wouldn’t back it up, y’know?

      Anyhoo! This post definitely made you think and remember your original goal of when you first began to blog. It was great! Thank you so much for sharing!

    8. Grit and Glamour

      Jennine, thank you for referencing my post on this, and for bubbling this up to the larger audience. You make some wonderful points and while I’m sorry that you’ve had to crack the whip here on IFB, it’s just evidence of the explosive growth of this site and bloggers. Let’s all just play nice, shall we?!

      ♥ V
      twitter: @gritandglamour

    9. Alterations Needed

      My blogging niche is very small (petite fashion), so I can easily track what other bloggers in my niche are doing, and how they’re promoting. There has certainly been a rash of “Great blog, follow me please!” self promotion among the newer bloggers, and quite frankly, it’s been working. Their stats, after just a few short months of blogging, have in some cases completely passed mine, even though I’ve been at it for two years, and essentially started the niche going. This irks me to no end, but at least I can take solace in the knowledge that my readers/followers are coming to my blog because they WANT to, and not because they got guilted/coerced/asked to. I just don’t have it in me to be that self-promotive.

      Jennine – Thanks for cleaning up the IFB forums! That’s hard work!

      • Ashe Mischief

        “Their stats, after just a few short months of blogging, have in some cases completely passed mine, even though I’ve been at it for two years, and essentially started the niche going.”

        I’ve always wondered if it actually worked!

        • Alterations Needed

          Hi Ashe – Oh yes, it works. Mostly with “Visit my blog and enter my giveaway” comments, which then require the new reader to follow the blog in some way. I think success with this tactic depends on the niche, but I’ve seen it work like a charm for other blogs, with amazing results.

        • Suze

          You know, I think it can work, for the short term. But if the blog doesn’t have decent content, people won’t hang around.

      • Treacle

        I can understand your frustration, but blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.

        I can’t tell you how many people passed me during my first few months of blogging because they were using every trick in the book.

        I kept focusing on solid content and attracting a core group of fans, and 2 years later, most of them have fallen off the map while my blog is getting more and more popular.

        • Alterations Needed

          Hi Treacle – Very true and a great mantra to blog by! It’s true that I am starting to see my blog take off, and while I’m still not the most popular in my niche, I’ve earned a bit of respect in my two years blogging, which is beginning to open up new opportunities.

    10. Madeleine Gallay

      Very nicely said. The thing is to make this almost as much of a meditation as yoga – where you don’t compete with anyone else but literally stretch yourself to the most professional, most considerate and passionate you can be.

      There’s a place for every one that loves blogging.

    11. vanessa

      As a new blogger I really liked this. I’m trying to learn the do’s and don’ts. While I would love readership I’m just excited to be putting my ideas to work. Right away I noticed the follow for a follow bloggers. I personally want more of a community, and discussion. I want to be encouraging, and gaining insight from others. So the follow for a follow won’t really help me at all.

    12. lisa

      Thank you for saying this and putting your foot down, Jennine. Self-promotional links have become a major pet peeve. Like one of the other commenters said, I don’t mind it if the comment is meaningful and it happens to be followed by a link, but copy/paste comments like “awesome post, come check out my blog” or comments followed by a copy/paste “win a blah blah blah” footer annoy me to no end.

    13. Kate

      Thank you for posting this! I completely agree! I understand that it’s hard for new bloggers (I’m still kind of a newbie myself) – but the ways people come to read and follow your blog are likely the ways you’ll never really think of – for instance, I clicked on many of the links in this thread who left insightful comments! I likely will never follow you if you leave me a “follow me and I’ll follow you” comment, just because you’ve said that. It gives me the impression that you’re insincere. Follow my blog if you like it, but not because I’m willing to ‘trade’ follows with you.

      I agree whole heartedly with the idea of helping other bloggers – not only are you doing something nice and building blogger relationshis, but it WILL gain you followers in the long run. Say a blog I follow gets featured on someone else’s blog – they are likely going to blog or tweet about the fact that so & so has featured them, which will make me want to go check it out! Voila – traffic! And traffic eventually leads to followers!

      Think about the kinds of blogs you are drawn to, and why you’re drawn to them. Do you like the spammy “follow me, follow me” blogs, or do you prefer the ones that come across as sincere?

      It’s a slow process to build a following, but it will come if you focus on having a quality blog and building quality relationships!

    14. melina bee

      I think that although the stats/visits/followers may go up for people who leave the more spammy comments, they fail to recognize that the real lifeblood of a blog is an engaged audience. That’s why content is important, I esp. liked this post from Seth Godin, a marketing guru ( in which he says due to the internet, to get attention you must be remarkable. (I certainly don’t meant to imply that I’ve achieved that yet, just that it is my goal).

    15. Un-stitched

      This article is so timely for me, I’ve just recently started to come out of my blogging shell in reaching out to other bloggers and indeed have seen and received the “I’ll follow you if you follow me” messages. The idea of being helpful is definitely an important and effective one. I also think that personality goes a long way and keeps the readers coming back – and how do we balance narcissism anyway? Thank you for posting.

    16. Hana

      Thank you for writing this and I am also glad IFB cleaned up the forums. No offense to any who used or joined those threads, but the follow me & I`ll follow you threads were starting to irk me. I follow blogs I enjoy and if people followed me simply because I followed them in return…well, to me that just isn`t the type of follower I would want. I want people to follow me because they genuinely enjoy my blog. I have made some great friendships with fellow bloggers and readers of mine and to me that is what makes blogging unique compared to other publications. Relationships, communication, etc. are why I like blogs so much.

      I understand the frustration some people can get when first starting out (or even if they have been blogging for years) but I think it is important to try and come up with different tactics to improve readership & content rather than ask for favors & follow blogs you aren`t interested in.

      But it really isn`t just about stats, it is about creating meaningful and useful content. Finding a way to combine that with improving your traffic is a challenge most bloggers need to face. Some just get lucky and have rapid growth and others have to struggle. I don`t think there is any one method of self-promotion that works for everyone (even creating good content doesn`t always guarantee followers/a lot of traffic) because if there was everyone would have a “popular” blog.

      That said…increasing my traffic through (what I like to call) meaningful self-promotion is a challenge I am constantly trying to face. Honestly, it is fun challenging myself and trying to think of ways to make my blog better. I can only hope, of course, that my readership continues to increase as a result of any efforts I make.

    17. Laura Connell

      Thank you thank you for this post! And I appreciate you removing the follow me links as the IFB site is about supporting each other, yes, but also challenging ourselves to be better, to bring credibility to the work we do. We must hold ourselves to a high standard.
      I’m sure it was a difficult decision for you; I assure you it was the right one!

    18. Sylvia

      This is a great article and comes at the perfect time for me!

      I just started my blog about a month ago and I’m obviously making these beginner self promotion mistakes.

      For the most part, I’ve been posting meaningful comments on blogs that I’ve been following for around a year now and even some of my new favorites and I think this has proved most fruitful.

      I was surprisingly offered a giveaway a lot sooner than I expected for anyone to notice much less want to use my blog as a source for one and this is what’s sort of led me down a stray path. I thought that by doing the contest I would get more traffic but the traffic stays consistently at it’s average point yet noone seems to be entering the giveaway. So now, I just feel like i’m spamming people’s comments to enter my giveaway without any bad intention and am possibly hurting myself in the long run!

      This post has really made me think that I need to focus on creating great content that I feel represents what I want to put out to the world and put all those other gimmicks on hold.

      Thank you for the great advice early out the gate. 🙂

    19. Judy

      I’m glad this post was written!

      Personally, if a blogger comments on a post or forum promoting their link appears insincere/pushy or flat out says something irrelevant/ignores the content- I am more disinclined to check their blog out.

      It pays to value those around you, and promote yourself with taste.


    20. ricachu

      Thanks for this post! Some ppl are so obsessed with their own blog. They go round shouting “like me! like me!” but nobody know’s why they should. And tbh I don’t look at links to blogs if the person just says “follow me”. they might have a nice blog but this kind opf promotion is lame. I also don’t like ppl that do giveaways to get followers and then comment on other blogs saying ppl should look at their giveaway. that’s so cheap and pretty much “buying” your readers…

    21. Nickie Frye

      I’m still learning my way around IFB & I DID post in some of the promotional posts in question.

      I checked out several of the other blogs whose links were included in these threads & found a couple that I liked, so I am following them now on bloglovin. I also got a few followers from these threads that I think are authentic. I would NEVER just follow someone’s blog to get more followers for mine. I don’t want to swim through a sea of stuff I’m not interested in & I’m very particular about the blogs I read.

      Anyway, I’m glad I checked back in & am clear on these rules now. I don’t want to come off like a schmo. 😉

    22. Moyra

      Great post, many people just left their links and didn’t say nothing important o related to the theme… the promotion it`s good but with a sense.

      Hugs for everyone

      And excuse me for my awful english, i’m still learning 🙂

    23. Gemma

      Very useful article for me as I have just started out.
      I will continue to leave constructive comments on my fave blog posts but I am going to make more of an effort to attend local events and promote my blog face to face.
      I have started to hand out business cards when I’m chatting to people with similar interests and I let people know when I review their shop or products and then they tell other people about my blog.

    24. Jess

      I joined up to this website today, and already I have had numerous people messaging me with “follow me and I’ll follow you back!”.
      Which has irritated me. I will follow somebody’s blog because I like it, not because they tell me to, or because I want them to follow me back. If people really enjoyed my blog they’d follow it without having to be asked to or because they have alterior motives.

    25. Emily, Ruby Slipper Traveller

      Yes, yes yes! Like other people have said, I have no problems with signatures, or even people asking me nicely to check out their blogs, but yesterday I got a comment: “I’m new on blogger. Follow me!!!” What? I was actually so irritated I went and left her a nasty comment.

      It does amazingly seem to work for people in terms of followers (at least google followers, not bloglovin so much) but I don’t believe having followers necessarily means that people are reading your blog.

    26. Sean Wilkins

      I found you through a link from Caitlin McCabe, and couldn’t agree more with your thoughts in this post. There’s too much ME going around, and not enough sincerity. If you haven’t seen it yet, @GaryVee’s brief L2 Talk breaks down the best in class for marketing these days, and in the future.

      Keep up the good work.


    27. Brooke

      I’m brand spanking new here on IFB and in the last 24hrs I’ve been inundated with messages from other IFBers asking me to follow them – “Follow me and I’ll follow you!”. This does not make me follow you, I’m probably even less likely to look at your blog and it really just kinda annoys me; I don’t want you to follow me just because I’m following you! I want readers who are interested in my posts and who will interact and be constructive. Yes, I want my readership to increase but I want them to care as well.
      I like to take the time to read the blog posts that someone has put a lot of time and effort into and I will only leave thoughtful, personalised comments. If I don’t have anything interesting to say, I say nothing. I believe in the mantra ‘treat others in the same way you would expect to be treated’.

      I apologise for sounding angry in my first ever IFB comment! I’m really a very happy person! *lol

    28. Vicky Gregory

      Thanks for this one, its really interesting to see different opinions on the matter! I hate the follow me follow me LINKLINKLINKLINK emails that people send that use this site, now I just ignore it delete it. Unless as said above, its something interesting, something useful then I don’t want to know!!

    29. urbandon

      Excellent and clearly put. I think its too easy to just look at stats or results- blogging and promotion in general has to be ‘real’ otherwise people not only ignore your message, they are repulsed.

    30. Jerry

      I just found this blog and will surely return. If any of your fashion bloggers are looking for anything fresh to write about….
      Check out this new ultra contemporary high end clothing line for the bold at the Sex Sells Inc. Clothing Company’s Online Boutique.

    31. CAROLINE

      Exactly! There is nothing worse than comments saying, ‘I love your blog, follow mine too!’ It honestly does the exact opposite, and dissuades me from clicking on your link.

    32. dabblelicious

      Started blogging last week and have already come across this annoying method of self-promotion. I even gave it a name: the Hollow-Follow 🙂

      I posted a link on my personal Facebook profile for my first 2 blog posts, just to let my friends and family know that it exists. Then all future updates will be done exclusively through a separate Facebook page regardless of how many (or few) “Likes” that page has.

      Writing is a beautiful thing, lets all keep it genuine and respectful ♥

    33. Naomifashionnoihsaf

      ..This has made me feel slightly bad now for promoting the blog, as i admit i do/have done some of the things you have spoken about in an effort to push the blog etc…but i do feel that aslong as there are like minded people who appreciate your blog,your message and fashion etc then there will always be something that interests the other person..i think you can promote your blog or yourself as much or as little as you want and however you want just aslong as you are polite,you give everyone time and you thank everyone who comments,follows,friends etc and that you stick to your word.The thing i have found that has most annoyed me-particularly on IFB-is when people push you to follow their blog in a message and they say ‘please follow me and i will follow you back’ and t you do and they dont..i have done this for people even if i dont like their blog just to be polite and stick to my word.
      good piece of writing.very helpful! 🙂

    34. Naomifashionnoihsaf

      ….aslong as you have passion,you mean what you say and this comes across in every comment you leave on someones blog then a blog address in a comment should be fine…if anything it should be an honour to recieve a link from their blog,you should appreciate that you can share your biggest interest so closely with eachother!…and every single comment you leave should be completly original and unique-no copy and paste-you should also HAVE to comment because you love that blog/picture/brand etc so much.
      appreciate that people want to promote their blog with a web address link and particularly that they have chosen to look at your blog to do it!