In an ideal world, you’d focus on your music and teaching, and your work would speak for itself. But the reality is that in order for students, parents and schools to know about you and engage you, you have to promote yourself and your services. The good news is, you have a powerful brand story that will attract the right clients to you and you may not even realise it! Also, self-promotion is a skill you can learn and get better at with practice.
Promoting yourself can feel vulnerable and scary, especially if you’re sensitive or an introvert (like many of us are). Underneath all of this is the F word. Fear of judgement (“What will others think?”), fear of rejection (“What if no one turns up or signs up?”), or even fear of showing your personality online and being seen. These are very human fears: no one wants to feel judged or rejected, and becoming aware of this is the first step.
Also, it's crucial to connect with your ideal clients in an authentic way. Facts and figures convey information, but they aren't memorable and don't stay with us the way a compelling narrative does. People are looking for an emotional connection, which is the domain of powerful storytelling. Your brand story sets you apart and can attract students to you like a magnet. But first you need to get clear on who you are and why you do what you do in order to create stories that are in harmony with who you are.
Here are some tips for overcoming these mindset issues and identifying compelling stories so you can promote yourself with ease and in a way that feels totally authentic.
1. Shift your perspective to your student
By moving the focus away from you (I need to find work) and onto your students or clients (they have a need I can fulfil), you make it less about you and more about how you can be of service, which lessens the fear and anxiety of self-promotion.
Approach promotion with a mindset of serving: you’re letting others know what you can do for them and providing a solution. Perhaps you create content they can access for free, where you offer valuable tips. You’re here to help THEM. Create conversations and get curious about the people you want to work with.
2. Overcome self-judgement
Allow others to have their own opinion about you (or even be wrong about you).
People can make their own decisions about whether or not to work with you without it having an impact on your self-worth. We all learn differently, and you are some people’s ideal teacher. If your inner critic shows up with self-judgement, stand firm in the knowledge that you are good enough.
3. Use your personality as a brand
Use your creativity and let your personality shine through when you promote yourself. Stand out from the crowd and be okay with being imperfect: it creates connection, and imperfect action is much better than non-action.
4. Let go of your need to be validated
This is a radical choice in a world of social media designed to keep people looking for validation outside themselves. Stay open to constructive feedback, learning and getting better at self-promotion, without being overly attached to how your content is received.
5. Tell your story
Rest assured, your story is totally unique and worth sharing. There’s no one else in the world with your talents, background, or the reasons you have for doing what you do. Clearly conveying your stories and passions that are in harmony with who you truly are will resonate with others, capture their attention, and magnetise the right people to you.
6. Share your challenges as a musician
Explain an obstacle you’ve overcome or an “a-ha” moment that led you to where you are today.
Sharing the challenges you’ve faced and overcome makes you relatable and memorable. It can even inspire others on their own personal journeys and remind them that they, too, can overcome their personal struggles. Address your clients’ challenges through stories of how you experienced similar problems and overcame them.
7. Tell about your purpose of having a practice
Ask yourself why you want to help people, and share your “why” far and wide. People and brands that explain why they do what they do don’t deceive or manipulate, they inspire. Share what motivates you to be of service and to play and teach music, and you’ll surely attract clients that resonate with what you do.
8. Relate your stories to your students
Sure, your story is about you, but it’s really about them.
Tell your story, the challenges you’ve overcome, and how you got to where you are today, but make sure it always relates back to your potential clients. Highlight what benefits they’ll receive from working with you, what problems you will solve for them, and make your ideal clients feel seen, heard and understood.
About the authors
Ariane Paras is a life and career coach and founder of Olympia Coaching. She works with musicians and music professionals who want to make money doing what they love. She helps them find clarity, direction, focus and confidence so they get their career to the next level and be the success they’re meant to be.
Laura Ferreiro founded Story Harmony to help artists and entrepreneurs identify and share their most compelling brand stories to attract their ideal audience and grow their business. A music journalist whose writing has appeared in NME, the Los Angeles Times, Nylon, Rolling Stone, and Variety, she is driven by a desire to tell stories that capture people’s attention and motivate them to action.