Can an introverted creative become an extroverted marketer?

Megaphone graphic created by Setyo Ari Wibowo from the Noun Project

The beginning

I’ve been running a business for just over 16 years. In the beginning, I stumbled into great gigs with craigslist, back when it wasn’t the bottom basement of tech job listings. From those initial jobs, I meet some great people that became long-term clients and friends. From those people, I received some referrals and so on. Between 2005–2013 we had a thriving interactive business as Adobe Flash experts doing design, production, and development. We all know that in 2010 Steve Jobs laid the death blow to Flash, and Flash as we knew it was history. Ironically even after that turning point we had the best years ever financially doing Flash work. Throughout this whole time I’d done zero marketing, and to be honest zero networking, and an abysmal job fostering the network I had. Because you know, I’m creative and it’s all about the craft. If you are detailed, proficient, reliable and fast, the work will just come like Field of Dreams.

What doesn’t work

I’m analytical and quiet, working from home and haven’t made an effort to go to mixers or conferences. I certainly don’t cold call or email prospects. And I never seem to get around to emailing old contacts to drum up business, not wanting to look desperate. Through some cosmic intervention, I always seem to get enough work to earn a living. Some years it’s been a fantastic income, others we have to stay-cation. But I’ve never actually been steering the ship. At the whims of others, rarely being picky about what we work on unless it’s truly a bad fit. Sound familiar?

Having a full breadth of knowledge and experience is worthless if no one knows you exist. The kicker was making the mistake of being guarded and not sharing any of that experience or knowledge with the community. So I have no real presence online or in my industry reflecting my expertise. So it doesn’t make it easy to have new client prospects. With Flash dead, we certainly don’t come to mind to previous customers when they have a new gig that would be a fit. I haven’t done anything to stay on the radar.

Having a full breadth of knowledge and experience is worthless if no one knows you exist.


In pretty typical fashion I hit forty and started taking stock of my life, what I’ve done, and what’s important. One common thread in life is that the greatest joys come from shared experiences with others. This epiphany in my personal life also applies to business. If you put nothing into a relationship, you should expect to get nothing out of it.

If you put nothing into a relationship, you should expect to get nothing out of it.

Making a change

Realizing nothing was going to change I’ve embarked on what has been over a year of reading and watching as much biz dev and self-help content as possible. That content has enlightened me about what I was doing wrong and what I can do to right the ship.

I’ve learned some common concepts from many sources.

Take action!

It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, just do it!

Value, Value, Value

Share things of value, especially to your prospective customers or peers. If your message is directed to them and solving their pain points, you’ll become their hero when the time comes to address that problem.

You need a tribe.

No one is self-made, you need others to succeed. Foster that following and provide them value.

Share what you know and give back to your community/industry.

Give until it seems like too much, and then give some more. The more you give, the more professional Karma you bank.

Don’t worry about sharing too much, even ideas.

Most people don’t take action or have the time to become an expert. I understand that only 8% of individuals take action. The other 92% will hire you because of all the value and knowledge you shared. The 8% can become partners or great referrals when you’re too busy.

Most people don’t take action or have the time to become an expert.

In the process of all that sharing, you will communicate your point of view and values.

Your personality, what it’s like to work with you, how you think, and how you solve problems. You’ll be more likely to get projects that are a better fit, and clients that are like-minded. You also won’t have a hard time communicating your value; they’ll already be in your tribe.

Have a presence in your community/industry.

Get out into the world and meet other people. Your network grows exponentially by each new person you meet. You’re much more likely to get a referral or new business from the friendly face of a person you’ve shaken hands with, had coffee or shared lunch.

Show up every day.

It could be a sketch, a piece of process content, a video or a blog post like this one. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Everyone should write.

Even if you never distribute it, the act of writing helps to clarify ideas and make them a reality. You’re more likely to do it if you have a plan or a list. If you distribute your writing, you’re more liable to take action and feel accountability because someone else is watching.

In follow up posts I’ll supply reviews for the books and media channels that have provided me the most value.

Please feel free to comment if this has provided you any value, or if you have any additional insights.