I know a lot of artists and scientists, and the story is the same for both: be “proud” or be “paid”.

This came up when I was talking to a friend who has a band that plays some music I happen to like, Graveyard Fields.

I recently ran across Mark Joyner’s “Online Music Promotion Course”, and I recommended it to my friend the musician.

Mark Joyner is an “internet mogul” who pioneered many aspects of early online marketing, and now runs a series of courses on managing time, money, and energy. I’ve gotten a lot out of Mark Joyner’s various efforts. For one, I’ve learned how to better promote my own scientific work.

I thought that my musician friend needed some marketing help, so I told him about the course.

A few days later, I asked him, “did you sign up?”

His response distilled down was “it was too much marketing for me.”

I was a bit flabbergasted – but not surprised.

I see this all the time. I used to hold this attitude. In fact, I used to resent some of the well-known scientists who are good at “marketing” themselves (almost all well known scientists are good at marketing themselves, unless they were the 1-2% that got really lucky by being “discovered”).

A month ago, I attended a book writing session at the Science Online conference near Raleigh/Durham NC. I saw the same dynamic play out.

There were three published authors running the session. Guess which one of those was the most successful (in terms of buzz, interest, interviews, and perhaps, money made)? It was the author who had been doing her own marketing for more than a year before the book was published, through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

After the authors spoke, questions were asked. There were questions on how to get “discovered”. It seemed clear that at least part of the audience were only interested in practicing “their art” – not in doing their own promotion.

But the odds of being “discovered” without sufficient self-promotion are about the same as the odds of winning a lottery.

Hey, I didn’t make the rules. Sometimes I am not proud to have to “market” my work. But the evidence is all around: if you don’t promote your artistic (or scientific) work, you are very unlikely to get any gravy from it.

I’m not exactly sure why the world has changed to the point where this is so necessary, but I have an idea.

I believe that it is the constant cacophany of other “marketing” messages that are out there, screaming for your attention.

I know plenty of people who hate this. I know one person who changed cell phone providers simply because of their marketing.

But recently I had an interaction that was revelatory to me.

I joined an online copywriting course, focused on marketing copy.

I sent a sample of one of my bits of work to the instructor. He sent it back completely rewritten, and I thought it sounded like a late night infomercial. When I told him that was my response, he wrote back saying: “the reason it sounds that way is because that works – those guys spend millions of dollars on those infomercials, so they tune and tweak them until they pay off”

It is so bizarre to me, sometimes, to write ad copy. But I’ve done some testing myself – and the “late night infomercial” approach is statistically superior to bland and understated in terms of response.

Science is a creative product – just like books and CDs. While one can’t go about writing “late night infomercial” style headlines for manuscripts or grant proposals (I’m sure that would backfire), it is essential to pay attention to how the work is being “marketed”. (aside: most science work is not marketed at all – that’s why most articles get buried in the trashbin of history so rapidly).

Here’s another way I can verify this. My mother was a successful watercolor artist. What do I mean by “successful?” I mean that she paid the bills by selling her art – without ever holding a “side job”.

How did she do that? A majority of her revenue came from marketing notecards and prints with her art on it. Only a fraction of the revenue came from selling the paintings themselves. She figured out early on that she had to “market” her work. She didn’t necessarily love that aspect of the work. But she did get to avoid working as a clerk at Wal Mart.

While I don’t have hard statistical evidence on this, I think the anecdotal evidence is so strong as to be almost irrefutable – if you don’t learn how to market your own creative works effectively, then getting paid reasonable money to do that work is unlikely.

The bottom line for my friend (and many others I know who hate to hear mention of “marketing”): “you can be too proud to market your work, or you can can get paid for your work – but not both”.

Speaking of that, do you want a preview of my upcoming book, code named “Marketing Your Science”? People who sign up for my newsletter list right now get a free copy of Chapter 1 – Why Marketing Your Science Is Important.

It’s that little box in the upper left hand corner that is beckoning to you.

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