How Not Marketing Became a Form of Self Care
I used to work in the marketing department for my local branch of a national non-profit. I knew all about social media trends, creative content curation, and how to create compelling narratives out of the most mundane stories.
But after only a year and a half, I left that field. Marketing wasn’t fun to me anymore. It wasn’t as exciting as I had originally thought it would be; especially when I realized I truly had no control over donor behavior—considering that donors rely on various trends to impact their giving, the first being their own financial obligations.
My love for writing wasn’t enough to keep me locked into the marketing workload.
I never liked the pressure of pressuring others to make a decision they may not even want to make. But most importantly, I didn’t like the idea that my worth, as a creative, lied in whether or not I could get people to donate, or buy, or read. That the quality of work was largely dictated by my ability to bring in donors who didn’t want to be donors in the first place.
There’s a level of validation marketers get by yielding results. And why wouldn’t there be?! That is the job! But for me — for my brand — I didn’t want my impact to be defined by how many views or sales I got, but how many lives were impacted. This wasn’t done by marketing, this was done by creating. This was done by exposing my own vulnerabilities and being open about my journey. This was done through actually responding to people and fostering genuine connection.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still self-promote (to me, there’s a vast difference). How else would people know about the magic that happens here? However, I no longer put time into implementing some grandiose marketing strategy. Not only does it take too much time, but it becomes too taxing on my already hectic life schedule, and puts me in an unproductive space of comparison and inadequacy. For me, marketing became an effort of ego, rather than of purpose. How far my reach stretched made me prideful at best, and self-doubting at worst.
That was not a feeling I wanted to continue; not an energy I wanted to exist in my creative routine. So, I stopped.
One thing I’ve always valued about my loyal audience is that they were formed in the most authentic ways. Through personal interaction, word of mouth, or with a genuine interest in my writing, my following has been cultivated by me simply being me—and writing well. But when I transformed to a new model of forcing myself into strategic marketing for this brand, I started growing weary.
My gift isn’t marketing. My gift is creating content. It’s writing. It’s introspection. It’s attempting to help women. And in order for me to operate fully in that, I had to let go of that burden; I had to stop spending time stressing about the marketing, and start using that time for creating more meaningful content. After all, that’s what I’m here for.
Doing so helped me focus solely on the right messages, rather than the ones I thought would garner the most appeal. I was able to spend more time perfecting my craft, and less time being weighed down by the burden of what I considered “faking the funk” — creating crafty messages and alluring imagery that meant nothing to me, for the sake of engagement. I am able to promote authentically without worrying about what the analytics will or won’t say. I am able to keep my eye on the true prize of creating impact — be it among a million women, or just one. And I am able to lean on faith, knowing that those who were meant to read my words will.
I’m not telling you not to market—if you learned a thing about me over these last few years, it’s that I firmly believe in people doing what’s right for them—but what I am saying is to do what feels right. If it’s strategic marketing, wonderful. If it’s relying on word of mouth, great. If it’s flooding your timeline, go for it! But don’t feel forced into one way of doing things. Don’t lose part of yourself—or your sanity—doing something that doesn’t feel good to you or your brand. And don’t do anything that threatens your art or your self-care.