I’m Not a High-Stakes Marketing Mogul, and That’s Okay

Sage Harrington and Jared Putnam of Sage & Jared's Happy Gland Band
My not-Madison-Avenue marketing team: Jared Putnam and me.

As a newly self-employed person, I’ve been constantly dealing with stress over prioritizing my to-do list. It’s totally easy to become overwhelmed. For a little bit of background, here’s what I’ve got going on: I’m a musician, so I’m doing things like booking shows and giving ukulele and voice lessons. I also work part time as a tutor and as a babysitter.

So, when my side jobs run more slowly like they have been the past couple weeks and there is enough money in my bank account so I don’t feel so super-panicky, what do I spend time working on? I’m in control, here. I am my own boss. That’s why I’m doing this, right? This is where I start feeling overwhelmed. What will be the best for me, my business, and my bank account? Do I ask around my circle of friends mining for more childcare work? Do I find more tutoring work? Do I look for those things that will get me money right away? I haven’t been doing this.

Rather, I’ve been focusing on doing a good deal of legwork as a businessperson-musician. This is kind of scary because it’s the type of work that doesn’t pay directly. It’s an uncertain thing in some ways. I’m working on beefing up my Internet presence by uploading a couple videos to YouTube per week and posting a couple entries in my blog per week.

This Internet presence stuff is super important. It’s how people outside of my region can access my music. It’s how people can link to my website and buy my CD. It’s another thing that can help me convince people to book me at their venues. It’s like a musician’s version of billboards and radio ads and TV commercials, which are things that companies don’t see money from, directly. Advertising started out as a big guessing game and over the years people in marketing have learned how it generally works. The hard part is the start-up phase, which is the phase that I’m in. I’m doing a bunch of work now that will hopefully pay off down the line.

The good thing is that you don’t have to know anything about Internet marketing to start marketing yourself on the Internet. At the same time, you don’t have to start completely from scratch. Something I’ve noticed is that artists I admire have loaded up the Internet with videos. Just check out Garfunkel and Oates’s YouTube channel. (They’re a folksy musical comedy duo.) Over five years they’ve posted more than 50 videos, which averages out to 10 per year, less than one a month. If I’m starting with the goal of cranking out two little goofy videos per week (a completely achievable goal), then I can give myself the flexibility to maybe skip one every now and then and not feel too bad about it.

It’s natural to look at the work someone else has done and instantly feel overwhelmed by it. It’s so easy to think, “Am I capable of doing this, too?” So I have to remind myself that Garfunkel and Oates, in particular, have been at this for about five years. So it’s okay for little old me, a beginner at Internet marketing, advertising, and promotion, to make mistakes. I’m not a high-stakes marketing mogul, and that’s okay. It’s fine that I have no idea what I’m doing. What matters is that I’m doing it, I’m learning, and I have enough money in my bank account to pay next month’s rent.


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