shy introvert who hates networking meetings, I tried to think of a few things that I've learned over the years that have made self-promotion less icky-feeling.
I couldn't think of many. Self-promotion always has that hint of "ugh" around it, but at the same time, we need to learn how to do it if we're going to run our own businesses. Whether it's networking or just writing the copy for an ad, you have to be willing to tell people why they should hire you.
If you have your elevator pitch worked out, that's the first step. That should sum up the point of your business and what you do. You can take that and elaborate on it for writing ads or website copy, or for social media posts. Keep it in mind and use it as the basis for what you put out there if you get stuck.
Also remember that you're in business because you provide a useful service that will help people out in some way. You're not there to just take their money and give them nothing, so look at self-promotion as letting people know how you can solve a problem that they have. Telling someone that you do custom cakes can be useful for them because they'll know who to call when they have to get a special birthday cake for someone. Or they'll be able to refer you to a friend, and that makes them look smart.
Another way to keep self-promotion less sleazy is to do it judiciously. Think of the people who tag you incessantly on facebook on those posts where they're selling candles or whatever's in style to sell this week. That's just aggravating. Don't just scream "BUY MY STUFF" to anyone, make sure that you're targeting people who might actually be interested in your stuff. It goes back to solving their problem...If you target your promotions, you'll be more likely to be helping instead of harassing.
There are a lot of marketing theories out here about how many times people have to see your company before they'll buy from you. Don't take that too far, like the company who started sending me about three emails a day after I signed up for their mailing list. It was ridiculous, and I ended up unsubscribing about four days after I signed up. If you contact people with information that's useful and consistent, but not excessive, they'll be more likely to not end up hating you.
I send out my newsletter when I have a reason to. Some people like to send one every week, but I don't like to send them out unless I have something that I think is worth promoting. Every newsletter I send out is going to have some kind of discount, or link to something that I found interesting and thought my VIP Club members would also like. I don't self-promote just to self-promote, because that's what feels slimy to me.
If you try to provide some value in every piece of self-promotion, it will make it feel better. Try it for a month and see if you feel better about tooting your own horn.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com