Yes, Shy Writers CAN Do In-Person Marketing


Shy Writers CAN do Marketing.

Are you an introvert? A lot of writers are. And I’m one of those shy writers.

You might think it’s a weakness that you’re not the super-social, outspoken type. Or that being an introvert leaves you nothing but low-paying crumbs to collect from mediocre clients. But that’s just not true.

I’m as guilty as the next introverted writer of postponing marketing at all costs to avoid social interaction. But a recent networking event made me realize that it’s time for introverts everywhere to rise up.

You can put your shy nature to work for you to make more contacts and land better clients. Seriously, you can do this.

If you’re an introvert like me, or you just want to get better at marketing, you can. When I learned how to handle marketing as an introvert, my business started to change.

I’ve had an influx of people interested in my services. I’ve been able to branch out to new markets. And I’ve been getting more inbound leads.

Shy writers: Here are four ways to get over your fears, stress less, and land more lucrative projects.

1. Listen for the sound of opportunity

At one networking event, I had someone ask me if I had ever thought about writing a book about myself instead of web content and blog posts for others. My response? “I’m a bit shy, so I prefer to tell other people’s stories.” This simple admission launched us into a conversation about book ideas. One guy in the group said he’s been thinking about writing a book for millennials interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

As he told me his stories, I tossed out a few ideas on how I would go about weaving his key points in with the vignettes he shared. From this conversation, I landed an important job lead and I’m now in contract negotiations for ghostwriting a book (my first!) for $10,000 over 5 months — all because I turned the focus back on telling other people’s stories.

2. Let your nametag do the work

People seem to assume writers are introverted. Put “Your Name, Writer” on your name tag and people will know a bit more about what they’re going to get when they approach you.

This simple little trick allowed one fellow networker to send several people my way. All evening I overheard him saying things like, “Oh really? You should go talk to her. She’s a writer.” All I had to do was stand there and I had a constant flow of people coming over to shake my hand and trade business cards.

You can also minimize how much you actually have to say by giving people in your vicinity a conversation starter. I added “” to my nametag and found that other people were willing to do the work for me by starting a conversation with “ What do you write?”

From there, I just had to deliver my elevator pitch (which I practiced religiously for two days before the event).

And I’ve been using this strategy ever since. At another networking event, my nametag helped me connect with a woman who runs a non-profit organization who needs help with grant writing. My proposal for the project was $7,500. She didn’t bat an eye, and now it’s just awaiting board approval.

3. Let your passion shine

There’s nothing wrong with being introverted, and I found that many business owners expect to have a diverse team of varying personality types. It’s OK to let them know you have a passion for your work, but you struggle with being outgoing.

Dropping a line like, “I’m not very comfortable with in-person marketing, but I sure know my way around email marketing campaigns,” is a great way to tie a conversation back to your skills and your work.

You then have a perfect segue into, “Could I send you some samples?”

Even though I consider myself an introvert, I love helping people and businesses succeed and establish authority in their field. If you think you need a go-get-em-extrovert approach to do this, think again. I’ve been able to grow my business by creating valuable content for free. And it’s helped generate a steady stream of leads from the type of clients I want to work with.

4. Acknowledge your nerves

If you’re feeling like a buzzing ball of nervous energy, let people know you’re out of your comfort zone. Oftentimes, people don’t even notice that you’re nervous, and they’ll say so.

Not only will their reassurances serve as a release valve on your nerves, but also you’ll show them that you’re willing to try new things for the sake of growing your — and their — business.

While shy writers can sometimes feel like their personality is a huge internal obstacle in the freelance world, it doesn’t have to be. Embrace who you are and don’t apologize for it.

Are you an introverted freelancer? Share your best strategy for conquering your fears in the comments.

Rai Rose Cornell is a freelance writer who helps businesses build reputations through value-packed content.

Grow your writing income. LEARN HOW! Freelance Writers Den


  1. Jennifer Waddle

    Thank you, Carol. This was a very encouraging post!

    • Rai Cornell

      Thanks, Jennifer! Sometimes all it takes is knowing that it’s possible to overcome our inner obstacles. 🙂

  2. Marlena Bontas

    Being shy is an overused expression in our society. What does being shy mean, anyway? That you can’t pick up the phone when someone calls? (like I do) Or that you can’t ask someone for a date due to nerves?
    I really believe that shyness is actually social anxiety and it interferes with the everyday life of the one experiencing it.
    I know people who are introverted but can have presentations or teach in front of others and even enjoy it.
    All in all, this was a good read and you gave good tips. Thanks!

    • Rai Cornell

      Thanks for your insight, Marlena! I think you’re right. For some people shyness morphs into social anxiety. I imagine it like a spectrum with mild introversion on one end and social phobia or anxiety on the opposite end.

  3. Boon Ong

    I think I am introvert as well.
    I literally shy away in person.

    After reading this article, I should be more daring and go for it by writing an email (yet to know)


    • Rai Cornell

      A lot of the power “shyness” has is in fear. If you can push yourself to overcome that fear just once, it becomes easier and easier over time. Go for it, Boon Ong, and be daring.

  4. Clairels

    FYI, “introverted” and “shy” are not synonymous, although some people are both. Personally, I’m an extrovert, which means I get energy from being around people, but I can be as shy as anyone else when meeting someone new. These tips will help me, too!

    • Rai Cornell

      I agree completely, Clairels. I identify more as introverted than shy, but the term “introverted” is a more complex concept that really defines the core of someone’s personality. Hopefully these tips will help people who are either introverted or shy… or both!

      • Carol Tice

        It’s an SEO thing…in researching, I found many more people searched for ‘shy’ than ‘introvert’, so I used the former in the headline. There are so many people aspiring to writing who don’t yet have a strong vocabulary, so I also wanted to use a simpler word to attract readers, who could then parse it in more detail in the post. Just a peek behind the curtain there!

        • CaSandra Mathis

          Carol, that’s a truly exceptional quality – to care about and take into consideration the ‘all’ rather than what may be perceived as the majority. Thanks for that! I have a pretty good command of the English language and a decent vocabulary. But, as you said, there are people who may make great writers who do not possess those skills, and may never, which is why bloggers, ghost writers, and other assistants in the writing realm exist. I’m excited and looking forward to learning from you in your 3-Wk training course (I just signed up!) and the Writer’s Den altogether.

          • Carol Tice

            See you in there, CaSandra!

      • Katherine Swarts

        For that matter, there are different types of “shy.” Personal illustration: At most events, I’ll chatter freely until they TELL us to network (answer a mixer question, shake hands with your neighbor and tell them you’re glad to see them, etc.)–then my “shy” reflex instantly kicks in hard.

        • Rai Cornell

          Interesting, Katherine. Do you think the latter scenario feels more like you’re being put “on the spot”? There must be a mental block that you need to overcome. Clearly you can chat with people comfortably. Maybe rehearsing a few stock answers to networking questions would help?

          • Katherine Swarts

            Put to the test, maybe. I also freeze up when I start THINKING about “can I convince this person to become a client”?

          • Rai Cornell

            Instead of focusing on luring them in as a client, focus on how you can help them. If you show that you have value, you never have to be a salesperson.

          • Katherine Swarts

            There, I think, lies the shy entrepreneur’s greatest weakness: convincing THEMSELVES they’re worth much. (Not that that isn’t covered here in at least one blog post each month.) If you don’t believe it, neither will anyone else.

          • Carol Tice

            But Rai’s point is HUGE — stop trying to sell people at networking events! The point is to expand your referral network.

            Once you realize the point is just to learn what other people do, and let them know who your ideal client is, and that you don’t have to do any pushy selling, it all gets easier.

    • Viviane

      Thanks for that, Clairels. There are indeed shy extroverts and socially confident introverts. Both introverts and shy people may want to avoid doing in-person marketing, but for different reasons. These are great tips for both, but there already is too much confusion out there between these two different terms. Let’s not keep perpetuating it.

  5. Joan Dawson


    I’m an introverted writer, too – thanks for writing about this oft-neglected topic!

    I just wanted to call attention to a great book (NY Times bestseller) written by Susan Cain called Quiet. I just read it this summer – it talks about the positive attributes of being an introvert and puts it into context of living in an extroverted society.

    I just looked up her name to make sure I had it correct and discovered she also has a Ted Talk.

    By the way, I’m also a highly-sensitive person (HSP) – many introverts are. This presents another challenge in a society that often equates being sensitive with being weak.

    Thanks again,

    • Rai Cornell

      Wow! What a great resource! Thanks for sharing, Joan. Unfortunately too many people see introversion and sensitivity as weaknesses. But I think we can prove them wrong. 🙂

  6. Evan Jensen

    Hi Rai,

    Great advice here. Something all four tips have in common is that even if you’re an introvert, you still have to take a little bit of action to move forward.
    – Listen, and speak up
    – Choose to make your name tag stand out
    – Let people know what you’re passionate about
    – Recognize nervousness, and keep going

    “It’s time for introverts everywhere to rise up.”

    • Rai Cornell

      Great point, Evan! Yes, being introverted is never an excuse for not taking action. But there are ways to take action without going against the grain of your personality.

      Love the quote, by the way.

  7. Lyn Jensen

    Unfortunately if I tell people I’m a writer, I get something like, “What do you mean, like, a typist?” or “Like, do you write books, or, something? Like, what books?” or “In what way will that interfere with your duties on this job?” When I told people I wrote about music, I invariably got, “Oh, you write music?” The idea of writing about music? They just couldn’t get their heads around that.

    • Rai Cornell

      The concept of writing for a living doesn’t quite make sense to some people. That’s why it’s important to develop an elevator pitch that makes it perfectly clear what you do and how you can be of use. Have you crafted an elevator pitch for yourself yet, Lyn?

      • Lyn Jensen

        Yeah, that’s it! If only I had the perfect elevator pitch, what a wonderful world it would be! I’ve been drilled on elevator pitches longer than the Internet’s been around to advise me on them. I’ve never actually used one in a social setting. They only work in theory, I suspect. Face it, when was the last time you “pitched” anybody on an elevator? And did they roll their eyes and get off at the next floor, or what?

        • Rai Cornell

          Haha, well of course the elevator pitch isn’t for use in just any setting. It’s named for it’s brevity. Your elevator pitch should be short enough that you can say it during a short elevator ride. But more to the point, yes, I’ve found the elevator pitch quite useful, especially as an introvert. Saying “I write blog posts and website content for businesses that want to establish themselves as authorities in their field” goes a long way towards explaining what I do for a living and getting me over the initial bumbling nerves upon meeting someone for the first time.

          Maybe yours could be something like, “I write about music, concerts, and musicians for local publications.” Maybe people can wrap their heads around that a bit easier.

          • Carol Tice

            “I write about business — and for businesses.”

            That’s all that’s meant — not that you have to ride an elevator. 😉

    • Carol Tice

      The right people get it, I find. 😉

  8. May Palacpac

    These are all good points and are applicable to any digital marketer/writer/creative, but allow me to correct the misconception that introverted is the same as being shy. Introverted-ness is a matter of stimulation. Extroverts are stimulated by being among the crowd or groups, whereas, introverts’ creativeness are stirred through quiet moments, lone time.

    There are many introverts who are not shy. I am an introvert and I am not shy. Many performers and motivational speakers are introverts.

    • Rai Cornell

      You’re absolutely right, May. Introverted is definitely not the same as shy. See above re: Carol’s comment about SEO. The post was adjusted a bit in terms of word choice to appease Google and search trends – a very important consideration in blogging. But I’m glad you commented and reinforced that point. You’re quite right!

  9. Cynthia

    Hi Rai,

    The post resonates so much with me. Even though I’m not as introverted or shy as I used to be, I still find it hard to do in-person marketing, unless the other person asks the right questions and gets the conversation going. My biggest fear is interacting in groups– addressing a group, participating in a group discussion, etc. I fail miserably at it. I’m great at one-on-one conversations, though. I find it easier to open up when there’s only person to focus on.

    I’ll make sure to use the points you’ve written about. Thanks so much!


    • Rai Cornell

      I totally understand, Cynthia. Getting the conversation started is the hardest part! If you can give people as many non-verbal cues as possible (name tag, emailing the networking coordinator in advance for suggestions on who to talk to so he/she sends people your way, leaving a spare business card on the table for passers by to peer at, etc.), it opens the door for them to make the first move and you can focus on shining in the one-on-one.

      Let me know how these tips work for you during your next networking event! I’d love to know what worked best for you.

      Best of luck!

    • Carol Tice

      Cynthia, you might want to check out the book Coffee Lunch Coffee by Alana Muller — it’s about networking through 1-to-1 contacts.

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