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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 😉

  4. 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.

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