How to promote yourself without feeling like a sell-out.

Quick Note: Just a reminder that DirtyMouth will be at RPM doing quick and dirty consulting sessions and much more at RPM from February 16th and 17th. Sign up for a session here. I’ve gotten a few requests for non-promoter coaching while I’m in town, too. If that’s of interest, please shoot me an email at and we can setup a quick intro call to see if it’s a fit.

Now, on to the good stuff…

How to promote yourself without feeling like a sell-out.

We all know that racer – the one that repeatedly finds a way to tell everyone else how great he is. He’s on Twitter, Facebook and, sometimes, a victory lane microphone lamenting how hard he’s worked, how much he’s sacrificed and why he deserves to win over, well, you.

When the topic of self-promotion comes up on almost every coaching call I do, we inevitably end up talking about that guy (or girl).

And almost everyone, myself included, has that moment where we think everyone else believes that guy.

They’re buying it, right? They think she’s as great as she thinks she is.

“And I don’t want to be that guy, so I’m just not going to promote myself at all.” – said me, and lots of clients. 

But in reality, that’s not the case. Most people can see right through the clutter and call it what it is. Bull. (Even though it’s interesting to watch sometimes…)

So how do you promote yourself without selling out or blowing smoke or being that guy?

Listen before you talk. This is important in all interactions, but especially if you’re worried about seeming like a sleaze. In any healthy relationship, you’ll give without expecting to receive. Promoting yourself works the same way.

Want people to know about what you’re doing? Listen to what they’re saying first.

Connect. The best way to show people your personality is to interact with them or others. You can tell people you’re the greatest driver in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if there are no other drivers on the track. The same goes for what you do off the track.

Have a conversation. Ask a question. Give a compliment. Make a recommendation. Call someone out, if that’s your personality. Whatever you do, be you.

Talk about your work. And I don’t just mean your day job. You could talk to someone literally all day about racing, right? So stop worrying about talking about yourself and focus on talking about what you do. See how that takes some of the pressure off?

If you start out with simple updates on what you’re up to with some pictures of what you’re working on, people will take notice without thinking you’re arrogant.

Pictures and videos are an especially great way to show off your work in the garage and at the track without having to humble-brag about how much your sponsors or fans love you. And race fans seek them out.

Accept that it’s a commitment, and has to be earned. Like everything else in racing…you’re not going to earn a ride or sell out the grandstands the first time you tell someone how great you are. Ask for attention, and you’ll get some. But just because someone has a lot of followers on Twitter doesn’t mean they have a lot of fans cheering them on in the stands or t-shirts moving out of their trailers.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: Just do what’s comfortable to you, and don’t be afraid to talk about your work- whether that’s building a race car, maintaining a track or negotiating deals for your series. Accept praise, and give it. But stop before you’re tempted to suck up.

There’s a line between what you’d really say and do, and what you’d say or do just for a reaction. Find your line.


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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.