In Praise of Self-Promotion:

Evolution of ERIC KIM Logo by ANNETTE KIM

There is this strange bias that somehow self-promotion is ‘shameless’ and thus ‘bad/evil’.

Where does this notion even come from?

Why is self-promotion frowned down upon?

This is my theory:

Self-promotion is frowned upon because it is only seen as ‘legitimate success’ when SOMEONE ELSE (external person) qualifies your success. It is from a societal notion that the only ‘true’ legitimacy comes from the authority of others.

In other words, if you want to be ‘discovered’ by someone else, you are essentially saying:

I prefer the authority of others, instead of my own self-authority.

Don’t believe in fairytales

First of all, I think this notion of being ‘discovered’ is totally a false fairytale illusion. If you believe that the only legitimate form of success is from being ‘discovered’ by some magical someone else, you’re either watching too many Disney princess films, or have consumed too much romantic films or romantic literature.

Thought experiment

What if you NEVER got ‘discovered’ by anyone else for your talent, smarts, and skills by someone else. What if I had 100% knowledge of the future, and I told you this for certain.

If so, what would you do? Would you prostrate yourself and weep, or would you think:

Thank goodness! I prefer not relying on other people anyways; I prefer to lean on myself.

Taking our lives 100% into our own hands

Let us take this thought experiment further.

So what if you knew with 100% certainty you would never be ‘discovered’ and the only way you could become ‘successful’ was to self-promote yourself. If so, would you self-promote yourself?

Or in other words, would you create your own ‘sole proprietorship’ business? Would you create your own label? Would you create your own publishing house? Would you create your own platform, media empire, and sign yourself?

“Until you own yourself you can’t be free // until you own yourself you can’t be me” – JAY Z

JAY Z initially couldn’t get signed to any label for his first album “Reasonable Doubt”. So what did he do? He was like,

“Fuck it. I am going to make my own record label (Rocafella records), and sign myself!”

This ended up being a blessing in disguise, because in the long-term, it helped him soar to even more epic heights possible! It made it possible for himself to become self-owned, for him to be his own boss, for him to become the CEO of the label, and to SIGN OTHER artists, instead of being dependent on an external label to support him.

As JAY Z says in his “Smile” song:

Ours was, “Fuck you, pay me”
Now it’s, “Fuck payin’ me, I pay you
Put the rest away for Blue”

Which means:

Don’t go begging the big boss of a company to pay you. Instead, YOU are the boss and YOU’RE going to be the one paying others.

In other words, you want to be the OWNER, not the servant. You want to become the MASTER, not the SLAVE.

Disrupt the old ways of thinking

The old way of thinking was:

Do good work, and wait until someone else discovers you.

The new way of thinking is:

Do good work, and constantly discover yourself and promote yourself.

The old way of thinking was:

The only way to become a legitimate artist is to get books published (by famous publishers), to get solo exhibitions, and to inducted into some hall of fame.

The new way of thinking is:

I can gain more recognition by sharing my photos and artwork widely on the internet, and I don’t really care for any external ‘legitimacy’ by anyone else. Instead, I will market and promote myself to the furthest extent, and have 100% control over myself, my artwork, and my platform.

It is a brave new world of photography baby.


The world is yours.

The best ways to promote yourself:

  1. Start your own blog ( and Delete your Instagram and other platforms which you don’t own. Become the owner, not a digital share-cropper. Don’t build your kingdom on quicksand.
  2. Publish yourself: Publish yourself by putting your own photos on your own website, blog, or learn how to use InDesign to create your own photography magazine. Or a simple option: use iBooks Author on the Mac, and publish your own photos and ebooks.
  3. Get ‘discovered‘ by people by blogging, by putting out YouTube videos, by vlogging, and by getting your information and substance indexed by Google (Google Search Engine Optimization; SEO).
  4. When in doubt, publish more: Contrary to what I said in the past, I now believe it is better to publish more. Productivity is good, in the sense of producing much. This is a ‘producerism’ mindset. The more you publish, the more confidence you will gain, and the more you will continue to stay HOT! Remember the saying, ‘The rolling stone gathers no moss‘ from Publilius Syrus. Furthermore, ‘Strike the iron while it is hot.’ (also Publilius Syrus).
  5. You be the one reaching out to people you want to collaborate with: Send cold emails to people you would like to collaborate with. Send out proposals. Don’t sit on your butt and wait for someone to magically email or contact you. Put yourself out there.



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