The hardest part of self-promotion is getting started.
When I started blogging in 2008, it took a lot of hustle to get people to notice me. I sent out dozens of emails to people who I hoped would care. I found people on LinkedIn and sent them personalized connection requests promoting my blog. I looked for opportunities to comment on popular blogs, where I included links back to my own blog. I was a one-man marketing machine without a marketing budget.
Amazingly, it worked. I managed to acquire a critical mass of readers, and they evangelized my blog to their peers. Before I knew it, I was a recognized tech blogger.
But it took a lot of work, and it still does. It's not just the time it takes to write posts, speak at conferences, etc. I also have to be vigilant for time-sensitive opportunities and then quickly act on them, since timing can be as important as content. There's also lot of luck involved; it's impossible to predict when you will strike viral marketing gold, so you have put yourself in the stream of opportunities and seize as many of them as you can. Developing a professional brand requires patience and persistence.
It's also important to stand out, especially when you're initially trying to get noticed. If you look at my posts and tweets, you'll see that I come on pretty strong. There's always a danger of crossing the line into the bozo zone, but being too cautious is a certain strategy for failure. So I try to live close to the edge.
One piece of advice for anyone thinking of investing in self-promotion: start by going narrow. Find a small pond where you can be the biggest fish. Establish your credibility and visibility, and then work on increasing the size of the pond. If you start too broadly, you'll just get lost in the noise.
For more of my thoughts on this topic, check out my post on how to invest in your professional brand.
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