Recently I was tagged on a Facebook rant. The outburst was pointed at fly-fishing people over-promoting themselves by abusing the many marketing tools available this day and age. The short message was accurate in many respects. Luckily for me I was tagged as one of the “good guys” that don’t go overboard.
I’m part of the generation that grew up without computers. I was late to get an email address, a laptop, and a cell phone. Today I live and die by all three, but in fact still use a flip-phone that doesn’t text. No doubt my stubbornness to modernize limits my marketing ability but, even if I was a media genius, I’m aware that self-glorification is the most boring thing on the planet.
However, I make my living fly fishing and after thirty years of doing so I can tell you it isn’t easy. To succeed, I must self-promote and I stay busy on my laptop keeping my brand active, professional, and interesting. I do this tactfully by keeping a top-quality website with a captivating blog and I attract my audience with discreet posts on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
My bread-and-butter for promoting is my website, jeffcurrier.com. I keep content up-to-date and, thanks to the help of some younger computer-savvy friends, my internet billboard is eye candy for any fly fisher with a few minutes or even hours to browse. When they leave they know exactly who “Jeff Currier” is and, based on my analytics, they always come back for more. But you need to get them there in the first place.
My most active tool in attracting folks to my website is my blog, which is built into my website. Unlike many fly-fishing blogs, my posts are current, interesting, and leave readers waiting for the next. I’ve written about every fishing day since October of 2009. When not fishing I post attention-grabbing fishing-related events I’m involved in, ranging from teaching wounded veterans to speaking at a fly-fishing show.
I’m fortunate that my blog is full of fishing venues often out of the ordinary which draws readers from all avenues of fly fishing—and from all over the world. I fish internationally more than I ever dreamt and many readers live vicariously through my travels. I use tag phrases in all of my blogs and tag fish species, destination names, and people, all which help bump my site up on Google.
I blog whether or not my day of fishing is successful, but blank days are the hardest to write—and it’s not because I’m upset with the day. It’s completely the opposite. It’s simply a challenge to portray that a good skunking builds character and makes me a better angler. When I succeed in getting my point across, however, it lets my readers know I’m human and happy to admit it. We can all relate. Repetitive big fish stories won’t bring readers back to your website. Honesty will.
Regardless of my website and blog traffic, I always try to grow my audience. This is where social media comes in. It took me a long time to get a cell phone; you can imagine how long it took me to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Six years ago I broke down and got a Facebook account. I learned quickly there’s a lot of boring folks out there; why they post pictures of their B.S. blows my mind. First lesson: don’t be one of these or your gig will be over before you blink.
No doubt, to promote our fishing careers we need to post fishing pictures. But be careful. What you post represents who you are. Small doses of hero shots are welcome, especially when you’re holding an incredible fish. But posting your mug with a fish three times a week is mind-numbing for those you’re trying to impress. If you’re one of those rare folks that keeps catching big fish, try posting just the fish without you. Or—better yet—skip a few.
Close-ups of fish, gorgeous locations, and perhaps a good fly catches viewers. Wildlife, casting, kids, or a travel photo can be catchy also. But each of these should be good quality photos. Don’t post a spawned out sick looking brown trout and expect respect and a heap of “Likes”.
Unless I’m on a fabulous adventure catching jaw-dropping fish daily I rarely post more than twice a month. I think too much “Currier” is too much no matter how much good stuff I have to offer. And it’s much easier to post an enthralling photo if you only do it twice a month. Then your followers can’t wait for the next post. Also important, every post I make on Facebook has a direct link to my latest blog and I make sure these are my more exceptional blogs—ones that will suck in new followers forever.
These days I have Twitter and Instagram accounts. Every time I post a new blog it shows up on Twitter. Although I only have a flip-phone, I have a pal that was so bothered by the fact I didn’t do Instagram that he set me up an account and does the posts for me when I provide him photos.
Keep in mind that there are a number of “old fashioned” ways to promote yourself as well that I think are equally important. Join your local Trout Unlimited and/or fly-fishing club. Yes, I know some clubs aren’t as exciting as we’d like them to be. If that’s the case, get involved. Create events. Help with events. Share your knowledge. I’m a member of Trout Unlimited, Henry’s Fork Foundation, Friends of the Teton, and contribute to events when I can. One event I never miss is teaching wounded veterans for Honoring Our Veterans of Jackson Hole.
It’s a no brainer that self-promotion is essential. Social media has made it easy for us but doing it tactfully and not over-doing it is crucial. Always keep in mind that once you turn off a customer they’re hard to get back. Last but not least, fish hard. If your fishing skills are truly fantastic and you’re sharing your knowledge and giving back, they will come, but it takes time. It’s taken me a lifetime!
Scientific Anglers Ambassador Jeff Currier has been fly fishing the world for over forty years in more than fifty countries on six continents. To date he’s caught more than 300 different species on the fly. You can follow Jeff’s adventures at www.jeffcurrier.com