Being a solo entrepreneur can have so many benefits; working your own hours, doing what you’re most passionate about, constantly creating, and dreaming up the next steps in your career. Being a photographer as your career choice has even more benefits; constantly meeting new people, being surrounded by beauty, potentially working events, and photographing some of your clients’ happiest memories.
However, have you ever thought of building yourself a community of like-minded solo entrepreneurs? Mainly, I’m talking about having other photographers in your corner, but having other entrepreneurs from your industry can only help you grow as well. Yes. I’m saying – make friends with your “competition”! Grab a coffee and pick their brain, let them pick yours. I’m even saying to collaborate with them! Read on for my reasoning on why this is so important for you and your solo business.
Building yourself a community within your industry may be the closest you come to having co-workers. These are people who know what you’re going through, who understand your struggles, your victories, and all the things in between (which is what most of your days look like anyway). If you’ve ever worked in an office, this also means that these are the people you chat with during the day, the ones you go to when you need to step away from your computer, or someone you can have lunch with. Growing a community of other photographers allows you to have those co-workers you can “talk shop” with!
New Perspective and Opinion
Piggybacking onto the idea of making your own co-workers, this also allows you to have someone who will listen to your ideas! How often are you working on your business and you have this great idea, but you just sit on it, and dwell on it, until you start to question if it’s actually a good idea. Happens all too often in my opinion. Having someone you can talk to who understands all the aspects of your business can help at a moment like this! Picture it; you’re so excited about this idea that’s going to change the way you do things, so you call your photographer friend up and tell her all about it – so exciting! …and your friend notices a flaw in the plan. This is actually a good thing! You have a second opinion who is willing to work with you and help come up with a solution, allowing you to move forward and reach new heights!
You are creative, and you have your ways of doing your business. This is great! What’s even more great is allowing other creatives in who may see things from a different perspective. If you’re constantly doing things the same way, you’ll never be able to grow and get to that next level. This is similar reasoning on why I wrote a blog about needing a mentor – which is another great way to grow your community. Having a second opinion and a new perspective can not only solve future ideas, but it can also help with a past issue that has hindered you from getting to that next step.
Trust me when I say having a chat with other photographers has always helped me with my business!
One of my favorite parts of being a photographer is collaborations! Working directly alongside other creative entrepreneurs is truly the best way to learn more about this amazing industry we work in. Depending on what your niche is as a photographer, a collaboration can mean a few things. If you mostly photograph weddings, you can work with another photographer, an event planner, a florist, a baker, a venue, a designer, etc. You’ll likely be doing a formal shoot using a couple, putting more emphasis on the styled set. Or else if you’re like me, where I mostly work with families, I can still collaborate with other photographers, florists, venues, and even designers or local shops for the clothes. This type of shoot would likely be less formal and be more about the angles we are shooting from.
Nothing allows for more creative thought than a good collaboration. You can see how others work, and they can see how you work. You can also see what they are working with! Maybe the other photographer has a lens you had been thinking of getting, and you can now see it in action first hand. The entire community of this collaboration may have a similar end goal in mind, however, being able to work together to get there can allow each of you to think differently and come up with new solutions, and maybe even end up with a better photoshoot than you planned!
Now think about how you’ll come out of this collaboration! You’ll feel invigorated to continue working with the same enthusiasm, the same creativity that you left with. These are the moments your photography style will grow and continue to be more and more beautiful.
Having a community of other photographers can also mean you get referrals from them! I have often referred potential clients to another photographer within my community for several reasons. Some families are looking for a different style than what I can give them, and I always know exactly who can give them the shoot they want. I’d much rather have these families be happy with what they are requesting. We all have different styles and that is a good thing! This means I was able to help a friend and the family will be happy with what they are paying for. Another reason I have sent a potential client to another photographer is simply due to time. Being at home with my kids, doing mentorships, and running a membership like Woven, while still taking clients, I cannot take everyone who contacts me on while in good faith I have the time for everything. This is another amazing reason why having a community is so important. I can now send families to a photographer who I know will be able to give them the type of service I pride myself in giving.
What I’m trying to say here is; by growing and trusting your community, you may need to send clients to someone else, and by knowing and collaborating with other photographers, you’ll trust the name you give as an option for that potential client. And I promise, your community will also send your perfect client to you.
So. Much. Support. Building yourself a community of other photographers is building yourself a support group. You’ll have people to turn to for the ups and downs, a cheering section, and a shoulder to lean on. No one understands how hard you work at perfecting your photos than another photographer! This is probably the single, most important reason why I need you to read this – having a support system will be the biggest factor in how far you go in your photography career. Your community will push you to new creative heights, they’ll give you the confidence in starting that new project you’re scared to start, potentially even pushing you to start the new project you’ve been postponing.
Being a photographer is hard, let’s make it a little bit easier with an amazing community. Always remember; if you’re here reading this, I’m here supporting you!