Community Over Competition: Building Your Own Creative Tribe
Community over competition.
This is an idea that I keep as a core value in my business philosophy. Yes, you better believe I am in it to win it, but I don't see why I have to step on anyone else to get there. I am in the business of serving others. My clients lives are enriched by the products and services I offer.
I can't shoot every wedding that comes my way, nor would I want to. Gosh, how exhausting would that be? Just thinking about that makes me need a nap. When we support each other and build a creative tribe, we all succeed.
I am a wedding photographer. And I love photographing weddings! But, sadly, I can’t shoot two weddings at the same time, it’s physically impossible! That’s where my creative tribe comes in. In my tribe are a handful of other photographers that I have worked with that I TRUST to refer couples to. I know those photographers do excellent work, just like me. I also know that those photographers can’t shoot every wedding either. Do you see where I’m going with this? When we stop viewing everyone as “the competition” we can all succeed and grow.
Is this a natural way to think? No! Especially not in good ol’ ‘Murica where capitalism reigns supreme. Competition is a part of life, and can even be fun at times, but life is not a competition. Life is about relationships. And that’s not to say that everyone will win or find their place to shine. Businesses will fail. Some won’t find their target market and others may manage their business poorly. And some will fail simply because their owners lack the confidence to believe in themselves. But there is a difference between a business failing because it didn’t find its niche and a business failing because other business owners were discouraging or deceptive.
When I first began my business I viewed everyone as my competition because, well…they are! And I was terrified. I was completely intimidated by other photographers, constantly comparing myself and becoming more and more overwhelmed and discouraged by the second. It was honestly a nightmare and a completely unsustainable way to run my business.
Start by identifying your creative field.
Do you provide a creative service? Do you make products that us creatives use? Are you a floral artist? Do you bake? Are you an organizer extraordinaire? A writer? Maybe it’s just a hobby, or maybe it’s your sole passion in life?
Great! Now find others in your area who do the same as you. Instagram and Facebook are wonderful tools to easily connect with like-minded creatives. I’m giving you permission to FB stalk the crap out of them! Also, think about joining more specialized groups. Rising Tide Society and Honeybook are an excellent resource for creatives of all kinds. Look for creatives whose work, vibes and message you really connect with. Heck, maybe even reach out and learn more about what they do and how they serve their clients.
Now think about it, is there anyone in your field that you admire? If so, you might be surprised to find that they may offer courses, guides or workshops in order to help and teach creatives just like you looking to learn more and up their game.
I’m not saying you need to make it your personal mission to be besties with every creative individual who crosses your path or give away your trade secrets to just anyone with a business license. I’m not saying we should prop up failing businesses that don’t serve their customers well. What I am saying is - lift others up! Enter into other’s joy! Be open to the fact that you can learn from someone else and maybe they can learn from you, too.
Expand your horizons.
My tribe isn’t just a “photographers only” club. Don’t get me wrong, I love us, but have you ever seen a gaggle of photographers try to go anywhere? It’s like herding cats! “Do it for the gram,” is our mantra and we can’t walk more than 10 feet without having our insta-wives snap us laughing and looking away in some idyllic spot with delicious lighting. Within my tribe are copy editors, personal coaches, real estate agents, floral artists, production managers, wedding planners, branding gurus, venue owners, cupcake bakers, dress designers, and my list could go on…
When you’ve hit a roadblock sometimes you can be too close to the situation to see all the viable options, it can be incredibly refreshing to have a new viewpoint from someone else. Not only that, bouncing ideas off others can reignite your passions if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.
Since I've stepped out of my comfort zone and applied the idea of community over competition into my daily life, not only has my business benefitted, but I'm growing into a person that finds joy in not only my success, but the success of my peers. If you're looking for somewhere to start, I challenge you to write a note of thanks to 3 people who helped you get where you are today. You might be surprised how something so simple can open doors you didn't realize where there.