The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance 005: On Being a Supportive Creative


Welcome to The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance! It’s is a semi-frequent blog series about the lessons I've learned while suddenly working for myself. You can read the other sections about how I got started, finding my community, why money and I are friends now and why you should schedule your next vacation right now.

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When I moved to Austin, TX I knew no one. All I had in my corner was the internet, a year's worth of shooting photos. I began scouring the internet for people who looked cool and like they might want to hop in front of my camera, and because the Lord is good I somehow landed a coffee date with Nicole Seligman of Writes Like a Girl. She did as many Austinites do, and she introduced me to other people that I should know. She opened up doors for me that I could not open myself. She was supportive in every way that she knew how to be. Her kindness towards me as a business meant more to me than I could ever express and I vowed that I would run a business that operated in that way -- a way that builds others up. 

I've been thinking about being a supportive creative a lot lately. I've been talking about it with a lot of close friends.

1) Vote with your money.

I feel like this goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. Buy things from your friends. When you gift, gift with intention. Use the services of those close to you when you can. It doesn't have to be all the time, but just be mindful. Sometimes the most practical way to support someone is to vote with your money. Vote for your friends. 

2) Share the cool stuff that they're doing. 

If you think something they're doing is neat, but you don't have a need or money for it? Share it on social media if it's appropriate for the situation. Tell your friends about your sister-in-law's mini sessions. 

3) Introduce them to other cool creative friends. 

If you know someone your creative friend should know, bridge the gap! Last week I was meeting a friend for coffee and she disclosed to me that she was a writer. I immediately thought of introducing her to a friend, who was an editor of a magazine that was looking for contributors. A few minutes later the editor friend walked through the door of the coffee shop and I was able to introduce them on the spot. Sometimes you get to introduce people in person, other times you get to do it via email. The important thing is making the connection. It takes less than 30 seconds to potentially help a friend further their business goals. 

4) When you can, pass work to someone in your field that's a better fit. 

This is a tough one because at first glance it may seem counter-intuitive, but know what you do well and pass the rest. I thoroughly enjoy my work. Being behind the camera makes me feel super alive. But being behind the camera doing HDR real estate photography makes me feel sick to my stomach. Why? Because a) I don't enjoy it and b) I'm not good at it because it isn't something I enjoy. I make a habit of passing good work that I wouldn't excel at to fellow photographers. I am also grateful to get referrals from both clients and photographers. You will make better work for clients that you should be working with. A good friend shared this quote from one of her friends with me and I've been thinking about it non-stop: 

Every job you take should have at least two of the following components: 1) Good people. 2) Interesting work. 3) Great pay.

If the work isn't interesting to you for the pay that it would take you to be interested in it, pass it! Give someone else the opportunity to choose. 

5) Show up. 

Whether it's an art show, a free workshop, a sidewalk sale or their wedding -- when it's possible go to their events! A lot of work goes into planning things like that and sometimes your attendance really can make all the difference. 

6) Share your knowledge!

This has been one of the most rewarding things for me lately. Three sweet gals reached out to me this year and asked if I wanted to mentor them and I said yes. Did I have time? Not really, but I made it because that's something that's always been on my bucket list. I got to see great improvements in these ladies' work and I got to support them in making their dreams come true and that has been the best. I also get to write stuff like this for people like you which is awesome.