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Sometimes, the life of a creative entrepreneur can be remarkably lonely. If you fulfill the various roles of being a photographer, accountant, website designer, editor, social media marketer and customer service rep in your business, it’s easy to get caught up in the isolation of day to day life.
Sure, you’re doing what you need to build up your business and create a lifestyle you love and enjoy! But that’s not to say that the quietness and solitude you typically thrive in can’t sometimes feel like a bit… too much.
As a budding photographer, I had no idea that I’d only be spending a small fraction of my time behind the camera. In all actuality, the majority of my job is done behind a computer, while I’m alone in my office. Regardless of what type of creative entrepreneur you are, I’m willing to bet you feel the same way!
So, let’s discuss the importance of building community as a creative entrepreneur. I’ll share the why, and then the how, so you can build up your own community that’s equal parts joyful and supportive!
When you work a “regular” (what even is regular?) job, you usually have coworkers; people to chat with and bounce ideas off of. Someone you can turn to with that one very specific look when something crazy or unbelievable happens. You know, someone to tell you you’re not being crazy, who encourages you to stand up for yourself?
Those office friends were there to ride through the highs and lows of your job with you. Ultimately, when the going got tough, they made the going feel bearable. Regardless of whether you loved or hated your last “regular” job, it’s safe to say that we all like to belong to something, and to feel like we have our people.
(Someone other than a partner or pet, of course!)
Ideally, as a creative business owner, you’ll want to build out your very own community that offers support akin to what you used to have when you worked a “regular” job. Building a community of like-minded creative entrepreneurs will allow you to feel understood and heard. You’ll be able to share your wins, your losses, and your learnings!
Aside from the personal and mental health benefits of building out a thriving creative community, it’s always a good idea to have people to refer potential clients to if you end up being unavailable, or if you find that the project isn’t the right fit for you. On the flip side, your community will also be able to refer clients back to you. As a photographer, a good portion of my business now comes from referrals!
And of course, when emergencies arise, it’s always important to have a solid group of trusted friends and allies to reach out to. When I ended up in an ambulance in the middle of a wedding this year and needed someone to come and immediately photograph the rest of the wedding (yikes!), my community stepped in and came to the rescue.
(Thank you, Corinna, Rachael and everyone else who texted, called and helped out!)
Naturally, I try to do the same for others in my community. We’ve built a solid foundation of trust and support that allows us to seek solace in times of need, and share joy in times of celebration!
I’ve digressed on the merits of finding community as a creative entrepreneur. Now, let’s discuss how to build a community for yourself!
I truly believe that you need to be the community you want to create. And by that I mean: the best way to find other supportive creatives, is to support other creatives without expecting anything in return!
After seeking out Facebook groups to join, reaching out to others and meeting with those who reached out to me, I found my “people.” The important thing to know is that building a long-lasting and supportive community that feels like family might take a bit of time – but it’s so worth it in the long run!
Rising Tide Society and their Tuesdays Together groups – This is a group for small business owners and creative entrepreneurs that hosts monthly meetups! Here’s a link to find your local chapter. This is the first group I found, and I simply showed up at a local chapter meeting. Everyone is super welcoming, and I’ve made some of my best photographer and creative friends in that group! I especially love that it’s local, so these are people that you can meet up with, regularly, in real life.
SF Image Makers, Commercial Photographers Network, Honeybook Community – You’ll want to search on Facebook for groups in your industry, but I’m a part of a local photographer group (SF Image Makers), as well as some larger nationwide groups (Commercial Photographers). Additionally, I use a CRM called Honeybook (learn all about it here!), and chose to join the Honeybook Community that’s offered to all Honeybook users. I learn a ton from these groups, and have even had the opportunity to work with people in these communities! However, I tend to not build super personal relationships in these groups, mostly due to their size.
Instagram – Surprisingly enough, Instagram has been a great place to meet people both locally, and around the world! It does a great job of suggesting people for you to follow, and you can easily make connections with friends of friends. Try searching local hashtags for your industry to find out who else does something similar to you in your same area! It’s funny, when we were younger, we were warned about making friends on the internet. Now, so many of my closest creative friends were made via Instagram!
My Insta friends and I support each other, and many have become real life friends as well. Some of those friendships required me reaching out to people, or others reaching out to me. In both cases, we’ve met up via video chat or in person, and have kept those relationships growing. In fact, one of my longest Instagram connections happened when I had just started my business, and I posted a nice comment on someone’s photo. They reached out to me because of it, and we still work together and support one another to this day!
Like I said before, giving honestly and freely while spreading kindness will help you in the long run. And if you’re still trying to figure out how to make social media work for you, read my post on How to Avoid Social Media Overwhelm. 📱
Keep your eyes peeled on social media for anyone else looking to create meaningful connections. I responded to a friend who posted that she was creating an accountability group, and voila! I was a part of that group, and they were an essential part of surviving the pandemic.
If you’re a photographer, the wedding industry has been a great way to make creative connections! Creating styled photoshoots with fellow creatives in the wedding space will automatically bring you closer.
Consider attending workshops and conferences for your industry. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people!
Remember that building a community doesn’t mean assembling a huge group of people. Start by connecting with just one person, and make it a goal to meet up monthly. My friend (a fellow photographer and healthcare professional) Emily and I get together monthly to brainstorm, plan goals, and discuss life. I look forward to it every month! If scheduling is a tricky task, the key is to plan the next date before you leave. Trust me!
So many people are out there just waiting to find community as well. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, or start your own group!
And lastly? Don’t be afraid to admit when it’s time to bring in the mentorship reinforcements 💪 That’s what we’re here for!
If you’re ready to take your photography business to the next level, I’m here to provide all of the strategic (and emotional) support you’ll need. Book a complimentary coaching call by clicking on this link!