What if everytime someone else won you celebrated? It sounds strange, doesn’t it? When it comes to business I used to think if someone else won, I lost. It was based on a scarcity mentality, and thinking I’d never had enough. But what if there’s something more to it? With this mentality there was no shared victory, beauty in collaborations, or spirit of teamwork. I would find myself among a community of creatives where we would look upon each other with contempt, sizing up one another’s work, and plagued with fear. Rarely would we find those who we could share our creative dreams and ideals with. That was far too vulnerable and if we verbalized it, it could be a drastic as completing failure. Rather than celebrating one another’s work, we wouldn’t celebrate brilliant projects. Everyone was financially struggling, so why encourage one another. It was a dog-eat-dog world. Unless you were a creative with a large firm, we were all millennials in the height depression, hoping and struggling for a break. Intimidated by one another and gripped by sizing one another up, we all worked independently lining the walls of our coffee shop, insulated by the walls of our noise cancelling headphones, and hoping it would be our lucky day.
When I moved, I decided this would be different. I was leaving a larger urban area and discovering something new. I landed in a small town local where improvement, branding, and cultivating culture was easy. Just by doing a simple edit or overhaul, things were admired, appreciated, and a great step forward for the community. I learned I had much to give to the world and was able to bring projects to the surface that were only dreams a few years prior. When I moved, I learned something incredible and valuable. I could actually celebrate everyone’s wins, there was always enough, and regardless of what happened I would be okay. I don’t know what shifted within me. More than anything, I choose to celebrate and collaborate rather than compete. At the end of the day, it came down to choice. Others who owned their business used to be a threat. Now I’m finding them to be friends. Over time, I’ve learned some valuable lessons through collaborations. (Terms and conditions, ownership, and timelines are always a good idea regardless of the project.) These had turned into beautiful projects, additions to portfolios, great friendships, and learning more than I ever could on my own.
It gives you space to dream, bounce things off of, and those who understand your world. As a freelancer, this is something that’s absolutely vital. Whether it’s a shoot, a project, blog post, or creative dinner, finding those who understand and celebrate the wins in your world are invaluable.
As a creative, you’ve probably heard that you are the one who determines your income ceiling. While I would agree with this to a point, I would also say that this can be determined by fellow creatives in your field and area as well. For example, a photographer charging for a wedding in NYC, probably couldn’t foreseeably get the same rate for the same work in a midwest town of 90,000. Because of this, the local economy and cost of living often determines what you can charge for services. In a collaborative culture, rather than the project going to the lowest bidder, if everyone chooses to keep their prices at their norm rather than undercutting one another’s rates, it can allow for services to increase and everyone to have a chance to play. It keeps pricing standards and allows for an implicit living wage for those who are wanting to get started. Pricing is always a strange beast. I’ve found around here most creatives are transparent about their pricing and are often shifting to what works best for them. (In most services, your current client doesn’t know what your previous client paid, making this an easy adjustment in bids and proposals.)
Exhaustion. Loneliness. Burn out. Ask any creative or solopreneur what hustle all day everyday by themselves will lead to, and these three words are commonplace answers. Find others who love to do the same thing and journey through it with you? Team work and projects become fun, there’s vitality to work, and the growth potential for projects is phenomenal. A harsh reality for the solopreneur is this-You can actually only physically complete so much work by yourself. There are limits to the hours in the day and you got into this thing to have a personal life as well. Work life balance are some core values to you and can’t always be achieved by being sole-boss-lady. Find some friends to tackle projects with you and go farther than you could ever imagine.
Looking to collaborate on an upcoming project? I’d love to hear from you! Contact me here.