In last weeks blog post 'Who's Working Behind The Scenes' I talked about how Luke Holroyd photography isn't just a one man band and how I heavily rely on my partner Joanne for the success of the business. Writing the blog post made me think about how lucky I am have to have a business partner who is by my side every evening and weekend and also how setting up your own independent business can be a very lonely place for some people.
Even though I'm only just turning 25, I've worked in the retail, food and industrial industries, and I can assure you my experience of the creative industry is far more community based and helpful than any others. There is so much help out there for creatives whether you’re established or just starting out and you really shouldn't be afraid to ask for help and really utilise other creative’s knowledge.
Who to Ask for Help
The person you should be asking for help all depends on the help you need. If you're wanting to take the leap into business then asking someone who's run a successful business for 2-3 years would be your most reliable source. If you’re established and want to know how you can move your business into the next price bracket, then you should be searching your contacts for that person who's been there and done it.
Where to ask for Help
There are many forms of helps out there, a few work better than others but all have advantages. The most successful for me are Networking, Reading Blogs and Over the Phone. Here's just a few ways you can ask for help and post your questions:
Blogs: There are hundreds of blogs out there, not all blogs may be beneficial to you and don't forget they're usually aimed at a wide audience so may not always answer your questions. Make sure you research the bloggers, find reviews and don't always assume everything you read is correct.
Networking: I recently wrote a blog post on how to Network Face to Face. Networking is a fantastic way to meet other creatives in your industry, talk about your ideas and ask for help and advice. Remember to still look professional when you’re face to face with other creatives.
Direct Phone Calling: There is a host of creatives out there with knowledge in all areas, you may consider calling them directly to ask for advice and help. It may be a daunting experience for some to call a complete stranger and ask for help. Before you do pick up the phone, make sure you research the person and their work, consider the time when you call them, and when you do call them, ask if it's a convenient time for them and explain why you are calling.
Emailing: Emailing is probably the easiest way for most people, and yes it's easy to send an email from the comfort of your laptop or phone. I am in the unique position where I have been that guy sending the email asking for help and now receive emails from people asking me for help. It's not always the best way to ask for help, but if you do, make your email personal; it’s very easy to spot a generic email you have sent to hundreds of other photographers.
You may be asking for help, but you should still demonstrate your knowledge of the industry, you will come across more honest and genuine if you explain what you know, what you need help with and evidence that you have already researched your questions. If you come across as though you're struggling and desperate, people will be less likely to share their knowledge and advice with you.
Respect Their Business
No business wants to give away all their secrets of their success, so make sure you don't go digging for every little bit of advice. Make sure you have a selection of questions and show you have already begun your research to the answers. You should be asking for advice and not how to replicate their business. Remember the creative industry is a very competitive market so some people may decline to give you any advice.
It goes without saying but a genuine thank you for their time is a must, even suggest your appreciation by inviting them for a coffee which can give you another chance to raise a few informal questions. Without spamming, keep them up to date with how you used their advice and how it has benefited you and the business. Everyone loves a success story and don't forget to share your knowledge with others who may need it!
Do you have any success stories to share ? Do you help other creatives in your industry?