Stop Stealing

As I look across social media, I see plenty of people who call themselves entrepreneurs/brands/creatives taking content from those who created it. I’m not talking about reposting content. That’s cool. Honestly, I love seeing my stuff shared and reposted, especially by people I’ve never met. And, sure, I like being tagged in those instances but that doesn’t always happen, so I’m cool with that. What should never happen is my watermarks being removed from my work and the same goes for any artist. We’re not out here putting our time into creating branded work for the brand to be erased. We’re creating content for exposure so that we can live sustainable lifestyles putting quality out for the world. But, when I look at some profiles and see work that has obviously been cropped so that the poster can seem that much deeper or more talented than (s)he is, I lose some respect for that person. And, if I like some content that I see has been cropped, I at least work to find the original. That’s the least I can do to show appreciation to the creator. We’re too old to take stuff we didn’t come up with and try taking credit for it.

Grow up.

 

Make giving credit where credit is due.

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Bet on Yourself

What if we all invested 100% in what we’re supposed to? What if you believed in your ability to start that business instead of leaning on that job you hate? Or gave your all to your marriage instead of sliding in someone’s DMs? Or worked out 4 days a week instead of just using “I’m 30 now” as an excuse to let your health deteriorate?

Bet on what you said you believe in. We are called to do more than we actually do and this is the year that I call you do do exactly what you’re called to. Let’s actually commit. Write that book. Apply for that EIN. Go for that promotion or that new job. Save that defined amount/percentage. Invest in your growth, don’t spend on your survival. Don’t be afraid to tell yourself that you’ll do it. You won’t disappoint yourself because, even in starting, you’ll be further than you are now.

 

Make making the jump a priority.

On the Hunt

Everyone thinks I’m living my best life. And I kind of am. I’m happy. I am building a business that I truly enjoy. I’m able to work on projects that I really care about. The seeds for greatness have been planted and I’m reaping the rewards. Super duper cool, right? Well, that’s one half of the story. The other half is that I miss benefits and stability and a regular freaking paycheck. Now, with that comes me having to manage my happiness. Sometimes, and let’s be honest, working for someone else sucks, regardless of who it is. But so does working for yourself. It’s all about perspective.

Had to preface the meat of the post with that paragraph to say that I am on the hunt. And the hunt is taxing. To everyone who is on it, don’t quit. Don’t doubt yourself. Touch up on the things that you don’t do well and enhance those things which you do exceptionally well. Not getting a particular role is a blessing. It opens up the opportunity for you to be able to take the role that will truly fit you. Keep grinding, keep pressing through, and, when you get that dream job, all the nonsense will be worth it.

 

Make keeping it real a priority.

Create 🤬 You’d Pay For

Today, I was at the Triangle’s dopest barbershop, Rock’s. Not only do I get a consistently phenomenal haircut from Jennifer but I also get a craft beer with every cut. Today, I chose a Founder’s IPA and, right under the can’s rim were the words, “BREWED FOR US.” I thought that was great. They brew the kind of beer they want to drink.

Some people say you should make products or provide services that your customers would like. While I agree with that, I also think that you should never create something that you, yourself, don’t consider dope enough to pay for. In the case of barbers, yes, there are people who want really weird cuts and stuff. But that’s ok. Just think of it this way: if I was that kind of person, would I pay me for this caliber of cut?

If it’s not quality, don’t do it. Every photo I give clients is a photograph I would love to put in my portfolio. Every résumé and cover letter I craft is one that I would provide an employer with myself.

Be proud enough of your work to never give anything that isn’t good enough for you. And, if they want something that you wouldn’t be proud to tell others you did, turn down the business. It’s not worth it.

 

Make creating 🤬 you like a priority.

People See It In You. Why Don’t You?

So many people see greatness in you. They see that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. Sure, there are people who don’t support but that’s life. The bottom line is, the person who needs to believe in you the most often doesn’t believe in you enough.

Trust that your passion will get you where you need to go. Today, I got a call from my brother to help him as he develops an internship program for his business. Lately, people have been contacting me for more and more creative gigs. While development consumes my days, my creative juices are always flowing. At night, I stay up creating content and editing photos.

I’m not saying quit your job to follow your creative aspirations… yet. I’m saying don’t let those things that pay your bills keep you from using your gifts. They are stepping stones. A means to an end. A seed of passion was placed into you for a reason. Water it so it can grow or it will die.

 

Make using your gifts a priority.

…And Be Comfortable With It

The first part of that title is “Charge What You’re Worth…”


Too often as new entrepreneurs, we want business and experience so much that we timidly charge the amount that we know our services are worth. (I know that goods can be equally difficult to price but factors such as inventory and shipping can help you stabilize that.) In my instance, as one of a heck of a lot of photographers, I started off with a sliding scale that really wasn’t a scale at all. Folks would ask me for a deal and I’d give it to them because I just wanted to shoot. And, as a hobbyist, that’s perfectly fine. As an entrepreneur, it’s not.


I have a former coworker who has a great eye but who doesn’t consider herself to be a photographer (I don’t know why and I know she’s reading this and could make shooting a GREAT additional source of income). She does favors for friends and family sometimes. Sometimes they thank her with a monetary gift and sometimes they don’t. The difference between the two of us is I invest in equipment to become better. I spend time daily practicing to become the best version of myself I can be.  So, when I do inform people that the cost of an hour shooting* is between $100 and $150, some are ok with it. Others aren’t. And that’s fine if it’s not in their budget right now. Everyone who wants to eat at Angus Barn can’t do it right now. But if they want to badly enough, they can put a bit away throughout the year and have a great holiday dinner. The same is true for the quality goods and services you offer. If they see value in it, they will find a way to pay for it.


Before I go, I’ll toss you another example: I have worked on résumés for hundreds of people. I started in college just proofreading them and then I began formatting them. To begin with, I was doing the work for free but, as I began to hone my skills and invest in more resources that would make me better, I knew it was time to start charging for professional development services. I let people know my price. Initially, I thought I was charging too much (mind you, at the time, I was charging half of what I do now) because people didn’t want to pay the amount. I found myself giving everyone discounts. Then, one day, I decided no more discounts. Sure, there are times of year (specifically at the end of a semester) when I may run a two-week special on professional development services but that’s more so marketing. If they want that first $35,000 or $45,000 or $150,000 job (yes, my work has opened all of those doors), it’s nothing to invest $100-$200. It’s all about what we’re willing to spend our money on.


Long story short, charge what you’re worth, be good at what you charge for, and someone will pay for it. Respect your time and others will respect it as well. As my guy Fabolous said, “let these (people) know your worth. Ain’t no discounts.”


*Price varies based on distance traveled and number of subjects in the photograph.




Make knowing your worth a priority.

Do You Really Need Kanye to Validate Me?

Don’t wait for someone else to validate your friend’s work to support him/her. Ask yourself, “If Kanye said my homie’s art was dope, would I start supporting?” If the answer is yes, don’t wait for ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole or anyone else to say it. Just support your people the same way you support ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole. Go to their shows. Rock their clothes. Hype them up on social media.

And, while money is ALWAYS nice for artists who pour our souls into our art forms, I get it: We don’t all have bread to spend on every little thing (I blame Sally Mae). But you can click a link. You can repost a piece of work or a web address. You can have their new track playing on your Instagram Story while you’re driving up I-95. You can go hard for your homie’s business like it’s yours every now and then. If you wouldn’t buy their stuff regardless of whether ‘Ye liked the work or not, that’s cool. But if (s)he is truly your friend, still repost because art is like food: everyone has different tastes.

In short, stop killing genuine art (and, ultimately, your friends’ livelihoods) with your apathy. It’s not 1984, it’s 2018. Supporting is as easy as tapping a touchscreen once or twice. If you don’t even do the bare minimum to support, don’t expect to get put on when your talented friends make it.

While we’re on the subject of support, check out my Patreon page and subscribe to get an exclusive look at my creative process and weekly pieces that won’t hit the public.

Make supporting your team a priority.