You may have noticed that I’m a big believer in sharing.
Sharing knowledge, sharing support, sharing ideas, sharing advice… In fact, it’d be difficult to blog if I was anti-sharing.
So many people say to me when I put a new post up, ‘Sophie, why are you giving away all your secrets?’ My Dad used to say it all the time.
And to me, that’s madness. Why on earth wouldn’t I??
When I first started in equine photography, I remember wishing that there was a resource for me to learn from. A blog that taught equine photographers, or even just business owners within the equine industry, how to get more from their businesses.
Whilst there are a few more of these resources around now, there didn’t seem to be hardly any when I began. And it was then that I vowed that when I’d learned something, when I’d made a mistake that I could advise others to avoid, I’d always share that knowledge.
It was then that I decided to start my blog, to share every part of my journey. The good and the bad.
In my opinion, we all have to work in this industry, there is lots of work to go around and it just makes the industry as a whole a much nicer place to be if we are all sharing and supportive. Nobody ever became poor by giving, people!
I encountered a few very stroppy, very cliquey people when I first started. And it was intimidating for a young girl, fresh out of the starting blocks, trying to find her place. So I’ve always made a point to always encourage others and to never make anybody feel like they weren’t welcome in this world.
And here’s the thing with sharing your ‘secrets’…
You can tell somebody how to do something, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it like you will. Or even that they’ll do it well.
That sounds counter-productive, but the point is, people have this misguided idea that as soon as they tell people how they do things, they’ll all immediately become experts and steal all the work.
Honestly! Think about that!! Were you an expert when you first started? My guess is that it took you years to perfect your craft. To hone your skills and your style. To build your client base, your brand and your reputation.
And even then… if these people that are reading your advice do spend years practising, firstly, they aren’t YOU, so they won’t do things exactly the way you do things, and secondly, if they’ve spent years practising, then they have just as much right to a place in this industry as any body else does.
But here’s the truth of it… Sharing your ‘secrets’ makes YOU the expert. When people think of influencers and experts in your chosen field, if you are always blogging and teaching others how to do things, then you will be in the forefront of people’s minds. This leads to more credibility, more followers and ultimately more bookings and sales!
There are things that I won’t share. And I do think you need to decide exactly what features make you stand out and what you want to keep under your hat. But the majority of details aren’t going to make your reader a threat to your business overnight. Trust me on that!
We spend so much effort and energy teaching children that they can do and be anything they want to, when they grow up. And then we spend all of our time guarding our ‘secrets’ and trying to stop anybody else from succeeding and becoming our competition.
Well guess what? Competition is part of life. You can’t avoid it. And it’s healthy!
And if you’re that worried about a little competition, then maybe you need to up your game!
I am friends with a good number of other equine photographers, both in this country and all over the world. And I’m a part of lots of groups that have popped up on Facebook over the past few years, both photography related and equine related, which are just invaluable and so inspiring.
I absolutely love learning from/with these people, meeting them at events, supporting one another. I regularly recommend other photographers if I am too expensive/cheap/far afield/busy to serve a potential client and I don’t see any reason not to.
So, my advice, for this week’s FYI Friday is not to be afraid to share. Share the things you’ve learnt, the things that went well for you, the things you’ve done wrong and the lessons that came with those mistakes.
Support others in this industry, make friends, be helpful and encouraging. It will take you a long way!
And in the interest of sharing, what’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? Answer in the comments below.