Hey there, content creator, photographer, videographer, artist, creative storyteller, blogger, influencer.
Whatever you identify as in the creative world, this letter is for you.
I assume that you clicked this link because you are curious about what I have to say. I have been penning this letter for a while now, at first it was a letter from me to me, but it’s time to open up the narrative and send it to you, whoever you are and wherever you are. I am sharing my words with you today to gently remind you that while this journey may seem hard, I promise you it is worth it. It’s not going to be comfortable, there are going to be ups, downs, and roundabouts thrown at you every single week, but stick to it, the path clears and you will be grateful for the learning curve.
Why am I writing this today? Well, I recently had a moment on LinkedIn with a fellow businesswoman, it shook me if I’m honest. She deemed my services unworthy because, and I quote ‘you don’t have enough LinkedIn followers to call yourself an expert in your field’
Woah. Hold up, rewind, imma stop you right there. My worth is not measured by how many followers I have or how many connections I make. We are so much more than this. It does NOT matter how many followers you have, nor does the number of followers you have result in success. You are not successful because 100k people follow you, your success lies deeper than numbers on a screen.
Can we start linking success to the little things? The getting up in the morning, the having consecutively great days, or the amount of time spent outside with the people you love. Lets channel energy into nurturing creative goodness, writing whatever and whenever you like or snapping candid photos on your iPhone and posting them.. Nourish those successes and see how truly great you feel about yourself.
I started this journey four years ago and I remember how alone I felt. I felt didn’t have enough followers to lean on the big creators for help, I thought they would laugh at me. I was trying to figure out how and what to do in this crazy online world while constantly checking behind me, making sure I was picking up my shit, doing things right, not offending anyone, trying to be creative, and also trying to create fresh content constantly… that complex sentence is hard to read so imagine what was going on in my little fried egg of a brain. It was hard, I had a few fuck up’s, nothing huge, mainly just a few collaborations I regret because they didn’t align with me, but I was doing it to prove I could do it, you know what I mean? and breathe.
The world of social media and the content creation world can be scary, it is one of those weird grey space areas, where everyone is winging it and we applaud & follow suit when something works for one human. This doesn’t mean that the same formula will work for you, there is no formula, there is no right or wrong and to be honest, you just got to dance to the beat of your drum. However, feeling alone sucks. It’s shit. You don’t know who to turn to and ask questions or where to get advice without paying thousands for a woman’s self-help mentoring group that quite frankly only appeals to one generation.
So, to all my comrades, my friends, my fellow creatives. This one is for you. Read on, absorb, believe in yourself, and remember one thing above all else. Seek the love for the finer details in life, seek your true creativity for it’s in that moment you will truly start living. You will look forward to every day and every moment in that day becomes just lovely.
From one creator who spent a hell of a long time working hard to iron out all the confusion, kerfuffle, and doubt in the industry, I leave you with this. Keep going you creative force, you are talented & you got this.
Know your worth
Your self-worth is an abundant amount of things. It can be linked to so much. But the most important message to remember about knowing your worth is stripping the conversation away from a monetary value and getting deeper.
Find your why
I will say it louder for those in the back. Finding your why in your creative practice and the online world will give you purpose. It will deepen your drive and it will spark that new realm of creative goodness just waiting to be unlocked. Be true to yourself always.
Know how valuable you are
In two forms. Your knowledge, your creativity, your practice and your time is valuable. You are valuable to your next client, to your peers, and yourself. But your work is also valuable, so charge for it. If someone is asking you to go to work for them… charge.
You don’t always have to post your best work
Creating new content regularly is an unsustainable, unattainable, ridiculous stress to put yourself under. It doesn’t matter if you dig into the archives and post from 2018, it will be fantastic. It doesn’t matter if you want to post an iPhone photo when everyone knows you shoot mirrorless. You do you, it’s your space, your wall, your feed, your home. Decorate however the hell you want.
Make time for passion projects
You don’t always need to be creating for clients. Remember why you picked up a camera in the first place, for the sheer love of being creative right? Introduce social media platforms and now all we do is shoot to pay the bills. Take time to ignite your former self, before the business. Shoot what you want, when you want or better still, put it down, and give yourself a break. Watch how that sparks more in your mind.
Treating Instagram as a highlight reel is toxic
Social media feeds are sugar-coated versions of our lives. There’s no way a person’s life is as exciting as their Instagram leads others to believe. We all do tasks that aren’t glamorous day to day that don’t make it to the gram. You know, eating, sleeping, working… We all compare ourselves to others sometimes, that’s nothing new but it’s toxic to think that it’s reality. Throw in the shit days, show the mundane, don’t be afraid to step away from a polished version of reality once in a while.
Kick imposter syndrome to the curb
Imposter Syndrome is that little shit that no one invited. Thoughts of ‘You’re not good enough for this’ Regularly frequent your mind and make you wonder what the hell you are doing on this path of god knows what. I hear you, been there, invited him in for a sleepover and swiftly kicked that shit out to the curb. My biggest advice, it’s all in your head, and guess what? If you take those same critical skills and start looking for the total opposite, you’re going to find a mountain of good shit.
Don’t even get me started on the comparison game
Don’t even go there. No one is better than you, there is no grading system, there is no right or wrong in the artistic world. Do what you want, when you want, period. Endlessly comparing ourselves to others’ life achievements is by far the biggest waste of your precious time. Yet in the competitive nature of our world, many of us still do this. Being happy and healthy is where it’s at, then life is exactly as it should be.
It’s okay to lose motivation and creativity
You DO NOT have to perform to 100% every single day. If you are doing this, then bottle that shit and start selling it because I am yet to meet a creative that thinks up new ideas every single day. It’s okay to have a down day, take a rest for your brain, put your tools down and recoup. You are human, not a creative robot. Quality over quantity will always be desirable in the creative world.
Work with good people doing good things
This is my mantra. I do not work or engage with potential clients or collaborations if they don’t apply the above. Good people doing good things is what I am about and it should resonate with you too. You are well within your rights to ask about a company’s ethics, sustainability awareness, and production procedures. Be sure to align with good people.
You don’t need to announce that you need a break
Ever seen on the gram when someone announces they need a break and will be back in a few weeks etc… Great, that’s cool if you chose to do this but please know that you don’t need to serve anybody but yourself. If you need a break, don’t want to post, are fed up with scrolling, or are simply too overwhelmed with what you are consuming, pop the screen down and step away. You don’t need to let the world know. You just need to focus on that precious mind of yours.
Kiss negative thoughts goodbye
It’s easy to doom scroll, I’ve been there. 26 cat videos deep and I’ve lost 5 hours of my life and the next thing I see is a bikini model being paid to flail around with manta rays in the Maldives, it made me feel like a right sack of soggy potatoes. In crept the negative thoughts, the imposter syndrome, you are not good enough chants. I put my screen away, strapped on my boots, and went for a good ol’ walk. No thank you negativity, we seriously don’t have time for you.
Nurture the audience you have, stop striving for bigger numbers
10K, 10K, 10K… everyone craves 10K. I get it, you get a swipey up feature, and apparently having over 10k followers validates you and your creativity. It absolutely does not. Stop this striving for more and nurture the audience you have. How will having <insert dream follower count here> actually benefit you? Will having 10,000 followers, for example, bring more business, more joy? Or is the motivation behind this target number nothing more than an ego boost? Pay attention to those who are already in your circle.
Focus on your creativity, in whatever form that is
This should probably be right at the top of this list. That’s why you are here right? You are a creative and I bet a bloody good one. Focus on your field, experiment with new hobbies, work in your creative goods however you see fit. This should be at the forefront of your mind every day.
Network in your community
Networking is the most powerful way to learn, grow, connect and flourish in the creative world. There is nothing better than linking up with someone who shares your passion and creating magic together or simply just chatting away and having someone to bounce ideas off. Most creatives are open to a little meet & or collaboration. Be sure to reach out, don’t be shy, we’ve all been in the same boat.
When the going gets tough
You have two options… you pull up your big girl pants and crack on or you stop, take a break, listen to your mind and body and come back stronger. I will always suggest the latter. It is proven that with regular breaks, shorter workdays, and weeks that you will be more productive. Don’t forget to schedule in time for you, away from screens, work, and anything stress-inducing… how good does that 11 am Pilates class sound?
There is no recipe to success
There is no secret recipe. There is no guidebook. There is no step-by-step guide to making it in the creative world. Success on both a personal and business level always, without fail, comes from hard work, patience, and a belief that you will succeed. Sometimes things go wrong and sometimes you nail it, what’s important is how we learn from both and move forward. You are not failing, you are on a forever learning curve.
If you need help, get help
No one can do this alone and one killer factor here is creative burnout. The moment you start to recognise the red flags for burnout, you must get the hell out and give yourself time. You need a strategy to find your way back to your passion for making art because you should never give up on what brings you joy. Reach out to your industry pals, ask for a hand, bounce some ideas or get a handle on outsourcing if the going gets tough.
Prioritise your mental health
You know I’m the biggest advocate for this subject. Mental health is a very important part of my life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I bravely took the step into securing stability for my mental health that I then realised I could use my story to help and educated others. As humans, we tend to idolise happiness, whatever that even means and in the process, we switch off to anything else that may be perceived as abnormal. We fear it, we shut it down, we tell others that it’s just a phase and they will get over it. However, this is wrong, this is not okay and this is the stigma I aim to diminish. Mental health is not a weakness. I know I’m not alone. You are not alone and I promise you we are all in this together. Real strength comes from within and it takes a warrior to embrace the complexity of what may be happening.
Let’s support each other in any way we can, always.
Sophie Piearcey – Photographer, creative storyteller, social media manager & your number one support gal.