How to Foster Community in Your Business

Eleanor R.

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When I first started in this industry, it honestly wasn’t the most welcoming or nicest place to be. There was a competitive spirit underlying every social interaction. It felt like everyone was looking out for themselves—and, if I wanted to succeed, I had to find my own way. The competition and cut-throat attitude of my peers just didn’t sit right with me… and it wasn’t benefitting my photography business.

Luckily, the industry has changed a lot. Thanks to people like Natalie Franke (founder of The Rising Tide Society), more people in our creative industry are embracing the “community over competition” mindset.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

I couldn’t agree more with this philosophy! We uplift our industry when we rise together. Community is more beneficial to our businesses and our hearts than competition ever could be. 


But aren’t you naturally competing in your market? Well, sure. There may be some direct competition… but it’s probably much less aggressive than you’d think. Photography is a saturated market. But, believe it or not, there are plenty of clients to go around.

Creative services like photography are SO subjective. My style and personality are probably different from yours—and that’s a good thing! I wholeheartedly believe our differences are worth celebrating. And if a client seems like a better fit for your style than mine, I would rather refer that client to you than try to book a client who isn’t really a good fit for me. I would much rather refer that client to someone they will love!

Guess what? It might not be me! And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. It leaves my schedule open for a client who embraces my aesthetic and clicks with my personality… and it supports your income with a client who is going to have a happy experience working with you. Win – win – win.

Beyond that, community is good for you. Working as a creative entrepreneur can be lonely enough as is. Maybe you work from home full-time, or you’re balancing a side hustle with caring for a family (and you just need a glass of wine and some adult conversation every once in awhile!). Whatever your situation may be, it’s important to connect with others—to have someone you can talk to. You deserve a community that will celebrate your wins and walk with you through the lows. You should have someone you can call and rant to (we all have that client every once in awhile); you should have peers who can give you advice and help support your business.

We’re better together. 

So, where can you start? I’ve got a few easy places to begin fostering a sense of community within your business! Check out the list below, and commit to one of these items this week. (P.S.—if you’re nervous to put yourself out there, you can always shoot me a DM! I’m happy to connect on social and support you however I can!)

ONLINE

  • Join a Community Facebook Group. Whether you join a small local creative community or a huge industry group, this can be a great way to keep tabs on the industry and start to connect with people who inspire you!
  • Engage with someone’s stories on Instagram. Respond to a story and let someone know that you admire their work and are glad to connect. Trust me, you’ll make their day!
  • Remember: a follow or a like doesn’t cost you anything. Why not double-tap? It doesn’t cost a thing, and it helps support a fellow entrepreneur’s business. There’s no need to be stingy with your likes… they only help support your community!
  • Give someone a shout-out. Is there someone you love following? Or someone who’s just killin’ it in business lately? Give them a quick shout out on your Instagram stories to let them know their talent is appreciated.

IN PERSON

Social media is amazing. Let’s be real about that. But there’s something about an in-person connection that we just can’t replicate through screens. It is so important to put yourself out there and connect with other creatives in real life. Get started with a few of these tips!

  • Ask someone to grab coffee. Not a “Can I pick your brain” kind of coffee… just a genuine “Let’s get to know each other” kind of coffee. I know it can seem awkward to email a stranger for a coffee date, but in my experience most people are happy for the opportunity to connect! And the worst they can say is no. ????
  • Attend TuesdaysTogether. TuesdaysTogether is the local chapter of The Rising Tide Society, and it is UH-MAZING. I might be a little biased (I’m a leader of the Dallas group!), but this little group is such a great place for you to find community, conversation, and guidance. You’ll also meet plenty of new people in a laid back setting—growing your networking circle with like-minded creatives. There are local groups all across the country, so find the one nearest you and pop into a meetup sometime soon!
  • Attend a Conference or Retreat. There is no better way to foster community (even across state lines)! Some of my best friends all across the country are people I’ve met at various conferences and retreats. We keep in touch via text, Skype, and – of course – the next conference we all plan to attend together! It’s especially nice to have friends who really are not competing for the same clients in your area; these friends can be a great resource if you need a listening ear from someone who isn’t in your market. Plus, you can learn a lot from them and how they operate in a completely different demographic.

P.S… if you’re hoping to join a community-minded workshop or retreat soon, be sure to check out my upcoming education opportunities! The Reset Conference for photographers is happening in March (grab your seat here!), and The Next Level Retreat (Round 3) is happening in September for advanced creatives.

What do you think? Can you embrace the Community Over Competition mindset? I promise it’ll be so much better for your business and your heart if you do. Let’s build this creative community together, one step at a time.

Take your first step to foster community today—connect with someone new on Instagram, or set up a coffee date with a new friend. Be sure to report back! Good luck!

Laylee Emadi is a photographer and educator with a heart for serving others. She believes in people over profit—always. Since she started her business, Laylee has served the creative industry with authentic encouragement, tell-it-like-it-is honesty, and a wide-open heart. She’s a connector, a cat mom, and a bloody mary enthusiast who can’t wait to get better acquainted over coffee or cocktails with you! You can follow along with Laylee online on Instagram & Facebook.

Eleanor R.
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