A while back, I wrote about building affection among your clients, instead of just seeking attention. I talked about how the former is a much more valuable long term strategy to building your brand - and your business. What I didn’t talk about is that building affection isn’t the same as trying to please.
I think it’s appropriate to spend some time talking about it now. First, I think that if you spend most of your time trying to please everyone... well I think you know what happens. You end up pleasing no one, and you pretty much just end up being a pushover.
Second, I think there’s an important difference between making someone happy by meeting their needs, and trying to please them. The first is about what you can do for them. The second is about seeking their approval (which is again different than affection), and the impact that has on your ego.
There are a couple of general rules that apply almost all the time.
YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.
Quit trying. Focus on the people you work with, and the people in your life that matter. Focus on adding value to your family, and adding value to your clients. When you do work to “please” potential clients, at least be sure that they’re really the types of clients you want to work with. How does it help you or your business, if you’re spending all kinds of energy trying to please people you don’t even really want to work with?
Understanding the difference, and focusing your energy on the right people is the difference between growing a successful business - and frustrating your way out of business.
LIVE IN REALITY
There’s a huge temptation (and recent trend) of photographers trying really hard to please other photographers. There are popularity contests, self-promotion and a lot of focus on what other photographers think about us. I know of photographers who worry so much about what photographers will think when they blog - that it almost paralyzes them.
Who cares what other photographers think - really?! They are NOT your ideal client. And if they ARE your ideal client, fine - then you’ve already focused your business around them, so just keep focusing on your ideal client. For the rest of us - get over it :) Really, move on with your life. Remember the people who actually pay you money to take their photographs. Focus on them.
Sure, community is valuable. Sure, referrals sometimes come from photographers. That’s great, and building relationships with photographers is helpful - but the moment you start living in “photographer-validation” world, you lose track of reality.
At the same time, there is a group of people that have apparently made it their mission to seek out followers of photographer by bashing other photographers with a following. I’d argue that these individuals are no more living in reality than anyone else.
APPROVAL IS OVERRATED.
It can drive us to really unhealthy places. It can drive us to be someone we’re not - and let’s face it, we’ll never be very good at being someone else. The pursuit of approval is dangerous, and it robs us of the energy we could be using to become the artist - and businessperson - we really should be.
Of course I care about what other people think. I care about what my family thinks of me - it motivates me to be a better husband and father. I care about what my clients think about me - it helps me evaluate whether or not I’ve done everything I can do exceed their expectations. I care about what my friends think.
It’s natural to care about what people think, but when it starts driving your thoughts and behavior, it’s unhealthy. I gave up worrying about what other photographers think about me a while ago. I care whether or not this blog is helpful, but if it’s not, then I assume that you’ll just stop reading it - no harm done.
I've intentionally been spending less time on Twitter lately. Most of my twitter friends and followers are Photographers, and though I love many of them - the virtual can often take over our real lives. I'd rather be investing in my family, my business, my clients, my friends, and the people who really matter to me.
I made it a goal to post on this blog every day, but that wasn't realistic for me. I want to be helpful to all of you - and that's still a priority, but I also want to be a good dad. Sorry, being a dad is a higher priority! (actually, I'm not sorry at all). It amazes me the time some people have to either spend in the virtual world, especially when that time is spent worrying so much about what other people are doing. I'd rather do something productive.