“I’m doing everything to get noticed, but it’s not working,” said photographer Jason Teale to creative guru Chase Jarvis. Then Jarvis gave Jason a brutally honest schooling on the reality of making it as a creative in the world today.
In short, his advice was similar to what we’ve all heard before. Work hard. Be patient. Master your craft. The thing that made it interesting though for me is that not only have Jason and I been great friends for years, we are both working our way along the same photopreneur path.
We have mutual friends that have built successful careers in the photography space. We’ve both bought into the follow-your-passion-build-it-and-they-will-come mentality of our time. We follow the same gurus: Gary V., Tim Ferriss, Chase Jarvis. We were even in a mastermind group together!
And we’ve both been working hard for a long time now. Jason has been blogging consistently since as far back as I can remember, something Chase didn’t realize.
In fact, here’s an interview I did years ago on Jason’s blog about How I Won The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
You’re Ready, Do Your Thing
Although I appreciated the advice Chase gave, and Jason for putting himself out there, I disagree with some of what Chase said. Dabbling does get you somewhere.
Trying a bunch of different things is exactly how you should start! Even Austin Kleon, a guest on Chase’s show and author of Steal Like an Artist, advises, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”
Sooner or later, yes, you need to hone in on one skill. It’s just that “sooner or later” is different for everyone. It may be 1 month or 1 year or more before you find your path, and it may not end up where you want it to go.
Success Addiction Predilection
I sometimes struggle with success – or lack of it. I feel like I should have more followers, be making more money, or my photos liked by more people. It’s never enough.
Our culture has us believe that success is our birthright, and worse, it’s just around the corner, if only we just try a little harder, or buy some product to help get us there (yes Chase, we bought Lewis Howes’ How to Run an Online Business from your CreativeLive site for $197)!
And then there’s that popular phrase about money that wealthy people like to say: money is a gauge of how much you contribute to society. What a load of brainwashing garbage.
Gandhi wasn’t a tycoon, neither was Martin Luther King. How about Ms. Smith, my elementary school teacher? She taught me to read. That’s worth something, isn’t it? And then there are those with loads of cash who have brought society backwards.
Is the amount of money you earn in photography equivalent to your contribution to the craft or society? No. And your worth is not indicative of your follower count either. What matters is artistic integrity.
I Wanted To Play In The NBA
When I was young my dream was to play in the NBA. I soon realized I’d never be the next Jordan. I could barely even dunk even though I’m the same height as him. So I lowered my expectations. I forgot the NBA and set my sights on playing professionally in Europe. Then after playing basketball my first year in college I quit.
I never stopped playing though. Instead of trying to play as a professional I play for fun. Basketball has and continues to be one of the most rewarding things in my life.
So how does this relate to photography? Whenever I get stressed about success or lack of it, I try to remind myself that I’m right where I should be.
I don’t have to be the next big thing. I just have to be me, not some success-hacking-cyborg. Of course I still dream big. But I’m going to enjoy the ride, wherever photography takes me.
From Dabbling to 1,000 Students
A few days ago Griffin Stewart, one of the founders of the 5 Day Deal, wrote about Jason and the release of one of his courses. To paraphrase Griffin’s words:
. . .
1 year ago today my friend Jason launched his first course ever. It covered all his tips and tricks for Cinemagraph Pro [not affiliate] and was going to be promoted to a large following that would have made it a success from day one. Sadly, his course received little traffic and had 0 sales.
Thankfully, Jason worked hard and some other companies picked it up and promoted it to make a few dozen sales at launch.
Just 8 days ago we finished having the honor of including it in our video bundle which has resulted in more than 1,000+ registrants from paid customers of 5DayDeal for the course.
I think this is one of so many great examples of how even when things don’t initially work out as expected or desired, the ability to keep going and keep hustling can help payoff in building your business, brand and following.
It is harder and harder to stand out these days, but if you are willing to put in the time, effort and care, you can do it and, if you do not give up, sooner or later, people will notice and, if your work resonates with them, you can build a loyal following that will support you in return.
. . .
Do you ever feel like your trying to make it work but it doesn’t? How do you deal with it? Share in the comments below. I’ll reply…