Competing with fellow creatives

Adam Lehman wrote a great post yesterday wondering why there is so much needless competition amongst creatives:

"There’s an abundance. A massive amount of opportunity. There’s a big enough pie that we’re not even competing for slices.
Collaboration is the name of the game."

I always try to bring new people on, much as I wish more people would have done with me when I was starting out. If I can't (or don't want to) do a project, I always pass on at least one referral. 

It's frustrating when (and this happened recently) fellow creatives pull the rug out from under you by offering free work. I would have gladly brought this person on as a paid assistant or let them hang out at any shoot they wanted. Instead, they chose to be my competitor.

The client, while feeling great about their free video, ultimately was short changed in the quality of what they put out to represent their brand.

Will I ever work with this person or pass a referral off to them? Nope. I've made friends I can share work with, not competitors.

There is a time and a place to offer free work, and I know how tempting it can be to "build your portfolio." Don't do it. Anyone worth your time and your expertise should be willing to pay you. And not with exposure. If you're looking to build your portfolio, work on your own projects. Build your own website, make a short film, photograph some friends. Offering free work as a "professional" only brings down those around you, and people do notice. You're either pissing off other creatives or making businessmen and women salivate at the idea of taking advantage of your talents.

Last year I put together a list of freelancers I recommend in Columbus. Including videographers. Trust me, I get more work from being these people's friends and trusted ally than I would by trying to snipe their projects.

By the way, I should add a few more recommended people to that list. Johnny Hochstetler (video), John Cropper (photo/video), Cory Pampalone (video), and Brant Jones (video) are all great guys to know.

If you want to see more cool people in Columbus, check out my project Built in Cbus.

Andy Newman