Keeping it Real – Dealing with Local Competetion – Kansas City Dog & Pet Photography

I have been doing alot of soul searching lately and have decided to write a new installment I will periodically post called “Keeping it Real.”  I was inspired lately by one Texan photographer who does just that  – keeps it real. Spanki Mills has over 10,000 followers on her Facebook page, TONS of sponsors and she is just downright cool. For someone this busy, it might surprise you that she immediately responded to my Facebook posts on her page. She helped me with some advice about dealing with competitors in the business. So if you are in the same situation, I thought you might find this valuable information as well.

Spanki posted on her blog in the past about “being nice.”   She says ” This is NO race. It is NOT a competition. You are an ARTIST, no one can or ever will be YOU…and it is okay to be YOU.  So join us. BE NICE.”

I think I am going to print out the above quote and paste around my office to remind me of these simple but true words. Spanki also personally wrote me an email with her perspective on dealing with competition.  She has dealt with the same issues of coping with competitors in her region, but says the minute she hid all her competition and quit paying attention to them – the more she grew, succeeded and felt content.  “Do not worry about what they are doing and what they are charging. Just do your best, offer the best service, give an experience (people pay for pampering) and rock your thing!” she says.

Lets be real here – these words of advice are easier said than done.  I am a huge fan of networking with artists all around the country – but when it comes to others in the industry in my exact location – it’s not exactly the same. I do think you should be aware of your competition but not dwell on it.  A good friend told me that “what you focus on grows.”  – so remember to focus on yourself and grow as an artist without being consumed with trying to compete with others.

Lately I have struggled with the issue of local competition because many new pet photographers have been popping up in my area since I began in Kansas City over 3 years ago – I should take this as a compliment that others are aspiring to do this -  but since I am keeping it real – the truth is that I can be jealous and controlling – and I have a 9-5 day job that sucks the life out of me on a daily basis.   Someday my dream is to be a pet photographer full time and never have to worry about the corporate world again, but in the meantime, remember your passion and follow your heart and keep going even when you feel discouraged. You will never know what you can achieve unless you try.  One of my favorite quotes since I was young was this one: “You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.” – Sidney A. Friedman

And of course this post was Remington Schnauzer approved!

Devri - Jen, YOU are the absolute best. Why do you think we drive over 3 hours to get our photos taken by you? No matter the price, no matter the distance. YOU are the one we chose to give us the most wonderful lasting memories of our family. Let the competitors come – YOU are the best choice! Love you!

Beth Roberts - Jen,

Interesting subject, especially for anyone that relies on their own personal business. I’ve been with Pampered Chef for 17 years and believe me when I say, I’ve had the same struggles that you have.

There are always going to be people that are better than we are, cheaper than we are and friends and family that won’t even support us. In 17 years my sister has never had a show for me. She’s also never done a show for any other type of home show, but that is the point that I used to miss. I took it personally!

One thing I’ve learned is that I just have to be the best I can be and take care of my hosts and customers better than anyone else will. I just had to quit worrying about what everyone else was doing and just do what I did best.

Your pictures are wonderful and they do speak for themselves. Don’t beat yourself up! I’ve learned I really don’t have to be the “best” and for an overachiever, that’s a hard pill to swallow. I had to realize that my business is exactly that, my business. Yes, I could have higher sales, etc but if I did, I couldn’t have it on my terms. That’s the beauty about my job.

Your business will grow! Just keep doing what you’re doing (and don’t forget the “free” stuff, too). I have done a lot of giving back and I think people love that. I know you do lots of volunteer work and that will pay off in multiple ways in the future!

My best wishes always!

Beth

Mandy - You hit the nail on the head. This is true in all artistic fields. I hardly ever look at other artists that sculpt anymore because I would find myself dwelling on how similar certain pieces were to mine and it would eat me up. It’s so freeing not even paying attention anymore. Keep up the beautiful photography, you do have a gift!

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