Friday, September 18, 2015

When To Go Pro

I've been knitting non-stop for just over 20 years now, but I first learned a long time before then (like, 15 years...).  It wasn't until three years ago that I went "pro".  Facebook made it easy.

Why did I turn pro?  I knew I could use my many years of experience to provide top notch, high quality products.  I could create my own patterns, adapt other peoples patterns, and had a vast knowledge base, and library and stash, to work with.  I wasn't afraid to try something new, since I had a lot to back it up with.

Much of my early pro work was with photographers.  Photography has always been an interest of mine, and I loved using my Konica SLR, until the digital age took over and I couldn't keep up (financially, or learning-wise since I was hardly keeping up back then with just my kids!).  In the photography world now, there is a lot of talk about people thinking that just by getting a DSLR, they can become a photographer.  Just having a passion for taking photos should be enough, right?  You can check out a few websites and learn some things, create a free website and FB page, and Wham!  You're a pro.

This has created a huge divide between photography pros with years of education, business experience, equipment, talent, and intuition, and those that just picked up a camera and are presenting themselves as a pro.  Often, they will say they are "portfolio building" so their prices are really cheap compared to other pros.

When you hire an electrician, do you want a first year apprentice, or a fully licensed, union-backed electrician?  What if the beginner had a passion, and was just working for experience and the love of it, not for the money?  Would your dentist work just for the love of it and charge 1/10th what others do?

I saw a link on Facebook to another new photographer's website.  The girl says "Well my younger sister just started her own business for it and I'm just trying to help her get her name out there. I'll be attacking a link to her website. I've personally seen her photos and they turn out amazing. She's also very patient with kids as well if you want nice photos of your kids as well."

I took a look at the website.  I'm sorry, the photos are NOT amazing.  A picture of a dog, with the legs of a stool in the background, right behind him.  Baby pictures with drool.  A boy squinting into the sun.  And, just like the errors in the FB post, all through her website she uses "photo's" instead of photos.  

If you want to appear to be a pro, you need to make sure you present yourself that way, and present your best work.  And you have to know when the time is right to launch yourself as "pro".  Research others in your field, whatever it might be.  I look at other's knitting pages on FB, and I see lousy photos--out of focus, dark, busy, etc (some of my early photos were not the greatest, stylewise, but they were always in focus and showed the product).  I see spelling errors, grammar errors.  These things matter.  It might seem superficial, saying you have to have good spelling when you're "just a knitter" but it's all part of the package.  You have to be really good at self-examination and know whether or not you're ready to play in the big leagues.  Compare yourself to the pros.  Ask others for honest constructive criticism.  

And, most important, be willing and able to listen and acknowledge and learn from that constructive criticism.

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