Supporting our creative friends can be difficult. As much as we'd all love to, it's not necessarily feasible to buy all of their work(s). I've been in that position so many times before where a friend has released something amazing they've created and I really want to get it - but I can't afford to. It can make you feel like a crap friend, and you struggle to think of how you can help them or support them, especially if the financial aspect of supporting their careers isn't where you're at at that moment. Or, it could be the fact that you have no need for what they're creating and don't want to buy something you don't need/want.
However, there are loads of other ways you can support your creative friends/family members that are really helpful without spending a single penny. All they cost is a little bit of your time and energy. Here are 5 ways that you can support your creative friends/family for FREE.
1) Engage with their social media
It's 2022, so there's around a 99.9999999999999999% chance that they have social media platforms where they share their creativity. Whether it's a Facebook page or profile, Instagram page, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, their social media is a major part of how they get themselves out there in the public realm.
Most of us know that each social media platform uses algorithms to determine which posts are placed onto peoples timelines. While these algorithms change constantly, one key component to the success of a social media page is engagement. Engagement doesn't just mean 'likes', it also means comments, shares and (on Facebook) reactions. How much engagement a post gets will determine how many more (or fewer) people it will push the new posts out to in the future. Liking the page is a great way to start, but actually engaging with their content is much more helpful. Taking 5-20 seconds to react and/or leave a comment allows these social media platforms to know that they're creating good and engaging content.
Engagement doesn't only let your friend know that you're there, in their corner. But, by actively participating in their social media - you will genuinely be helping push them out to more and more people organically.
2) Recommend them whenever you hear opportunities
Most creatives, even in the world of social media get much of their business and work through 'word of mouth'. No matter how much of an online presence they have, there are very few (if any) better forms of promotion than 'word of mouth'. We trust our friends and more often than not if we need something and a friend tells us where to go then we'll - at the bare minimum - check it out.
Knowing that, making sure you recommend your friend at each opportunity is a great way of showing your friend that you believe in them and want them to succeed. The fact that you're willing to stake (even if it's just a little bit of) your reputation on them can fill them with confidence. It can often turn into your friend making money as well through someone buying their products or using their services.
3) Be understanding
Even before the pandemic, creatives led hectic lives. Often, they're trying to do a million things at once and trying to juggle between them all. It's tough and adding a social life into it all is another thing on top of it all. Speaking from experience of being on both sides of it over the years, it's not easy to get everything aligned and sometimes, things like social occasions have to be knocked on the head, whether it's because they don't have the time or whether it's because once those creative juices get going - they can be impossible to stop. Adding a pandemic into the mix is a recipe for complete and utter chaos.
Having that understanding that when social occasions get cancelled or they seem to be somewhere else when you're together is really helpful. Relieve them of some of that pressure. They're trying their hardest to still be there and be seen, whilst also trying to juggle a quite erratic life. They're probably struggling. Let them know it's ok and that there's no pressure to make things happen.
I don't mean to assume that all creatives are struggling or can't keep on top of their lives. For the most part, they can. But, the life of a creative can often be a whirlwind and rather than getting upset with them, being there and understanding that they're doing their best just helps put them at ease. As I said, this all comes from my own experience as a creative and my experiences of dealing with creative friends too.
4) Check up on them once in a while
As mentioned above, creative lives are often a whirlwind. You may not be their first thought and they can get lost in the whole process. Send them a text, a message or try and give them a call to see how they're getting on. Ask them if they need to rant, or if they need a shoulder to cry on or, if things are going well - do they want to share their thoughts and feelings on it all.
You don't have to go above and beyond. I'm not saying you need to turn up at their front door with gifts and flowers. But a message or a call to let them know you're there, again can take some edge off life and remind them that they have someone in their corner.
5) Share their website/social media etc.
Engaging directly with their social media is brilliant and as mentioned; actually helps more than you realise. However, going that one step further and sharing their content onto your pages, to your friends and letting them know that you're willing to put your name to their talent is a massive boost for creative people.
It's helpful for creatives to know that you believe in them and want to spread their message and skills to your own audience of friends and family.
Alex McCann from Altrincham HQ added this on Twitter:
Supporting your friends and family doesn't have to be an expensive ordeal but being there for them as a friend and putting in a little bit of effort to see them succeed is something that costs nothing more than a little bit of your time. It may not directly put money into their bank accounts but it goes a really long way to ensuring that they know they have someone that believes in them and wants them to be successful.
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