It’s interesting, this concept of working together. On this very blog I’ve advised you to both break up with Facebook, but also keep your support system around you. It can be a really slippery slope though -one minute your caking bestie is, well, your caking bestie…and the next minute they are your sworn enemy because you disagree on that whole copyright thing. This industry is full of women (and women are prone to drama), and it’s also a very emotional, artistic, personal sort of medium that we work in. Daily, I talk to my colleagues, all of whom say that this industry has become an entirely crazy, unprofessional, bonkers place to hang out in. I talk to people all the time who say that they are ttthhiiisss close to just chucking it all in because it’s not worth the headache. There are a lot of dramas happening out there, from arguments over what brand of fondant to use to people genuinely turning into mud-slinging back-stabbing she-wolves. I’ve run into that with this blog, too. I’ve literally had people say they won’t tell people about this blog because they don’t want “those bitches to get ahead.” (Okay so that’s vaguely flattering to me, but not at all what the purpose of this blog is.)
I’m going to call bullshit on ALL of that.
I firmly believe that this is a community that needs to stick together, work together, lift one another up and educate one another.
WE ALREADY DO THIS.
We record, produce and create YouTube videos and written or photo tutorials because we believe in sharing and we want to learn from one another.
We write, edit, and publish blog posts and informative status updates because we believe in sharing and we also want to learn from one another.
We participate in sharing days, link love days and we re-gram photos because we believe in sharing and we also want to learn from one another.
We share links, shout out to friends, and tag one another in social media because we believe in sharing and we also want to learn from one another.
However, we also do crazy, crazy things like complain bitterly that others are undercharging, and agree to work for free out of fear of losing opportunities for PR, refuse to tell people that we went to a cool business class (ANY of them, not just mine), steal photos and claim them as our own, go to a class and then go on to teach the same exact cake, be unwilling to pay for things then complain when people don’t pay us and so on and so forth. It’s RIDICULOUS.
Why do we do that stuff? Mostly because we forget one thing: we’re in this together.
YES, we’re all struggling to differentiate ourselves in this crowded market.
YES, the new kids on the block are undercharging and undercutting us.
YES, being in business is tough as global economies get tough.
YES, there is always someone out there who will do it better, cheaper or faster than you will.
YES, being a small business owner is damn hard work.
YES, we are afraid that our competitors will take work away from us and therefore we won’t be successful.
YES, we are afraid that if we say no to something which is unreasonable, there will be a line of people behind us willing to say yes.
Even with all of that, I think working together to create a happier, healthier culture in the industry will only be good in the long run. As a team we can educate customers, we can raise the bar on our skill levels, and we can bring more professionalism to the industry as a whole. We need to lift one another up, not tear one another down. Rather than say, “That stupid lady is only charging $30, no wonder I can’t make a living,” you should call that woman up or email her, introduce yourself and politely say, “I used to undercharge, too -but then I read this article/went to a class/heard someone speak/had a rude awakening and I realised that undercharging wasn’t doing me any good. You might find it interesting, too.” Maybe she’ll listen. Maybe she won’t…but you’ve got to be brave enough to at least try.
We’re in this together. It’s our choice if we see that togetherness as a threat or as an asset.
I think it’s time to start changing the culture of this industry.
Away from fear, and towards cooperation.
Are you with me?