More and more I am seeing new face painters crop up on the scene, and judging by conversations in some groups I am a member of, this is pretty much universal.
The natural reaction might be that these new painters are going to somehow steal my business – and indeed, there have been examples of undercutting prices, and even shadier methods to lure potential clients away. We should exterminate these threats immediately right? Erm… NO.
My actual reaction is that these people are NOT my competition and I wish them the best of luck in their business endeavors. You see, I LOVE that face and body painting is becoming more mainstream. Standards are being set higher than ever before, and newbies are relatively quick to catch onto these standards by way of social media interaction with other painters.
Aye, I can see the eyerolling now – this chick is naive to think people aren’t muscling in on her business. Not at all – here is how I logically break this down – really, its just simple maths.
First of all – I have to accept that these people are here on the scene, they have made a committment to building a business, and without hiring a hitman (which I promise I’ve only half-considered ONE TIME) there is nothing I can do about it. So I have to make peace otherwise the bitterness would eat me up from the inside out.
Then, I look down and count how many pairs of hands I have. For the record – I only have one pair of hands, unfortunately by way of my unprecedented human conception and birth, I am not an alien, nor am I a reincarnated Hindu God.
I’ve done my research, too. I thought it might be quite handy to find out the number of people who live in my vicinity that could potentially require my services. In my home town ALONE – not including outreach areas that I can also travel to, there are around 300,000 people. I’ll grant you not ALL of them will be interested in face painting or body painting, but even just taking 10% of that number leaves me with 30,000 people. Now what on earth am I going to do with that amount of people?
Most of my childrens party bookings come on weekends, and nearly ALL of those are requests for the same time slot (1-3pm or 2-4pm are the most popular). So lets just say I have 2 bookings a weekend for every weekend of the year.. that is 52 weeks x 2 = 104 clients I need. Some of those might even be repeat clients for the next year.
Now lets think of ways I can increase my sales through the week – maybe looking at corporate clients, body painting for adults, bump painting etc. The point is, even if I have 365 days of the year solidly booked with 2 clients per day (unlikely but not impossible depending upon your services and marketing skills, but come on, I want a day off SOMETIME) – that is 730 clients. What the hell am I going to do with the remaining 29,270 potentials?
The whole purpose of this little maths lesson is to illustrate a very important point – there is MORE than enough work to go around!
YOU have to be the one to go out and get it!
Now, I’ll grant you, you may live in a small town and it could get a little ‘cosy’ if another painter suddenly opens up shop next door. In order to get regular, reliable work in this gig you have to be willing to travel. This is why I will make no apologies to other painters who see me as a threat – I won’t apologize for them not being ambitious enough to put themselves into the public eye, and I would even encourage them to do so! Clients aren’t just going to come knocking on your door without prior invitation so you have to be prepared to put yourself out there, which brings me to my next point…
I always say that if you don’t promote yourself, then who will? Please don’t immediately jump to conclusions that because another painter is advertising her/himself everywhere that you also advertise, that they are somehow muscling in on your business, or that they think they are better than you. It is just good business sense to promote yourself at any given opportunity so make sure you do the same!!
The fact is that not only is there enough business to go around for those smart enough and confident enough to reach for it, your work will also speak for itself. Instead of comparing yourself to those other local painters, concentrate on your own work, branding and marketing strategies and that will pay off. It will also release the pressure immensely. You simply cannot compare yourself to others in a sustainable way. You are never going to be that person – there is noone else like YOU in the world, so celebrate that fact and do your own thing! You’ll feel better, promise.
I am proud to be a member of a great Facebook group of other local painters in my area. Its a place for us to vent, share tips, have a bit of a chat and also share jobs that we can’t do because we have another commitment. Mutual respect and generosity goes a long way – its important not to feel so threatened by other painters to the point where you might actually be missing out on business!
If you don’t have a local group on social media for your area – why not create your own? You can find out what the going rate is so you’re not inadvertently stepping on any toes(or possibly ripping yourself off), and you may even get access to jobs that you wouldn’t have before.
If there are others in the industry who have been doing this longer than you, don’t take this as an automatic sign that they have some kind of superiority complex. More often than not, folks are more than willing to share their experiences which can be valuable learning opportunities. The trick is, not to be so stubborn in seeing these other painters as competition, that you could miss out on learning to avoid the mistakes these painters have already made. You may even find some helpful troubleshooting tips for problem areas you are currently struggling with. Theres no shame in not knowing EVERYTHING. No one does, you know.
Thats not to say there is NO value in competition. Friendly competitiveness can effectively motivate us to do better. Its when that competitive vibe becomes menacing or starts to take over that it becomes a problem, and a hinderance to our business goals.
If we all worked on changing our perspectives, focussed on our own goals without feeling instantly suspicious of other business owners I think we would all be a lot happier for it.
If you are trying to do better JUST to one-up your imaginary ‘competition’ in a race that doesn’t exist, I can pretty much guarantee you are not going to get as much job satisfaction as you absolutely could be getting. If you instead focus on doing something for YOU, with integrity, grace and of course a passion that shines through in the form of amazing skills (that improve as time goes on) then you are going to feel so much more accomplished. Once you stop comparing yourself to what others are doing, to the extent of it taking over your time with weird ‘cyberstalking’ tendencies – you open up a whole world of possibilities.
If it transpires that someone else IS stealing your work, luring away your clients, then STILL the responsibility lies at your door. If you are more proactive, dedicate the time to improving your craft, marketing and securing that business then you will have absolutely nothing to worry about. Of course its not fair! What is? Its just another opportunity to dig your heels in and think up some innovative ways to stand out from the crowd.
I realise that not everyone will agree with my point of view – that’s ok! You don’t have to! This is just my opinion and I hope it has perhaps given some food for thought with people worrying about how they are going to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Maybe more focus needs to be placed upon not ripping each other to bits, and instead building each other up, if not directly, then indirectly by simply wishing the best for our peers.
As a final note I want to say on record that there is absolutely NO excuse for ‘stealing’ someone elses work, photos, branding or outright copying their ideas to promote yourself. Do your own thing – its more authentic and more sustainable in the long run!
I wish YOU the best in your endeavors. I know that with hard work and commitment anything is possible!
Thanks for reading!