Socially Connected Creatives Make More Money, Have More Success

Hey there Mr./Ms. Creative. How are your social skills?

Think you can get by on raw talent? Think your agent, rep, manager or business partner is going to take care of that fluffy customer-facing stuff so you can be a reclusive artist, camera-hider-behinder? Think again. Like it or not, the feeling you’ve been feeling all along is becoming more pronounced. Call it unfair, call it fake, call it whatever you want, but as the world becomes more connected socially, the bias toward socially connected individuals and groups is continuing to serve out the prophecy…social skillz help pay the billz.

While geographic location clearly means a lot for earning more, growing faster, and reaping the rewards of a larger network–ie. being a professional creative located in LA, NYC, London, etc–, recent article in The Atlantic by Richard Florida (author of Rise of the Creative Class) states in no uncertain terms that you’d be way better off having more than just technical skills:

Highly developed social skills … including persuasion, social perceptiveness, the capacity to bring the right people together on a project, the ability to help develop other people, and a keen sense of empathy…are quintessential leadership skills needed to innovate, mobilize resources, build effective organizations, and launch new firms. They are highly complementary to analytic skills [read: your technical abilities as a photographer]…and indeed, the very highest-paying jobs usually require exceptional skill in both realms.

So are you prepared to get a lot more social and heighten your chances at success?

33 Responses to Socially Connected Creatives Make More Money, Have More Success

  1. Gary September 20, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Love it. Thanks Chase, as always, for challenging and sharing.

  2. Diego September 20, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Here’s a start to a more social me : Whatttupp Chase and the team, all the way from Asia – the Philippine Islands! Your blog and photos are awesome and most inspiring!

  3. Tunde September 20, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Hello Chase,
    Thank you for the push (so to speak). I am actually in the process of becoming more social :). At the moment, it seems like an extremely daunting task, but I am taking the first step today. I will worry about tomorrow … tomorrow.
    Thanks again!

  4. Arron September 20, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Another great post Chase. I just recently got into photography (little over a year ago) and am still having trouble figuring out what exactly I love to photograph. Due to the fact I am in the USAF I find it hard to find time to set up a photo shoot. It has been hard for me to find anyone to even shoot. Due to these restrictions I had no choice but to turn toward social media to find someone. In my search I came across a small local Parkour group to photograph. One flash and available light I cannot wait to see what I can produce. I am a big believer in networking however, I have always been to scared to put myself out there. Thanks to this and previous post of your I am excited about this and other projects that come do to networking.


  5. Moritz September 20, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Ok, let’s be more social… On my way for some drinks now ;) and if you want to be more social follow my blog @ or @twitter mostphotography.
    Good week everyone. Moritz

  6. Philippe September 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    So true, an open minded (web- & offline) socially active creative just reaches out more naturally. And I think this can even easily beat the advantage of being in one of the metropoles you mentioned (or not). All skillsets are key!

  7. Tom Wear September 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Somewhat indirectly, this also points out why a traditional liberal-arts college education still has value. (Chase, you were a philosophy major as I recall?) Communication skills and big-picture thought, as well as social and networking skills are picked up along the way at a good college.
    This is certainly not to negate the value of technical training, nor to suggest the traditional college route is necessarily the only way (obviously it’s not), but it does provide a grounding in these “soft” skills that become extremely important the higher one reaches. So a liberal arts degree should not be dismissed as “impractical” even in a technical industry and these uncertain times.

  8. Nicholas Gonzalez September 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    You know those Dolly shots where the camera zooms in on the character, causing the whole perspective behind him to shift? I feel like that moment, where everything about the photography business (or any) is suddenly magnified, blurred and beyond reach. At times, this business overwhelms the shit out of me I don’t know where to begin.
    I’ll press on for sure; I just needed to share how I felt about this post, for which I’m grateful, but the way a kid might be grateful for a parent’s hard, truthful lesson.

  9. Mike Folden September 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    I totally agree. I think you can connect with more people now but the step a lot of us miss is actually taking that online social connection and making it an offline real one. It’s easy to be a social nut and still live like a hermit. One of the things that really scored you big points in my book was years ago you used to throw the “CJ Socials”. I thought that was so cool. It was a way for me to meet an online thought leader in real life. Have a margarita with a bunch of creatives and really make real connections that helped me achieve where I’m at today.

  10. R Neil Haugen September 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I’d have to agree with the point of your blogicle … advanced social skills, the sensitivity to real social schmoozyness (not just fake gabbledygook), are so important these days, and yes, not just in photographic-allied individual service businesses. And I understand … theoretically … how and why this is so.

    The problem for some of us is that in the last 30-years of the last century, those of us who are on that autism/aspergers spectrum (though not quite obviously so) could have a good business built on proven success as a (in my case) award-winning portrait photographer and solid business history of taking care of clients. Bluntly, that isn’t enough these days.

    And the skills that are most needed these days, the excellence in close inter-personal interaction as noted in this article, are things those of us on that spectrum can’t ever be natural at. I’ve had so many people tell me just study and learn, but the inability to discern subtle social cues is at the very core of the definition of both autism and aspergers. It’s something that those thinking of coming into the profession should note … and be very aware of.

    Yes, the times have changed. Dramatically so, in fact. Social skills are more important than photography skills to making a living at it. Don’t get me wrong, you NEED to be able to handle the camera … but as stated here, the greater need is the social skills.

  11. Mark Schueler September 21, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    I’ve actually always felt that my social skills have been MORE important than my photographic skills/talent. It is my social skills, interactions, networking, etc., that have opened the doors to various photographic opportunities, not the other way around.

  12. Alphi Q. September 21, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    I’ve been subscribed to your kickass blog for some time now; it’s my most fav blog in all the interwebs. This post has got to be the one that strikes me most passionately. This post and the accompanying article totally affirms my die-hard faith in the power of social networking. It also adds justification to why I spend so much time on Facebook :) Thanks for sharing!

  13. Pag September 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    While this is definitely a trend in many types of businesses, isn’t it weird that, as a culture, we’re rewarding middle-men more and more — salesmen who sell the work and managers who assemble a team — and disregarding the people who do the actual work more and more — the actual photographer in this case? The message I’m getting these days is that one shouldn’t learn to actually do stuff. The only way to become successful is to get other people to do the work for you, then selling their work effectively. While these jobs are important, isn’t it backward to consider them as more important than the people who actually create the end-product? We’re turning into a culture of middle-men.

  14. TimR September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    It used to surprise whenever I learned that a photographer of mostly rural and developing countries, like Steve McCurry, lived in big cities. I guess always used to picture them in some cabin or something somewhere. I think Richard Florida’s theory helps explain why they in fact need to stay connected to the sources of their assignments.

  15. Luke September 22, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    Can’t help thinking of a few prospering photographers whose social skills seem to be the only reason for their success. I’d name Joey L as an example but, fearing a loyal fanboy backlash, I won’t. It’s all part of the whole though, isn’t it? Sure I once heard some big name say that the business of photography is only 10% photography. Smoke and mirrors, baby. Play the game.

  16. Melissa September 22, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I’ve definitely noticed the need for more networking and social interaction in the wedding business over the past couple years. In 2009, we could get by with some advertising… we didn’t know anyone in the industry except a handful of photographers. Now, our calendar is filled with all sorts of social events. It kind of feels like if you don’t show up then you loose some credibility. In our market now, it seems the up-and-coming photographers are great marketers first and average photographers second. I think that photographers who don’t adapt to the new social norm will probably have a hard time surviving in a few years. On a plus note, being social isn’t so bad and it’s a relatively easy adjustment so if you’ve got the technical skills and add it with a little networking… you’ll stand out.

  17. DanielKphoto September 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Thanks for sharing chase!

  18. Andrew Keane September 26, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    It’s all about the networking these days, especially since the Internet came along. A pity in a way, I know some very talented photographers who are quite by nature but very good. Word of mouth in the wedding field still rules IMHO.

  19. James Wood - United By Photography October 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I read the linked article to this post and it all boils down to getting yourself out there more in order maximise on potential work opportunities.

  20. Phil Stefans October 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Great post. Wish I’d read this 4 years ago!

    It took me a long time to figure out that if I was going to be successful as a photographer I couldn’t just hide behind the camera until I got an image I wanted to scurry back to my desktop to work on…and when I realised I had to get out there, stay out there, and most importantly, connect, then things started to turn for me…

  21. Daniel Rucci February 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Persuasion will ALWAYS be the most lucrative tool in business. Socializing online is one way to influence the conversation froth online, but face-to-face will always win. Larry Prusak has been preaching this for years.

  22. Fahad Ayyad February 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    I’ll try harder

  23. Ciara February 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Not a fan of the title of your article but I like the spirit of what it is trying to say. No doubt success and money help but they aren’t as important as the people you meet, the connections you make and the stories you all share that make you a better person in life and business. Money can’t buy you happiness but maybe a Nikon.

  24. Andrew Vanasse February 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    In light if being social, any gatherings happening in Seattle anytime soon?

  25. Ahmed Sharif February 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    so true!!
    since realising the importance of socialisation, I’ve concentrated my effort in developing both types of skills!
    social skills are now one of the most important part of marketing…
    great post, Chase!

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