Dear friend,

If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur — realize, INFLUENCE is the most important thing to cultivate.

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What is influence?

INFLUENCE: ability to change the mind of someone else.

I believe that influence is more important than money. Why? If you have influence, you can eventually monetize whatever you do.

Take for example Google: they weren’t profitable for many years. Rather, they worked hard to becoming the #1 search provider, and once they were able to gain 90%+ influential market share, they had enough power and control to monetize their services.

Thus as a practical entrepreneur strategy:

First seek to gain influence, then monetize later.


Create your own culture and trends

Influence is also being a taste-maker, and being able to create certain trends, concepts, and ideas that will change the minds of others.

Influence is powerful, because instead of chasing trends, we can create our own trends.


What do we really want?

To me, I think that as entrepreneurs and human beings, people who are money-hungry are actually power-hungry. Money is just a tool to exert power– exerting power over others, and exerting power and control over yourself.


How to become more influential

To start off, if you want to be an ‘influencer’ or an influential entrepreneur — here are some principles and ideas:

  1. Own your own platform: Build your own website, blog, forum, or community. Don’t be a social-media sharecropper– meaning, don’t just try to become an ‘influencer’ on Facebook, Instagram, or even YouTube. The problem is that these “free” social media platforms are controlled by algorithms, owned by these companies– something we have no control over. By owning your own platform, you are able to have more control.
  2. Have a grand idea you believe in: To meaningfully differentiate yourself from others, you must have an all-encompassing and grand vision you truly believe in. For example, my passion in life is “open source photography”— keeping my information open and free, in order to empower other creatives and artists.
  3. Don’t Be boring: It is far better to be controversial and polarizing than to be boring. If you’re boring, and don’t have strong opinions, you will lack interest, and it will be difficult to build a loyal following. Don’t worry about being politically correct, or seeking to make everyone happy. Instead, seek to strongly state your own opinion, be brutally honest, and have the courage to share your own ideas.

Influence takes time

For myself, it probably took at least five years of dedicated work before I was able to cultivate a loyal following, and to build influence in the photography world.

Influence is more than numbers

The sad truth is that the only reason camera companies and businesses reach out to you for marketing, advertising, or branding ideas is because they know you have a loyal audience — and they hope to leverage your audience to make them more dollars. This is often manifested through “social proof”— companies will judge your influence by how many followers and likes you have.

But realize that influence is more than numbers. To me, I think that it is better to have 1 loyal fan who truly believes in your mission statement than 1,000 fans who only mildly believe in what you believe in.

Unfortunately, there is no tool we can use to measure whether someone is a “true fan” or not. A “true fan” might purchase your products, or spread the news about you with their social circle. I don’t think we can put a dollar amount on the heads of our “true followers”, just as we cannot quantify what “trust” means.

Trust

But ultimately, the purpose of influence is to build trust. Trust is the timeless ingredient of success in all entrepreneurial endeavors in history.

In the ancient marketplaces and souks of traditional cultures, or in trade — you were only able to succeed if you were able to cultivate trust with others. And once again, trust building can take years, sometimes even decades.

In today’s modern world, these “big brands” have been able to build a loyal customer base with decades of effective marketing and advertising, and by putting out consistently good quality products.


Conclusion: Play the long game

So friend, don’t be in such a rush to quickly monetize your passion in photography. My suggestion is to focus on building your influence, which is manifested through trust.

Realize it can take years and sometimes even decades to build influence and trust. Don’t be in such a hurry. Just work steadily, gradually, and don’t betray your own inner voice for quick gains.

Aim for the long game.

BE STRONG,
ERIC


Photography Entrepreneurship 101

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