‘Make friends, not war’ — good business sense with Lyndsey Haskell

Lyndsey Haskell is the talented gardener behind beautifully curated online shop and accompanying blog, What You Sow. She also happens to be a freelance photographer and savvy business person.

It might be easy to assume that people with similar skills who work in the same field would become instant competitors, but, Lyndsey explains how working together with your peers can be mutually beneficial for all:

The benefits of being friends with potential ‘competitors’

I am very lucky to work as a freelance photographer, taking pictures for charities and community groups and documenting the fantastic work they do. Many of my friends work in the same industry and other people often express surprise at this. They ask whether we’re not all in competition with each other, pitching for the same jobs and generally trying to out-do each other. But I can honestly say that we’re really not and I’ve never seen any of my fellow photographers as competition. It’s way better for us to be friends and help each other out than to be competing against each other.

Here’s some benefits to befriending those who might traditionally be considered competitors:

Finding new work

When your friend has too much on, or a job is not quite right for them, they will recommend you to their clients … or even suggest you share a job if it’s too big to do alone. They will trust you and know how you work, so will be happy to point contracts in your direction.

Swapping skills

When you need a hand with a technical issue, who better to help than someone who does the same job as you? They’ll understand why you are trying to do whatever it is you need help with and assist accordingly. Then at some point they’ll need your help with something and you’ll be able to reciprocate. They’ll help you because they think you’re awesome, no one’s keeping tabs on their friends. I recently received some software training from my good friend, the incredibly talented food and lifestyle photographer Gabriella Rizzelloin exchange for some guidance on how to use social media to better promote her work. Then afterwards we went and had tea and chocolate cake together. Win-win-win.


Life as a freelancer is tough, and one of the hardest parts is having the confidence to promote your own work. When your friends work in the same industry and feel genuinely proud of their talented friend, they will become your biggest advocates: telling people about your work when you are too modest to do it yourself.


Who else will understand the joy you feel when your work has been selected to feature in a niche publication that no one
else has heard of? And who else can sympathise and understand when you’re having difficulties with a client? Having friends who completely and utterly get what you do can be a huge blessing as you navigate the ups and downs of freelance life (in terms of listening, sympathising and offering genuinely useful pointers on dealing with difficult situations).


When recently updating my new portfolio, I received some very valuable feedback from my friend, experienced photographer Murray Ballard, who’s just released his first book The Prospect of Immortality. He took the time to look through my portfolio carefully, offering insights that I had never received from someone outside the industry. And because he’s my friend he was able to be entirely honest about the areas I needed to improve.


It’s always fun to have a pal to go to symposiums, networking events or courses with, so it’s ideal if you are both in the same industry. Not only will it mean you have company, but you’ll meet different people, expanding your circle exponentially! Your friends will also let you know about other networking opportunities and industry events that you might otherwise not have heard of.


Trying out new techniques
or a creative venture can be much more fun if you pack a picnic and make it into a weekend project with a friend!

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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