Turning Competition into Creativity and Collaboration

A couple of years ago, I partnered with two other female photographers* for a passion project. We photographed the same 10 women independently in our own style (see our work here). It would be easy for someone else to casually lump us together and label us as competitors. While it may be true to a certain extent, it’s not as simple as that. It became really obvious in how we work, how we collaborate and the final 30 photos.

Need more convincing? Here are specific examples of how we’re different:

  • We engage with our clients differently (all positively)
  • We edit differently (and spend different amounts of time editing)
  • We have different equipment
  • Our financial goals are different
  • We have different hobbies, influences and friends
  • We work out of different spaces
  • Fundamentally, we see our work very uniquely

I’m at the point in my career as a designer and photographer where I understand my own uniquenesses and strengths and I can truly say that I don’t see anyone as competition. If you’re seriously considering my business and another, I can probably help you figure out who’s the better fit.

By getting to know other creative people in my community, I can better refer work to them and only take on clients that truly fit with The Wonder Jam

How I Define Competition

The first time I encountered competition through the lens of my clientele was inside of our own sales funnel (back in 2014).** An inquiry popped into our inbox from someone who was a direct competitor to one of our current clients. I felt torn. We told them that we couldn’t work with them. It would be a conflict of interest. BUT HOLD UP. Let’s define what I mean when I say “direct competitor” :

  • They knew of and followed our client online
  • Their key ingredient was the same as our client’s key ingredient
  • They referenced our client in the inquiry email positively

When I read this list now, I chuckle. They hadn’t sold a single product at that point. They didn’t have a logo, brand, messaging, photography or online shop. The idea of competition was just that – an idea.

I would go so far as to say that we’re using the term “competition” too specifically. I’d challenge you to stop thinking about those who offer the exact same product or service but rather where your customers are spending their money (instead of spending it with you).

I go in spurts where I invest in massage, facials, acupuncture, manicures and skincare. I already know which studios, brands and stores are for me once I decide on which item or service I want to buy. Specific brands speak to me. Others do not. If I drop $80 at Ulta, I may not spend that money at my local spa. My favorite local spa is actually competing against a lot more than just the other spa across town.

Your customers are deciding whether or not to spend their money on a new washer and dryer, a short trip to Asheville, that dumb thing that one Facebook ad is suggesting, a new plant for their front porch, and a million other options.

Working With Your Competitors

Competition now flows in and out of our door with ease. We serve coaches, salon + spas, fitness studios, designers, photographers, restaurants, cookbook authors, fashion retailers, skincare companies, real estate agents, woodworkers and more. Through our own creative work and local events, we connect with your competition every day. It shouldn’t scare you.

On other instances, our team here at The Wonder Jam, collaborates with other creative individuals to achieve a goal for our client. 

  • PENZONE and LIT Life + Yoga were both branded by a talented designer, Natalie. We came in and worked with both businesses on their messaging, marketing materials, photography and website.
  • We’re currently working with a local restaurant group to help their creative team prepare for a launch.
  • A handful of our clients share brand photography captured by another photographer that we can use in website design and builds.
  • We coach, brand and launch websites for other creative people. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with photographers like Megan Leigh Barnard, Cait Rose and Emily Mollineaux!

If given the opportunity, we will help your competition become the best small business that it can be. We’ll help your small business be it’s best, too. I truly believe it will make the community stronger, it will challenge you and it will help The Wonder Jam strengthen its muscles in problem-solving. I won’t share your secrets, your stats, your failures or even your successes. Promise.


*You can check out Megan Leigh and Autumn’s sites here.

**If the term “sales funnel” makes you cringe like it makes most, check out one of our latest podcast episodes.