A brand new supplement company starts up and has the “dream come true” opportunity to sign you and you immediately become ecstatic with excitement despite having never heard of this company before. They say all the right things like “grow together” and “mutually beneficial” and “exposure potential.” Finally, you can see some checks start coming in the mail.

However, as you soon learn, they are not willing to pay you. You may get free products from them – but they are expecting you to market and advertise for them. In return they compensate you with the exposure of being one of their signed talents. Yet your brand does not grow, your business does not grow, your career does not grow.

A photographer reaches out to you and is willing to photograph you at no charge. You are extremely flattered having never really seeing this person’s work before and not noticing any resume of credentials. But you will get the chance to get some free images for your brand and career.

However, during the photo shoot they keep pushing you to show more skin or shoot sexier images. You go along with what they suggest as you assume they know what they are doing or are too afraid to protest. In the end you are branded with images that hurt your career rather than support it.

The company looking to sponsor you is looking to use you. The amateur photographer offering free photos is looking to use you. The social media accounts asking for photos to share are using you. The crappy web magazine is using you. The talent manager who is not even licensed is using you.

We are congested with users. You need to develop the personal strength and foresights to not only see beyond these attempts, but to work past them.

James Patrick

IG @jpatrickphoto