It is your duty to support your friends.
When it comes to them creating, sharing and pursuing their dreams, you should be front and center, cheering them on in the VIP section of the arena.
That should honestly be the end of this post, but unfortunately, I know many artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, teachers, etc. who don't get the support that they need and deserve from the people who say that they love and support them the most.
Too often I find artists scraping and scrambling to find the support that they need even though they have many friends. And logically, It makes ZERO sense to me.
I've had this recurring conversation with fellow artists (Shout Out to Victor Arumemi), about how people are quick to support the well known artist that they don't know personally, over the artist/entrepreneur in their immediate or not so immediate circle. It's almost as if because they know the artist personally, the potential supporter doesn't take the artistry seriously.
How can you claim to be someone's friend and not support, but only give your dollar, time, energy, and support to an artist you don't know at all? It's beyond me.
As their friend, you should be beyond proud to, firstly, have them as your friend, and to have friends going after what they were put here to do (and recognize that that takes guts). You can see the struggle, growth, tenacity, failures, and triumphs all first hand. You get the "behind the scenes" footage into their work. You see the progress and that alone should inspire you to SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS.
Then I thought, "Maybe people don't know why or how they can support their friends". So I'll share a few reasons and ways below.
Why You Should Support Your Friends:
They are your friends and they matter. (Enough Said)
Believe it or not, sharing art is HARRRRD. They're basically bearing their soul for all to see over and over again, and sometimes it goes unnoticed, translating into "People don't care."
It takes a LOT of guts to share your vision, to follow and pursue your dreams, to fall on your face and get back up again. Cheers from the crowd amidst the soul crushing "Boos" are refreshing.
Your friends need to know that someone appreciates their contribution in this world. Why wouldn't it be you?
"Your friends gotta eat, too."
Now that we have the "Why", let's find some tangible ways that you can support your loved ones.
Easy Ways That You can Support Your Friends and Loved Ones:
Listen to them, Read their work, Blast their Music, Try their Products, Provide Feedback, Get invested... Actually act like you care!
Read the emails. Don't just skim over them to say you opened it. Listen to the track to give feedback. Be invested. Your friends are pursuing their dreams and bettering their craft. What's cooler and more respectable than that?
Share their work!
Nowadays, it takes nothing to share your friends' work, business, projects... usually just a push of a button. You can "repost" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can just post it to your blog, website, social media... you can share it with your friends. Using networks you frequent on a regular basis, share your friends' work.
Stop Asking for Discounts/Free Work.
If you value the work or art, why are you asking for discounts? You don't go into a store and bargain with the cashier. The price is set and you respect that price. If you don't have the money for the item, you put it back. Don't cheat your friend, value them and their craft.
Chances are, your friend feels conflicted about charging you anyway. They would probably do it for free, but they are also trying to balance being a business person. Help them help themselves. Help them better their skills.
You asking for a discount can be discounting the value of their craft. Understand that you asking for a discount or for free work can come off as disrespectful. You don't go to work and work for free and neither should your friend. You're saying that their craft is not worth the price.
Keep in mind that (as stated before) your friend has to eat, too. Most of the time, they're trying to make a living just like you. Starting out on your own, without a secure 9-5 with benefits can be scary and super risky. Understand that your support is putting food on their table, keeping their lights on, and helping them have the ability to create more awesome things!
If money is an issue, you can still support your friends (see above and below for ideas). But when you finally get the money to support their business, art, etc., Hire Them! Treat them as the professionals that they are. Just because their work doesn't come through your average 9-5, doesn't discount their professionalism or legitimacy.
Believe in and Encourage Them.
Kind and encouraging words go a long way. You have no idea (or you do because they tell you) how taxing it can be to constantly put their work out there, to keep showing up day after day in the arena just to hear and sift through all of the criticism coming from those in the bleachers (and sometimes it comes from their own minds).
To hear from a friend, "I see you. I believe in you. I support you. You're doing great. You're growing. You're learning. You'll get up again." Means the WORLD.
Brag on Them!
Business spreads through word of mouth. Be a billboard for your friend. If you liked their services, share your experiences and recommend them. Share their number (with permission), email or website. Brag on your friends and their work. It really helps a lot!
Support them more than you would a well known person.
It's so easy to support artists and businesses that you have no personal connection to whatsoever. Why is that? You have some dope friends: businesswomen/men, musicians, hair stylists, make-up artists, writers, photographers, professionals, event planners and coordinators, videographers, counselors, designers, dancers, technicians... all in your own circle.
If you take the time to look around, the community is talented. Why not put the same energy you put into supporting and jumping on the bandwagons and support your own friends? Why not represent them just as hard?
Collaborate with them.
For all of my fellow entrepreneurs, artists, businesses, and everything in between; we need to support one another. If anyone knows the struggle, it's us. There is enough room for all of us to make it, especially when we link together and use all of our resources for a greater good.
Collaborate with one another. If you're a counselor and you have a friend who is a public speaker, invite her/him to talk to your students and encourage them. If you're a stylist, maybe you can collaborate or hire one of your friends who is a make-up artist.
There doesn't have to be crabs in the barrel. If we all lift each other up, we all make it. We all survive. We all get support.
Please, support your friends. It's so vital and so important. If you really believe in them and love their craft, show them. Go as hard for your friends as you do people you don't even know.