How to Support Friends and their Creative Careers

"It's easier than you think and doesn't have to cost you financially."

Three female friends sitting at a table, making art and drinking champagne

One of the things I hear often as a writer from friends is that they are sometimes unsure of how to support me, other than buying my book... and many of my friends are not readers so they feel stumped. However there are a number of easy ways that you, as a friend of someone who has a creative career, can support them.

1.Consume and Share What They Create

Creativity is a two-way street. It is about connection. It is about inspiring others. Having ideal candidates in our audience is great, but what happens when your family and friends might not like what you are creating? Well, there is always the next person and there are other ways, new ways, your friends and family can support you. Authenticity is key and it is important to understand that not everyone will like or pay close attention to what you do.

Offering support doesn't mean buying their paintings even when you don't like them. It doesn't mean saying their book was brilliant, when you haven't even read it. Don't misinterpret their silence. If you are able to, purchase it and enjoy it, and if not, and you have the means, why not buy what they create as a gift for someone else?

"I remember buying the first three books in a fantasy series from an author I connected with on Instagram as a gift for my niece. She loved them, and maybe I would have too, but I generally don't read that genre. However, I was still able to support him."

I also posted a stack of his three books on my social media and tagged him in and this made him so happy. He then shared the post and reposted it on his feed. A little gesture goes a long way and it supports your creative friends' overall well-being too. Through this gesture I am certain that he not only enjoyed being in the spotlight but it gave him a behind-the-scenes view of his books in someone else's life.

2.Share Contacts from your Network

Making connections, both personal and professional, can go a long way in forging social interactions, building skills and giving your creative friends ideas to further enhance their creative thinking. Why not offer to feature them in your newsletter or spotlight posts? This is easy, carries no cost element and it's a great way to help. It means your own audience is exposed to someone or something new and this can have great repercussions in terms of more sales for your creative friend, increased exposure and it affords you the ability to think differently when planning your social media and other PR campaigns.

A woman typing on a laptop. She is holding a stylus and has drawn "creative" on an ipad

Sharing details of other people you know who may be able to support your friend is also another way to help and costs nothing. Tagging them on social media into other posts or swapping details (with permission) is another way to widen their audience. Talking about your friend when visiting an organisation or navigating a networking event is also a good way to spread the word about their creative endeavours. It provides a possible new opening. It can be hugely empowering when you support friends in their career path. An introduction can lead to so many new relationships, professional experiences and is a great way to keep your creative friends self-motivated. Connections happen and when they do you can continue to cheer your friend on.

I recently met a woman at the London Book Fair and she was stumped as to how to find a way to increase her book's exposure. The book, aimed at primary school children, linked to the PSHE curriculum which I headed up during my former career. I shared my insight and a strategy to help her connect with local schools. I also told her about Book Fairies Worldwide and how she could give free books away. We talked about ways to build and help improve social situations for children struggling with emotions. Just that short conversation empowered her and gave a boost to her self-esteem and motivation. It's hard doing it all on your own.

3.Give Honest Feedback Coupled with Endless Support

If your friend asks for your feedback, give your honest opinion. However, don't forget they'll need you to be kind, so be someone who's sensitive and answer questions paying close attention to the words you use. Some creative people find it hard to separate their work from themselves and may see your criticism as a personal snipe against them. It's all about raising their self-esteem as well as giving practical advice.

Prioritise them feeling good and make sure you offer some accessible ideas and constructive next steps. Don't make the feedback a formal thing if that is likely to make your friend feel uncomfortable. Go out for a cuppa, a walk in the park, slip it into a conversation, and tell her how amazing her work is and how you think she can make it even better.

Two women sitting at a desk and talking to each other

Show your friend that you believe in them and continue to spend time with them. Your honesty will go a long way in deepening your friendship as well as encouraging your friend to try something new or to face up to things they don't want or are struggling to admit. Either way, spend time together and keep talking about and experiencing the things you are both interested in and which brought you together in the first place. After all, it's your friendship which is the foundation and the basis on which to share your feedback.

4.Celebrate their Wins

Celebrating together, however big or small the win might be, will show how you're trying to be a good, supportive friend. It's about remembering to ask how the interview went or the talk at the local library. It's about commenting on how brilliant the last review shared on their social media is. It's about sending a congratulations message when their latest creative project goes live. Whether it's face-to-face or you're out socialising together, let them know you're celebrating with them. 

"When my second novel, The Summer Will Come, was released, my cousin took me out for lunch to celebrate the book's release. It was a really special meet up and I still remember feeling blessed and very lucky to have her in my life."

Do you have any ideas or sure-fire ways to support your creative friends? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please let me know or tag me into your posts on Instagram using @soullasays

Until next time, thank you so much for reading and I hope that whether you're a creative or a friend of someone who is building a creative career you continue to support each other and celebrate the special bond you have as friends.

With much love, Soulla