You have skills that you have used so long and so casually that you and everyone around you started taking them for granted. Moreover, you have come to assume that anyone can do what you do and these skills are no big deal.
Until they are.
I was reminded recently of the graphic arts skills I have when I asked a colleague to take a photo for a blog post. It was a conference give-away she had shipped to her office. “No big deal,” I thought, “I’ll send her a sample of a photo layout I had done in the past. She’ll line up the item, snap a photo and I can slap on the blog post.”
She sent me this photo, with the following message:
Sorry for the blurry photo… I’m traveling and I asked my spouse to snap a photo. Will it work?
Not ideal, but maybe I could add some artistic blur and noise to the photo. Maybe I could peek it out from underneath another promo graphic to “tease” the audience. In the end, I decided it just was not going to work. Could she send me another cleaner photo?
A few days went by and she sent me this second photo. Will this work better?
Better, but not yet there. I breathed deeply while contemplating whether or not I should go back and ask her to try one more time. I decided I would not, that this was the artwork I had been given and I was going to have to make do.
After an hour or so clipping, layering, adjusting and cajoling, I was able to produce this final artwork for the blog post. It was not the quality of print nor was it the accurate metal color of the actual product but it was infinitely better than the original blurry photo. I decided it would work for online promo and social media.
I posted the final on the blog post, published it, distributed to the social media channels and called it a day. (I was going for something like this, but updated for 2016.)
But then I got to thinking about how much skill it took to get from a blurry photo to the final artwork. I counted the steps in my head and wondered why, in the age of unlimited technology, it was so hard to get a simple photo of a coin to slap onto a blog post? As it turns out, while the tech tools exist for us to produce a volume of creative work much more rapidly than ever before, the differentiator is the skills we have to process the material to create the content social media experts say is critically important to our success.
When someone tries to devalue your skills by saying, “it’s just for internal use,” “it will only take a few minutes,” “just snap a picture” or “it’s just twitter/snapchat/some other social media channel” push back! Chances are it is something you know how to do that they do not, so they have dismissed it as unimportant, unskilled, something anyone can do.
They are wrong. You have skills.
Don’t work with people who don’t value, or worse, actively belittle your skills.
*This article was published with permission from the person who sent me the original coin who unabashedly and without hesitation admits she had no graphic arts skills whatsoever and admires my ability to take a crappy photo and make it look like a coin everyone wants. In fairness, she has skills to manage an event with a million moving parts — mostly angry coaches yelling at her — while remaining entirely unflappable. It’s really awe-inspiring to watch her in action. This was written to inspire you to seek out your skills, not embarrass anyone. Please use it wisely.