With how important community is to Unsplash, this update has been a long time coming.
We were also busy finding the right person to join the team and help nurture the community of photographers, designers, and curators that make Unsplash what it is.
So, hi there! I’m Scott. The first Community Ambassador for Unsplash.
If you can’t beat them…
Before I get into what I’ve been working on let me tell you a bit about myself.
I’m a self-taught photographer focusing mainly on architectural photography. While freelancing I’ve held down a number of jobs in everything from customer service at a major bank to working with WooThemes.
I love building side projects online, and it was one of these—an accidental ‘competitor’ to Unsplash called HAYSTAAK—that first brought me in touch with the team.
However, I had no idea how much of a giant I was up against, and after burning out on the day job/freelance/side project grind I spotted a ‘we’re hiring’ link on Unsplash and wondered if I could make a larger impact on the photographic and design communities by abandoning my own project to join Unsplash.
I knew it was a long shot, but I didn’t market myself as a social media guru and instead just shared how I worked hard to show the small number of followers on my own site how much I cared for them, emailing every single person individually and expressing my desire to genuinely want to help them find photography to use that wasn’t cheesy stock, a huge expense, or a waste of time.
Something must have struck a chord, because fast forward a few months and here I am.
…join them. But then what?
Unsplash would be nothing without the community of photographers, designers, and artists who submit their work every day.
Since launching 2 years ago, Unsplash has grown exponentially and now features work from thousands of photographers from all around the world. And while quick and steady growth is the dream for any startup, it can come at a price when you’re not expecting it.
Remember when you went through a growth spurt as a kid? Companies go through those same growing pains all the time.
Without much engagement, our community grew to well over 130,000 newsletter subscribers, 10,000+ Twitter followers and thousands of Facebook likes. But with a team of 1, maybe 2, there was no engagement strategy and any output or releases were pretty much a one-way street. We need to engage if we were going to act on our core values:
- Providing Value
- Building Trust
- Furthering Awareness for Unsplash
So, being the first Community Ambassador for Unsplash there was no playbook or history for me to draw from. While this means the job is pretty open-ended and continually evolving, there are a few tasks that quickly made way onto my weekly to-do list.
What I’m currently working on:
- Curate submitted photos and review tags created by our community
- Connect photographers with curators, and people creatively using their photos
- Bring awareness to photographers, unique photographs, and milestones that our members reach within Unsplash
- Encourage a culture of creating new art from the Unsplash photos
- Find and connect with new people that could become our upcoming curators
- Connect, respond, and support to questions and special requests via social media and email support
- Be active and engaged in social media platforms
- Contribute and help build on new ideas to reach and build relationships with our community
Our community is a constant source of inspiration to us. We see it as a place where photographers can connect with those who are using and progressing their photographic work — a place that feeds and builds up our creativity, together.
Focusing on depth, not width
We’ve been fortunate to have a loyal member base who come back time and time again to find inspiration on Unsplash. And we know that every day, more free stock photography websites are emerging. Even some big name websites (*cough*Flickr*cough*) have opened up the ability to license photos under Creative Commons Zero now.
So, in an increasingly loud and noisy market, how does a site like Unsplash stand out, but at the same time maintain our core values?
One of our biggest differentiators is the one that wasn’t getting as much love as it deserved: community.
The Unsplash community is where all the true magic is found. If we want to stand out, we need to build relationships with photographers and artists that believe in the same values as us: creativity, openness, and collaboration.
And this needs to be done by someone who cares like hell. People want to be heard, acknowledged, cared for, inspired, and engaged.
Our community is literally everything. I could go on endlessly listing off the positions of people I’ve talked to in the past few months, but if we were to break our community down into three main subsets they would be:
- Photographers: We would be nothing without the people that contribute their own photographs. Over 8000+ photographers have generously contributed their work to support the community.
- Curators: Curators are people from the creative community we invite to select the 10 photos that will be featured on Unsplash. We do this to help more people from the maker community get involved with Unsplash even if they aren’t submitting photos.
- Remixers: Remixers include designers, artists, developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and other creators who make things using photos on Unsplash.
The community is the ultimate differentiator for Unsplash and we couldn’t be more excited to find ways to support everyone who has made it what it is.
I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the amazing team building Unsplash. In the coming months, I’ll be working on building, engaging, interacting, and nurturing each and every one of you who make up our community. I’m here to go deeper than the surface and find ways to build on the relationships we already have.
If there is anything I can help with, or if you just want to say what’s up! just holler.
I’d love to hear from you!