The Degradation of the Term ‘Mentor’

“Mentors combine the long-term contact typical of good friendships with the wisdom and guidance we associate with good teachers.”

– Ted Orland, The View from the Studio Door

Finding a mentor is an amazing option for learning about your field, for having direct contact with someone highly regarded by the professional world. In a mentorship you can form friendship and learn more than you ever may elsewhere.

However, in the world of social media, mentorships are rampant. Pay $200 – $10, 000 and learn to boost your instagram following to the number that your now ‘mentor’ has. Or learn to create the breathtaking images this person makes.

These social media mentorships often hold completely empty promises. The number of followers someone has doesn’t directly correlate to their business success, their respect in the artistic community.

Their follower count does directly correlate to their social media marketing acumen however. Of course then it would seem, if your goal is to garner knowledge of that social media strategy, then you found the right person. But more often than not, social media ‘mentors’ aren’t looking to gain competition, so you most certainly won’t learn all their secrets.

And in the same vein, there isn’t a direct way they can grant you their artistic vision. They can, in the time-old mentorship tradition, explain their way of seeing, explain everything that goes through their mind when they choose how to compose a photo, give intimate detail of everything that got them to where they are. But in most of the mentorship programs that show up as targeted ads or otherwise, on my instagram, I see little evidence of this.

Moral of the story, tread carefully.

Find a photographer or whomever you truly admire. Are they offering any courses? If not, see if you’re able to reach out and ask a couple of targeted questions.

Let me know in a comment below if you’ve ever had a mentor in your field and how it went or how it’s going.

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