As a business owner, it's important that you continue to grow your audience and serve your people in order to make a living doing what you love. But when making money means that feel like you're constantly selling to the same people, it can be really frustrating.
That's why I love collaborating with other creative entrepreneurs - not only can I build a real connection with someone else who understands the struggles of running your own business, but I can also tap into their audience and provide value to people who are looking for someone like me.
I've done a variety of collaborations, from webinars and interviews to working with someone in a combined package, and each time I learn something new about the best way to collaborate.
Work with people who have similar audiences (but offer different services)
If the goal of your collaboration is to expand your audience and serve others by offering your knowledge, it's important to make sure you're reaching the right people. While you don't have to only aim for your dream client, there will be opportunities that won't fit with your brand and message.
For example, if you're a wedding photographer and you're asked to speak to a group of doctors about professional headshots, it's probably not a good fit. Sure, you might find a wedding client, but overall the benefit isn't worth the time you have to put in.
The other thing to consider before starting a collaboration is what you're offering. It's hard to build a strong collaborative experience if you're in competition with the people you're collaborators. If the goal of your collaboration is to promote your services, work with someone who compliments what you offer. I've collaborated with coaches, copywriters, and photographers before and I love the experience because we can both provide value to our audience and possibly find clients afterwards.
However, if your goal is simply to educate people and build your audience, then working with someone who offers similar services could work (like the Being Boss podcast).
Outline what each person gets out of the collaboration
The goal of any collaboration should be to benefit everyone involved. When reaching out to someone, make sure you outline how they can benefit from working together. Yes, you will probably have to compromise on some things, but each person should get something they want.
For example, when I hosted my first webinar, we created a bundle to sell. We picked services that were of similar value and split the profit 50/50 so that neither of us felt like we weren't getting as much as the other.
If you're actually working together to create a service or product, make sure that the profits are being assigned according to the amount of work each contributor is doing.
Make each person's contribution clear
While no one expects a collaboration to go wrong, you need to be prepared. Before starting, make sure to outline each person's role and tasks and get a contract that includes what everyone is responsible and what happens if one person doesn't do their part.
When I was planning The Lemonade Collective, I worked with Autumn Witt Boyd to create a contract that laid out each person's responsibilities, rights, and what happened if we wanted to stop working together.
Bonus Tip: Work with people you like and respect
The point of any collaboration is to have some fun while growing your business. Make sure you work with people you like and respect so that the experience is as enjoyable as it is beneficial.
My Favorite Collaborations
- Being Boss: I love the interaction between Emily and Kathleen on their podcast and they're been able to expand Being Boss into some great educational resources for their audience, while creating a successful, income-generating business.
- Creative Empire Podcast: Reina and Christina are quickly becoming some of my favorite people to follow because they're honest and open about running an online business.
- Steven Spielberg and John Williams: While not online business owners, they work together well to create iconic movies that speak to a wide range of people (Jurassic Park anyone?).
- The Lemonade Collective: Yes, this is my own collaboration, but I think it's a great one. It brings together four different creative entrepreneurs in order to help people brand their businesses in a new way.
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Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do. From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into their what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.