Grow Your Business With Collaborations or when one plus one equals more than two

From our earliest days in the sandbox we have always gotten more done

(think roads and bridges and tootsie roll toll-earning sand tunnels here)

and had more fun, when we did it together.

The problem is that most crafty, creative people I know (including myself) were not really "meet me in the sandbox" kind of kids, but more "sit in the corner and color" kind of kids and some of us have translated that need to work alone

(and yes, alone work is very productive at times)

into solo businesses that could really use a jolt of "something other than ourselves" from other creative professionals.

(yes, I will overuse parentheses and quotation marks in this post and cannot be stopped)

The right collaboration may be the match you need to get your fire started!

1. Look for equal partners and know what you are offering - unbalanced partnerships will probably not work out well for either person

(if you are looking for a blog collaboration, unless you are an incredibly amazing and prolific writer - and if you are, help, I need you - you might be better off approaching a blog with comparable blog readership numbers to your own to trade off posts)

2. Limit the scope of your collaboration in the beginning

(get your feet wet together to see how it feels, you can always extend your work together as you build trust and things work out)

3. Make agreements simple. Put things in writing. Establish clear protocals for changing, extending or unwinding things.

4. Be considerate and appreciative of each person's workload and keep communication lines open

(One of the amazing artists I work with on the Polarity locket always called me "her manufacturer" to the customers that bought her locket. It bothered me a little. Well ... it bothered me alot and when I finally talked to her about it- of course, she had no idea I was feeling the way I did since she could not read my mind- we worked it out and have continued to collaborate and remain friends)

5. Goodwill is essential and this means you want the other person to benefit from the collaboration as much as you do.

There are unlimited ways to do this - you could create a postcard with a small handful of other sellers and each could agree to send the postcard out with any orders, you can set up a blog advertising ring with other blogs where you place your ad on their blog and they place their ad on yours, you can collaborate on an actual product

(like the amazing piece shown here which is a collaboration between jewelry designer/maker 3squares and fabric designer Jan DiCintio of Daisy Janie)

you could make team treasuries where you promote each other, have feedback sessions where a handful of sellers offer advice and positive reinforcement to each other, do trunk shows with local sellers, etc.

There is something about combining our energies that allows that energy to grow in really huge and exciting ways - ways that you can't foresee when you start this adventure together.

Lots and lots of good can come from this collaboration thing. I find that the best things sometimes take the most energy - you likely get more out of trunk shows than post cards for example.

(and yes, bad things can happen, too - there are no guarantees of happy endings anytime we interact with other people, no matter how many contracts we sign and promises we make)

If a collaboration sounds right to you at some point you have to act to get the ball rolling. You may have to get a little scared. Maybe even a lot scared ... you just have to do it.

(feel the fear and do it anyway, good book btw)

The first artist I asked to do the locket series with me that I did not really know was Jessica Doyle. And if she had said 'no thanks' (the next person I asked said no thanks) who knows what would have happened. I might have stopped right there.

(I know that I shouldn't have, but I might have, I am rather wimpy that way at times, although I like to think I would just keep on keeping on like that little energizer bunny that I am in my head)

And I am glad I didn't - give up, that is. And I think you will be, too.

(trust me, I am a professional collaborator - hopefully the FBI is not reading my blog - and I know these things)

adventurer print by fifiduvie
necklace by 3squares


holly aka golly said...

cat, always a pleasure to collaborate with you! you're the best!

Catherine Ivins said...

thanks Holly- back at you! xo

M.M.E. said...

I agree. Collaborating with you has been an eye-opening (and door-opening) opportunity for me. I'm currently looking for someone else to collaborate with who is a great seamstress so that I can start producing pillows and clutches.

Catherine Ivins said...

I could totally see your work on pillows and clutches Megan!

Unknown said...

Great post, Cat! We often forget that the best way to move forward is working with others.

madder root said...

Wonderful post Cat! I know I would be lost without the other half of madder root-Christina

3 squares said...

love this post, cat.

when i wanted to inject some color into my metalwork, i was inspired by daisy janie's fabrics, and i continue to be. she is crazy talented, and a sweetheart, too.

thanks for including us!!

Jan said...

Thanks for mentioning Jean's inclusion of my fabrics in her work! I was so flattered when she used them! And your use of others' designs is spot-on! Keep up the great work! (Which reminds me, I have to get some files to you!)

Anonymous said...

I suppose I could try harder on a collaboration. I have one going now, but truly she's a friend. I've asked a couple people, but I think I may have a better idea how to ask now. Thanks for the info. It's very helpful.