There’s an old saying that none of us can achieve greatness alone…or, more casually, “teamwork makes the dream work.” I wholeheartedly agree, and I recognize that for a successful freelancer in any niche or specialty, collaboration with other freelancers can be a powerful path to success.
And yet, collaboration is no cakewalk. It’s difficult to find someone who you trust and who does strong work that jives with your own, and to maintain productive, effective work together through a project. How do you find a great collaborative team and put the whole crew to work? Start with these steps.
Build Your Network (and Keep Building)
Many freelancers get into this business because they’re introverts who prefer working alone, and that’s perfectly fair. If you want to take advantage of collaborations, though, stepping outside your comfort zone and networking will be a must.
No matter how well-established you are, always be expanding your network. Connect with other freelancers on social media, through freelancing groups or forums, through networking meetups, and more. The goal is to develop a solid group of freelancers to keep in touch with across multiple disciplines.
Sounds like a lot of information to keep straight? It is. Along the way, keep notes about the group of freelance professionals you’ve connected with, what they do, what their specialties are, and so on. It also helps to track when you were last in touch with them so you know to reach out after it’s been a while. There are plenty of network tracking tools to help.
Keep Tabs on Related Professionals
The bigger your network, the better, but for collaboration purposes, some folks should be higher priorities than others. Think about your own freelance skill and what other skills are often needed for projects you contribute to.
For example, web designers and web developers should network with each other. The same goes for social media managers and graphic designers because these two can pair up to produce social media posts and graphics for those posts. Content writers and marketing strategists are matches made in heaven too. These are the professionals you should especially connect with and stay in touch with above others in your network.
Expand Your Toolbelt
For collaborative freelancers and remote workers alike, collaboration tools can make a world of difference. The problem is there are so many tools out there that it’s hard to know which ones future clients will use.
For that reason, the more tools you’re familiar with, the better. One by one, start with the most popular tools and get familiar with as many as possible. In many cases, there are free trials that let you work with them and gain helpful experience. There are plenty of online courses about these tools as well.
Get Everyone in on the Negotiations
Negotiations are always more difficult when more parties are involved. Collaborative freelance projects are no exception.
Remember that all the freelancers are business owners trying to keep their freelancing businesses alive. They all deserve the right to negotiate fair prices for their services as equal partners.
To keep everything clean and simple, though, it can help to have one point of contact. This ad hoc project manager takes the freelancers’ pricing requirements to your client, relays the client’s project needs, and so on. It’s a simple fix for the problem of having too many cooks in the kitchen, but it works well.
Create Clear, Detailed Project Plans
When the negotiations are done and it’s time to launch the project, you have another project management task for the to-do list. Take the project and break it down into smaller tasks for each collaborator, with a precise deadline for each.
This is a common strategy for remote work, and it can make or break any project. After all, the project’s success as a whole hinges on each collaborator delivering strong work and getting it done on time. Keeping it all organized and on track protects everyone’s professional reputation.
Opening Your Door to Collaboration
Collaborating with other freelancers can be intimidating, especially if you’re not exactly an extrovert extraordinaire. Still, it’s one of those experiences that becomes easier each time you face your fears head-on, and it can open the door to tremendous opportunities for your freelance business. The steps above make it a much clearer, more straightforward process.
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