Pairings or collaborations often work well. Think wine and cheese; Abbott and Costello; peanut butter and jelly; and Simon and Garfunkel.
Today, many writers and bloggers seek out creative collaborations. Such pairings provide a smart, strategic approach to their projects and future goals.
Over the years, I have partnered successfully with other creative artists on everything from book anthologies to blog tours to hosted events. And you can too.
Why Bloggers Should Consider Creative Collaborations
If you have a blog or a blogged book, here are five reasons why you might consider a creative collaboration:
- It allows you to partner with someone whose artistic strengths complement your weaknesses. If you aren’t good at something or don’t have a particular type of expertise, pairing yourself with someone has that skill or experience can create a “complete package.”
- It broadens your reach. Many times your partner(s) will share and promote your work alongside theirs via social media circles and networks.
- Today’s technology makes it easier than ever before to communicate and collaborate globally. Whether it’s through shared Google Docs, Skype, Facebook groups, Yahoo lists, or task-sharing apps, the possibilities for how to work with people effectively are ever increasing.
- Collaborative work can increase your productivity and your bottom line. When you have a partner, you feel accountable to them. They depend upon you to complete your part of the project; that motivates you to do so.
- Many times collaboration is more fun than working alone. If you and your collaborator are well paired, you’ll find the work is more pleasant when you do it together.
Where to Find Collaboration Opportunities
If you’re in a “blog fog” and have no idea what types of projects lend themselves best to collaborations, don’t worry. Below you will find several possibilities.
- Group Blogs: Group blogs are all the rage these days. Sites like the Muffin Blog (by Women on Writing), Six Brown Chicks, and The Write Conversation are all maintained and written by multiple bloggers. How does it work? Each individual publishes a post on a different day of the week—each with his or her voice, style and agenda. Perhaps you might co-blog with fellow teachers, political writers, or church members. Windy City Bloggers is a group of bloggers located in Chicago that primarily blog about local events. The benefit of group blogs is that they provide diversity to your readership while easing the load of blogging.
- Collaborating with a photographer or web designer: Many bloggers are gifted with words but may not have a “trained” eye for visuals to provide quality images or artwork to accompany their blog posts. According to Jeff Bulas, “Blog posts that include images receive 94% more total views.”
- Blog tours and link parties: You can take part in online events during which bloggers promote the work of other bloggers and authors; this is an excellent way to broaden your fan base. A blog tour is the equivalent of a physical book tour only completed virtually. You might host another blogger or author, for example, by featuring a guest post, review, or interview on your site. In reverse, you might ask other bloggers to feature you on their sites. Tours usually require that you publish material on a scheduled date, and sometimes they include a contest or give-away. Link parties provide chances to share your work on other websites and to find other bloggers with whom you might want to partner or collaborate. During a link party, you can “link up” by sharing a post URL, a title for the post, and a photo from the post. Others who attend the party can click on the hyperlink and check out your work. Tours and link parties offer a great way to foster relationships and support fellow bloggers and authors.
Look for the Right Collaborative Fit
For collaborations to be fruitful and profitable, you’ll need to have the appropriate conditions and guidelines in place—and the “right fit” between you and the person with whom you pair up.
Despite the best of intentions of all, I’ve discovered that sometimes collaborators can possess little compatibility in key areas. What makes for a good personal union does not necessarily make for a good business relationship.
The price for these mismatches? Strained relations, frustration, and lost productivity.
12 Best Practices for Collaboration
With this in mind, below are a dozen key practices and principles that will optimize your efforts and create a win/win for all parties:
1. Start strong with the “right fit.” Don’t be fooled. Not everyone we like or with whom we enjoy a friendship makes a good business partner. Is the person like-minded? Do you both share a similar work ethic? Are your temperaments compatible? Choose wisely.
2. Get recommendations from people whose opinion you value. Sometimes people in your creative circle or writers’ group can serve as great “matchmakers.” Why not see who they recommend as a good collaborator for you?
3. Document who will be responsible for what and when. The more parameters you have regarding roles and designated deadlines, the better.
4. Make sure that your strengths and weaknesses are complementary and not conflicting. Remember there is no ‘I” in “team.” Each person must bring something to the table that makes the work and result stronger.
5. Cultivate the art of compromise. Even in the best scenarios, people disagree on how things should be handled. Be willing to see your partner’s perspective, and to find a happy medium. (If you’re married you will have plenty of practice here.)
6. Pull your weight. There’s nothing worse than working with a slacker. It also can be a detriment to future collaboration referrals.
7. Consider brainstorming individually and collectively. Some of my best creative ideas come to me when I’m all alone in the solitude of a bubble bath, and my muse is not feeling pressured. Your “genius” may come to you while working in your garden. On the other hand, brainstorming with others can spark new ideas, perspectives, and inspiration. Whatever works, work it!
8. Make sure that you and your partner(s) are “on the same page.” Not only should the two of you have the same agenda and goals but also the same sense of urgency. In other words, if you are deadline oriented and the other person has to wait for the “right mood” to move forward on things, these differences will cause tremendous stress and potentially sabotage your collective success.
9. Remember to treat your collaborator with respect and as a valued professional. In too many collaboration situations, one person wants to act like a parent or supervisor. Let go your ego!
10. Be each other’s cheerleader and support system. By supporting and encouraging each other, you both remain motivated and bonded. Plus, you’ll have a greater sense of fun as you work toward crossing the finish line.
11. Keep a journal to record your ideas, mishaps, research notes, and the collective experience. Those records will prove valuable for future reference should you decide to work on another collaborative project or with the same person again. And having notes to which you can refer later can decrease your learning curve next time.
12. Keep the lines of communication open. Writer and editor Ron Moody adds the following: “Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. Speak what’s on your mind and keep your relationship and your project moving forward as you discover how this ‘third dimension’ to the creative process can help to improve both your writing and your relationships.”
Creative collaborations are a great way for you to make progress in your blogging and writing career, build platform, make more money, and make new friends. So pair yourself up with someone, and reap the benefits of working together.
Have you been paired with another collaborator? Tell us about your experience?
About the Author
Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, relationship columnist, ghost writer, award-winning blogger and author. Her work has appeared in various online and print publications including: ProBlogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, Women on Writing and the Well-Fed Writer E-zine.
Banks is the managing editor of Coffeehouseforwriters.com, where she also teaches creative writing classes. When she’s not at the keyboard, she loves cooking, reading, “Jeopardy,” music, and shopping.
Find out more about Jennifer here: Penandprosper.blogspot.com/
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