Why Collaboration Over Competition is Important
An interesting email from a reader hit my inbox over the weekend and it compelled me to write this post in an effort to inspire and advise you all on why collaborating with other creatives is so important and invaluable. "Collaboration over competition..." an idea that I love and wholeheartedly believe in. In fact, this exact concept is why my love for the creative industry has grown significantly over the years. And it's the reason why I've seen more success than ever in both my blog and freelance work.
Some may think everyone needs a healthy dose of competition, but to be honest, there is no better feeling than teaming up with a badass babe or an inspiring creative on something kickass. To me, competition in this industry can be a lonely concept. If your competing for numbers, constantly comparing yourself to others, or finding yourself judging people while scrolling through your Instagram feed, you're doing things wrong. When you isolate yourself by trying to be the best, especially when you opt to work alone, you're losing out on several amazing opportunities like building relationships, creating a tribe, cultivating ideas and perspectives, developing an effective product, and most importantly, stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself to take risks.
The thought of collaboration can be scary. You're no longer in the bubble that is me, myself, and I, but rather joining forces with others to develop something and having to share the concept. As hesitant as you may be, it's worth it. If you're new to blogging or you've been blogging for some while, but haven't quite made an effort to connect with others, there's no better time to do so than now.
It's also important to remember that there's enough work to go around. There will always be another project or another idea. I realize seeing others gain amazing work can be intimidating, but when you think about, there are thousands of creatives and bloggers succeeding in this industry - there is room for all of us to make it. Collaborating with others is a great way to network and build your audience, and in turn, usually more work comes out of it. Another reason to collaborate is that you may just not be the best for a certain job! Maybe you need help developing a blog post on a specific topic and need an expert to pipe in and help you build content. Or maybe you want a really cool print product designed for a company or event you've created, but you aren't great at graphic design. Let's be honest, sometimes we can't do it all! Others may help us think of new ways to present things or say things, or they may take our concepts and bring them to life. Working with others can help open the dialogue, improve content, gain expertise, and mutually benefit both of you as you create a successful product through a collaborative process.
A few ways I've collaborated with like-minded creatives over the past couple months...
1. Collaborated on a blog post with other bloggers. In the past, I've worked with bloggers for my own blog or for theirs on guest blog posts, interviews, and more. Collaborating on blog posts is also beneficial because you build relationships with people in your industry, and if you're trying to gain a following, usually you're numbers grow as others discover you through a post.
2. Met someone I knew from social media/blogging in person. While we all have those social media relationships with creatives we've never met in person, there is something to be said about face to face interaction. I usually make an effort to meet someone every month or two for drinks or coffee in the DC area. It's almost always resulted in building an actual friendship. That's right, a friendship where we talk about real life things and not just about our blogs or work! This may not be dubbed as a collaboration, but what I mean by sharing this is that it usually leads to just that.
3. Worked with a creative that inspired me on a design project. I've had requests for freelance work from a few inspiring ladies who I've followed for years. This has been extremely beneficial to me because I've gained a lot of knowledge in the design process, built my expertise, made real friendships, and have had my work exposed to new audiences. Not to mention, together we created some really cool sh*t. Working with other creatives to develop a product is incredibly beneficial because, simply put, two heads are better than one - especially when both heads are talented and creative and love the same things. It's so fun to see what you can create with others. Say yes to work that inspires and excites you, even if you're doing it for another person, company, or brand. Most of my favorite work and collaborations were things I created for others and not for myself!!! Also, pro tip, collaborations lead to more collaborations.
4. Had discussions with my friends in the industry on my current goals, work, and ideas. When you've built relationships with those in the industry, I can't tell you how effective one-on-one chats can be when it comes to sharing your ideas... or just venting out your frustrations. I often meet with creatives to talk about my own work or potential ideas I have for new work, and I'm always met with bigger, better ideas and feeling more inspired than ever. An honest opinion from someone who knows what you're going through is so so helpful. And sometimes this may even lead to collaborating on the new idea together.
5. Promoted others' work, websites, or social media. Collaboration means building each other up and in this industry we need all the help we can get. When I read a post I love, see a photo that inspires me, or simply want to help promote something another creative needs pushed out, I always try to share it. Do this whenever you can - not because you have to, but because you want to, be genuinely excited to share something. Tag others where the opportunity sits and link back to original sources.
6. Built fun and free content for readers. Collaborating on products for readers is always a good idea. Last year, I worked with Glitter Guide on downloadable content and it was so fun to do! I still get messages and tags from people using backgrounds I designed and it always puts a smile on my face. Keep in mind that not every single project needs to come with a paycheck attached. Collaborating with people or brands on small projects usually makes a big impact as your work gets shared more and more. And once again, this can lead to future work.
There are so many ways to collaborate, the list is endless! Build an online social media community with others, plan a blogger event with a friend in the industry, create a group pinterest board, have someone review your work and provide feedback, feature someone on your blog, pitch ideas to a brand for a design project, etc! Make a goal this year to be supportive, connect, build solid relationships, and always keep in mind "collaboration over competition." You'll not only create work you are passionate and inspired by, but from a business perspective, it's a great way to gain exposure and build your skills! In an era, especially for women, where we are building eachother up, there is no better way to support someone else or make something beautiful than by working together. Through collaboration you'll gain a network of amazing people and cultivate that creative environment we so often crave.
Let me know how you've collaborated with others in your industry! Why do you think it's important to do so?