[Editors Note: If you enjoy this article and want to learn more about collaboration, check out the The Unlimited Freelancer eBook — it’s got a ton of information about working with other freelancers]
As you continue to freelance, you may come to a point where it just makes sense to collaborate with another freelance professional.
It may happen because a project that you are offered requires skills that you don’t have. It may happen because you desire creative input from another freelancer that you respect. Or, it may happen because your work schedule has gotten so busy that you need to share some of the workload in order to grow and expand.
Whatever the reason, collaboration can be a great experience for a freelancer — with a lot of significant benefits. Or, it can be a real nightmare when each collaborator gets hung up in details like:
- Who is responsible for what?
- Who gets the credit?
- How will the pay is to be divided?
The key to collaborative success is in the preparation. You should follow some basic guidelines when you collaborate to avoid problems. Here are a few suggestions:
- Be selective about who you collaborate with. When picking a collaborator, look at integrity as well as ability. Ask yourself if this person is reliable and honest. Remember that your name will likely be linked together with this person in the mind of the client.
- Be clear about the division of responsibilities. When collaborating, define who is responsible for each specific task. There’s nothing worse than coming to the end of a project and discovering that each party in the collaboration performed exactly the same tasks and ignored exactly the same tasks.
- Be certain about the money. If you collaborate, the money question is sure to come up. Determine the answer to this question in advance and put it in writing. If possible, make use of a contract that designates how each collaborator will be paid.
- Be specific about who receives the credit. If the project will allow the freelancers to receive credit for the work or if it is a portfolio project, discuss how the credit will be distributed. The collaborators may agree that one of them receives most of the credit, or they may opt to be acknowledged equally for their work.
- Be flexible. An important aspect of working with another person is flexibility. If your project timeline allows it, accommodate your collaborator’s schedule as well as your own. For example, one of you may be a night person and the other a morning person. Meetings in the afternoon might be a compromise.
- Be honest with your collaborator and with yourself. When working with another person, particularly a person who you admire, there can be a tendency to try and impress that person. Don’t let this tendency affect your project. If you need help, ask for it.
- Be open to suggestions. One of the beauties of collaborating is that you get the benefit of feedback from another professional. When you receive that feedback, be gracious (even if you don’t agree). If you have to, suggest a compromise position.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to use some of the many excellent online workspaces that allow more than one individual to access a project.
Share Your Thoughts
Have you taken part in a collaborative project as a freelancer? If so, what successes did you experience and what obstacles did you face?
Do you have any tips for freelancers who are looking to start collaborating?
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