“Working for yourself can feel a bit lonely at times” – that’s something I hear from lots of sole traders, entrepreneurs and self employed business owners. Writing is often perceived as an individual activity, but in writing for business, I’ve found that’s far from the truth. I often work in collaboration with other businesses and benefit from people who offer a range of different skills and experience.
So what benefits does collaboration offer to your business? And where do you find the people to work with?
Collaborate for creative inspiration
I’ve been privileged to work with some amazing designers, animators, photographers and filmmakers throughout my career. Drawing inspiration from people with different backgrounds and experiences really helps spark new and original ideas.
As part of an agency, I got used to working with a tight-knit team creating concepts and visions for creative campaigns. We quickly moved from ‘That’s my idea, that’s your idea…’ to ‘That’s a great idea – how do we build on that?’ We trusted each other to work towards a shared goal of creating something that was bigger and better than the sum of our individual inputs.
Although I may not sit next to a creative team every day, I still find opportunities for creative collaboration. For example, I first worked with Ashleigh when I asked her to come up with a visual brand for Wordstruck I’d seen her work on twitter and really admired her style.
What you don’t see now are all the other ideas we discussed and debated, all the roads we didn’t go down. Ashleigh shared ideas and we discussed, developed and refined them to get to the finished versions. I learned a lot from being on the client side of the relationship and absolutely love my visual brand.
It felt like a very creative and supportive relationship, so now that Ashleigh is set to launch stop. an exciting new brand agency, I was delighted that she asked me to work with her on copy to launch and promote it. I can’t wait to show you the results of that collaboration.
Collaborate to benefit from expert help
I have been making my living from writing in one form or another for more than 20 years, so I am confident that I can deliver a great service as a writer for businesses. But I don’t have so much experience of running my own business, and I know that’s something that I have to continue to learn and work on.
I’ve benefited from lots of great free advice. But I’m a firm believer that it’s worth while paying an expert to help in areas where I lack the skills, knowledge or time to do something properly.
That’s why, I’ll be working with an accountant to help me manage my first self-assessment return. With several different sources of income since last April, I appreciate the reassurance of getting it done correctly and know that it will take them a lot less time than it will take me.
I also greatly appreciate the help and advice I’ve received about risk and insurance from Talbot Jones Risk Solutions. Talking to Richard and Clare about my business absolutely put my mind at rest about possible risks and filled me in on much that I didn’t know. At no time did I feel under any obligation to put business their way, but I was pleased to be able to do so.
And that’s where they really excelled, by providing the kind of personal patience and service that I think you only really get from independent businesses. I got a real sense that they were as invested in my business success as I am and really did their utmost to find me the right product at the right price.
Collaborate to develop skills
I love working with my writing clients, finding out about their business, discovering what makes them tick and how I can help them tell their story.
However well I prepare for a meeting or a call with a potential new client, there’s always the element of the unexpected.
I have to admit that I was a bit cautious about working with one of my clients at first, as I didn’t know much about them and it took some time to understand what they were looking for.
When I mentioned I was going off to do some voiceover work that afternoon, our conversation took a different turn, and I’m now using my journalism skills to help them develop original content for a brand new website launching soon.
Finding new people to work with is helping me develop greater confidence in talking about my business and listening for the opportunities to help others.
Collaborate to amplify your voice and support each other
In today’s world of social media, it can sometimes feel like you’re a lone voice shouting into the void, and that no-one out there is listening. My answer to that is to find your tribe – people who do similar things and understand what you’re taking on.
I found a great tribe of slightly mad people to support my running and triathlon adventures in the online community of Fetch Everyone. My writing tribe are members of 26 Characters and graduates of the Dark Angels courses.
Everyone on these forums is running their own business. We support each other by sharing recommendations for services and advice. We read and comment on each others blog posts, share and celebrate each others success and hang out in a space where it’s okay to ask questions.
Do you collaborate with other businesses? What are your challenges and successes? I’d love to hear about them.