There are so many reasons to get involved with collaborations as a creative. You’ll meet new people, broaden your horizons, improve creatively, learn new skills, produce great work and you’ll have fun doing it! If it’s your first time or if you’re a seasoned pro, read our tips on how to have better, more successful collaborations.
1. Collaboration will help you produce better work.
People who’ve never collaborated before are sometimes scared they’ll get their ideas stolen or that they won’t get the credit for their work. In fact, working with other people will help you produce better ideas, better work and improve your skills as a creative. It’s psychologically proven that people working together in a group will produce better and faster work than those working on the same task alone. To avoid getting your work stolen or missing out on recognition for your work, see point 10.
3. Choose your squad carefully.
It’s natural to gravitate towards like-minded individuals when you’re looking for people to collaborate with. It feels comfortable and you know you’ll get on with them. But, the best teams are made up of different types of people. Choose a mix of males and females, extroverts and introverts, styles and genres. Mixed teams always out perform and produce better work. You’ll get a mix of different opinions and everyone will bring something new to the table, not just the same old ideas.
2. Collaboration is the combination of a lot of different people’s ideas.
If one person in your team is more forthright than the others it can be easy for them to take control and start making decisions on the group’s behalf. You should avoid this at all costs. The joy of collaboration is that it’s about everyone’s suggestions and contributions. Everyone in your team deserves their voice to be heard, the quiet ones often have the best ideas. Show some respect and let other people speak up.
Don’t start collaborating unless you have a plan of what you’re going to do in place. Get everyone in the team together, and decide on what your project will be, what will be created (the end product), and the desired outcome. Set a timeframe and deadlines for when sections of the project need to be complete. This ensures that everyone understands the project and is working towards the same goals. Of course, some creative projects won’t benefit from such a rigid structure, instead it’s best to let the ideas flow naturally.
5. Make the commitment.
Finding time in everyone’s schedule to collaborate can be difficult, especially if you’re working remotely or in different timezones. This can often mean you’re getting up early or staying up late to talk to people in different countries. But, don’t be put off by this extra commitment – the benefits are rewarding. Make sure everyone on your team believes in the project. They have to be on board with the project’s aims and objectives otherwise the work will suffer. Everyone will need to push themselves to produce great work, but it will be worth it in the end.
6. Get out of your ivory tower.
Newsflash: collaboration is about working with other people. And by this we don’t mean bossing people around and inflating your own ego. You need to be open to suggestions, allow other people’s ideas to be heard and get your own ideas critiqued. Be humble and realise that someone else might have a better idea than you. It’s important to build relationships with everyone you’re working with. If your idea of collaboration is getting a bunch of people to bring your own ideas to life, then collaboration probably isn’t for you.
7. Get past the starting blocks.
The first thing you’ll need is an idea for a project. Once you’ve got that, look for a strong team to to help formulate the idea and get the project off the ground. Make sure your team are behind the project 100%. Look for tools that can help you collaborate, there are lots of free tools online. From communication tools like Sykpe and Slack, to project management tools like Asana and Trello. Don’t forget the obvious ones like Google Docs and Dropbox.
8. You won’t all be on the same page all the time.
Be prepared for disagreements. If this happens, it doesn’t mean your project is failing. Conflicting opinions are good because they force you to critique your own ideas. This doesn’t mean you have to compromise. Listen to everyone’s viewpoints, be open minded, don’t cling on to ideas that aren’t working and above all have respect. There will be criticism, but learn to welcome it. Talk through your differences and learn how to give constructive criticism back – never get angry, and never get personal. When you’re all putting your name on a project, everyone needs to be happy.
9. Remember the details.
Don’t forget important details like a budget, timings and profit sharing. Get these details confirmed before you start working on a project – the last thing you want to do is start deciding how the profits will be divided when the project is nearing completion. Deciding all the important stuff at the beginning will leave the path clear for your team to concentrate on creating with no distractions.
10. Make a contract.
Making a contract doesn’t mean you’re suspicious of your teammates. It just means you’ve put down in writing what you’re going to do, how things will be handled and what to do in case a change of plan happens. It’s good to have these things in writing in case you need to refer back to them. In most cases you probably won’t, but it’s good to have a back up. Your contract should include important stuff like how profits will be divided and who gets credit for what. It doesn’t need to be long or full of legal jargon. Our guide to collaboration rights goes into more detail on how to protect yourself when collaborating.