As the amount of freelancers worldwide increase at an amazing rate, collaboration projects are becoming more of a reality than ever before. Freelancing is shaking off the clichéd lone wolf picture.
You don’t have to be a one man show anymore. Connecting with other freelancers can benefit your business in a number of ways. We’re here to tell you how to do it. But first let’s talk about what makes collaboration so good?
Why should you consider collaborating with other freelancers?
Too much to do, too little time. Freelancing businesses have the tendency to grow sporadically and often unexpectedly. If you’re at the point of your career where you find yourself declining projects that you actually want to do, you know how quickly that transition can happen. And there are also projects that are just too big for one person. Getting a couple of extra hands on deck can push your business to the next level.
More people, more skills. You might be pretty good at what you do. But there will always be things you cannot do as good as another freelancer. When different sets of skills get combined, there are synergy effects. Together, a team can achieve more and better quality work than any one of its members could by itself.
Finding your collaborators
When looking for freelancers to collaborate with, you’ll have to put yourself in the skin of all those clients who have to pick someone on a daily basis. As a freelancer, you will intuitively know what to look for. But here are few tips nonetheless:
– Look for specific skills. You’re looking for someone to help you solve a specific problem. Most of the time, you won’t need a broad skill set, but someone who is really good at their niche.
– Check out their previous projects. Applications and interviews are important, but nothing beats real-world experience.
– Don’t go for the cheapest option. Going with someone who charges below average is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot. Treat other freelancers the way you want to be treated – fairly and with respect.
The three rules to a successful collaboration
The first rule of a successful collaboration is to have clear rules. Who does what? Who has authority for what parts? This can be formalized in a collaboration agreement (see the next tip), but is important as an idea in itself. Freelancers are used to working independently, which means they set their own rules. The rules are only in their heads. And that can work out until a second party approaches – one that cannot read minds and has their own unwritten rules.
Secondly, communication will make or break a collaboration project. Be honest to each other. Talk often and talk a lot. If possible, meet in person – physical meetings can rarely be replaced by virtual ones completely. Online collaboration tools and apps can help minimize the impact of a geographical barrier. And don’t just talk at each other – listen! Giving and receiving feedback is vital.
Thirdly, be flexible. You are freelancers for a reason. Don’t apply the constraints of 9 to 5 jobs to freelancer collaboration. They will just hamper everyone working on the project. Everyone works in a different way and it is important to accept this if you want a team to work together well.
That being said, setting certain limits is also necessary. And if you want them to be real, hard limits that everyone abides to, you better put them in writing – that’s what the next chapter is about.
Collaboration agreement or sub-contracting
A collaboration agreement or contract is a way to ensure all of those rules you created don’t just depend on everyone being fair and behaving. It might sound cynical, but remember that your reputation and your pay are on the line. A collaboration agreement is essentially a contract for your team project.
Most important aspects in a freelance collaboration agreement
1. Who is responsible for which part of the work?
2. Setting deadlines
3. Distributing revenue (Who gets how much?)
4. Distributing rights
5. Who gets the final say if there’s a difference in opinion?
6. Who is the primary contact to the client?
7. What happens if someone breaks the contract or leaves before the work is done?
There is an alternative to this that works in the specific case that there is a clear hierarchy. If one of the freelancers is the person who got the contract, has more expertise and is essentially hiring the other party to help, sub-contracting is the way to go.
That means the client will have a contract with the first freelancer who will then have a contract with the other freelancer, the so-called sub-contract.
Remember how important is it to have other freelancers as your allies instead of your rivals! Happy freelancing everyone!
Are you thinking of collaborating with other freelancers or have already done so? Share your thoughts in the comments below this article, we’re looking forward to hearing from you!