"Collaboration" can mean SO many different things in the creative world - sometimes it means co-writing a blog post, sometimes it means creating a piece with another creative who has different expertise, and sometimes, as we all know, it can mean "give me your time and energy for free". This last one has become all-too-prevalent for many artists, so our alarm bells go off as soon as we see the word "collaborate". However, I have been asked to collaborate and asked others to collaborate in efforts that have been mutually beneficial for all parties involved - this is actually how I landed a mention in People last year! I am a firm believer in the power of collaboration, so I wanted to share some common misconceptions about collaborating and what the truth really is. If you are planning a collaboration soon, then these are some vital tips to be aware of to make sure you get the most out of it (and don't set off any of those alarm bells with your fellow creatives!).
Myth: All Creatives Want to Collaborate
There are a ton of reasons why creatives may want to collaborate with you, but there are probably even more reasons why they might not want to collaborate with you. Not because you aren't great, of course, but just because everyone's business needs are different. I have taken on fewer collaborations the busier I've become with my actual client work, and some creatives simply aren't looking to bring in new clients or vendors during certain times in their business.
This is a big misconception especially during wedding season! Depending on how many clients we as creatives take on, planning a collaboration can serve as an unnecessary source of stress. Planning a styled shoot takes a lot of work; the planner or the lead has to find vendors as if it were a real wedding! Just recently we did a few pieces for a tropical styled wedding with Madalyn from Madalyn Yates Photography and it was so much fun and being that it was minimal pieces, we were able to put them together quickly for her!
Also, keep in mind that not all collaborations are the right type of collaborations. For instance, helping with a planner workshop may not be beneficial to another planner. Helping with a venue manager workshop, however, might be. Pay attention to the type of work you're asking for to get the best responses. We talk a lot (I mean a lot!) about finding the right type of collaborations for your business on our latest YouTube video HERE.
Myth: All Creatives Know What to Collaborate
Sometimes we just have an urge to be creative and see all the ideas on Pinterest but we don’t know where to go from there…how do we select one idea or theme that we want to collaborate on?
To start, think of your goals. One of the main goals of doing a styled shoot, for instance, is to be published! Being published requires the theme of the shoot to be unique and something that hasn't been overly shared across all social media platforms. So, to be honest, scrolling Pinterest for a theme idea isn't enough on its own - if you do that, make sure to put your own spin on the details so it doesn't look like the other weddings out there!
Selecting a theme is usually an idea you've dreamed of or a million different ideas that you want to combine to make your own idea - inspiration can come from anywhere, and a little cohesive direction can go a long way in a collaborative shoot! Give your collaborators a Design Board for the shoot and any specs (for instance, I always need to know how many table settings there will be, so I can provide the right number), and then let their creativity take it from there!
Myth: Collaborations are Expensive
Money doesn’t equal success; you don’t have to spend XXX amount of dollars in order to create a publish-worthy collaboration or a beautiful piece.
Doing a collaboration is not planning a wedding. You have to plan a lot of the same aspects of a wedding but you don't have to think about the 100+ guests attending the wedding. You can scale down the shoot to the minimal parts to get the point across that you're doing a styled wedding; hair and make up, a sweetheart table, and a cake table. Everything else you choose to do is up to you! One of my favorite tricks is to provide only one printed menu and the rest blank pieces of paper - this saves time and money but no one really sees the text on the menu except in those few close-up shots. If you schedule your shoot near an actual wedding, you may be able to re-allocate flowers, linens, and even real stationery at no additional cost to you!
As far as the vendors, most understand that collaborations aren't paid; so they are willing to donate their time in return for photographs and credit when sharing across the world wide web.
Be creative; that is your job, right? You will have to invest some money into the collaboration but you don’t have to break the bank.
Collaborations have to be Super Elaborate to be Successful
Like said before, keep it to the minimum. If you're going to be elaborate, choose one part to be a little extra! Maybe it's the florals or the cake, but just know that you don't have to go overboard!
Depending on where you want to submit or what audience you’re trying to cater to, you don’t have to be super elaborate; a lot of collaborations are very simple and it is in the way the creatives are doing their job to make it special.
The key with all collaborations is to keep your specific goals in mind - if you want to bring in a new audience, then create pieces that would appeal to them, even if that's not what you've created in the past. All collaborations take work from everyone involved, but if you work together and establish a clear goal from the start, it will help make the work that you put in all the more valuable! Check out our YouTube channel to learn more about choosing and organizing the right kind of collaborative shoots for your business, and make sure to subscribe so you can get all the helpful knowledge that we throw around!!!