Collaborating in Style

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This week's IFB column is about collaboration. This has been an area of growth for me over the past year as I've gotten many incredible offers to collaborate. And there's a learning curve for sure. Each of the four "remember to ..." tips I gave in Wednesday's column came from personal experience that I hope helps you navigate your own collaborations. More personal insights about Dean Street Society below:

Discuss publicity

I collaborated with a photographer earlier in the year. As I've done with many others, the trade is that we both get images for our sites & link back to one another when we post them. However, there was never a discussion of timeline. Because of my calendar, the images didn't go up until months after I'd recevied them. In the meantime, I recevied multiple angry emails. We had not communicated our expectations & theirs were not met. It led them to act out unprofesssionally, & filled my inbox with unfortunate notes to reply to. Since then I've collaborated with many others & not listed out a timeline on either end, without issue. But it would be smart in the new year for me to draw up a standard paragraph that simply states that images will go up as my editorial calendar permits, & I'll receive edited images as their work schedule permits, neither taking longer than 6 months time.

Do Your Homework

In another photoshoot the poor quality of the photographer made it difficult. The other parties involved wanted the images posted quickly, but the first round I received was so poor that it took me much longer than expected to weed through to find a few useable shots & edit them myself. I had researched the photographer ahead of time & couldn't find a website for them, which I should have taken as a red flag, instead of trusting the taste level of the others on board.

Integrity is Forever

I got into a rather heated discussion with an industry professional because I refused to wear jewelry I thought was extremely tacky, just because that brand was a sponsor. It was an uncomfortable moment & I can't say for certain that I handled it with the perfect amount of grace. Yet I do feel confident in maintaining that my brand is based upon my taste, & putting my stamp of approval on something I would never freely wear in real life would devalue the confidence my clients & readers put in me. Even if no one saw, I would know I compromised, & for me that's enough to speak up even when someone is "bigger" than I.

Consider the People

There are so many brands that I love. I love their heart, their motto, their commitment to keeping prices low or quality high. I love giving shout-outs to small brands on Etsy because I love supporting fellow entrepreneurs. I love working with photographers who don't yet have huge followings but I think are madly talented. I love tweeting links to posts by fellow bloggers who I think do great work. And when I don't believe in someone, even if the product is pretty, I tend to not say much. Above all I want to see good people & good companys succeed.

In the end, collaboration is such a win/win. And I find it so empowering that two small business people can partner together & through the free channels of the internet, spread the word about one another. But in the times it's gone sour, it has taken up valuable time & energy I wasn't anticipating, or forced me to stand my ground for what I believed was right. I think the reward is worth the risk, but it's best to be savvy from the smart & learn from your {& best of all my!} mistakes.

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P.S. Ten days till Birthchristdaymas. All the details are coming next week, but pencil December 17th on your calendar. You'll want to pop by the blog for a very special time sensitive gift. It's all about creating more providence in the new year ...

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