Coworking Tips: How To Collaborate With Other Freelancers

Coworking and collaboration

Last week I wrote about mentoring new freelancers as a way to become more involved in the coworking community. This week, I’d like to take a look at another way to help create a vibrant, more connected community: hiring your friends and fellow members.

For many business owners, the words “hiring your friends” set off multiple alarms and warning whistles. Working with friends and family members can be a recipe for disaster…unless you know how to do it right.

With the proper preparation and foresight, collaborating with fellow coworking members can reduce stress, improve the quality of your product, and enrich your life as a community member.

Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a collaborator:

Don’t assume that because you know them, they’re the right freelancer for the job. Whether it’s with your best friend or the newest member of your coworking space, a collaboration will only be successful if you choose the right person for the job. Look at integrity as well as ability. Think about the way they conduct themselves with fellow members and their clients. They might be good for a laugh, but will they buckle down when the deadline’s looming?

Walk softly, and carry a comprehensive contract. It’s one thing to offer your coworker $20 to edit an article you wrote. It’s another to invite them to be part of a three-month project. Contracts define who is responsible for what, and when it needs to be delivered. Oh yeah, and how much everyone gets paid. If there’s money involved, using a contract shows that you respect your collaborator, and want to make sure they are protected as well. DO IT.

Don’t be a dick. Just because you’re entering into a business relationship doesn’t mean you have to forget that you are friends. Or at least friendly acquaintances. Be flexible. Understand (within reason) life happens. Try to divide and conquer work in a way that’s comfortable for everyone involved. The best collaborations will feel like they were meant to be, and quality work will flow naturally from their formation.

Don’t be a pushover. In your zeal to be accommodating, don’t forget that you’re a businessperson with a job to do. If someone’s slacking, don’t be afraid to say something. It will only cause you stress and cost you money if you don’t.

Collaboration Checklist via Freelance Folder:

  • Does that person have any special skills?
  • Will it be beneficial for both of you?
  • How well do you know this person?
  • Is the person financially stable? (will you get paid?)
  • Is this person reliable? Punctual, honest, hard-working?
  • Can you delegate tasks to this person? (vice-versa)
  • What would happen if you ever disagree on something business related? Something personal?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Who gets the credit?
  • How will the pay is to be divided?

Have you ever collaborated with a fellow freelancer? Would you do it again? Share your experience in a comment!

Why Continuing Education Is Essential For Freelancers

Lots of people hear the word “freelance” and interpret it to mean “between jobs.” While it might be true that some aspects of a freelance job are less concrete than punching a clock in an office building every day (like location or regularity of paycheck) many freelancers feel more secure with a diverse array of clients and skills to choose from.

The key to sustaining freelance success is continuing your education, both in your chosen field and as a general businessperson. If it’s been a while since you’ve learned something new, here are reasons to think about whipping those brain cells back into shape.

1. What’s New Is Already Old

Technology advances at the speed of light. What’s cutting-edge one day is obsolete the next. While it might not happen quite as quickly, business practices are changing too. Although you might be comfortable in your knowledge chances are there are new and more efficient ways of approaching client needs that you haven’t heard about yet. The key to attracting and retaining the best clients is your ability to offer professional expertise in the most advanced areas of your field.

2. Better Education = More Pay

“Worker skills must evolve to meet the demands of an increasingly globalized, technology-driven workplace,” found a 2007 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Even in a recession, large businesses realize that investing in personal and professional development makes sense. You’re a business too. If you want to compete with the big boys and increase your hourly fee, maintaining a current level of education and certification is a no-brainer.

3. It Keeps You Connected

Taking a workshop, signing up for a seminar, or attending an industry conference are all easy ways to expand your professional network as well as your knowledge base. If you want to be tapped in to the pulse of your profession, you need to be talking, sharing, and learning from other freelancers and industry leaders. Armed with the collaborative skills you’ve learned from coworking, these individuals could become your future clients and business partners.

>>Next Week: Easy Ways To Continue Your Freelance Education

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