Freelance to freelance: Forging strategic partnerships to grow your business

Find yourself a spotter

Freelancing has become a commonplace job title in this day and age. With more than 57 million Americans freelancing in today’s economy, our workforce is shifting. And that’s great, especially if you’re looking to start your own venture outside the typical nine-to-five. Why? Because with so many other freelancers already in the market, you’ll have every opportunity to form strategic partnerships.

Whether you’re a web designer, a writer, a back-end developer or some other rad professional, you know the ins and outs of your job. You’re highly proficient in your skill set, and you’re confident you can bring something awesome to the table.

But what happens when you get a project request that requires you to strain your freelancer muscles?

Don’t pull a muscle — forge strategic partnerships

Strategic Partnerships Meeting

There’s a reason you’re a freelancer, and it’s because you’re really, really good at what you do. It’s great to be hired for a large project that could really bolster your portfolio, but if you come across unfamiliar territory during your work, the last thing you want to do is fake it.

For example, John Smith is need of a website. He hears of your design expertise and immediately hires you. Great! During the course of your work, you realize that John Smith also expects awesome, compelling, keyword-rich content. Content? In the future, it might be a good idea to noodle out those details from the get-go in the form of a proposal, but you really like this project and you don’t want to let it slip through your fingers. So you start forming strategic partnerships.

Working with another freelancer is a great way to deliver a comprehensive, appealing result that will leave your client satisfied — and your name on the top of his rolodex.

Makes sense, right? Now that you’re on board with hiring other freelancers to get the job done, here are a few things to keeping in mind moving forward.

Set boundaries

We touched on this briefly above. And while client-freelancer boundaries are a must, the same could be said for freelancer-to-freelancer partnerships. Make your requirements concise and clear. Only want to have a set two hours of availability for phone conversations? Say that from the start.

Pro tip: Only provide contact info that you’re comfortable sharing — offering every means of contact and then ignoring calls, avoiding texts, and only answering emails could foster a frustrating relationship.

Strategic partnerships involve a give and take.

 

Be honest with yourself and what you expect out of a business partner. In addition, acknowledge when your fellow freelancers are going out of their way to accommodate your schedule. And certainly don’t be afraid to do the same. Strategic partnerships involve a little give and take.

Editor’s note: Want to keep your business and personal life separate? Consider adding a second phone number to your mobile phone with SmartLine. Monitor incoming calls for your business and answer accordingly, send and receive texts, and more — all while keeping your personal details private.

Create a schedule

Part of the joy of being a freelancer is working on your own time and your own schedule. But once you start to involve more people, not everything can be done during the midnight hour. Not sure where to start? Managing a team, especially if they’re remote, can be difficult. But you can always:

  • Utilize a shared calendar
  • Hold regular meetings to keep up on progress
  • Set checkpoints for the project
  • Be mindful of time and cultural differences

Adhering to a schedule doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing your freedom. In fact, even when you’re working alone you’ll still need to manage your time effectively.

Allow for (artistic) freedom

Another joy of tackling projects on your own is having total freedom and decision-making power when it comes to your work.

Strategic Partnerships Painter
Photo: la_farfalla_22 via Visual hunt / CC BY

When you’re working with more than one person, expect to field a variety of ideas and solutions. And while you’re used to solving this stuff on your own, an extra set of eyes could catch a problem you didn’t initially see. Or bring a different angle to the project. The big takeaway here is to follow the golden rule and treat others how you’d want to be treated. No one wants to have their ideas stepped on, so treat all concepts with kindness.

And, if you’ve planned it into your schedule, give your colleagues the opportunity to flesh out their ideas. You never know what concept will elevate your project to the next level!

Develop clear lines of communication

Solitude comes with the territory when working alone, but not when it comes to strategic partnerships. And sometimes, that can lead to a breakdown in communication. As freelancers, we’re all so used to plugging in and tuning out — it’s how we roll. But when we’ve got others helping us out, it’s beneficial (and courteous) to establish clear lines of communication.

Take into account your teammates’ personalities, geographical location, time zones and general practices when coming up with a communication strategy.

There are a variety of ways to talk to your fellow freelancers. Online chats, emails, phone calls, text messages, Skype, Zoom — you name it. Communicating is an art, and it’s your job to find a forum that works for all of you. In addition, be present and available. It’s fine to have off-duty or do-not-disturb hours, but if you’re heading a project, then make sure your colleagues have the ability to voice concerns and/or issues with you.

In conclusion

Gone are the days of straining your muscles and scrambling to handle large projects that might be beyond your scope. With strategic partnerships, you can collaborate with other freelancers and work together to accomplish seemingly daunting tasks. Just remember to be considerate and establish clear rules and communication from the beginning.


Also published on Medium.