To collaborate or not? That is the question.

Working with another creative has so many advantages, but if done incorrectly can also be your downfall. On the upside, collaborating can increase your audience, widen your product offerings and open your eyes to new possibilities.

Last year, I began my first collaboration with Allisa Jacobs developing the grocery shopping portfolios. It has been a true team effort in creating this unique product and an experience I’d do again over and over.

Let’s talk about a few key pieces that are needed to have a successful collaboration:

Don’t wait for the perfect time. Just go for it!
To some, this might sound hasty and risky but just bear with me. Imagine you have a great idea on a new product but you only have a few pieces to the puzzle. You also know someone, let’s say via Twitter, that has your same sense of style and can complete that puzzle. Rather than wait a month, or longer to have everything perfectly together, reach out to them with your crazy idea! Set out the feelers, see how they react. What’s the worse that can happen?

Do your research.
Now most of you are scratching your head and thinking, she just said jump in. Yes, but once you have the green light from your potential collaborator, then you want to figure out how the relationship will work. Study the market place and figure out how others are producing, marketing and selling similar products. Then figure out how your new product will be unique.

Get everything in writing!
I cannot stress this enough. Luckily, my relationship with Allisa has turned into a budding friendship, but not all collaborations will be so lucky. I’m not trying to scare you but just be cautious whenever you are working with others. Figure out together who will produce what, if your new item is handmade. How will you sell your product? Pricing? Production costs? Trial period? Marketing? Think about it all and either create a formal contract that both parties will sign (which you can easily do via echosign) or keep all communication in the form of emails.

Have fun!
Just have fun with your new venture. If you and your partner are excited about it, others will follow suit. Spread the word via social media, pitch to blogs, shout it through your e-newsletter…whatever venue you choose to go with, go forth with unwavering enthusiasm.

These tips were built on the type of relationship, Allisa and I have, where we both contribute an item that created a new product. But there are many different ways of collaborating such as licensing and outsourcing.

Have you collaborated before? If so, what type of relationship model did you use and was it successful?