The magic of collaboration

If the idea of working jointly on a project or activity incites hellish flashbacks of uni group projects, stick with me. Collaboration is not a dirty word. Done right, it can open up some pretty awesome opportunities, bring new people and ideas into your world and play an integral part in the future success of your business. Whether you’re a product or service-based business, you can form connections with others, and grow your business by investing in and collaborating with these connections.

One of the best things about running my own business is the opportunity to collaborate with other people. I may work for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss interaction in the workplace. So, now I simply create it. Through collaborating with others, I can experience a feeling of connectedness. Starting out in a brand new industry in my mid 30s, I found myself totally out of the networks and loops that I had built up over 12 years in the education sector. My career had changed, but so too had the nature of networking.

Here’s why you should consider collaboration for your small business.

For inspiration:

It’s easy to get stuck doing things a particular way. Need a new perspective? Online tools and blogs can inspire you, sure, but try human connection for the ability to discuss, share and communicate inspiration and information. Who knows? You may end up with a fresh technique, tool or new content idea. Someone to bounce ideas off can trigger creativity, and also provide an objective point of view.

To grow your network:

Nothing terrified me more than networking when I started working for myself. Going along to my first networking event felt like a torturous first day at school. Each time I approach new people, my stomach does a little flip, but I do it anyway. I didn’t leave my last career with a huge list of contacts or clients. I’ve built them up from scratch. And I truly believe in the power of human connection. So, if I don’t continue to put myself out there, chatting about why I believe in my business, how can I expect it to grow? An added bonus, of course, is that I’ve met such wonderful people whose services and products I can access. The reality of being in business is that you need to consistently make connections, to encourage referrals and new work. Every time you reach out to someone, you are expanding your network, whether or not it results in collaboration.

To learn:

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I’m driven by a desire for lifelong learning. I actually hanker for it. While sometimes the breadth of what I don’t know seems overwhelming, it’s also very motivational. Collaboration brings with it the opportunity to learn from someone with a different skill set, strengths and perspective.

To problem-solve:

There is definitely power in numbers, in terms of accomplishing something or solving a problem.

Here are some of my favourite collaborations to date:

Creative Darebin Networking Breakfasts - a weekly breakfast for creatives in my hood ticks all the boxes. Casual conversation over coffee with like-minded types? Yes, please.

She Will Shine Women’s Business Network - a totally unstuffy, supportive and inspiring girl gang offering networking nights, power groups, dinners and the rest!

Hood Mama Edit - a slick photo shoot collaboration masterminded by Holly at Motherhood Melbourne and shot by legend behind the lens, Jess Worrall.

Guest blogs on other sites (psst...did you catch me on Seriously Milestones last night?) and interviews with people I admire, like my chat with author Emily Brewin.

Opportunities that have come my way only because I had the courage to reach out. I’ve had some of my freelance articles published and generated new copywriting work this way.

So, what should I consider first?

Before you reach out, think carefully about who to partner with and why. Do your goals and values align? Do you have the same target audience? What can you each bring to the table? How will the collaboration idea work? On a practical level, you can use your combined leverage to connect with more people and spread your message. Social media campaigns don’t need heaps of money or followers, but they do need a genuinely engaged following to be successful. Other ideas are to feature one another, such as by guest blogging or promoting each other’s services. Photo shoots can work too. For the Hood Mama Edit, bloggers and writers wore the products supplied, then created content. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with your ‘so-called’ competitors either. There’s power in numbers, and clearly common interests. The question may be, why wouldn’t you?

How do I get started?

I’d encourage you to begin online, via Facebook groups or networking sites. I love connecting with fellow freelancers and copywriters this way. Search your local area for IRL networking options too, or chat to your friends. They may know someone they can put you in touch with. You don’t need to meet in person if that’s too tricky. There’s always Skype for chats, Google Drive for doc sharing and Trello for project management. Keep it easy! Just enjoy the process.

What collaborations have you been a part of? Let me know. Or if you've got a great idea about how we could work together, let's chat!

 

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The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas

You know you should be blogging. And I know you know it.

But, why? I hear you ask. I’m so busy with everything else. I totally get you.

Ok, so first the why. Blogging can establish you as an authority in your industry, help you to build an audience of potential customers or clients, and it’s also great for SEO. Depending on your industry, your blog can also act as a portfolio. For instance, potential clients can quickly get a sense of my writing style by reading my blog.

But who has the energy to come up with content ideas all the time? Even fortnightly blogging comes around very quickly, I can tell you!

So let me help.

This list of 11 ideas is readily adaptable to your industry, and flexible enough to suit your unique tone - whether that’s more serious or light and humorous. Each blog post idea also offers a WHY - the benefit for your readers. Ultimately, it’s them you are writing for and their time is precious.

When it comes to crafting the post, make sure you always create a strong headline to engage your readers, using a ‘hook’ that relates to your topic. Try not to be too clever or obscure! Numbers can work well to grab the attention of readers, such as 10 Instagram Accounts You Need to be Following. Bam!

I really hope you enjoy using this list of ideas, and I’m sure it will spur you on to create many more of your own.

 

A day in the life of...your profession.

Help your readers - potential clients and customers - learn more about you and what your typical day looks like.

Bust myths about your profession.

Assist your readers to understand more about what you do work-wise, and perhaps helps them overcome any blocks they might have about using your product or services.

Quick tips about small business.

Establish yourself as someone your readers trust and appreciate. Tips could be anything from how to make over a LinkedIn profile, to how to stay organised for tax time. Just think - what could simplify life for a small business owner just like you?

How to survive the first year in business.

This piece could be either humorous or serious, while providing practical advice for readers.

Instagram accounts or bloggers to follow.

Provide your readers with new inspiration, resources and networks.

Podcasts to listen to.

Position yourself as someone who shares useful resources. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like an authority or an expert! You have something worth sharing.

Music that motivates or inspires you.

Reveal more about yourself, while broadening the interests of your readers. After all, who doesn’t want to feel more motivated or inspired?

Networking tips or tricks.

Give your readers valuable advice about an aspect of business that scares the pants off some people.

A product or service review.

Review a business resource, cafe, restaurant, playground - you name it. Help readers to learn more about what interests you, while perhaps introducing them to a new product or service.

What I wish I knew when I was starting out.

Position yourself as someone who shares resources and good advice freely with others.

Teach your readers something.

The ‘something’ doesn’t need to strictly relate to your business, but make sure it’s helpful information.

Happy blogging!

P.S. If blogging still sounds too scary - or time consuming - just shout! I'll happily craft any blog posts you need.

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