This Is My Deal :: How to Connect With People You Want to Collab With
'This Is My Deal' is a post series where I share more behind-the-scenes looks at my business — like how I got to where I am, how I actually do the fucking work, how I make money, and all of that good stuff. This post is the third in the series!
Over the years since I started my business, I’ve met so many awesome people on a similar path, and some I’ve been stoked to collaborate with on various projects.
I’ve had a few requests to write about how I made these connections and how I create relationships with other biz homies, so that’s what this post is all about.
As well as it just being awesome to create something with someone else, collaborations can be the coolest way to expand your audience and reach new people. I don’t think that expanding your reach should always be the #1 goal of a collab — because it’s more important to work with people you genuinely dig and want to create with, than it is about getting more eyeballs on your work — but it’s most def a cool positive of jamming with other brands + people.
If you’re not 100% sure what collaborations actually are, here’s a few examples ::
- A self-initiated side project (like a photo/video series that you jam on together)
- A product or service that you create together and sell (where you split your work and the profit between you)
- A video or blog series (where you could interview each other, or jam on whatever your common interests might be)
Before you dive in, one thing worth mentioning is that this post is mostly focused on collabs with just solo business owners or small companies — not huge Brands that do collaborations on the reg (where the process would be a little different).
Here’s my top 4 tips for finding + connecting people to collaborate with ::
1 :: Hit up people you think are rad (and don’t come straight out the gate asking for a collab)
All of my collaboration experiences have come only AFTER I’d been friends with people for a bit, so I think it’s important to keep in mind that the best collabs happen once you’ve formed a relationship with someone… Can you imagine what it’d be like to get mid-way through a collab and only then realise that you don’t even vibe with them that much? It would kinda suck.
So sometimes all it takes is a little email or DM saying ‘Hey I think you’re fucking cool, thank you for doing your thing’.
No over-the-top love. No throwing yourself at them. Just straight up letting them know you think they’re awesome. This is how a few side projects of mine have come together. Either I’d emailed them just to say Hey/You’re Cool or they’d emailed me, we chatted a few times and became friends, then we decided to create something together. I think if you let it just be very organic + don’t force it, that’s where the best collaborations come from.
Here's an example/template ::
Subject :: Thanks for being rad!
Hey [their Name here]!
I wanted to send you a quick email to say Hey + love your work!
I really dug that [video/post/email/whatever — say something specific here about something in particular you resonated with].
Anyway, that's all... Keep doing your thing.
[Your name + sign off + website/social]
2 :: Reach out with ZERO expectations (and respect their time)
I think this is really important when you’re reaching out to people you don’t know. Straight up — they don’t owe you shit.
Unless someone has given you reason to think that they’d love to chat with you or work with you, you gotta reach out with no expectations. Don’t expect them to reply just because you confessed your love for them… Sure, it’s awesome when people do take the time to reply or acknowledge you, but I just don’t think it’s realistic at all to expect it. Everyone has their own life and their own shit going on, and most of us just can’t reply to every single email or DM or comment personally — if we want to stay sane.
I also think this helps us retain a little humility, because when we do expect replies from ALL OF THE PEOPLE then we’re kinda just turning it into something all about us — instead of just reaching out with love and good vibes.
3 :: Invest in their shit
From memory, I think this is how I originally hooked up with the homies at Death to the Stock Photo — who I’ve now collaborated with a few times. I was following them already, and I was stoked on their free stock photos, so when they offered up a chance to purchase access to a whole swag of photos from a project they were working on — I was totally in. Then they saw my email and hit me back to say Thanks, and basically the rest was history.
If you really dig someones business or what they’re putting out, put yo money where your mouth is and invest in their vision.
4 :: Throw it out to the Universe
Another different approach is literally just to post in on the social medias or your mailing list that you're looking for cool kids to collaborate with. This was how one of my longest + most fun collabs came about... I literally just threw up a Tweet with something along the lines of 'Anyone down to collab on a creative project? Down for a magazine maybe...', I had one reply, we chatted a few times about what to make, realised we could do something rad, and then we made it happen.
Sometimes you just gotta throw it out there and see what happens. When you declare what you want to the world — sometimes that's when everything starts to come together.
Ready to connect with some cool people you dig and see what happens? Here’s what to do ::
- Make a list of 10 people you genuinely respect, and think are super cool.
- Write out an email to each of them, just saying Hey + ONE sentence about what you love about ‘em, or some words of encouragement. If you’re scared of over-doing it, I’d recommend not going over about 70 words. Keep it short and sweet, son.
- SEND DA EMAILS! And remember, when you hit send, do it with no expectations.
- Then if you want to, write a short + sweet email or post for social media that you're looking to collab on a project. Then POST DAT SHIT.
So that’s what I got! I think the number one tip I got is that you reach out to people with very little expectations, and just try to get to know them as friends before you throw collabs at them.
The best projects always come from genuine relationships, where it’s obvious that you’re both on the same level and you value similar things in your biz and life.
I hope you dug this post! Keen to steal more of my biz secrets?
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