Find a Collaboration Partner That Fits Your Style
A good collaboration is like a good marriage. You want someone you feel that you can trust, and you especially want someone who compliments your style. When a client picks you, they pick you for your style, techniques, portfolio, and value. Likewise, you want someone that can match the clients requests as well as your own. You want a professional to work with, and you can’t afford to mix different styles for a client. You might end up re-doing the entire design or even lose the client completely. So how do you pick out your freelance back-up, your designing duo….and not a dud?
Collaborating freelancers are more than one great mind at work. It’s often helpful to have another set of eyes on the process. A partner can notice things that are out of place: a minor color alteration, buttons not in sync, headers all wrong for the content, and so on. Even though collaboration might be very useful, there are things you need to consider before finding a partner for your next project. Collaborated work should be very carefully planned, and if you are new to this kind of work you might need some help on how to find a perfect partner and avoid bad collaboration experiences.
There are important things to remember, ask, and look for in a fellow freelancer. Remember that your concerns and priorities may change depending on the project and client.
- Check out the individual’s previous work, preferably even contact a couple of the previous clients and ask if all requirements were met.
- Style, we all have different styles when we’re designing. Remember to double check twice if the style compliments your own. Keep in mind that styles don’t need to be identical, but they should prioritize the same design concepts.
- Social profiles. How mature is the person in question on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr and so on can be a good indication on another freelancer’s communication style. Collaborating with someone who can not communicate professionally can ruin your process quite easy.
- You have a friend who knows her? Check if some of your friends or followers have worked with or is familiar with the work of the person in question. Look for a reference that you’re familiar with. Recommendations from acquaintances will give you a better understanding about the freelancer.
- Hourly fees. You’ll need to have an equitable way to split profit or otherwise pay your collaborator. If hourly fees are not listed, contact and ask for his expected hourly rate. Some freelancers will want a rate, flat payment, or profit share–get it figured out before you start.
- If you have contacted the person in question, always double check the response you are given. Make sure that the person is professional on all points.
These are a few things to consider before you make the contact. As you probably can imagine, the things listed above aren’t everything you need to know about a collaboration partner. You will need to consider other things like on-going support needs, how fast will you get an answer back, and how detailed it is.
Interview Your Future Partner
It can be helpful to interview a potential partner knowing the answers your ideal candidate would give. Take the time to prepare for your interview. Know what points you require your partner absolutely agree with you on, and what issues you will not mind disagreement. Knowing your priorities going in gives you a better look at how this person matches yourself and your work.
- Ask him if he’s interested in collaboration work and summarize what it is you need help with. An experienced freelancer should be able to put the pieces together and understand what it is you’re after even with just a quick summary from you.
- Trust but verify. Always check the previous client-based work this person has done. Ask how she thought it went from contact to delivery. See if the client agrees.
- Ask him to describe the work-flow he’s using. You want a consistent partner on your project. Differing work styles can be destructive to a project.
- Ask if the person have a special skill. Is she great with footers but not on content? Consider if you’re willing to compromise to ensure the best product. Make the work-flow as easy and fast as possible, but still on a professional level.
- Ask if the person has a favorite client he has worked with and why. This is a personal favorite question of mine. It gives you a better feel on style and what projects this person likes to work on.
If the interview leaves you with no red flags and, hopefully, even looking forward to the work, then you’ll know you’ve found your collaboration partner. Above all, trust your gut–if you’re uncertain about a partner now, how will you feel when you’re under the gun to produce with your reputation on the line? No matter what you choose to do, remember that each designer (and project) will be different. Do you research and enjoy the ride!
Share Your Thoughts
Do you have any experience with collaboration work? Feel free to share your stories or ask if you have any questions in our comments.