Freelancing can often seem like a lonely path to walk. You against the world as you work alone on projects all day every day, trapped in (or perhaps enjoying) your Fortress of Solitude.
But the great thing about being a freelancer is that it affords you a great deal of freedom and opportunity. And sometimes, landing the projects we’ve always dreamt of requires us to bring in some outside help. If you’re not ready to incorporate and hire an employee, then that usually means a partnership with another freelancer.
The buddy system keeps us sane, and when used properly, it can help us bring our freelance businesses to new heights.
So why are partnerships with other freelancers so great? And what do you need to know before you enter a partnership if you want to be successful? Here’s what you need to know.
Partnerships Help You Target Larger, Better-Funded Clients
When you’re a freelancer, it’s important to continually work your way up to larger and larger clients. Why? Simple: You can never make more time. So the simplest way to grow your business earnings? Is to get more money for the time you’re putting in.
By partnering up with another freelancer, you can offer a more complete solution to clients, which enables you to justify charging more than either freelancer could individually because you’re providing more value. These partnerships, when done right, offer a more integrated solution and save your clients the time and trouble of finding other freelancers.
In other words: With partnerships, 1 + 1 = 3. Large corporate clients will undoubtedly have large budgets with which to hire freelancers. And by partnering up with someone who offers complementary services, you can pitch potential new clients on larger projects that end up bringing home an exponentially bigger paycheque.
Optimize Your Time Investment with Smart Outsourcing
Most freelance partnerships work best when the people involved have different skill sets, for instance, a web designer buddying up with a copywriter. But in some cases, partnering up with someone in your role can work as well. As a freelancer it’s hard to know from one month to the next whether you’ll have enough work – and filling the sales pipeline often means biting off more than you can chew & then having to turn down more projects later.
But when you have an outsourcing arrangement with another talented freelance professional in your niche, you can accept new projects without worrying about how full your own schedule is. Imagine how nice it would be to have another designer, another copywriter, another project manager, or another virtual assistant who can take on your overflow work. Yes, you’ll have to pay someone else a cut of the project fee, but the alternative is either turning down the project altogether…or taking on the project when you know you’re booked solid, and then hating yourself for having to work 60 hours a week just to stay on track. Sometimes it’s better to get a smaller slice of the pie than to get no pie at all…or to shovel so much pie onto your plate that you make yourself sick.
Pitfalls and Caveats: On Playing Well with Others
Of course, partnering up with other freelancers can sometimes get messy. After all, freelancers are people, and people are complicated. Finding the right strategic partner is essential to ensuring the work gets done right and keeping yourself sane.
Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that you and your new freelancing friend get along well on a personal level. It doesn’t matter how good their portfolio is or how skilled they are if you think they’re a complete jerk. Spend some time getting to know your potential new freelance partner before you start signing any joint venture agreements.
You’ll also want to make sure that there’s an equal exchange of value happening in the partnership. In order for a partnership to work, both partners have to get something out of it. If one partner is taking on more risk or more work than the other, that needs to be accounted for in your financial agreement.
Finally, you’ll need to clearly define the parameters of the working relationship up front to ensure there aren’t any surprises later. Are the two of you embarking on a joint venture? Are you both independent contractors who simply subcontract work out to each other as needed? Are you working on a reciprocal referral arrangement? How do you determine which of you has the final say when disputes arise? Laying the ground rules before you start working together will build the foundation for a successful working relationship.
Partnering up with other freelancers is a great way to expand your services, increase your project capacity, and take on new & interesting projects that challenge you in ways you couldn’t have imagined. And with the right plan in place for partnerships, you can keep your business running along smoothly while having a lot of fun doing meaningful work with other talented professionals.
Have you tried a strategic partnership with another freelancer in the past? What did you do to make it work? What problems did you have to solve, and how did you solve them? Let us know in the comments!