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As a Freelancer, How Do You Collaborate?

Nikki WisherNikki Wisher
Nikki Wisher
Nikki Wisher

According to a study by Upwork, there were 57.3 million Americans freelancing in 2017. Given the topsy-turvy world of furloughs and layoffs in 2020 thanks for COVID-19, I’d be willing to bet that this number is far higher today. Chances are that at some point, you’ll land on a project at some point that requires you to collaborate with some of those 57 million.

Truth be told, some freelancers thrive on creative collaboration while the more introverted solopreneurs hate it with a burning passion. Wherever you stand on that spectrum, sometimes it’s part of the job. Let dig into collaboration in freelancing and how you can master it.

When Might a Freelancer Need to Collaborate?

In reality, some degree of collaboration is necessary on any project, but certain projects take it to another level. Consider these common situations that warrant collaborations.

Collaborating with Clients and Their Teams

In every freelance project, there’s some amount of collaboration with your client. They have specific goals of the project or often a vague vision of what they want. It’s your job to work with them and turn their ideas into concrete creations.

Sometimes you’re teaming up with clients’ in-house staff, whether they’re office-based employees or remote workers. The client’s team might have certain aspects of the project down, but they were lacking your specific type of skill so they’ve brought you in to collaborate.

Developing a Multimedia or Multi-Talent Project

Let’s say a client wants to build their social media presence. They might need social media strategists to create a plan, photographers or graphic artists to create images, writers to write compelling captions, and digital marketers to create paid ads. This is one example but there are many types of projects where you’ll collaborate with a group of freelancers, each bringing different skills.

Handling Large-Scale Work

Some projects only need one type of work, but it’s a lot of work, more than one freelancer can tackle. In these cases, clients might bring in multiple freelancers with similar specialties so they can divide up the work.

Overall, you might all work independently, but there needs to be some level of collaboration with other freelancers on the project so you’re maintaining a consistent brand or voice.

Collaboration Tips for Freelancers

Whether it’s with clients, other freelancers, or both, some level of collaboration is part of every freelance project. In fact, the ability to work with others efficiently and professionally is one reason a client hires one freelancer over another. How can you boost your collab skills to become an even more successful freelancer? It partially comes with practice but starts with these tips too.

Actively Build Your Network

Sometimes, clients might ask that you gather a group of qualified freelancers or offer some recommendations for a multi-talent project. Those circumstances are golden because you can choose people you already know you’ll interact with well…as long as those people are in your network, that is.

That’s why every freelancer should be continuously building a network. Get active in freelancing social media groups, connect with other freelancers on LinkedIn, use the community features of freelance websites, and get involved with local professional groups. Meet people, develop professional ties, and keep them in mind in case future opportunities arise.

Get to Know Collaboration Tools

Every client has their own collaboration tools they use to make remote work easier, like project management software, shared storage drives, task lists, and online chat technologies. When you start a new project, learning new technology on top of managing the workload makes the project more challenging and no one needs that.

Instead, get familiar with as many popular collaboration tools as possible through free trials. It’ll make your life easier while also making you a more desirable freelancer.

Put Everything in Writing

This is good advice for any project but especially when you’re working with multiple other professionals, put *everything* in writing. The more people are on a project, the more opportunities there are for someone to forget what the team decided about some aspect and go the wrong direction. Putting it all in writing allows everyone to refer back and stay on the same page.

Set and Stick to Deadlines

Most projects require several steps, and in collaborative projects, sometimes one team member has to wait for another team member to finish a task before they can move onto their next item. In other words, if one person lags behind, it could throw off everyone’s work.

To keep that from happening, establish deadlines for every task on the to-do list, arranging them in a way that keeps everything moving efficiently. Tools like Gantt charts can help you create that plan.

Mastering Your Collaboration Skills

Sometimes it’s the little details that matter most, especially while running a one-person business. Doing great work isn’t enough to keep the gigs coming in; you have to be great at communicating and working with others too. Try these collaboration tips to build up that skillset and keep the cash rolling in.

Nikki Wisher
Nikki Wisher has been writing professionally since January 2015, and she's written about just about everything from plastic surgery to accounting. She took the plunge into full-time freelancing in July 2018 and she hasn't looked back since. As much as Nikki loves hopping from one topic to another throughout the day, her top specialties include health and wellness, marketing, home decor, and career development (especially for freelancers and entrepreneurs). Originally from Ohio, Nikki lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two floofy cats. When she steps away from the keyboard, Nikki loves knitting, crocheting, hiking, and enjoying her adopted city.

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