Eight Ways to Collaborate - Small Business
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." - Helen Keller
On any given day you can scroll through Instagram and see two more brands coming together to collaborate. Maybe it's a giveaway, or perhaps a product collaboration, or a gathering together to sell and promote one another's work. Collaboration has the obvious benefit of sharing fans and followers, but it runs deeper. Collaboration is an avenue for encouragement; it provides a burst of inspiration, and authentic motivation.
When you hear the word "collaboration" the first thing that comes to mind is probably "giveaway". This is how many of us started to get to know one another (unless you were part of the "Etsy Treasury Team" era). And yes, giveaways are a wonderful way to engage your following and introduce people to something new, and one or a few lucky people will benefit tangibly by winning. Send a DM to a few other shops and schedule a giveaway together.
Sarah, from "Chalk Full of Love" occasionally hosts giveaways, and her followers are cheerfully engaged. Visit her feed to see how she masterfully engages her followers with her products and her lighthearted spirit.
A more subtle approach to collaborating would be to include other products in your own product photography. You could take this further and create a link to the product in your listing. This works especially well when the products work together practically in some fashion (for example, a frame and a print). With more photos of your own product (if another shop uses your product in their photos too) you have a greater variety of photos to advertise your product with. Reach out to a brand that you think would be willing to participate and swap some products and eventually some photos.
Hilary Walker is a Dallas stylist/blogger who now collaborates with the Magnolia brand. Visit her feed to see how she works to create beautiful vignettes for photos shoots. Often times these shoots incorporate a collaboration of artist/designer and product/manufacturer.
SHARE THE LOVE
You see many feeds posting a "Follow Friday" or a "Friday Favorites" type post. You can do this too! You don't have to necessarily ask for a return favor, you'll reap what you sow. The simple act of sharing about others will demonstrate to others that you like collaborating and will likely get you connected with some new "IG friends" (that's what I like to call them).
Aly from "For Such a Time Designs" often shares about products she loves, and creatively incorporates her own products in the photos. She has collaborated with various brands; take a scroll through her feed, you'll love everything (and you may become hungry).
BLOG ABOUT OTHERS
If you have a blog, choose one or two brands each month to share about. The featured shop will likely share your post with their following too. Think about brands that your followers would love to learn about. If you sell a natural type of product, share other related "natural" products; if you sell handmade coffee cups, share about a local coffee roasting company. And EVERYONE loves to peek inside the homes and workspaces of other brands, it's intriguing and inspiring.
We recently shared about Elisa from "Song of A Sparrow" on our blog.
SELL A PRODUCT TOGETHER
We did this a long time ago with our friend Missy from Beach Blues. She makes beautiful painted mason jars, and at the time we were selling mason jar soap dispensers. Customers had the option of ordering our pump mechanism paired with her painted jars. It was a wonderful collaboration. Maybe you make candles, why not contact a potter and have them create some candle holders for your candles?
Essie from "A Family Print Shop" recently added these gorgeous lockets to hold her mini silhouette illustrations. Instead of sourcing lockets from a larger manufacturer she uses lockets that are made by "Dear Mushka", another small business.
You can have people guest post with or without a blog. Guest posting is possible on IG too! Bring someone to your feed for a day or two and have them share from their perspective. Maybe you make baby accessories? Have a mom share a day in her life on your feed with her new baby and the products she uses (including yours).
Erickson Woodworks creates beautiful display boards that are used by food bloggers and photographers all over the world. They are tagged with sharable content on a daily basis. If you have an idea for a product that your customers will be eager to tag you in, go for it! (another example would be Letterfolk) Basically your customers will be collaborating with you on a daily, ongoing basis!
A beautiful photo of someone's product curated nicely in your home is a great way to share about a product you love, and likewise, the best way to have your photo shared on their feed as well.
Soury from Kawaii Goodies is a master product reviewer, but more specifically she is a master encourager and promoter. Head to her feed to see her work; she is a well of wisdom.
This is the most complicated yet the most simple way to collaborate. Get together with a few other brands when you can, critique one another's shops, share what's working, share where you're struggling, share your process, your craft, your art. We all have much to learn. (Share a pic of your gathering on IG and tag everyone...this is pretty obvious, but easily overlooked when you're wrapped up in quality conversation.)
Trent from Preszler Woodshop isn't only great about sharing the work of other woodworkers and genuinely taking the time to learn about them, but he gets together with them too. His feed and his craftsmanship is an inspiration.