Creative Collaborations: Two Heads are Better than One

By Jennifer Brown Banks

Creative collaborations can be a great way to expand your portfolio, increase your bottom line, and partner with someone whose artistic strengths complement your weaknesses.  Whether the union involves a graphic designer teaming up with a writer for the creation of a website, several authors coming together to pen an anthology, or a lyricist providing just the right words to complement a musician's score, the team can become a win-win situation for everyone involved.

But much like a marriage, approach these alliances sensibly and with great caution. The wrong partnership can harm the creative process like Kryptonite to Superman.

This epiphany came to me after working with folks who had the best of intentions initially, but little compatibility in key areas. I learned the hard way what makes for a good personal union does not necessarily make for a good business relationship. The price for the mismatch? Strained relations, frustration, and lost productivity.   

If you're considering joining forces with someone for future business growth and better opportunities, take heed. Here are ten ways to make your vision a reality and create a winning combination.

1.    Get your project off to a good start by providing for the "right fit."  Don't be fooled. Not everyone we like, or with whom we enjoy a friendship, makes a good business partner. Is he or she like-minded?  Do you have a similar work ethic? Are your temperaments compatible? Choose wisely.

2.    Not sure where to start? Get recommendations for partners from people whose opinion you value--people in your creative circle or writers' group.

3.    Put in writing who will be responsible for what and when. The more parameters you have regarding roles, the better.

4.    Make sure your strengths and weaknesses complement and do not conflict.

5.    Learn the art of compromise.  Even in the best scenarios people disagree.  Be willing to see your partner's perspective, and to find a happy medium.

6.    Carry your weight.  Nobody likes a slacker. Not only does laziness create internal strife, but it can also be a detriment to future referrals.

7.    Brainstorm individually and collectively. (Some of my best creative ideas come to me when I'm in the solitude of a bubble bath, when my muse is not being pressured.) Your "genius" may come to you while working in your garden. On
the other hand, the energy of another mind might set your muse free. Whatever works, work it.

8.    Make sure that you and your partner not only have the same agenda, but also the same sense of urgency.  If you are
very deadline oriented and the other person has to wait for the "right mood", expect tremendous stress, and potential sabotage to the collective success.

9.    Remember to treat your partner with respect and as a valued professional. In too many scenarios, one person wants to act like a parent or supervisor. Let go your ego. "You are not the boss of me."

10.    Cheer each other on.  The support keeps you both motivated and bonded, and gives you a sense of fun until you reach that finish line.

Not only can creative collaborations enhance your professional horizons, but many have actually resulted in romantic relationships, or long-term friendships. And certainly there's no better profit than that.


JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, popular columnist, award-winning poet, editor and writing coach. Her publishing credits include: Online Dating Magazine, Small Business CEO Magazine, Today's Black Woman, Honey, Funds for Writers, Writing for Dollars, Anthologies Online, and a host of other print and online publications. She is the former Senior Editor of Mahogany Magazine, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Chicago Writers Association.  





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