Hey Everyone! I’m Ellen, the maker behind Crochet by Ellen, and I'm excited to be a guest on the OML blog today! I want to share my experience with collaborations, and how they can be beneficial to your handmade business.
There are many benefits of collaborating with other makers: It builds your network, develops your sense of community, and it helps promote your business. Being a creative isn’t just about our makes, though that is our primary focus. Some of the most successful makers find ways to creatively promote their business, and many of those involve successful collaborations with other makers.
Are you ready to talk collabs? Let's go!
Some questions to ask yourself before diving into a collaboration:
Who do I want to collaborate with, and why?
How much time and money do I want to invest in this collaboration?
Here are some ideas for collaborating with other makers. These are examples of strategies I have tried, and the costs/benefits of each strategy. There are an abundance methods in collaborating, so get creative and adjust the process in a way the works best for you.
1) Blog Rollups
If you are a blogger, one way to collaborate with other makers is to create a blog rollup of several different maker patterns, posts or products that you love. It's an easy way to create content for your blog, and you'll receive traffic to your blog from the other makers involved in the rollup. Agree to include a link to their pattern, post, or product in exchange for them posting about it to their followers.
Benefits: You are broadening your audience, supporting other makers, and creating quick and easy content for your blog.
Costs: You will be directing your viewers to other blogs or products that are not your own.
2) Product Giveaways
One of the widely popular ways to collaborate is to gather some physical items (yarn, hooks, project bags….you name it) and host a giveaway. This method costs both time and money, but it can draw in a wide audience of people. Contact the person whose products you would like to include in your giveaway. Ask them to contribute something to the giveaway and ship it to you (or have them ship directly to the contest winner after the giveaway is finished). This will cost them product and shipping in exchange for your promotion of their product. Some makers may say no, but you never know unless you ask!
Hosting this sort of giveaway involves collecting the items, creating the giveaway promotion, selecting a winner or winners, and then shipping the items to the winner.
Benefits: You may broaden your audience, create brand awareness, market products you want to sell from your shop, and drive traffic to your platform.
Costs: Shipping, giving away product, and the time investment in this sort of giveaway can add up quick. While it is a great way to gain traffic to your page make sure the time and money investments are worth it for your purpose.
3) Pattern Giveaways
Pattern or digital product giveaways are another great alternative to product giveaways because you can create a similar promotion without having to pay the cost of shipping. Digital products are generally less expensive as well, so your product loss will not cost you as much. It’s easier to gather a collection of makers who are willing to contribute to this type of giveaway because it takes less time to prepare. Contact the maker, ask if they would be willing to be a part of the giveaway, and once the giveaway is over, they can email the pattern to the winner themselves.
Benefits: Broadening your target audience, networking with other makers, time and cost are minimal.
Costs: Setting up the collaboration does take time.
Patterns from left: The Boho Bliss Bralette, The Anything Goes Clutch, The Pereskia Kimono, The Bubble Basket
4) Blog Swap (Cross Promoting)
Swap blog posts with another maker and post about them on your personal blog. Create a free pattern, tutorial, or inspirational post and share it with another maker. Give each other the content and cross-post it. Essentially in this sort of collaboration, you are creating content once and it is posted twice. This is a great collaboration to do with another maker that has a similar style and purpose as you. If you are a pattern designer, for example, find another maker that posts patterns on their blog. Agree to post their blog post on your site and vise versa.
Benefits: Not only are you getting the benefit of free content from each other, but you are driving traffic from your respective followers to each other’s sites.
Costs: You will be driving followers to another site from your own. It’s important that you have a written agreement in this sort of collaboration to give credit to the maker for their work and to agree on the content that is used in the post.
5) Blog Contributions
Do you have a favorite blog that calls for contributors? I know a few! In fact, the post I am writing now is a blog contribution! Writing for collaborative blogs is a great way to get your name out there. Look for collaborative blogs like Our Maker Life, and contact them to see whether they are looking for contributors. Research the type of post they are looking for and see if their specifications meet the style and purpose of your brand. Write a post and submit it! Make sure to write something that would fit well on your own blog so you can still use the content if it is not accepted.
Benefits: You are creating brand awareness, broadening your network and opening up the opportunity to work with larger names in the business.
Costs: Time. Writing a quality blog post takes time and you need to dedicate time to writing a well thought out piece (including quality photos) in order to get accepted.
6) Collaborative Product Bundles
Do you know a collective of other makers that create the same or similar products as you? Contact them and see if they would be interested in a collaborative discount or promotion of each other’s items. One example I have done is bundling patterns together that use a similar yarn from other makers. We all agreed to promote the “Pattern Bundle” by offering a discount code to each other’s shops when our product was purchased.
Benefits: Broadens your target audience, promotes your product, creates brand awareness.
Costs: You may lose some money from your products if you are giving a discount on your items. You need to decide if the loss in profit is worth the exposure gained from the promotion.
7) Promote without being asked!
One of the most fulfilling things as a maker is to receive appreciation from someone without being asked. A shout out in an instagram story, blog review, facebook post, or shout out on instagram LIVE goes a long way. Being part of a community takes some effort. The more effort you put in to supporting other makers, the more it will be reciprocated to you! Be genuine and help each other out. Everyone benefits when we lift each other up.
Ellen Bergmann is the artisan and pattern designer behind Crochet by Ellen. When she’s not at home crocheting the day away, you can find her squishing yarn at her local yarn store or chatting with the Oregon Crochet Community at the local coffee shop. She’s passionate about making genuine connections in the maker community and sharing her love of fiber with friends both online and in person. Connect with Ellen on Instagram, Facebook, or her blog!