Freelancing and the Power of Partnering

When a business decides to outsource, it is looking for a solution.

It has a pressing project but lacks the internal resources to do it itself.

Chances are, some poor marketing director has walked out of a boardroom meeting, faced with a recurring problem: the deadline has been set, the work laid out in front of him and he has no way to get it done.

At this point, our poor marketing manager doesn’t want to spend hours searching the Internet for the right web designer, review another pile of résumés for the perfect copywriter and plow through stacks of portfolios for a graphic designer…

In this article we’ll review 5 useful tips that you can use to harness the power of partnering.

Our marketing director wants to pick up the phone, find a solution and put his mind at ease.

As the independent freelancer, you want to be the guy at the other end of the phone. Solve the marketing manager’s problem this time, and chances are he’ll call you again.

But how can you be sure he chooses you for the job? Odds are you can’t do everything.

You’ve spent years honing your skills as a graphic designer, and the last thing you want to do is write web copy.

The same goes for the copywriter, who doesn’t want to waste time struggling with HTML code.

 

1. Be the Solution

Even though you can’t do it all, you can provide a complete solution by partnering with others to fill in the blanks.

For example, a web designer who partners with a copywriter can offer a turnkey solution that moves a website from initial concept to finished product.

When providing a turnkey service, you suddenly make the jump from “freelancer” to “consultant”. You are no longer providing a service, but rather are providing a solution.

The more problems you solve, the easier you will find work and, ultimately, the higher your fee will be.

 

2. The Process in Action

Let’s suppose our marketing director suddenly finds out he needs a website for a new product launch.

He’ll need artwork, web design and compelling copy to sell the product.

Unfortunately, due to a recent “corporate restructuring”, he has no in-house staff to turn to in order to get the job done.

He picks up the phone and calls a local web designer, who tells him he’d be glad to take on the project, but that he can’t help with the logo’s design and that the marketing manager will need to provide the copy.

Sure, our marketing manager has solved part of his problem, but he still has his work cut out for him.

So he calls a second web designer and describes the project. The web designer tells him that he’d be glad to help. He asks the marketing manager if he needs web copy and graphics.

When he says that he does, he replies, “No problem. I partner with a number of graphic designers and copywriters. If you’d like, I can contact them and put together a bid for the entire project. When we’re finished, you’ll have a complete website, ready for your product launch.”

Who do you think will get the job? At this point, the second designer is in control and in a position to make a much higher bid.

 

3. Form Partnerships Now

Don’t wait until you need partners to seek them out. Otherwise, you’ll be in the same position as the first web designer. Instead, seek them out in advance.

Determine who you can trust, who you can afford and who will help you deliver the best product possible.

Even more importantly, be sure you are comfortable working with these partners.

As you look for partners, ask yourself some basic questions. Is this person reliable? Will he or she respond to the client’s needs or fight every edit and revision?

Does this person complement my services? Do we communicate well? Can I rely on him or her to meet deadlines? Ascertaining these details in advance will help prevent many headaches when working with clients.

 

4. The Win-Win-Win Situation

Ideally, a partnership creates a mutually beneficial relationship.

For example, if a copywriter were to form a partnership with a web designer, he now solves a problem for the web designer.

The web designer wants her websites to look as good as possible, which is difficult if clients provide poor copy.

Thanks to this new partnership, our web designer can use the copywriter’s services to improve the client’s copy.

The copywriter picks up a new client, the web designer delivers a better product and the client gets a much better website with little or no extra effort. A win-win-win situation for all.

 

5. Be Everything You Want in a Partner

When you work with a partner, consider it like working for a client: do your best work every time.

Provide the level of service you would want to receive, and chances are you’ll be working with them again.

Provide a “solution” for your partner, and that partner will return again.

Do that often enough and work will start seeking you out, rather than the other way around.



Written exclusively for WDD by Jim Lodico. He is an independent copywriter and marketing consultant and is always looking to form new partnerships. You can learn more about his services at www.jalcommunication.com

Do you know of any other tips that can help freelancers to partner effectively? Please share your views with us.


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  • http://www.blueturtlegraphics.net Kim Smith

    Great article. For solo-preneurs whether it be PR, web or graphic designer it is very important to be able to offer a “complete package” of skills should they need them. I currently partner with a local PR/Marketer as well as a programmer to be able to offer clients full-service—graphic design, web design and PR/marketing/copyrighting.

  • http://www.shicksdesign.com/onlifeanddesign Sarah Lynn

    You make a lot of good points about partnering up. In today’s market it is hard to be an expert at everything. You’re right, nobody can do it all. I recently partnered with a programmer so I can focus on what I am best at. Nobody wants to hire someone who is only so-so at something. I thought I would share a post on finding your specialty, for those who haven’t quite found their niche in the design world. http://shicksdesign.com/onlifeanddesign/index.php/11/how-to-target-a-specialty-niche-in-the-web-design-market/

    Thanks for the great information!

  • http://www.aliensinfotech.in/ Aliens InfoTech

    There is a proverb ‘ face is the index of the mind ‘. the sameconcept applies for the presentation ofwebsite as well. people will form a preliminary opinion regarding ourconcern by looking at the website.We understood the importance of the above said statement and the various technologies needed to be integrated to design the website in a fascinating manner.

  • http://spotmeon.blogspot.com Gaurav M

    Such a transforming lane changing thought provoking life changing article.
    Wonderful post to change the flavor for the day

  • burnego

    great article. still, i think that it is best to keep a good database of “partners” and work with them only if necessary, on project basis. partnerships usually bring altercations

  • http://www.seobomb.com Sverre Bech-Sjøthun

    That’s actually exactly how I run my freelance business – I’m the internet marketing guy, but since so many of my clients and potential clients need more than a viral campaign, help with social media or just plain SEO, I have teamed up with a number of specialists in design, programming, web analytics, usability – you name it.

    To be honest, I can’t think of many things we’re not able to deliver, and so what we do is to save the customer a lot of time and frustration. The managers want their problems to be solved, and we can do just that. And *that* is a serious sales pitch.

  • http://www.bickov.com Alexander Bickov

    Freelancing is good if two sides are fisrtfull a good people

  • RoaldA

    Awsome!

  • Kat

    Great! You got some good points there!

  • http://www.ingledow.co.uk David Ingledow

    I have never really thought of partnering with someone on my website (http://www.ingledow.co.uk) but I think I’ll be on the look out for someone to write for it.

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com Mars

    some points above are observed by me once but some also are not, :) better start working on it

  • http://www.rossmagichoward.com Ross

    Great article!

    I’ve sent it to a friend of mine I’m buddying up with, me being the designer, him the project manager and its prompted a really rewarding discussion about how we should operate.

  • http://www.thebrisbaneline.com Evan Skuthorpe

    I plan on going freelance one day. Thanks for the article. Having a network of other freelancers to fill in the gaps is a good idea. Beneficial for all.

  • http://www.photografis.com Jon Lisbon

    Great article with many good observations. One question…why would you illustrate it with the most banal, unimaginative, hackneyed, over used image of “two businessmen” shaking hands? There was not a lot of creative thought in slapping that ubiquitous stock image into the article. Kind of ironic.
    You could have used a stock image that would perhaps have illustrated your article in a more imaginative or complex way. Perhaps you could have even partnered with a photographer.

  • http://www.sleepyhero.com Eli Penner

    I wouldn’t mind meeting some more people in the community.

    feel free to add me to gmail chat:3lijah@gmail.com or msn:dustboy9@hotmail.com

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    Is a interesting article. The post is better way for make a good job!

  • http://www.aldrinponce.com aldrin

    great article, Recently I just meet a good designer from designer to Italy and he want to outsource some of his design stuff. And so far we build a good business relationship.

  • http://99designs.com Jason Aiken

    Very Insightful…it is very difficult and typically not wise to try to be everything for everyone all by yourself. Partnering, so long as you build a relationship with the right partner, is a fantastic way to put forward a more complete solution and make it easier for the client.

    Cheers,
    Jason

    • http://none Alan York

      A friend and I have a great idea for a website but need to collaberate with a designer / programmer to take it to the next level. We need someone who could build a website similar to youtube.

      If you’re interested send me an email.

  • Dustin Brewer

    I am interested in developing a team with varied skill sets to share work amongst. I’m not sure of the logistics at this point, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Collaboration is very important to me. I would like to work with others to share ideas and raise them to the next level. I mean, higher than they would be from my perspective alone.

    If you’re interested or have ideas for me, email me: dbrewer@me.com.

  • RoaldA

    Thanks, nice article!

  • http://samiinour.com SAMIINOUR

    I have many partner and the best way to keep them is that I communicate all the information (project management’s process). I use http://www.sites.goolgle.com to share the state of each task of project with each partner.They like it and it keep them at ease particularly with deadlines.

  • http://www.archetype-media.com John Runion

    Some of the problems that I am encountering are the lack of follow-up in regards to using external sources for projects.

    There are MANY OK companies that offer the things that you do not, but the true benefits come through when you find a viable quality solution to supplement what you do not offer…

    Great article!

  • http://eveltdesign.com joel k.

    thanks jim
    you got it right with #3 “Don’t wait until you need partners”
    and never open a phone book to get a partner unless you are providing patchwork.
    even in one’s portfolio it’s hard to tell how his/hers ethics is

    thanks
    and thanks wdd

  • http://www.illuminz.com Sanchit

    Great Article!

    So to start with partnerships, we are looking for partners we can collaborate with.
    http://www.illuminz.com
    Please contact at business@illuminz.com

  • http://www.sandersdesign.com Martin Sanders

    We often partner with technical web projects. As a designer I believe its my job to provide solutions, its our business to be problem solvers. So its only natural to work with trusted partners.

    A good partner is worth investing in. I have worked with many web developers and overtime have found that its always best to work with dedicated freelancers rather than outsourcing companies.

    When your neck is on the line, and things need doing quickly, an individual freelancer will be more likely to shoulder some of the pressure and get things done. However also watch out of those developers who have other interests and feel the small project is less important.

    Partnering takes time to build trust, start small and build.

  • http://www.misty-blue.net Sarah

    Partnering is a useful strategy. I’ve often been “the partner” on certain projects, and employers in interviews seem to appreciate the fact that you can collaborate in your freelance work. I’ve found that Authentic Jobs is a good resource to advertise to find potential partners or to respond to others looking to partner up.

    One issue I’ve run across is the contracting. Sometimes things get held up between the client and the freelancer who subcontracted you. I think it’s a good idea to make sure that the freelancer you work with has the same views in terms of the client’s contract/project timeline, otherwise you may run into problems that are just out of your hands.

  • http://www.kronikmedia.co.uk Web designer

    Great Tips. I work as a freelance web designer myself and as my business and projects have grown, the need for forming partnerships has also increased. I currently handle all aspects myself but this is becoming a problem for managing time. I find your advice helpful.

  • http://northcoaster.de Marius

    This is a great advice. I just recently found myself in the exact same situation and I was so glad I had already worked with some people on different projects during my time at college. So I instantly knew who to team up with to provide the best solution I can offer.

  • http://radiumlabs.com/we-love-agencies Radium

    This article is right on point. I run a search marketing shop and we regularly partner with advertising agencies and freelance web designers. This partnership allows the designer to focus on creating a beautiful and engaging website and we ensure that consumers find the website.

    The funny thing is, it’s often the complimentary service that sells the main service.

  • http://www.webdeluxe.com.br webdesign arraial d’ajuda

    Working togheter only brings more succes for the both of you. And indeed focusing on the visual aspect of websites as says radium.
    The problem today is that everybody seems to be a webdesigner and it’s hard to separate the professional from the kid that thinks he is a webdesigner using wordpress…

  • http://www.diverseinnovation.com Diverse Innovation

    Great Article!

  • http://www.ellipsisdive.com ellipsisdive

    Freelancing is the best way to start a future business and career. It makes you thinl. Thanks.

  • http://www.outletmoncler.com/ moncler

    It makes you thinl. Thanks.