For many years, I’ve worked as a solo freelancer. It’s perfect. I set my own rules and do the work the way I want it to be done. Plus I wouldn’t have lasted this long if the work I have done wasn’t top-notch (sure, I take pride).
But during those eight years, I’ve come to realize a major limitation of being the soloist freelancer.
You’re really one-dimensional.
That’s not saying your skills don’t match up to your other counterparts in freelancing. You’re unique, have your own style and likely do a hell good job. Focusing only on your own work, however, gives you tunnel vision for what is really available for yourself to learn and accomplish.
In other words, it’s time to branch out and work with others.
Recently, I’ve had the fortune to team up with a good friend of mine, Juanjo (say hwan – ho), a graphic designer, and the result has been an absolutely fantastic working relationship. Ironically, we’ve worked together in the past and butted heads somewhat so my initial apprehension level was rather high.
Not to mention, taking on a partner-in-crime means losing some of the control you have on your own work and business. And we all know that control is the milk that is poured into our Wheaties every day.
It doesn’t matter if you believe your directional control is making you reach for the stars. Having this manner of thought unfortunately keeps you one-dimensional and focused on only you. Maybe you are successful and sleep on a mattress full of greenbacks but there is always room to improve, right?
So what keeps us from being one-dimensioned? In a good working partnership, the whole is greater sum of its parts. Period. Imagine where that will take your business and quality of work you do.
Personally, I’ve always believed I was a good programmer, however, I’ve changed some of the ways I work as a programmer having recently teamed up with Juanjo. There is no reason this couldn’t be you whether you’re a writer, designer or whatever.
Just be sure to follow a few caveats.
Find someone you trust
This is obvious, but if there is any kind of second-guessing about whether or not you have trust in a work partner, then you don’t. Or you have trust issues. Trust has to be absolute and reciprocated.
You must share the same values
Having similar work and personal values is also needed if you want to avoid the typical head-butting that can affect partnerships. If your values align then it makes it so much easier to work for a common goal, creatively and financially.
It’s worthy to note that it is nearly impossible to partner up with someone with exactly the same values. Discussing any differences beforehand can eliminate any impending trouble down the road though.
Trust me. At some point, differences in values will rear their zombie head if they are not confronted prior.
Each partner must compliment each other
It should also go without saying that each partner must bring something unique to the table in order to succeed. If one does not have a skill set outside of the other or is typically carrying the load of the other, well, what’s the point then? One + one should not equal one.
You must let a partner do what he or she does best
In an effective partnership, each person does what he or she does best. No one likes to work with someone always over their shoulder so critique but don’t interfere. If you do like control over work, it takes a heavy effort to give it up in favor of letting a partner’s creative talents shine through.
This works both ways, too. A partner who is highly controlling isn’t likely to make things easy on you which is a sure sign to go another direction.
Friends don’t always make the best partners
I had the luck of having a friend that made a great partnership but this isn’t always the case. While friends are often the first people we always look to, if they don’t adhere to the above criteria, then the partnership will fail. In worst cases, even the friendship, too, so choose wisely.
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Have you partnered up with anyone in freelancing? Do you believe you’re better off staying solo? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
And while we're on the subject...