Today, I’d like to share a chapter with you from the book. However, I must say that as I was doing another round of edits, I couldn’t decide which one you should read first. Although it's a guide consisting of insightful chapters and unique interviews, #MCFSB actually has a storyline and a buildup.
When you first begin reading, it starts off slowly, suggesting that you should think about starting a side project before it explains how to actually go about it. This part is directed towards those of you who are just starting out. Then, later on, the book helps you think about your skills from different perspectives and explains that you shouldn’t limit yourself to a specific niche, but allow yourself to just try things out. It continues on to help you think about how to best invest your time and consider your long-term goals. The entire book is meant to give guidance on how to not think of yourself as a freelancer, but rather as a solopreneur who invests time in producing scalable sources of income with your creative work and unique style.
Anyway, for now, I've decided to share the chapter entitled “Collaborate with others” with you, mostly because it explains my personal values and how I navigate the internet, something I've been asked to teach too. Which is, well, rather crazy. But that's another story. Enjoy!
Collaborate with others
I’m going to go ahead and let you in on one of the keys to success. It’s a matter of networking. If you know the right people, you gain access to the right places. For centuries, there were hierarchies, but now, since the social web has evolved to what it is today, hierarchies are no longer what they used to be. I would even go as far as saying hierarchies are dead.
Never before has it been so easy to gain access to people we don’t know who often feel far away from where we are when we sit in front of our screens. However, in my perception, Twitter has completely revolutionized what’s possible and who you can meet for a coffee if you feel like it. Personal websites where people publish their email addresses are like an invitation to write a nice email to whoever you feel deserves a compliment. People are still busy, yet they’re accessible.
Creativity is the new currency of social mobility. It’s no longer about money or where you’ve studied; it’s what you do (and share online) that makes you stand out to access people and places you might not have even dreamed of. I might be a complete idealist, but I believe that we’re the generation that makes for what the internet will become in the future. As of now, the internet is younger than 8,000 days, so it’s in our hands to make the internet what we want it to be.
To me personally, the internet should be(come) a place where we connect with people to collaborate and learn from each other. The power of networks, the algorithmic ones in terms of how Google works and why it’s important to link to other websites and have others link to yours, is what really matters if we want to make the social web work in our favor. You can create your own social network and all it takes is linking to the people you admire who might one day link back to you. Be nice, be creative, and tell others why you admire their work.
You can collaborate with people actively or passively. If things go well, then passive collaborations can turn into active ones at some point. It’s in your hand to make that happen. Wonder how? It, again, starts with you sharing your creative work online.
Once you find your outlet to create out loud, you can use it to compliment other people’s work too. You can also use social media to announce what or who you’re looking for and people will give you recommendations. Mention brands and companies that you want to work with and people who’ve inspired you and your work. The more credits you give to people and the more positive feedback you spread throughout your network, the more visible your work will eventually become.
A passive collaboration is one where the other person doesn’t know they’re collaborating with you. If you give them credit for having done something that impacted your work, they’ve collaborated in your process. It feels right to let them know and add to their social, creative currency. If nothing else, it will at least brighten their day to see that what they do has an actual impact. You’d appreciate to know that others value your work too, given how hard you work and how much effort you put into creating something of value.
Passive collaborations happen whether you share it with others or not, so why not let the other person know? All it takes is mentioning them on Twitter by quoting their thoughts or a link to their article, or Instagramming a piece of their work and tagging it with their handle or hashtag. Especially successful people spend countless hours working on something, so they should know that there are people out there who appreciate it! Even if you might not think it, the people you admire deeply have bad days just like anyone else. Your post might make all the difference.
Mentioning people online can be the first step to making people you don’t personally know (yet) part of your social circle. If you do so repeatedly throughout their career, they’ll for sure notice because there’s hardly anyone who has made it. Most people are making it every day!
This is a great moment to pull out your smartphone and tell someone you think their work is cool! I’ll wait...
Now, we’ve arrived at the sort of collaborations you’re probably aware of and recognize as such. Active collaborations are the ones that work both ways, and you shouldn’t treat them any different from how you’d treat passive collaborations. Mention the people who have helped you get to where you are today and who take work off your shoulders so you can achieve better results. You’re in charge of your social success.
PS: Many of the women who I interviewed for #MCFSB, and also the previous one, collaborate with others not just because they enjoy the teamwork, but also because it helps them reach audiences beyond their own. If you work together with someone who’s on the same mission as you, chances are high their audience might also enjoy your creations. The more people you collaborate with, the more people get exposed to your work along the way.