Tip for Working with Other Crochet Professionals
There are over 17,000,000 crocheters in the United States, yet the crochet business community is relatively small in comparison. With the popularity of sites such as Crochetville, Ravelry, Facebook, and Etsy, it is very easy for crochet professionals to meet and build online relationships with other crochet professionals.
As professionals network and get to know each other, it is inevitable that various small groups will form as close friendships develop among certain sets of people. As these groups become closer, members frequently devise ways that they can help encourage and support each other and even help promote each other’s businesses. Some group develop more formal agreements, but it seems to be more common for the group to have more informal arrangements.
As helpful as these small group efforts can be, oftentimes a designer or crochet professional may want to work with someone outside their regular small group. Requests that work just fine within a group of people you know well may not be at all appropriate to make of someone with whom you have no existing relationship. If you have no prior experience working with others outside of your group, how do you learn the best ways to make initial contact with another professional? This post provides several tips on best practices for how to ask another professional to work with you on a project so you’ll have the best chance of creating a successful collaboration.
Before Making Contact
1. Determine What You Want to Accomplish: The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to accomplish by working with someone else. Do you want someone who is well-known to provide a new pattern or article for you to include in a magazine or ebook you will be selling? Do you want to reprint someone’s article, pattern, or blog post on your blog to help drive more traffic to your site? Do you want someone to provide you with information so you can write an article for your site? Do you want an accountability partner? Do you want a mentor?
2. Determine Who You Want to Contact: The second thing is to determine who you want to contact. Spend some time and do some research. Visit the website(s) of the professionals of interest to you. See if they have the appropriate experience. For example, it might not be the best idea to ask a designer who has only published patterns for kitchen items to design a complicated, fitted garment in eight different sizes. It might not be a good idea to ask a designer who publishes 30 new patterns each month to write an article on the history of crochet that will require hours and hours of research before she can even begin to write the article, which will require more hours of time.
After you’ve done your research, you may have a list of several crochet professionals who would be able to help you. List those names in order of priority. Contact one person at a time. Contact the next person on the list only after you’ve concluded the discussion with the person you’re currently talking with.
3. Determine What You’re Asking For: Once you know what you want to accomplish and who you want to approach, spend some time figuring out exactly what you want to ask them to do. The more specific you can be with your request, the greater the chance that the other crochet professional will say yes. Most professionals are very pressed for time, and it might be easier for someone to just say no at the beginning than to engage in what they fear could be a long and drawn-out conversation about what they’re being asked to do.
4. Determine the Value of What You’re Asking For: If you’re asking someone to give you rights to a pattern, figure out how much money they’d make if they sold the pattern to someone else. If you’re asking someone to write an article for you, do some research and see how much they might make if they sold the article to someone else. If you want someone to run an ad for your business on their website, do some research into online advertising rates. Knowing the value of what you’re asking for is very important for the next step.
When Making Contact
5. Be Clear about what You’re Offering in Return: While you don’t always need to offer financial compensation, you most definitely do need to offer something in return. You’re a crochet professional. You know how hard it is to make a living in this industry. You know that the first priority is usually working on projects that will bring you direct income. The next priority may be working on projects that bring you some type of benefit in other ways. The same is true for every other crochet professional out there.
If you can offer a fair compensation rate, that is often the best way to convince another professional to work with you on a project. After all, in most cases, wouldn’t you be more likely to accept a project that pays money over a project that doesn’t?
But just as we’re all limited on time, most of us are also very limited in capital. We simply may not have any funds available to offer someone. That’s when we need to get creative. Figure out what you DO have that might be of value to the other party. Maybe you have a newsletter with a large number of email subscribers? Maybe you have a large number of site visitors. (If you don’t have this data available, set up an account with Google Analytics. This is valuable, important information to have.) Maybe you reach a certain demographic that is different than that reached by the person you’re reaching out to, so you have the ability to introduce them to new customers. Maybe you have a large number of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest fans.
6. Offer Something of Comparable Value Whenever Possible
Once you determine what you can offer, the next step is comparing that to what the person you’re contacting may already have. Maybe you’ve been in business for three months and you already have 2,500 newsletter subscribers. That’s incredible success for you to achieve so quickly, but it’s probably not meaningful to someone who has been in business for 10 years and has 20,000 newsletter subscribers. Likewise, having 500 Facebook fans isn’t going to be meaningful to someone who has 75,000 fans.
Do the very best you can to make sure you’re offering an equitable arrangement. If you just don’t have anything equitable to offer, but you still want to work with this person, that’s okay. In that case, the most important thing is to be upfront with that at the beginning. Let them know how much you value and respect their expertise. State that you’re not sure what you can offer to create a mutually-beneficial arrangement and ask for their input and suggestions. If you both get creative together, you may come up with a fantastic idea that helps both of you!
Worst Mistakes You Can Make
If you approach someone with a genuine attempt to make the arrangement beneficial for both of you, chances are very good that you’ll be able to find someone who is very happy to work with you. Even if you can’t come to a working arrangement this particular time, you may have set the foundation to develop a friendship or working relationship with the possibility of working on future projects together.
When you’re very excited about a potential project, sometime it’s easy to get a little carried away with things. Enthusiasm and energy overtake us, and you shoot of an email without carefully proofreading to make sure the tone of your message comes across the way you intended. Here are some tips to help you avoid other mistakes.
7. Ask, Don’t Demand or Expect: Be clear that you are asking whether the other person is interested in working with you. Make sure that you don’t appear to be assuming that the other person will say yes.
8. Don’t Expect Something for Nothing: If you aren’t able to offer any kind of equitable of mutually-beneficial arrangement, be prepared that the other person may so no. After all, crochet is their job, at least a part-time job if not a full-time one.
If you have a full-time job, chances are you’re not going to go perform that job for another company just because they asked you to or told you how good you are at what you do. So don’t expect someone else to perform their job for nothing.
9. Don’t Get Mad or Offended If Someone Says No: Well, that should go without saying. Unfortunately, many people have a tendency to take things personally if someone says no to their request. Remember, this is BUSINESS. Saying no is not a personal rejection of you. The other persona may have many legitimate reasons to turn down your request, none of which have anything to do with you at all.
One Important Thing to Remember
10. It’s Impossible to Say Yes to Everything: You have very likely chosen to contact someone who is very good at what they do. Just as you want them to do something for you, so do countless other people. This person may get several requests a month, a week, or even a day from other crochet professionals or crocheters. Remember that this person is just ONE person. It is not possible for them to say yes to every request.
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