Collaboration Over Competition
When it comes to making and promoting content for the internet, there are two things that I love: collaboration and competition.
Competition can keep us focused. We look around at the other creators in our group and see opportunities for improvement. To me, competition is more about self-improvement than it is about climbing over others.
I am not a perfect creator by any means. I do my best to use my peers for inspiration and to identify flaws in my own work. While it is true that making my work better will help me grow past my competitors, it would have never happened if they weren’t doing great work to begin with.
Collaboration is something that warms my heart. Creators and artists come together to make something great is an awesome thing to watch.
Collaborative projects not only help the creators involved, it also strengthens our communities as a whole. We are all in this together, and it is amazing to see people take steps toward a more cooperative environment.
Why Collaboration Is Important
As a creator, there are many other creators in our niche or creative space. There are millions of artists and creators in every discipline. Each one is attempting to make a name for themselves and increase their audience.
Naturally, this creates a bit of a competitive space, especially on the internet. While we all have our own fans and audiences that love our work. However, finding new people to enjoy our work can prove to be a difficult task.
A common strategy to combat this issue is to one up and outdo other creators in our niche or specialty. While this can do wonders for our motivation and work ethic, it is not the only way to make our voices heard. In fact, a bad competitive strategy can hurt our reach more than it helps.
A better strategy to keep up with our competition is simple. We collaborate.
Collaboration involves multiple artists and creators coming together to work on a project. This can take many forms depending on need and the medium at hand. Musicians can make a song together. Bloggers may choose to cross promote or run an event together. Writers and artists can team up to make a comic, zine, or animation.
Regardless of the specific strategy, collaboration has a variety of benefits when it comes to both creation and promotion. It is an important part of being a creator, especially one that is focused on building a sense of community. When creators collaborate, it makes not only their craft stronger, but the culture stronger as well.
Using Positive Energy Over Negative Energy
“I just surround myself with talented people and let them do what they do best. If you’re having fun and you do your craft at the highest level everybody will have fun and enjoy it.” – Mic Lanny, Hip Hop Artist
Competition can get nasty at times. When multiple creators are competing for the space, the strategies can become combative.
I am sure we have all seen this on social media from time to time. People get put down, feelings get hurt, and everybody loses. We are all in this together, but that sentiment can get lost when we look at our peers in a rivalrous light.
Some creators believe in using tribalism to increase the reach of their work. They draw lines and try to pull people to their side. This is a tactic that we see in mainstream news and media on a daily basis.
I don’t believe that this a good strategy for indie creators for two main reasons.
First, we don’t want negative emotions attached to our work. When it comes to marketing our work, our reputation is very important. We don’t want to be thought of as people who are mean to others. We certainly don’t want fans who like us for that reason.
Second, we don’t want to alienate people who may be interested in the work we do. Writing off another creator, or using tribalistic tactics, has the potential to turn their audience off of our work.
Instead of using the negative energy that often comes with competition, use positive energy instead. This is where the “collaboration over competition” mindset comes into play. We will see many benefits from supporting and promoting one another.
The world is a very big place. The internet has allowed us easily to connect with those outside of our geographic location. Everyone around the world is coming together to share their thoughts, ideas, and art.
This means that there are millions of creators and artists in any given medium. There are only so many hours in a day. As an independent creator working to market their craft, it is nearly impossible to reach everyone in your respective community.
Collaboration can help us spread our creative wings and cover more ground. By working with others, we can show off our peers to fans of our work, and vice versa. This also helps build new communities and groups of fans and creators. Collaboration makes indie culture stronger.
Cross-Niche Promotion and Reach
The focus of our work will naturally pull in people that operate in a similar space. However, there are people who mostly reside in related fields who may never see our work organically. Collaboration with those in outside, but similar, niches can help us expand our audience and reach.
For example, Effective Nerd aims to help indie creators regardless if their creative medium of choice. However, most of my close peers make indie comics or horror media. When I post my work, it is mostly seen by creators in those fields.
By collaborating with other types of creators, such as musicians, I am able to reach those who may have never read my work otherwise. It works the other way as well. Artists that collaborate with Effective Nerd will get their work seen by other artists of different disciplines.
This is one of the many benefits of collaboration over competition. You can kind of think of it like a Venn diagram. By adding more circles to our chart, we can reach a wider audience and enrich indie culture.
Diversity of Ideas and Strategies
We are not perfect thinkers. If that were the case then I wouldn’t have to write this. You most definitely wouldn’t have to read this.
The “collaboration over competition” mindset benefits creators by adding diversity to our way of thinking. Other creators have different styles and work ethics than we do. By teaming up, we can create something that combines the best elements of our creative minds.
The next time you are collaborating with another artist or creator, I want you to think about your own strengths. More importantly, I want you to think of your own opportunities for improvement. Make sure that you bring your
A game to the table while also allowing your peer to play to their strengths.
Opportunities to Learn
Outside of marketing and culture, collaboration can aide us in our journey of personal growth. Working with other artists and creators can bring about excellent learning opportunities. We can use these opportunities to strengthen our skills while also helping others.
Part of this idea plays to the natural ignorance we have as humans. We don’t know everything, and we often don’t know what we don’t know. It is no one’s fault, but there is just too much information for one person or team to absorb.
Working with other creators gives us the ability to expand our talents. We can see what strategies are working for others and adopt them into our own style.
I learn a lot about this concept from being in bands growing up. I was not the strongest guitar player in my early years. However, playing with more talented artists helped me step my game up and learn new techniques.
Go Find A Creator And Collaborate!
This week I want you to find another creator that you like, and reach out about a collaboration opportunity. A good place to start here would be to connect with a creator with who you already have rapport.
Start small and see how it goes. You don’t need to jump into a large project with another artist. It can be something simple, such as agreeing to share each other’s work on social media this week. You can also start to make plans for some sort of crossover content.
Getting your feet wet in the collaborative mindset will lead to bigger and better opportunities. Next time you want to compete with a peer, collaborate instead!
Do You Have a “Collaboration Over Competition” Mindset?
What are your thoughts on the collaborative process? Do you often approach other artists or creators for collaborative opportunities?