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Collabs 101

Growing up, did you ever wonder how cool it would be if all your favorite characters for your shows came together into one show? Or what if all your #1 menu items showed up on one menu at a restaurant mash up a few blocks away from your house? Still not getting the point? Okay, one last analogy- what if all your different brands, the favorite must-have household items showed up in one store for a limited time? This brings excitement, thrill and urge to buy/pay to be apart of this experience.

The Audience Excitement:

This is what I want you to think about when doing a collaboration with another artisan. All the excitement from your audience will be about A- a new product, B-limited time deals, C- limited time designs, and D-a way to meet another maker that you love (and they trust that you will pick someone to work with that will also serve them).

Artisan Excitement:

So, now that you understand how exciting it will be for YOUR audience, let’s discuss how exciting this can be for you as well. Working with another artisan can be challenging, hard or even off-putting if it is not done the right way. Think of the pricing, the content, the brainstorming, the partner relationship that has to happen in order for you to pull this off. Don’t be scared off, this is doable because everything is figuroutable.

You will gain so much from venturing out of your same old routine. Makers can typically feel isolated in their work because of a- you work another job on top of this project b- you have no time to invest in making friends, c- you are running this thing ALL BY YOURSELF. If any of that is true than collaborations can kill many birds with one stone.

By joining another artisan in a collaboration, you will:

// Learning how to work with another artisan to create a beautiful, new yet familiar product

// Serving something special to both audiences

// Offering a service or item that is limited edition

// Create excitement, thus engagement for your audience

// Have a chance to do something out of the ordinary

// Bring in more sales than usual

By creating a familiar yet new item, both artisans are able to come up with something that can complement the original piece. For example, if you are a candle maker and partner with a concrete artisan, you will have the candle audience, they will have the cement audience. Whoever they followed first, they will most likely have that item and want the newer, shinier, limited edition version with a new artisan. Then that follower will also go and engage with the partnering artisan.

The likelihood that collaboration will fail will have everything to do with how it is being marketing if there are a few good followers on both pages (doesn’t have to be a LOT, just a handful of engaged followers) and the willingness of both artisans to put their best foot forward.

How to’s and How Don’ts’

Finding an artisan is probably the easiest part of the entire process. Search Etsy, or Instagram for the # of the products you want to work with and the city you live in. Let’s take the candle and cement maker example from above. I would search #seattlecandle maker or #seattlecement or #cementhandmadeinseattle or even #seattlehandmade to find the right artisan, style and feel that best fits my brand.

When I am vetting out potential makers, one of the things I look for is genuine engagement on their page or good reviews on their Etsy. I also look and see if their products will actually be something that I could collaborate with and make it something profitable for both sides. I also started very small, scouting out smaller pages that were local to me so that I could meet them in person to make sure it wasn’t just a waste of time.

Let’s break it down step-by-step:

  1. Brainstorming: jot down a list of 5+ ways you could work with other artisans

  2. Start the search via the ‘gram (if you use Etsy to search, find their Instagram account after)

  3. Reach out to as many potential artisans as you feel comfortable because there is a slim chance anyone will actually take you up on the offer at first message

    1. When reaching out, start by introducing yourself. Get to know them before you just get to the point. Ask them their story, tell them yours. If they are friendly and feel like chatting, they will probably be more open to the idea of a collaboration.

  4. Sit down with that artisan or set up a phone call to discuss potential ideas and pricing

    1. One of the best ways to offer prices is having the inventory be split between the two artisans. That way they can both sell their share of the combined goods. This can be done in many ways though., so do not limit the options.

    2. Figure out pricing: it needs to be more expensive than your regular products because there is a lot more that goes into this and it will be limited quantity.

    3. Figure out logistics if inventory is not being split. Who will ship? Who will take orders? Who will be doing all those little things?

  5. Promote the heck, not in a spammy way, your collab! Audiences love this stuff, they eat it right up. Boost your engagement on social media with these fun ideas:

    1. start with a sneak peek into the other artist

    2. film or photograph the process and share here and there

    3. make fun visuals to post on your timeline

    4. email campaign about it (a great way to capture emails, more on this in another post)

    5. do an Instagram story with both of the artisans on there

    6. do a q+a on the products

  6. Release the product!

    1. you would even do a pre-release for email subscribers a few days before the public release

As an artisan myself, I found a lot of friends, comfort, sales, and overall growth by using collaborations in our business (and we use collabs in a totally different way). I am so excited to share this will you all and hope it was helpful to get started with collaborations in the future!



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