how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

How to Collaborate with Other Creatives: Behind the Scenes of #ISNxDigitalDarlings

In Design, Freelance & Business, News by Bria11 Comments

I have to be honest here.

Some of the things I’m about to tell you didn’t actually happen.


Before you go and get all judgy on me, hold up.

This is the reason I’m writing a How To Collaborate with Other Creatives post. Because if everything I’m about to tell you had actually happened, it’s likely that anything I learned during my collaboration with I See Noise (owned by one of my fave gals, Randa Salloum) wouldn’t be new or significant enough to spark the writing of this post.

To reverse engineer it a little (ugh I think I just eye-rolled at myself, I HAAAATED that term in school – anyone else?), on Monday Digital Darlings and I See Noise released a limited edition collection of art prints.

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.comhow to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

Inspired by the myriad of ladies in our lives – and let’s be real, on our instagram feeds – who are constantly raising the bar in business and creativity (and doing it with KILLER style), the collection is meant to serve as a constant reminder to live authentically and never apologize for making the choices that serve your own happiness. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

Work hard for what you want.

You CAN live your dream job, buy a thousand pairs of shoes, travel the world, do BIG things that other people say are crazy…

Because you know that logic doesn’t produce magic.

You’re a smart girl, darling. And that’s really fucking cool.


Being smart, creative, entrepreneurial, and living your dreams doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out, all the time.

It does mean that you recognize when you don’t know what you’re doing, dare to try anyways, and LEARN from what worked and what didn’t so that you’ll do it better next time.

That’s what being a smart girl is all about – always trying, always tweaking, always improving.

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

ISNxDigitalDarlings was a first, for both of us, and we learned along the way. Here’s where my earlier disclaimer applies. Randa and I didn’t actually follow all of these collaboration tips (at least not as officially as we should, but hey I know where she sleeps and vice versa), which is exactly why they’re here. Hindsight is 20/20 after all.

5 tips on How To Collaborate with Other Creatives:


1. Agree on your collaboration concept, deliverables, and desired outcome.

It’s pretty difficult to work towards something if you don’t know what you’re working towards. This may seem like a no-brainer, but before officially entering any collaboration, it’s important that both/all of you are very clear on what you are creating as a team. This is especially crucial when stubborn strong, creative minds join forces. If one of you is the slightest bit disappointed/unhappy/not-100%-excited about the direction of the collaboration it will breed resentment.

Discuss your creative visions and what goals you have for the outcome.

It’s likely that you won’t be on the same page about everything, so communicate as openly as possible and look for commonalities between your respective visions.


how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

Randa and I started with a pineapple print (my upcoming Costa Rica trip was clearly on the brain) before quickly concluding that pineapples, while super delicious and damn adorable in gold foil, really had nothing to do with our goal to inspire all of YOU. (You know, unless we all need extra inspiration to eat pineapples, which frankly, I don’t think we do.)

How will your collaboration manifest, from beginning to end? What are the deliverables, aka the concrete products and marketing tools you’ll be creating, and what are the costs involved?

It’s easy to get super excited and carried away with the initial ideas – finding inspiration, making magic, designing – and either forget or push aside some of the make-or-break decisions like budget, time commitments, and profit sharing. Don’t let these escape your initial conversations, only to rear their heads and stomp around while refusing to move forward like stubborn horses in the middle of a trail.

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

2. Make it official.

Get it in writing! Make a contract.

It doesn’t have to be some crazy long document full of legal jargon – just write down a few lines with the details agreed upon in tip No. 1 and what will happen (if anything) should anyone need to pull out of the project for whatever reason. When creatives collaborate, you’re dealing with a lot of intellectual property and often, high emotional attachment to work produced. (We create from our SOULS, people! Our SOULS!)

A contract isn’t a scary thing that passive aggressively screams, “I don’t trust you!”


It’s just a mutually agreed upon paper stating what you’ve set out to do, together, and how you’ll handle an unforeseen change of plan.

(Oh, and it’s a great place to practice your autograph… ’cause baby you’re gonna be a star!)

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.com3. Set a timeline.

Reverse engineer that project, darling. Yep, I said it again. (My goodness, my professors would be proud!)

Start by listing all the milestones (thanks Facebook timelines) you’ll need to hit, working backwards from your launch day. Then, fill in all the steps it will take to achieve each of these.

Don’t forget about marketing – we’re not living in a “build it and they will come” world anymore.


If there’s one thing I know about successful people, it’s that they make time to plan for success. (Stay tuned for a post all about this.)

So, when you’ve listed all the foreseeable tasks leading up to launch day, jot down when and how you will promote the project/product before and after it’s launch. Are you writing multiple blog posts on multiple outlets? Decide when each will be published. Sharing to social media or pitching to influencers, websites and publications? You’ll want to give both you and them enough time to properly prepare a story.

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.com4. Divide and conquer.

Now that your timeline and action steps are clearly defined, assign yourselves tasks with deadlines and hit the ground running!

One of the best parts of collaborating (beyond the whole “two heads are better than one”) is this:

You’ve got someone to hold you accountable.


If you’re lucky like me, your team will be a nice balance of dreamers and do-ers. (Ahem, major props to Miss Salloum for keeping this dreamer focused on the task at hand.)

If this isn’t the case (actually, even if it is), it’s really helpful to pre-schedule check-in meetings – either in person or via Skype – to discuss your progress and work through any difficulties or roadblocks.

(I’d highly recommend consuming wine and baked goods, but do what you will.)

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.com5. Communicate openly and with respect.

In any relationship – working or otherwise – regular, respectful, and honest communication is essential.

With creative collaborations, it’s SO important to be able to talk through the differences in opinion that are bound to arise when the value of work created is subjective. When you all have to put your name on a jointly created product, everyone needs to be happy. And sometimes that means compromising.

But theres a difference between compromising for the sake of the collaboration as a whole, and compromising to appease the ego of a team member.


If you’re unhappy, first ask yourself why. Then come up with a few possible solutions – you can’t expect your team or partner to get on board without a “why” and an idea as to “how.”

Want to know what went on behind the scenes for ISNxDigitalDarlings two days before the launch?

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance //

We re-shot most of our promo and website images. That’s right, photoshoot number two at the eleventh hour.

Last friday evening, Randa sent me a quick screen shot of the thank you cards to be included in each print order. The design was perfect, but I just had this sinking feeling about the photo behind our text. I couldn’t scream “I LOVE it!” (Because, well, I didn’t.)

I SHOULD have looked more closely at the original batch of photos from our shoot the week before, but things were rushed and my focus was on launching Digital Darlings. So I asked her if she was happy, truly happy, about presenting this photoshoot to all of you. Her response?

Well, I like the detail shots.

Boom. We both knew what needed to be done. Despite it being a big pain in the ass.

Luckily, we have talented friends who are quick to jump in when called upon. Michelle Morton totally knocked our photos out of the park – and really, what better way to spend a Saturday night than getting creative with your besties? Dreams don’t work unless you do, so might as well make work a party!

how to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.comhow to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // digitaldarlingscreative.comhow to collaborate with creatives, tips, business, freelance // Get a constant reminder of your awesomeness. (Or send one to a friend!) Shop the ISNxDigitalDarlings collection on or through Etsy.

Tell me in the comments, have you collaborated with other creatives? What did you learn? Would you do it again?

Think someone else needs to read this? Be a doll and share:


Pin on Pinterest0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0


  1. tahsin


    this post was great. I actually had been dreaming up a collab with randa, but haven’t yet acted. these tips definitely helped. and might have been just what I needed to get crackin.

    I also love what you’re doing with dd. I feel like a collab over here in the near future might be in order. I teach a mobile photography workshop for blog, business and home called get that shot ‘shop and think our visions align mucho. will have to get crackin in this too!

    1. Author

      Hi Tahsin!

      too funny what a small world! She’s great, one of my besties for sure :) I’m glad this helped you get a little more direction and fire to start collaborating. It’s kind of scary to start something when you don’t know what to do first, isn’t it?

      I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying the site and that sounds pretty cool what you’re doing! I’m totally flattered you’d want to work together on something :)
      Any woman who can gracefully work “mucho” into a sentence is my kinda gal!

  2. Kat

    Love the post ladies, great tips! I collaborated a few times mostly when I was doing wedding design with other photographers, linen rental companies, bakers, etc. I learned that when it comes to a big production like I was taking on…the less I personally have to do the more successful. Sometimes just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. Lesson learned! Divide and conquer!

    1. Author

      Hey Kat!
      that’s a great tip. It’s so true, that just because you’re ABLE to do something, doesn’t always mean you should, or that you’re the best person for the job. Knowing and accepting your strengths, weaknesses, AND time constraints is a very important part of being a strong entrepreneur. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the read!

  3. amanda

    For someone who is just starting to dip her toes into collaborations -this post is just what the doctor ordered! Love it!

    1. Author

      Perfect timing!! Glad you enjoyed it Amanda :) And good luck with your collabs! They are so much fun

  4. Grace Miles

    Hey Bria! It’s great that you guys have so much fun working together! I go through a lot of collaborations and teams for different design projects, and I’m so glad to have a bunch of people that I’d work with over and over again. :)

    1. Author

      It’s the best isn’t it!? A great team makes ALL the difference :) It would be awesome to meet you sometime Grace!

  5. Pingback: 3 Business Lessons Learned from the Deighton Cup

  6. annie

    years later and this is still relevant! Thanks for this post!!! Currently looking to collab with my candles and this is extremely helpful !

    1. Author

      That’s so great! Glad we could help out – it’s always tricky to navigate partnerships, but the best thing is to communicate openly and honestly before getting started :)

Leave a Comment