As both a blogger and a co-organizer of The Hello Sessions workshop (not to mention a wife and dog owner!), Massachusetts-based Joy Uyeno has one packed schedule. Juggling all of her competing deadlines and tasks requires daily hustling, but there’s one thing that has allowed her to master the chaos: collaboration. Today, Joy explains the fine art of finding the right person to collaborate with in order to turn your own dreams into reality. And as a special bonus, you can snag 10 percent off the regular Hello Sessions ticket pricing by using the discount code “GLITTERGUIDE10” now through July 21 just for being a Glitter Guide reader!
When I started blogging about four years ago, I only expected it to be a personal project that I could work on in between freelance writing gigs. What I didn’t expect to find was my tribe—an entire community of likeminded, articulate women who helped me unearth a whole new direction for my life.
Over the years, we’ve grown together in nearly every way—from the size of our audiences, to the size of our goals—and have arrived at a point where we’re looking out at what we’ve built and asking ourselves what comes next. My friend Melissa and I saw that a bunch of people in our community had skills that other people (including us!) were dying to learn. We loved the conferences we went to, but after a couple of years, we found that we had absorbed plenty, networked a lot—and wanted to get our hands dirty by learning new skills. Many of our conversations started with, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…” and ended with a multitude of suggestions. “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a conference made up of workshops,” or “…if those workshops were taught by bloggers we saw doing great things,” or “…if we could have it in Portland, Oregon (our favorite city). We searched for one and came up empty, so we decided to create a conference of our own.
People around us thought we were crazy and we got lots of warnings about the dangers of turning friendships into partnerships, but we were motivated by the idea of creating this conference to fill a hole in the blogging community about what happens when you’re ready for the next steps, like publishing a book, or getting publicity or opening a shop. If you’re thinking of collaborating on a dream project with a friend, here are some tips to create a strong partnership.
Choose a partner who plays to your strengths (and vice versa):
While you can change a lot of things about your dream project, you can’t change the attributes of the person you’re working with. Look for someone whose work ethic you know well—someone who asks the questions you never would have thought to ask. Where Melissa pulled together most of the details for our announcement brunch, including the sponsorship and the gift bags, I created our website and focused on building our social media presence. By being clear on what we’re handling, we’re able to move more swiftly.
Set up times to communicate regularly:
Then communicate more. Once the ball starts rolling on your project, there will be a million little things that you or your partner will hear or read or experience that will get lost in the shuffle of life unless you set up a regular meeting time. Since Melissa lives in Oregon and I live in Massachusetts, our weekly meetings happen over Skype. We also spend a lot of time emailing, texting, and talking on the phone. Use your meetings to check in on the status of your goals, set new ones and decide what your next steps will be.
This point could also be called, “Get cozy with Google Docs.” Being able to share documents online, in real time, is a dream come true for collaborations. We have a huge spreadsheet with everything from sponsor information to the contact info for friends who have offered their help, but we realized we weren’t doing a great job of organizing our social media. With this realization, we put together an editorial calendar with weekly themes, daily Instagram lessons and a weekly email newsletter, and it’s taken all the guesswork out of what to post and who will post it. New mantra: spreadsheets are your friend.
Expect speed bumps:
No matter how much planning and communication you do, unexpected things are going to pop up. Over the course of planning for The Hello Sessions, Melissa and I have had a lot going on in our personal lives. She’s built a dream house, given birth to her fourth child, and gone through the process of publishing a cookbook. My family had a period of serious health scares, and I started a new full-time job. Life happens! Understand that when your partner hits a speed bump, you’re going to need to pick up the slack, because when you need her, she’ll do the same for you.
Celebrate your wins:
The more challenging a problem is, the more accomplished you’ll feel when you find a solution. When we were first reaching out to sponsors, things were moving slowly and we definitely began to wonder if we were, in fact, crazy for trying to plan a conference. A few weeks later, we were confirming sponsorships with brand that we love. Exclamation points and celebratory emojis were flying across the country! Whether it’s a simple, “Yay!” text or a real-life champagne toast, celebrating your wins is the fuel that will keep your momentum going and your friendship strong.