Collaboration: Who to Climb into {Business} Bed With

By Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society

Life is more fun with friends and one of the awesome parts of running your own business can be collaborating with other businesses, big or small. Every collaboration is different for the wins it can offer, but each also requires time and energy. So before you hop into “business bed,” consider your ROI: return on investment. As a savvy businesswoman, you want to get something equal to what you're giving, if not more. Also, you want to make sure you feel good about the person you're putting your stamp of approval on.

Collaborating is different than hiring, so these are examples of trading services or receiving something at a discounted price. Here's a few types of cohorts you can be in cahoots with:

Graphic Designer
Collaboration: Your header or other design elements
You Give: Traffic
You Get: Pretty new graphics

*Remember to … Discuss Publicity: If the primary win for either party is traffic, make sure you discuss it in detail ahead of time. Where will their business be named and linked on your site? {i.e In your footer} How will you share news of the new look and on which social media platforms? {i.e. 5 Tweets the first week}.

Collaboration: A styled shoot
You Give: Time & energy
You Get: Great images

*Remember to … Do Your Homework: Make sure the photographer’s work is up to the level of your site. If they’re very new, see if they have other creative experience like editing or artwork that might speak to their visual eye.

Collaboration: A style post on your blog
You get: C/O clothes or accessories
You give: Your stamp of approval to your readers

*Remember that … Integrity is Forever: Remember that all a style blogger has is her taste and you should never compromise that by wearing items you don’t really love just for the free swag.

Fellow Blogger
Collaboration: A joint post, blog swap, guest post or interview
You Give: Time & access to your readers
You Get: Fresh content & access to their readers

*Remember to … Consider the People: Think about more than just the size of their following. Perhaps it’s smaller than yours, but you feel her readers would resonate with you. Also consider your relationship. Someone might not have a large following yet, but if you adore them, it’s a great way to build your friendship and help someone you’re a fan of grow their base.


Above all, mutually respecting one another’s talent levels leads to products you’re both happy with, and discussing expectations for publicity can make for smooth sailing. My first shoot with Bess Friday was a collaboration that gave me the image for my business card. We never discussed publicity, but I give her shout-outs all the time because it makes me so happy to give that free gift and I think everyone should know how talented she is!


What collaborations have you been a part of? What were the benefits?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

16 Responses

    • Hilary Rushford & Dean Street Society

      Oh Daphney, that’s a great idea to put feelers out here on the site!

  1. nionvox

    I’m trained graphic designer and self taught (published) photographer. I collborate with myself? (And models/MUA) 😛

    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Nasreen, coming up with guest posts ideas can be tough sometimes! I say just sit down for a while, brainstorm, blog hop, & keep writing till you have a list of 10 or 12 — don’t judge if they’re good, just get em on paper. Then go back to see which 1 or 2 are best & pitch those. But before you pitch, do your homework & make sure they’re a site/blog that accepts guest posts so you don’t waste your time. 🙂

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

  2. Enya

    I’ve worked with brands such as luxury online retailer ‘THEN AND NOW’ to Stylist Kev Couture. It’s lead onto fab collaborations regarding my readers and attending Fashionwk.
    Use your contacts wisely

  3. Sarah G.

    I’d love to be able to do these collaborations! If only I knew a photographer, a graphic designer, brands and of course, bloggers that would want to collaborate with me! 🙁 Oh well! maybe someday in teh near (or far) future! 🙂


    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Sarah, one idea might be to do occasional posts on your blog or even in the “P.S.” at the end of a blog post now & then that you’re open to collaborations. Some of the people I’ve worked with were because I mentioned somewhere that I was interested or seeking it. You might also consider blog hopping in that area — photogs, graphic designers, etc — & start interacting there as you do with fellow fashion blogs to see if you develop relationships that lead to more. Good luck!

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

      • Sarah G.

        Thanks for that advice!:) I’ll definitely use that ! 🙂


  4. Maya F

    I’ve always thought collabs sounded so fun. Getting to build relationships with other designers, bloggers, and brands is one of the main reasons I started my blog. This was such great help for me since I’m just starting out. If anyone would be interested in a collaboration, just email me @ [email protected].

  5. Vanessa Locke

    I have one very good friend who I collaborate with for film and photos all the time. He has a lot of equipment (which I don’t) and I have more knowledge. So we help each other grow.

    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Oh I love that — when you feel like you both have different knowledge to share & learn from — that’s the best!

      with grace & gumption, Hilary