Calling all creatives! If you’re looking to amp up your work opportunities then listen up, a creative collective could be for you. Thanks to the digital boom and the rapid rise of remote working, creative collectives are rapidly gaining popularity with designers, developers, writers and other creative professionals.
In this article we’ll share some of the reasons why many creatives are looking to collectives to brighten their future, and how to start your very own creative collective.
But before we get to that good stuff, let’s explain what the heck we’re talking about first.
What is a creative collective?
Put simply, a creative collective is a group of creative professionals with different skill sets who join forces to offer a full range of services to their clients. This may be for one-off projects, or working together on ongoing client work.
Each member of the collective brings their own set of talents and skills to the table.
Creative collectives are often formed by freelancers who realise that their clients need more than they can offer, and want to team up with like-minded people. For example a visual designer might find they regularly need the help of a developer or copywriter, or both. Each member of the collective brings their own set of talents and skills to the table.
Think of it like an informal creative agency of people who are passionate about doing great work, but want to keep some of their independence and avoid being sucked into corporate hierarchies.
Many collectives are a merry band of artists, designers, coders, copywriters, project managers, and everything in between.
One of the most important characteristics of a collective is the lack of hierarchy. All skills are shared and leadership is a more fluid concept – there’s no one boss telling others what to do.
The flat structure of a creative collective means that responsibilities are typically rotated or shared among members. This also empowers every member to be a valued and active part of the collective. If you’re hungry for power, a collective is certainly not for you.
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Benefits of starting a collective
Now that you know what we’re talking about, why should you start (or join) a creative collective? Well, first of all we want to be honest: collectives are not for everyone. If you thrive on hierarchy and structure, or need the pressure of a boss to get things done, you might find the fluidity and lack of hierarchy of a collective stressful.
Equally, if you’re hoping to gain management experience and be someone’s boss. A collective isn’t the place to do that.
But, if you want to do your best work, collaborate and team up with other talented creatives and enjoy sharing skills and support – keep reading.
They’re easy to set up
The joy of a collective is that they’re typically based on an informal agreement between creatives. You don’t need an initial investment to get going, and you’re not asking people to sign their life away. You’re simply finding fellow professionals who are up for a new adventure and want to get involved. So, unlike setting up a formal new business, there’s no major commitment to start a collective, financial or otherwise.
It can be as simple as having a conversation with friends or colleagues and deciding to work on a project together. That project then goes well and it snowballs from there.
You can start it as a side hustle
As well as being easy to set up, there’s no minimum time commitment for setting up a creative collective. That means you can easily start working on collective projects on the side. That’s a major bonus if you’re not sure how much work you can drum up – you can dip your toe in the water and see how things go.
And there’s no reason why it has to become your main hustle. You might love your day job but feel that you’re not doing enough creative work. A creative collective could be your permanent bit on the side that you get paid for.
You can collaborate and share skills in a safe space
Sometimes working in creative industries can be sh*tty. Especially if you’re working as a creative in the corporate world. The demands and pressure to produce unique, creative work can be stifling. Not in a creative collective.
The whole ethos of a collective is to collaborate, support and nurture each other’s talents. It’s the perfect place to explore your creative ideas, get feedback, and bounce off other members in the collective. Bye bye pressure, hello inspiration and motivation.
Work to your own schedule
Flexibility is the name of the game, and creative collectives tend to live and breathe than mindset on a daily basis with a flexible approach to life (and work).
It’s not the 80s anymore. A 9 to 5 working day just doesn’t work for a lot of people these days. And the beauty of a creative collective is that flexibility is the name of the game, so you can fit work in to suit your schedule.
That doesn’t mean you can ignore client deadlines. Yeah, sorry they still exist in a collective. It just means you can get the work done at times of the day or days of the week that work best for you.
Feel part of a community
Life can be tough as a lone creative, particularly if you’re constantly freelancing and working remotely. When you start (or join) a collective, you gain a new bunch of pals who can help keep you sane and motivated on a regular basis.
Being part of a collective community gives you fresh ideas, support when you need it, and people to chat to on your tea break – whether that’s in person or on Zoom!
“I thought long and hard about who to set my first business bank account up with but in reality, I needn’t have spent that long – my experience has been that they’re all much of a muchness. They pretty much all offer a period of time where it’s free to use (and then they charge you based on account usage thereafter) and some happen to offer extra perks, such as accounting software. That said, this is one of those decisions you can just make and get done – don’t waste time, do a little research and then get on with it – you’ve got better things to be doing“.
– Eddie Whittingham, FounderRead more
Top tips for starting a creative collective
Now that we’ve sold you on the idea of a creative collective, you’re ready to go for it – right?! Great stuff. And the best thing is, like we’ve already said, it’s so easy to do it shouldn’t take much effort to get the ball rolling.
Here are our top tips for starting your own creative collective:
1. Start small and build from there
You don’t need a huge gang of people to start a creative collective. What you need is a first project to work on, and go from there. As soon as you have a client project you think you need help with, start reaching out to creatives in your network.
It could be that you only team up with one other person to start with, and that’s cool. Focus on building your collective slowly but surely. Bring in new people as and when you need them and/or they’re available.
Take your time and you’ll soon see how successful projects have a way of generating further opportunities in the future. Plus, as more people join your collective they’ll usually rustle up their own opportunities for collaboration.
2. Only invite people you want to work with
This is a really important one. Setting up your own collective means you can decide who to work with. That means bitchy, moaning Sandra from your old office shouldn’t be on the list. Surround yourself with positive, motivated people who you love working with.
Speak to your favourite ex-colleagues and work on getting the best of the creative people you know to join your collective. Even if they’re not up for it right now, they might be a few months down the line so get the message out there about your new venture.
3. Remember, there’s no boss
You’re starting a collective to create a group of empowered professionals, so you want to make sure you’re walking the walk. Just because you’ve taken the initiative to bring the collective together doesn’t make you the boss. There is no boss.
If you notice yourself, or anyone else, acting like a boss or getting drunk on power, nip it in the bud. There’s no room for egos and power trips in a creative collective.
4. Focus on shared skills and success
If you’re new to collective working, remember it’s about shared skills. And shared success. Play an active part in creating an environment of motivation and confidence with your fellow members. Listen to what they’re saying. Have open, honest conversations. Let ideas flow, and don’t shoot people down.
Another great way to promote shared success is playing back project work to everyone in the collective – and encouraging other members to do the same. That can be mid-project to get feedback on a stage of work before you submit it to the client, or a roundup of what you achieved and the client response at the end of a project.
5. Inject fun into everything you do
You want to have fun right? Exactly. Being creative should be fun. You’ll do your best work when you’re flying high on positive energy and enjoying your work. Encourage that attitude with everyone you work with, and be one of those people who spreads good vibes wherever they go.
Don’t only talk to other members about specific work. If you don’t already know other members well, take time to get to know each other. Have random conversations about life. Enjoy the lols. The more you understand each other, the better you’ll work together.
Challenges of a creative collective
As with any new adventure, starting a creative collective doesn’t come without its challenges. We’ve put together a few nuggets of advice for you…
- Things will go wrong, and that’s OK. It’s going to be a learning curve for everyone in the collective, just go with it and keep smiling.
- Emotional support is as precious as gold – If you prioritise finances over emotional support in a creative collective, you’ll end up alone. Or worse, surrounded by money-grabbing b*stards who don’t have your back.
- Some people won’t do well in a collective – That’s a fact. They might like the idea of a flat hierarchy and shared skills, but the reality doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t take it personally, let them fly free and live their best life somewhere else.
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