It’s very easy to think that working for yourself means never having to speak to anyone else ever (well, other than your students of course). Especially not the “competition” – other people doing what you do.
Why would you ever want to introduce your audience to someone who might take potential students from you?! Crazy, right?
Well, actually it can be a very smart idea to do just that.
In this post, we’ll look at why and how you should collaborate with other online language tutors.
Your Free Workbook
If you’re ready to get started but need a little guidance, click below to get your free workbook to help you through your first collaboration. Yay!
Let’s start with why…
Mixture of opinions
Your opinion is right, right? Of course you’re likely to say yes here.
But it’s worth considering how a mixture of opinions can benefit both you, your brand, and your audience.
By openly accepting others to share their opinions in your space, you’re showing a level of tolerance that not everyone doing what you do is willing to show.
It can be really nerve-wracking putting other people’s writing/thoughts/tips/voice on your blog/podcast/whatever it is you do.
However, chances are that your audience will appreciate it, and respect you for doing so.
Mixture of teaching styles
Let’s say you collaborate with someone on a series of grammar explanation videos.
By openly sharing a mixture of teaching styles that you and said other person inevitably have, you’re actutally helping your audience.
Some people may have come across you and loosly followed what you’re doing and learnt a little from what you’re sharing, but maybe they don’t fully understand something until they see one of those grammar explanation videos with things explained and demonstrated in a slightly different way by the person you collaborate with.
Rather than finding a video compeltely unrelated to yours and then beginning to follow what that other person is doing and forget you, they’ll remember that it was you that introduced them to the other person, and may even thank you for it.
Better to be connected rather than “competing”
Following the latter part of the reason above, it’s much better to know other online language tutors rather than be watching from the outside.
Eventually, other tutors will collaborate between them and if you’re not willing to do so, then you’ll make yourself an island so to speak.
And not a tropical one with nice palm trees and shiny beaches.
But a rather lonely one, with a few rocks and lots of lonely dust. Boo.
It’s much better to connect with people rather than “compete” with them from afar. It’s also likely to help with any feelings of jealousy or bitterness you may have.
When these people become real to you, you’ll see that you have more in common with them than you might expect.
If you have a solid niche, you have nothing to worry about
Actually, after everything we’ve just said, if you’re still worried, don’t be!
As long as you have a solid niche and recognisable brand, you will still be remembered and stand out. You have nothing to worry about.
If you’re reading this thinking “What the heck is a ‘niche’?!” then click here to read about what that is, why it matters, and how to find yours.
What you already do and share with your audience will affect how you decide to collaborate with others.
For example, if you don’t create videos and have no idea where to even begin with scripting, filming or editing, then that obviously isn’t the best choice for you for a collaboration.
One of the big things to be decided beyond what to create together is what each person gets from the collaboration.
For example, is there just going to one piece of content created by (let’s say) you and shared on the other language tutor’s blog/YouTube channel/podcast/social media?
Or are you both going to create a piece of content to swap?
Either way, it’s very important to both be aware of the expectations before diving in so that you both have a seemless and fun experience.
Here’s some ideas of how to collaborate with other online language tutors…
Swap blog posts
Chances are you’re already writing a blog. In which case writing a post for one another’s blog can be a useful way to reach a new audience.
Of course, you can also collaborate by having one person write a blog post to be posted on the other’s website. This is commonly referred to as guest posting.
Consider how people will connect back to your own website. Will you offer a free bonus that they can download to join your email list and stay connected with you? Will your two pieces of content be connected in some way?
It can be really useful to do what might be described as “cross-over content”, in other words, content that links to the other. For example, you explain some new idioms in the post you write for their blog and they write a text containing these idioms with activities to be shared on your site.
Ideally, both blog posts would work well on their own but would also lead nicely to connecting and encouraging others to see your collaborators website as well.
Host a webinar together
You’ve probably guessed that I love webinars! They’re one of my favourite ways to connect with you and share useful things in a visual way. Being live means that it also works well for questions because you can answer live right there on the webinar. Woop!
Of course, you can host a webinar solo, but when it comes to collaboration, this can be a great thing to do because it will probably make you less nervous (providing you trust your collaborator of course!).
You can also use webinars as a way to share your products and services with your audience and even share a special deal on multiple products and/or services offered by you and the collaborator.
It may look from the outside that this is just an hour of your time but the preparation that goes into a webinar is….a lot more than an hour! You have to plan for social media promotion, write emails, make all the techy things connect behind the scenes, prepare your slides and your offer if you have one, and do all of this working with the collaborator.
Social media takeover
If social media plays a big part in wha you do, finding someone equally as inspiring on your favourite platform and doing a social media takeover can be a great way to collaborate.
This means that you each plan a day’s or week’s worth of social content to share on the other person’s profile. When I say a day, I’m thinking 3-5 posts, slightly more than usual but not too much that it’s annoying. When I say a week, I’m thinking one per day is enough. But of course, there’s no rules here – do what you think is best!
Instagram tends to work best for this as it’s visual so allows you the chance to really engage people.
Share something useful, not just photos of your cute dog and your dinner. Unless of course, you’re teaching something linked to those photos! It’s a good idea to educate people with your social media takeover, even if you focus on teaching one seemingly small thing over the takeover, it’s much better than trying to teach aaaaaalllll the verb tenses in one day’s worth of posts!
Make sure you both have the chance to see the other person’s content first so you’re happy with it being posted on your platform and then ask them to send you the images and captions so you can schedule the content to post yourself. This way you don’t have to worry about changing your password and the other person not being able to log in because of verification codes etc.
If you have a podcast, this can be the perfect opportunity to collaborate with others.
Interviews are a great format here for collaborating, and Kerstin does a great job with this when I’m not co-hosting the Creative Language Learning Podcast.
Alternatively you could bring in other people from time to time as needed to share their expertise on a particular topic.
If you don’t have your own podcast and don’t want to start one (sidenote – don’t start one just to collaborate. They cost and can be timely so make sure you have other reasons too) then ask around to see if other online language tutors have their own that they’d like to hear from you on.
Video swap or pair up
If video is more your thing, consider swapping videos with another online language teacher or even featuring in the same video together.
This one seems to be the hardest one to do, especially if you’re keen to go beyond chatting on Skype and filming it.
Longer term collab
Of course collaborating with others doesn’t have to just be a one time thing. There’s plenty of ways you can take things further and into the long-term if you want to.
For example, I co-host the Creative Language Learning Podcast with Kerstin Cable of Fluent Language. It’s very much her podcast – it started with just her, she does all the editing and techie stuff at her end – but I feature every other episode as co-host. This works well because we both have different opinions on lots of things and different ways we study, so we’re not treading on each others’ turf.
Another example is Clear The List, the monthly goal-setting blog post link-up I co-host with Eurolinguite, Actual Fluency and French Lover.
You could do any of the ideas above long-term. For example, a long-running blog post series, co-hosting a podcast or video series, hosting regular webinars together etc.
If you both get on and decide you’re a good fit for one another, you may want to consider hosting a product, service or course together. There’s so much that needs to be discussed and thought about here. So make sure you like each other, it’s a good fit, and you’re both agreed on how to split profit and duties.
Ok, so that’s all well and good, right? But if you don’t yet really know anyone (or even know of anyone) who does what you do or similar, then it can be tricky getting started with this.
Start by looking around your online space and writing a list of people you’d love to collaborate with. It’s ok to add anyone here, no one is “too big” to not add to this list.
Equally, no one is “too small”. Don’t be a blog snob.
Next, think about who you’ve seen collaborating before. This is a good place to start as you know they’re likely to be open to the idea.
Here’s a few tips to break the ice and connect with people for the long-term…
As exposed as it can make you feel, be genuine and honest when reaching out to people.
Chances are they’re already getting the odd “Hey, I love your website [insert website name here]. I have a great guest post for you” email in their inbox. So don’t just reach out as another blank face covering your true intentions. Being genuine will help you stand out.
Be honest about why you’re doing this. And yes, multiple reasons count. Is it…
To grow your audience?
To connect with them specifically?
To connect with other online language tutors?
To make a lasting connection with them?
Connect before asking
But before you go ahead and write that email to the person you admire asking to be on their blog and collaborate, connect with them elsewhere.
Follow their social media accounts, read their blog, watch their videos. Get an idea of what they’re all about and the type of content they share. This will help you when deciding what to offer. Are you actually a good fit to collaborate together?
As well as just following along, actually engage with their content, and hopefully them! Comment on their blogs, reply to their tweets, like their Instagram photos.
This way, your name becomes familiar with them so when you actually email, you’re not just another “Hey [insert blog name here]” email.
But also, note there’s a fine balance here and the last thing you want to do is be waaay too overly friendly before you really know each other. That’s just creepy and they’ll likely to remember you for all the wrong reasons.
With that said, think about the long-term. You may reach out to someone and they don’t reply or they say no. That’s ok.
If you’ve connected with someone online, made the effort to email them but got a no for collaboration right now, that doesn’t mean they’re off the list forever. So behave with that in mind.
Don’t reply with anything sarcastic or insulting to them. Instead reply gracefully and thank them for taking the time to reply (it’s like job interviews. Not everyone will reply, so when they do, acknowledge it gracefully).
Keep an open mind for the future.
What do you both get?
Remmeber we said earlier that there has to be something for both of you? This isn’t just about you. Make it clear when connecting with someone what they get from the collaboration. “A great piece of content” doesn’t count.
Also money doesn’t count. Don’t pay people or be paid to collaborate. It doesn’t smell good.
Ideas for what the other person might get from collaborating might include…
Increased exposure when added to your social media schedule to be shared multiple times in the future. MissingLettr can help you do this easily.
Chance to offer a free download to your audience, which can grow theirs.
Chance to reach a new audience by swapping one piece of content.
So there we have it. If by now you’re still umming and ahhing about the decision to collaborate with other online language tutors then one of two things needs to happen. Either…
You bite the bullet and go for it.
Or you admit that maybe right now isn’t the right time, but remember this stuff for the future. Perhaps even scheduling in a rough time when you’d like to collaborate.
Collaborating with others takes a lot of time and effort, and how you handle the process will demonstrate to them how you run your business, so only dive in if you have that space to dedicate to collaborating right now.
Your Free Workbook
If you’d like to take this further but feel like you need a little guidance, like I mentioned up top, I’ve put together a free workbook to help you through your first collaboration. Yay! Click the image below to download it.
Have you collaborated in the past? Considering it right now but still have questions? Share in the comments below!