Creator collaborations: the what, why, and how + examples to inspire you

Build Your Audience Marketing
19 min read
In this Article

The journey of a professional creator can be lonely and exhausting.

You rely on social media to reach your followers and attract new ones. You count on SEO to give you an organic search boost. You build lead magnets and send newsletters to nurture your subscribers.

And you do all of it on your own.

But thanks to creator collaborations, it doesn’t have to be this way. When you partner with fellow writers, podcasters, course creators, or YouTubers, you tap into their audience while letting them tap into your own—and it can be a game changer.

Learn why creator collaborations are worth it, how to find the right collaborators, what it takes to see success and get inspired by great collaboration examples.

What is a collaboration?

When one creator collaborates with another, they combine their skill sets and content to create additional value for their existing audience and expand their individual reach.

For example, two personal styling coaches can partner on a webinar to combine and teach their signature frameworks and reach beyond their usual viewers. In a way, collaborators ‘borrow’ each other’s audience.

These collaborators’ audiences can overlap, but that’s not necessary for a successful collaboration. The example for that would be a fitness YouTuber joining forces with a licensed psychologist to talk about the relationship between physical and mental health.

Why collaborating with other creators is worth it

Partnering with a fellow creator takes some work, but the benefits can be immense—and last for a long time. Here’s why collaborations are worth exploring and experimenting with:

  • Inexpensive. In most cases, you can rely on the tools you already have and the content creation process you already know well. Collaborations don’t require travel or new equipment, and your time is usually the biggest investment.
  • Builds your brand. The content you create lets people know what to remember you for, and showing up for your collaborator’s audience is no different. Just look at this post on Reddit after Ali Abdaal and Khe Hy’s livestream about their productivity systems in Notion.
  • Expands your network. Pretty self-explanatory—you get access to an audience you otherwise wouldn’t have. And the better fit the collaboration, the stronger impact it will have on growing your audience.
  • It’s mutually beneficial. It’s not—and never should be—a one-sided deal where you both put in the work, but only one person benefits. Great collaborations give results to everyone involved.
  • Flexible. There are dozens of ways you can collaborate with another creator, like on free content or paid products, one time only or on an ongoing basis, and more. This adaptability makes collaborations one of the most powerful tools in your growth as a creator.

9 examples of collaborations to inspire your own

Check out these examples of collaborations, including creators like coaches, podcasters, writers, course creators, and YouTubers.

1. Megan Minns and Louise Henry: free workshop

Megan Minns and Louise Henry collaborated on a live video training all about using Asana as an online business owner. At the end of that webinar, there was a pitch for Louise’s online course Uplevel with Asana.

Megan specializes in helping entrepreneurs systemize their business and stay productive, and Louise is an online business strategist. Since Megan previously ran a course called Asana HQ, her audience was primed for this type of content.

She had an affiliate relationship with Louise for this training, so while Louise reached new potential customers, Megan had a huge revenue opportunity. A definite win-win!

Landing page for Megan’s and Louise’s live training. Image via Uplevel with Asana.

2. Ali Abdaal and Khe Hy: livestream

Ali Abdaal is a doctor, YouTuber, and podcaster exploring strategies and tools for a happier, healthier, more productive life. On his YouTube channel, he hosted Khe Hy, the creator behind RadReads.

In this live session, they’ve shown the behind-the-scenes of building a productivity system in Notion. This allowed both of them to tap into each other’s large audience. The description below the video listed links to Khe’s YouTube channel, Notion course, and website.

The video description of Ali’s and Khe’s livestream. Image via Ali Abdaal.

On top of the earlier mentioned Reddit post by a viewer that was blown away by the quality of this livestream, folks from Notion also shared the love on their Facebook page and promoted the video to their followers.

Notion’s Facebook post about Ali’s and Khe’s livestream. Image via Notion.

3. Khe Hy and Keep Productive: YouTube tutorial

Here’s another example that includes Khe Hy, this time for his collaboration with the Keep Productive YouTube channel.

In this video, Khe took the Keep Productive viewers through a Notion dashboard for hiring and working with a virtual assistant. Khe also took an extra step: he built a dedicated landing page for a free template he mentioned in the video.

This allowed him to track new subscribers from that collaboration, as well as to personalize his landing page and email sequence for those subscribers.

Khe Hy’s collaboration-specific landing page. Image via RadReads.

This link was then included in the YouTube video description, along with Khe’s related free content.

The video description of the collaboration between Khe Hy and Keep Productive. Image via Keep Productive.

Want to know more about how Khe Hy uses ConvertKit to grow and nurture a 27,000+ email list? Check out his ConvertKit case study.

4. Jay Acunzo and Jay Clouse: podcast episodes

Jay Acunzo is an author, speaker, and showrunner. Jay Clouse is the host of the Creative Elements podcast and a creator coach.

They don’t just have the same name and over a hundred podcast episodes under their belt (each!). They also both run membership programs and are deeply curious about the creative process that fuels great work.

After the first time Acunzo appeared as a guest on Clouse’s podcast in mid-2021, he appeared several more times. They’ve now talked about speaking, resonance, and paid memberships amongst other topics. They’ve named this series “Jay Talking,” which includes episodes that are “less of an interview, and more of a conversation between two creators in the trenches of building their businesses.”

Jay Acunzo described this partnership as “unofficial—no contract. I appear on the show as a recurring guest/co-host, so we can cross-post and/or promote it together.”

An episode of Jay-Talking with Jay Clouse and Jay Acunzo. Image via Creative Elements.

5. Morgan Stradling and Trena Little: YouTube videos

Morgan Stradling and Trena Little are YouTube strategists and coaches. In their collaboration, they’ve made a video for each other’s channel. They’ve packaged them together as 10 tips to grow a YouTube channel, sharing five tips per video.

On Trena’s channel, she introduces Morgan at the beginning of the video, which is followed by Morgan’s five tips.

Morgan Stradling presenting her five tips for growing a YouTube channel in Trena Little’s video. Image via Trena Little.

The same structure follows on Morgan’s channel. They both list links in the video description that take viewers to the other five tips on the other creator’s channel.

Video description under the collab video on Trena Little’s channel. Image via Trena Little.

6. Arpit Singh and Komal Ahuja: Twitter Space

Serial content doesn't have to be on video, and it doesn’t have to be a highly produced podcast. Thanks to Twitter Spaces, it can be a live audio conversation between fellow creators.

That’s exactly what Arpit Singh, a growth marketer, does with his Freelance Journey Twitter Space. In this example, he hosted Komal Ahuja, a freelance content writer, to talk about becoming a freelance writer for B2B SaaS companies. The live audio conversation becomes available as a recording after it’s finished.

The Freelance Journey Twitter Space. Image via Arpit Singh.

7. Tiago Forte and David Perell: joint course

Even interactions that seem small initially, like Twitter DMs and podcast interviews, can grow into long-term collaborations.

Take it from Tiago Forte, the creator of the Building a Second Brain course and book, and David Perell, a writer, podcaster, and a writing coach.

A few years back, David met Tiago on Twitter, then recorded a podcast with him, then took his course. In 2019, they co-created an online writing course called Write of Passage and built a global community of online writers.

The short story of how David Perell and Tiago Forte got to work together. Image via David Perell.

Here’s what David said about his working relationship with Tiago:

Tiago and I are business partners. He helped me create my online writing course and together, we’re building the infrastructure required to scale an online education business. Tiago is one of my closest friends and the person who shaped my career more than anybody else.

David and Tiago also sometimes get together for a podcast episode to reflect on their work and learnings as business partners.

8. Vedika Bhaia and Unnati Bagga: joint course

Vedika Bhaia is a personal branding strategist. Unnati Bagga is an organic growth specialist. Combined, they have over 100,000 followers, 80+ clients, and many years of experience.

Their collaboration is a two-month long cohort-based course, Crack Those Socials.

With an audience as big as theirs, each of them could certainly run a course like this without a collaborator. But doing this together means not only that their reach is bigger, but that they can split the big task of running a cohort-based course between themselves—and contribute their uniqueness to it in full.

9. Freelance Bold and Kaleigh Moore: newsletter cross-promotion

This example is a collaboration that I (Marijana) ran with Freelance Bold, my library of resources for freelance writers. I’ve partnered with Kaleigh Moore, a well-known freelance writer, to exchange links to our content in our respective newsletters.

In her email, Kaleigh shared a link to my landing page with free, downloadable email templates for freelance writers. In my newsletter, I’ve shared Kaleigh’s free ebook with dozens of lessons she learned about freelance writing.

Both resources were a great fit for our audiences, and the feedback was extremely positive.

A snippet of Freelance Bold’s email about Kaleigh Moore’s ebook. Image via Freelance Bold.

What makes a great-fit collaborator

Ready to give creator collaborations a shot? Your next step is to find potential collaborators. This might be the toughest part of the whole process, because if your collaborator is a great match, the rest of the process will be smooth and enjoyable. It pays off to spend some extra time and effort in your search.

So what makes a collaborator that matches you well?

Your interests and areas of focus complement each other. As you saw in the examples section, you can both serve a very similar audience, like freelance writers, agency owners, aspiring YouTubers.

Don’t be afraid of partnering with similar creators; think of them as amplifiers rather than competitors.

However, you can also partner with creators who serve a different audience, but who can make your content richer—like a podcast coach partnering with an SEO expert to combine podcast production and organic search in their teaching.

Your values and work ethic are aligned. A similar level of care for your work, reputation, and results comes in handy in collaboration. It means that you’ll both do your best job on it, rather than the majority of the work falling on one of you.

Not how you want your collaboration to go. Image via 9GAG.

You have similar success levels. This is less about your follower numbers or email list size, and more about the stage of the business you’re in. If one of you has started a business a month ago and the other one has run dozens of successful launches over a decade, the collaboration will feel unfair and unbalanced. Look for collaborators who are at a similar stage of their creator journey as you.

There’s no drama or controversy involved. This one doesn’t require much explanation. If there’s something that could overshadow the content you and your collaborator put together, your work might not get the recognition it deserves. Protect your audience’s trust in you at all costs.

Ways collaborations can go wrong

On the opposite end from the great-fit collaborator is a situation waiting to explode. If you partner up with someone who isn’t a match, you’ll have a frustrating experience, waste your time, and potentially damage your reputation.

Here are the main ways your collaboration could go wrong:

Unaligned values, purpose, and work ethic. Take this example: you care about your audience and are in it for the long run, but your collaborator wants to see overnight success. So while you focus on organically building your list of attendees for a joint webinar, your collaborator buys a list of emails and spams a thousand people with promotional messages.

Unclear collaboration details. Everything in your collaboration should be well-defined and documented, from content formats, types, and amount to deliverables like the number of emails you’ll send or the time you’ll spend teaching on the webinar. If you don’t do that, you and your collaborator might miss each others’ expectations and end up in a disagreement.

No contract. Contract is optional for collaborations with the goal to grow social media following and/or your respective email lists. But if there’s money involved—investing in tools and resources, receiving revenue, or both—a contract is a must-have. Look online for contract templates you can purchase, making sure they outline details like deliverables, payout terms, and mutual obligations.

One-sided benefits. If your collaboration only benefits one side—grows its list, generates revenue, raises its reputation—but doesn’t do anything for the other, you’re in for a miserable time. Make sure the way collaboration is set up creates results for you both.

How to approach a potential collaborator

Your next collaborator can be anywhere in your online world. They might be a long-time follower or subscriber, your favorite podcaster, or a fellow member in a community you’re part of.

You could go about this the public way, like posting a tweet or an Instagram story letting your followers know you’d love to collaborate with a specific type of a creator on a project. Or, if you already have someone in mind, you can reach out to them through email or DMs and let them know what you have in mind.

In your message, make sure to let them know:

  • What you (sincerely!) love about their work
  • Why you think you’re a great match
  • What you do as a creator—who you serve and with what types of content and products—and how what they do fits into what you do
  • A couple of ideas of topics and/or formats you could work on together
  • The goals and outcomes you’d love to see (for example, email list growth for both of you)
  • Proposal of next steps, like booking a call or continuing over email

There will likely be some ghosting, as well as some rejections, but that’s okay. Don’t let that stop you from keeping at it until you find your dream collaborator.

Tips for a successful collaboration

If you want to make collaborations your next strategy to grow, here are some final tips to help you make the most of each partnership.

Brainstorm ways you can collaborate and create content together

As you saw earlier in the list of examples, there are so many ways you can collaborate with a fellow creator. Here’s a list of collaboration ideas to get your brainstorming process started.

  • Guest posts. Both you and your collaborator write a guest post (or a series of guest posts) for each other’s blog around topics you can uniquely contribute to.
  • Interviews. Publish interviews with each other in written, audio, or video format.
  • Giveaways. Run a joint giveaway that you equally contribute to; for example, you could both give away a digital product of similar value, or split the cost of a third-party product you’re giving away (like a book or a software subscription). People who enter the giveaway subscribe to both of your email lists.
  • Workshops. Host a workshop together, about 60 to 90 minutes long. Again, attendees get added to both of your email lists, and if that’s relevant, you can run a paid product promotion at the end and include an affiliate commission for your collaborator.
  • Social media takeovers. Publish to each other’s Instagram Stories for a day; for example, a day-in-the-life or an educational style of content.
  • Video features. Be a guest in each others’ videos and contribute unique tips and insights.
  • Newsletter swaps. Feature each other in your respective newsletter with the relevant context and links.
  • Joint course or digital product. Create a paid product together, like an online course, workshop, ebook, templates, and promote it as co-creators.

Be clear about roles, deliverables, and expectation

Don’t let any detail of your collaboration hang in the air. Discuss everything that goes into your joint venture, and consider questions like:

  • What is the end product we’re working on (a YouTube video, a podcast series, a webinar…)?
  • What are all the tasks we need to complete to make it happen?
  • What is the best way to split that work between us? Where does each of us shine?
  • How can we reach the largest number of people possible? How can we rely on our respective networks to do that?
  • Exactly how much content is expected from each collaborator on their own platforms to promote this joint venture? Which platforms and content formats?
  • What can one collaborator do to help the other one see the best possible results?
  • If there’s money involved, what are the payout terms?

Prioritize getting your audiences excited and engaged through promotion

Content promotion plays a massive role in the success of your collaboration. Consider these tactics to maximize the mileage of your collaboration.

Have a dedicated landing page. This will make it easy to promote your joint venture wherever you mention it, like in social media conversations or on podcast interviews.

Change your social media bios. The link in your social media profile is often the first (and sometimes the only) chance you have at directing your visitor to what you’re promoting.

Vedika Bhaia’s Instagram bio linking to her social media course with Unnati Bagga. Image via Vedika Bhaia.

Promote in regular newsletters. Chances are, each email you send to your subscribers is opened by about a third of them. You can dedicate a newsletter edition to your collaboration the first time around, and mention it in the issues that follow to offer a gentle reminder for those who missed out on that initial email.

For bigger collaborations, promote them in your welcome email/sequence. Let’s say you’re launching a course in collaboration with a creator months down the line, or hosting a series of free masterclasses twice a month. Add the mention and links to them to your welcome email or a welcome sequence, so that your new subscribers instantly know what you’re working on and the best ways to learn from you and your collaborator.

Generate engagement. Use tools like email surveys, Instagram stories, and Twitter polls to ask your audience about what they’d love to learn about the most. You can also get them to guess who you’re collaborating with based on a sneak peek you show or a topic you reveal to them. Let your loyal fans in on the secret early—they’ll be pumped to share and promote the collaboration for you.

Grow your brand, email list, and revenue with collaborations

Collaborations are an excellent way to tap into an audience outside of your own. You can get strategic and intentional about what you teach, who you serve, and how you lift yourself and a fellow creator up.

The longer you work with fellow creators, the more you’ll build up incremental growth of your email list, your reputation, and income. Be sure to leverage ConvertKit’s creator marketing platform and its landing pages, visual automations, and commerce features to maximize the reach and impact of your every collaboration.

Take the next step on your creator journey

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Marijana Kay

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer for leading B2B SaaS companies. She uses data-backed, actionable content to help them hit and exceed their growth goals. In her spare time, she collects books and logs running miles.

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