After attending the Richmond Fellowship Working Together Committee meeting on January 24th, it got me thinking a lot about all of the collaborations I’ve had with organizations. And now that I’m NOT Disordered has almost half a million readers, I feel like maybe now is the right time to share some advice for new Bloggers and current Bloggers who aren’t as established as they’d like to be. I won’t pretend to be an expert though; there are so many Bloggers out there who are doing some incredible work with huge organizations, but I think that in the Blogging industry, there’s a lot around competition and tearing one another down in order to climb the ladder and I don’t want to be one of those Bloggers. Instead, I want to promote the positive impact Blogging can have on your mental health and encourage others to ‘give it a go.’ I’d love to see more mental health Blogs out there so that we can spread the word about the topic in an aim to diminish the stigma around it. Collaborating with Organizations also provides this opportunity and it has played a huge part in the success/popularity of I’m NOT Disordered.

So, here’s my tips on how to succeed at achieving a partnership with a desired organization:

1.       Do your research

Before approaching an organization, it’s so important that you do some research into their history, the work they do, their ethics, and their target audience. Understanding an organizations history sounds a little boring and tedious but it can help shape your collaboration request for example; I recently began training with Barnardos to be a Voluntary Youth Support Worker and in week one we learnt the history of the charity. In finding out how the organizations started and the evolvement of their work, I could better understand how far they’ve come, what their priorities are, and the services they offer. Learning about the services Barnardos offer gave me some practical knowledge in case a young person using the service I work in (The Base, Whitley Bay) was to ask me about other support available to them. It also allowed me the opportunity to ensure that I was working in the right area of the organization and that there wasn’t another service I’d be more suited to. It is equally important to check that the organization have similar ethics to your own. Do you both want to help young people? Are you both focused on the same subject? Finally, it’s crucial that you recognize an organization’s target audience and confirm that they match your own otherwise who would be your mutual audience?

2.       Be creative and original

I’ve recently recognized that some organizations (especially the larger ones in the industry you’re Blogging about) receive numerous amounts of collaboration requests so it’s important that yours stands out from the rest. This means being unique, creative, and original in your proposal. Centering I’m NOT Disordered around mental health but having an interest in fashion and beauty, I’ve been quite lucky in finding a huge range of organizations to cover all three topics. I was recently on a phone-call with the Head of Public Relations for Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust and was asked what sort of projects I’d like to be involved in. I told him that I’m fairly decent at making a number of different topics applicable to mental health! I guess that when you think of a mental health collaboration your mind would immediately go to Mind, Time To Change and Beat but I’ve managed to land collaborations with Oliver Bonas, Northumbria Police, English Heritage, and Cats Protection! I try to pick organizations that are less expected so that my proposal will be even more original; I mean, Oliver Bonas probably hear from fashion Bloggers all the time but how often do they hear from mental health Bloggers?

3.       Have a goal

It’s important to decide on a goal; something you’d like to get from the collaboration e.g. an increase in Blog readers, more Twitter followers, extra Instagram likes and comments etc. Or more psychological goals like learning something from it, or improving your trust in services e.g. like Northumbria Police for myself, etc. But it’s also important to have a goal from the view of the organization because ultimately, they aren’t going to collaborate on something that they don’t gain anything from. In my collaboration with Cats Protection over Christmas 2018, my goal for them was to increase their adoptions and during the series of partnership posts upon being asked how new adopters had heard about the charity, there was an increase in the answer of ‘social media.’ For organizations that are more ‘business’ orientated it can be more about the opportunity of an increase in publicity. Where this is the case, it’s important to mention any media connections you have and actual media appearances you and your Blog have done.

4.       Don’t discriminate

Never consider one organization to be more superior than another or hold more importance for it because there’s a risk that you’ll do a ‘half-ass’ job on any collaboration proposal. If you’d rather have one partnership more than another then you can’t put your full 110% into it. How can you work your hardest if you aren’t committed? And organizations can sense this through your proposal; they’ll know that you aren’t dedicated to the work and will be reluctant to work with someone who isn’t passionate about the cause. An organization has to gain something from the partnership, and they won’t in working with someone who’s more invested in working with someone else.

During this year, there’ll be lots more collaborations on I’m NOT Disordered – especially in celebration of Richmond Fellowship’s 60th Birthday!
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