All About Trades and Collaborating with Other Pin Makers [video]


Have you ever wanted to do trades with other pin makers? How about collaborate with someone else on pin? Here’s a quick overview of how I handle trades and collab and a few different ways to go about them.


Okay, so let's talk about trades. The first thing you should know about how to reach out to someone about a trad, is just to ask them. Just send them a note on Instagram or in an email. Introduce yourself with your name, shop website and Instagram handle so they can take a peek at your work. Be complementary and point out some pins of theirs that you liked the best. Then say, "Hey, I'd love to do a trade if you're into it, but it’s totally fine, if not. Let me know and thanks so much." Something along those lines.

Honestly, whenever I ask for a trade, I go in not expecting to have the trade. I'm not going to assume that someone's going to want to give me their product. I go in not assuming too much because A) they might not see it. A lot of times I'll get trade requests and then I'll see them way too late because they're in that folder in your DMs on Instagram that's hidden from view. And then it's super awkward to write someone back weeks later or it just disappears and never see it at all.

If you don't hear back from someone in a couple weeks, write back and say, "Hey, just wanted to see if you saw this. I'd still love to do a trade if you're up for it. Totally fine if not." And then if you still don't hear back, just let it go and maybe you can circle back around in a few months.

The general rule when you're reaching out to anyone about business things is to do your initial reach out, do a follow up, but don't get crazy pushy because that could push someone away, and then circle back later. The moral of the story is don't be afraid to message anyone. You never know. It doesn't matter how many followers they have, everyone's just a person. So don't be afraid to reach out!

So another tip for trades is to trade with people who have the same aesthetic or niche that you do, because people who make a ton of cat pins will probably be more likely to post my photos because I make cat pins too. Find people who have styles that really mesh with yours, so when you take photos of their pins for Instagram, it fits in well with your aesthetic, and it's something that you know your followers will be into. So keep that in mind, because you want to help out the person you trade with as much as they help you out. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship!

And, it's totally fine if it doesn't fit or if you're trading for friends or presents. You don't have to trade just within your aesthetic. Maybe something is a little bit outside but you want to share it on your stories and it’s not going on your feed but you still want to give them a shout out. But, I generally like to stay within my aesthetic for trades when I can, because I know it'll make really good group photos.

So, introduce yourself, be nice, be pleasant. Don't get offended if someone doesn't write you back, you never know what's going on in their personal life. Don't be too pushy, and stick to your general aesthetic when you're thinking of group photos. Be sure to share the pins that you trade with your followers, whether it's on your feed in a beautifully styled photo or if it's on your stories with a happy mail day shout out.


Collaborations are a much bigger deal than a trade, because you are making a pin with another artist. You're collaborating with your ideas and you've got money on the line. So if there's someone you want to collaborate with, just ask them. If they can't, they'll probably tell you, and if they don't get back to you, same thing that goes back to the trades. You never know what's going on in someone else's life, so don't be too upset. There are a few people I've asked about collaborations, and I’ve never hear back from them. It's fine with me. I'm not going to hold it against anyone.

When you're asking someone to collaborate, give them a general idea of what you're looking for in that collaboration. I have a monthly pin subscription called The Pink Samurai and Friends where I collaborate with a different artist each month. When I’m pitching to another maker, I usually say that my subscribers really like pink and glitter and cat stuff and cute things. It's broad, but give a general sense of direction. So I think it's helpful to have a direction in mind because if you approach someone and you're like, "Hey, do you want to make a pin?" And they're like, "Sure." And you're like, "Sweet." And then you're like, "What do you want to do?" And you're like, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" And then they’re like, "I don't know," and then it just fizzles out and nothing happens. So having a general idea is really helpful.


Okay. So you've reached out to someone, you have a general idea of what you want to do and there are lots of ways to handle the actual production and money stuff. There are three main ways that I have experience with. So I'm just going to kind of briefly overview what those are.

  1. You can split the cost 50/50 and then split the product 50/50. For example: someone reaches out to the manufacturer, you figure out whose manufacturer you want to use, figure out the price, one person PayPals the other person half, they order it, and then when they come in you split the inventory and then you can pick out backing cards. Be sure to factor in any shipping between the two of you, as well.

  2. Another way you can approach it is where Person A buys everything. They take care of all the costs themselves, including dealing with the manufacturer. You need to decide which party wants to design and order backing cards and do the packaging. If you want the Person A to handle all of the packaging too or just ship the stock to Person B and they’ll package it themselves. With this method, person A keeps enough stock to pay for their manufacturing costs and then split the rest with person B. So Person B gets a smaller portion of the stock. Instead of each of you paying 50/50 and then splitting it 50/50, one person took on all of the production costs, so the other person only gets about 20 or 30% of the stock, depending on how you’ve decided to split it up.

  3. The last option is licensing art. So basically Person A pays for all of the production, packaging, shipping, everything, and the pin stays just in their shop and then Person B will get a one time payment or monthly payout of a percentage per pin. So that way Person B doesn't have to deal with anything and they get a monthly check. Person A gets an exclusive product to sell in their shop. So it's basically like any giant IP ever out there licensing their designs to different companies to sell in stores but on a smaller scale for your shop and with pins.

Those are three different ways to go about collaborations. Be sure to always stay open and honest with your partner. Communication is key with collabs, so make sure everyone’s feeling good with the arrangement. There are more ways than this to handle it, but these are probably the simplest for folks just getting started with collaborating. I hope this was helpful and have fun collaborating!!

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