Building a Staff of Freelancers

Quadrid’s continued growth this year has allowed us to experiment with a few ambitious ideas.

I (Tara) thought it might be interesting to get two perspectives on this growth and the strategy of building a team of staff-freelancers. I first talked with Craig Spinks, who founded and has run Quadrid since its inception.

Tara: Quadrid has been around 15 years – why expand now?

Craig: A few years ago I had a bit of a quarter life crisis, part of which involved my work life. It became clear during that time that in order for Quadrid to have long-term viability it would need to expand. This may seem obvious, but I’ve always been quite comfortable with Quadrid remaining a small company. Staying small ensured that Quadrid would remain highly relational and deliver a high value. But that approach often resulted in me taking on more than I should, leaving me emotionally and creatively drained. So, last spring we became more intentional about building the business. Eighteen months later—it’s happening!

Tara: What has been the biggest challenge?

Craig: The whole thing has been an exciting challenge—which surprised me. I always thought I enjoyed the creative side more, but I’ve come to learn that I equally enjoy business development (and I think I’m good at it!). What has caused the most angst is staffing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to keep our services high quality yet reasonably priced. Hiring staff is a huge overhead expense that would force costs to go up for our customers—which, I believe, would ultimately make us unaffordable for our ideal clients. Working with freelancers has the benefit of flexibility, but I’ve found it difficult to build an effective team. So I set out for a third way—to build a team of staff-freelancers. The idea is to offer the consistency and camaraderie of a salaried staff, but with the flexibility and freedom of a freelancer. We’re still very much experimenting with this, but it seems to be working—and we’ve managed to keep costs down for our ideal customers.

Next I spoke with Jay Williams, a freelance producer, videographer and editor who has worked with Quadrid for the past year and a half.

Tara: We’re utilizing a business model that keeps overhead low while building a collaborative team of freelancers. What about this business model is exciting to you?

Jay: It allows me to work with the type of client I get excited about. Lower overhead means lower pricing for clients. For a small business owner, there is no “marketing budget”—essentially every dollar comes out of their pocket. So being able to provide them with high quality production at a rate they can handle means a lot to me.

Tara: What do you gain from working with Quadrid?

Jay: It’s a great balance between freelance and working a day job. Quadrid consistently sends work my way, so I don’t have to spend as much time marketing myself. But it’s also helped with my own freelance clients. On occasion, I’ll bring one of my personal projects under the Quadrid umbrella so I have a team I can count on for help. Whether it’s to help brainstorm, or help with a shoot, or help with graphics—I have access to it. And that means I can confidently serve clients without any compromises.

Tara: Why do you think a staff-freelancer approach might work?

Jay: It allows us to be flexible and serve people in a more personal way. WWe can accomplish whatever the client needs in a way that makes business sense for everyone involved. If a client needs a big production, we have the resources and network to do that; if they have a much smaller budget, we can scale it down as well. Everyone wins.

Tara: Quadrid has the resources of a large production house, but operates like a small business – what benefit does that offer to clients beyond cost savings?

Jay: Relationships. We care about the businesses we serve. Not that larger companies don’t care, but each client we have gets a level of attention that just isn’t possible on a larger scale. The person in charge of each project is intimately involved at every turn, ensuring that the final product doesn’t veer from the original intent. Our clients know that their story has been listened to, absorbed, and transformed into video in a way that thrills them. In addition, the smaller a business is, the more flexible and mobile it can be. We do not need to orchestrate a huge team to find a shoot date that will work. We can typically function on shorter notice and with less red tape. We can make adjustments to projects on the fly because there are fewer people involved with the project. Overall, it is just a much more personal experience. These aren’t video projects we are trying to push out the door, these are stories we want to tell.

Tara: What do you like about our niche—passionate local businesses?

Jay: My parents were small business owners and so I grew up in that environment. Because of that, I have always been passionate about supporting small businesses. This is a way I can support them—by telling their stories and making people aware of the incredible craftspeople and servants they have in their own communities.

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