Pixelated Solutions, a new concept of a Digital Collective

October 05, 2012

Pixelated Solutions is out of the box thinking of a digital agency. We’re calling it a digital collective or “freelance collective”. Pixelated Solution is…

Pixelated Solutions is out of the box thinking of a digital agency. We’re calling it a digital collective or “freelance collective”. Pixelated Solution is dedicated to bringing best value to creative mojo.

Pixelated Solutions is a break from the traditional digital agency model of an owner / bureaucracy / worker hierarchy and replacing it with a model of vetted buy-in partnership.

The issue is that digital agencies are not very scale-able and therefore profits are limited. In addition the primary cost of a digital agency is not infrastructure or suppliers but the talented people whom work there. This scenario forces owners to deflate wages (minimizing cost) and inflating billable hourly rates (boosting profit margins).

But in a digital agency where the talent is the real value driver, this seemed to me like a case of the tail wags the dog. Ownership, bureaucracy, and administration account for the lion’s share of the billable rate but contribute proportionally little to any given finished product. True the owners do provide vision, capital, network, and so on but to me and many freelancers the numbers don’t add up.

On the other hand, freelancers get a lot of credit because we avoid the trappings of a corporate bureaucracy and live on our own individual talent, drive, and reputation. We get paid commensurate with the value we provide and we get to discriminate between the projects we want to take on and those we don’t. We are beholden to no one but the client’s approval.

As a client I like to work with freelancers because I have a greater degree of direct contact with person responsible for getting work done and I am cheap so working with freelancers I save a lot of money.

But the limitation is always that freelancers can only provide so much work and only in a very specific area. Most freelancers are specialists. Freelancers must also keep a regular amount of work on their plate or risk having work lulls. Therefore rush work or work that involves two or more disciplines often isn’t very well suited for freelancers.

Pixelated Solutions’ Solution

Pixelated Solutions was formed to take the positive aspects of a digital agency - comprehensive services, administrative support, and a project management and quality control methodology - and put that together with the positive aspects of freelance - minimal bureaucracy, value / efficiency, and more control on the part of the client and the developers / designers / photographers / etc.

We do this by forming a collective. Individual designers, photographers, and developers are suggested to us or apply directly to be a part of the collective. They are vetted and if we think they’re capable and will work well within our methodology, they’re brought on-board to try out for a project or two. During a project new members have specific deliverables and quality measures. If they complete their work and do a good job they are offered a chance to become a member of the collective.

Once a member of the collective they are able to contribute to collective projects, use the name of the Pixelated Solutions brand for their own projects, and represent the collective to new clients. All work done under the Pixelated Solutions name is supported by a team of members as mentors, quality control, and in cases that require multiple disciplines or additional support we can form work-groups. All work that is performed by members under the Pixelated Solutions name is billed hourly and accounted for on an individual basis so that everyone receives the share they are entitled based upon the value they provide. In this way every member maintains control over their own pricing, hours, and projects.

Creating the institution I’ve come up with a number of solutions to obvious risks such as safeguarding against incomplete or shoddy work. I also have designs on partnership buy-in system to finance a marketing and administrative budget but will save that for a later stage. At this point the collective is still in a fact-finding stage for me but I have reason to be hopeful: We’ve successfully completed several projects and received tremendous feedback. I’m very excited to learn what the future will bring and in the meantime it is a lot of fun.

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