The Cooperative

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We are often asked by other freelancers, other co-operatives, and game studios about who we are as a co-operative of freelance games writers. We hope this is a useful insight into what Talespinners is and how our business model works.

What we are

Talespinners is a co-operative of freelance games writers. We are individuals who work under the same banner to better face the challenges of being freelancers.

Who we are

Talespinners currently consists of five core members. Each member is an equal co-owner and co-director of the company. We meet fortnightly to discuss our individual work as freelancers and company initiatives. We are all freelance games writers: we go out in search of work for ourselves as a member of the company. When an offer comes in for one of us, we approach the contract as a member of the co-operative, which offers all members a range of benefits.

We also occasionally work with associates. Associates are not full-time members of the co-operative, but rather fully independent contractors who we can quickly call in to collaborate. If Talespinners needs extra members for a larger project, we can more easily onboard and support them. If we’re working on a project and find one of our associates has expertise that could uniquely benefit the project, we may try to bring them onto the project to lend their talents. Associates are only subcontracted to a project if a full-time member of Talespinners is actively working on it themselves. As the co-operative is responsible for management and delivery of projects, associates receive our full support. Associates receive the same benefits and protections, when they work with Talespinners — including project insurance and financial support — as full-time members.

Should Talespinners be unable to accept any work that is offered, we strive to recommend other freelancers to the client company, so that the freelancer can run the contract directly with the client with Talespinners not involved.

Why we’re in a co-operative

There are unique challenges to being a freelance writer in the games industry. By working as a co-operative, we try to give each other the following benefits to help each other meet these challenges.

Feedback:

As freelancers, it can be difficult to get advice and support when you most need it, due to the fact that you’re bound by NDAs. As Talespinners, however, we work under a company-wide NDA. That means when one of our members works with a client, they do so with an ability to discuss the entire process — from contract negotiations through the work itself, to final payments — with a team of other freelancers.

Sharing work:

When we can, we share work around the co-operative. For example, if one member writes for a client company, another member might be able to edit it. This results in both being paid, both receiving a credit, and the client company having higher quality work.

Advertising:

Talespinners is an outsourcing game writing studio. When we go out to industry events, we advertise the co-operative. The co-operative pays for business cards, and occasionally a stand at industry events. When clients are looking for freelance writing work, they recognize us as a collection of individuals, and recognize the benefit of working with a group that offers combined experience. This means more work comes in for everyone in the co-operative.

Collective bargaining:

Clients working with Talespinners receive additional benefits, such as the expertise of a seasoned group, and security in knowing that their needs will be met by a skilled alternate writer in the event that the freelancer has to step away. As a result of this, we’ve found it easier to negotiate higher rates for everyone working as part of Talespinners.

Scale:

Some projects require larger teams. Because we have banded together, client companies are more willing to reach out to us about performing these jobs. This results in more work for everyone involved.

Insurance:

All work we do as Talespinners is insured. Instead of all of us paying for our own work insurance as freelancers, this is covered by the co-operative.

Coverage:

Sometimes, unforeseeable events oblige us to step away from our work. Should anything happen to us as individuals, we can bring on other freelancers in the co-operative to help complete a project. As well, it’s common to find ways to split work.

Financial security:

It can be a sad reality as a freelancer that, on rare occasions, a client won’t pay for the work performed. In such events, Talespinners is able to cover the pay for the wronged worker. As well, should a member suffer unexpected hardship, the co-operative is in a position to offer them some support: An advance on an upcoming invoice, for example, to help cover certain bills.

How we fund ourselves

All members of the co-operative invoice client companies as Talespinners. After the client company pays Talespinners, the freelancer then invoices Talespinners directly: Talespinners will keep 10% of the money earned, and pay the remaining 90% out to the freelancer. This is the case for every individual who does work through the co-operative, whether they’re a full-time member or an associate.

This model means we can cover the kind of overhead costs every business must meet. Our fees include our insurance, our marketing, our accountant, and our company taxes. We also keep enough in our reserves to cover the aforementioned rainy day scenarios, such as when a client might not pay, or someone needs an emergency advance. And when the reserves are high enough, a portion of the remainder is donated to selected charities.

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