The word ‘crowdsourcing’ defines itself. It’s all about the outsourcing of work to a crowd of people who would do it for you because you are unable to do it yourself. That’s as simple as you can get. The outsourced work is usually paid work, but sometimes the services are provided for free.
Crowdsourcing is defined as “the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”
The term ‘crowdsourcing’ was first used by a guy called Jeff Howe in a Wired Magazine article. He adopted his definition, but basically, it means a company or business has decided to outsource some of its work to an undefined network of people by placing it on the internet on a crowdsourcing platform.
Crowdsourcing goes hand in hand with crowdworking, a crowdworker being the person who will use his free time to contribute to the tasks a crowdsourcer has posted.
Freelancing and Crowdsourcing – A Little Different
Freelancing sites like Upwork, Freelancer, WriterBay, TaskRabbit, Envato and DesignHill are all types of crowdsourcing sites. In these instances, clients requiring services pay the freelancers. The site picks up a commission for providing the platform.
Large companies also use crowdsourcing. They set up different contests for ideas, designs, videos and a host of other projects. There are quite a few online testing sites as well that test software, games, and design – all using crowdsourcing.
The crowdsourcing market is quite vast. It’s a matter of finding the right job or finding the right person for your task. It’s nice to know there is an alternative and you can’t always depend on your employees. There’s a big crowd out there on the web who are willing to do it at a fraction of the cost.
There are some big opportunities on crowdsourcing sites. A winning logo design for a large company might carry a large prize or payment. On a crowdsourcing site called blur Group, their biggest payout was for $130,000 for a proposal put together by one lucky person.
That is not the norm though. Typing and translation jobs, some freelance writing and submitting ideas don’t pay a lot. However, as an additional source of income, if you apply yourself, you can do okay.
Who Provides Crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing is done primarily by design sites. The most prominent sites are 99designs.com, crowd SPRING, InnoCentive, and Designcontest. Another one that was around called iStockphoto is an online store where you could order professional quality photos for cheap.
A perfect example of outsourcing is Wikipedia. People contribute information and data freely, although there are some paid projects they do as well. Even Facebook used crowdsourcing to make their site multilingual. With crowdsourcing the possibilities are limitless, and the list is endless.
Popular Sites Today
Guru – Jobs are offered to a variety of freelancers who can bid on any project. They have design, programming and business management. Posting a job is free, but the freelancer has to pay a commission to Guru.
99Designs – This is all about web design, logos, and graphic design. Freelancers submit their designs and bid on a project in an open competition format.
CrowdSPRING – Again, this is for graphic design. CD covers, logos and even T-shirts. More than 100 designers compete for a project and payment can be anything from $200 to a few thousand dollars.
There are some benefits for companies and individuals when using the crowdsourcing platforms.
- Lower price.
- Lots of people available to work for you anytime.
- Many choices from which to choose.
Some of the Disadvantages for the Crowdsourcer:
- Cheap labor means a less credible product, compared to professionals. You pay professionals for their expertise, experience, and dedicated spirit, but you buy labor for completing simple tasks.
- Crowdsourcing is only useful for simple tasks. Above that and there’s a risk.
- Management issues. In most cases, you have to manage a large scale of workers, which pretty much waste more of your time for management instead of a solution.
- It’s difficult for collaboration between crowd members as they compete with each other.
- There’s no contract in most crowdsourcing cases. Workers can run anytime they want, and your design might be reused anytime.
Can You Earn Money As a Crowdworker?
The obvious answer to that is ‘yes.’ But there are a couple of ways to potentially approach this opportunity.
Choosing The Right Approach For You
- If you are an expert, qualified, or very good in a specific field, let’s say graphic design as an example, wouldn’t you be better of going through a more conventional freelance site rather than competing with every wannabe designer – man, woman, and child? And if you are qualified, you will want a lot more than $5 for a design that took you a few hours.
- If you are trying to make extra income, and you have a design software on your PC, and you’re good, but not that good, then, by all means, enter logo designs or offer to do work for a small return just to give you some loose change for a night out with your friends.
Borrowing Money As a Crowdworker
If, however, your crowdsourcing income is spasmodic, not recorded well, and not reasonably substantial, a lender would not accept whatever figure you came up with as being part of your income.