Crowdsourcing is the method of outsourcing work to a large group of people rather than to individual employees or departments. When looking into the design of my company logo, I decided to run a test to see if crowdsourcing would be better than using an advertising agency…

When you enlist an advertising agency, you normally have one designer working on the project and this designer creates, at the most, five logo options for you to choose from and refine.

CrowdsourcingI visited Crowdspring to see if they could provide a better service by crowdsourcing the design. I registered, opened my first project, set my price and waited.

The nice part of crowdsourcing is that as the buyer, you decide how much to pay. You set the price bar and the service providers (i.e. the designers) decide if they want to earn that money or not. In most cases, the service provider is guaranteed the income should they do the work. At Crowdspring it works a little differently. I set my price and any designer who wanted to work on the project could submit designs – but I only paid for the winning design. In other words, I got the design expertise of multiple designers around the world and my costs never changed.

The process of crowdsourcing my logo design was relatively simple:

  1. Write a comprehensive and informative brief.
  2. Advertise or market the new project to designers on the site.
  3. The designers who wanted to work on the project sign a disclosure agreement.
  4. The designers start submitting designs.
  5. I review the designs and send back changes that I would like.
  6. The changes come back and forth for two weeks (each crowdsourcing project in Crowdspring runs for about two weeks).
  7. Once all the submitted designs are in, and the deadline is reached, I then chose my Top Ten logo designs and posted them onto a voting panel.
  8. I invited friends, family, associates and clients to vote for my logo. This gave me an indication which logo was liked by the general public instead of just by me.
  9. Once the votes were in, I could then pick my favorite design.
  10. I contacted the designer and they delivered the design work so I could start using it.
The end result was that I received over two hundred submissions with different variations of logos that I could use for my business. Using crowdsourcing as opposed to an advertising agency gave me more choice but also meant much more administration as I reviewed every logo that was submitted.
The irony is that by crowdsourcing to the global village of designers, the winner lived about 30km from my office. The truth is that I would never have found this local design talent if it were not for the croudsourcing process.
What can I crowdsource? 
Design is not the only thing you can crowdsource; in fact it’s probably one of the hardest disciplines to crowdsource. The best way to explain this is to show you examples of crowdsourcing companies that exist. They have created environments where crowdsourcing works and you’re welcome to take part at any time. These examples are taken from
1. Mechanical Turk
Mechanical Turk is based on HIT‚ Äôs, or Human Intelligence Tasks. These are basically simple tasks that are easy for the average person, but not simple enough for an automated system to handle. The work itself is micro-labour. That means you will be paid pennies per section of each task, adding up to greater amounts for time. So if you chose to organise a website list to find active links, you might be paid a few cents per link. Others pay up to ten cents per section, which will add up faster. You can make money here, or even post your own jobs for others to do.
2. Cloudcrowd
Another micro-labour site, Cloudcrowd is more translation, data entry and editing based. You can also work in content creation, in a way similar to sites such as TextBroker. You have to have a Facebook and PayPal account in order to qualify, but chances are you have those anyway. The amounts are greater than Mechanical Turk, but the tasks are also a little more time and energy consuming. If you’ve been looking for people who can transcribe your files, provide translations or do data entry, you can find some good ones here‚ however, you have to be prepared to pay a little bit more.
3. CastingWords
Anyone who has a typing skill can make some extra cash by doing transcription at CastingWords. It is associated with Mechanical Turk and allows you to search for jobs related to transcription, which is pretty much just very quick data entry. They pay through direct bank transfers or Amazon store cards, and the pay isn’t that bad. If you are going to use Mechanical Turk to find people who can transcribe for you, it is worth checking out CastingWords as well.
4. IdeaOffer
IdeaOffer is an interesting site. You sign up and look through projects on the site. They will ask you for any ideas you might have to improve it, market it, change it, name it‚ whatever they need. You submit your ideas and the best ones will be paid a reward. These might be anything from $1 to $100, but you can usually expect about $5 to $10 for each reward. While this isn’t great for making a lot of cash, it is a good place to get help if you are stuck on your project. You will also be rewarding concepts and creativity.
5. NamingForce
Do you like some real competition? Businesses looking for product or company names will come to NamingForce and ask for your input. The winning name will get a $100 bucks or more for their efforts as they buy that provided name. It is harder to win here because there is more to gain, but it is an interesting site. If you’re looking for some good marketing ideas and names, then this is a fantastic place to get what you need. You have to be willing to hand out some serious money, but it is still a lot less than you would pay a concept team. You will also be tapping into a fresh idea resource, and that is important in a business-oriented market where creativity can quickly become stale.
How does this work inside my business? 
Crowdsourcing inside your organisation can be used in any of the ways above, but has also been successfully leveraged to:
  1. Help solve complex problems where the decision makers have utilised a crowdsourcing platform to explain the problem and get input for employees.
  2. Vote on decisions where the options are better decided by those affected by the decision rather that the decision makers.
  3. Funding projects.
Social Reinvention
To find out how crowdsourcing and a number of other elements of social media are shaping the business world of tomorrow take a look at using the keynote presentation Social Reinvention for your next conference.
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