Today we’re going to talk about crowdsourcing and its value for both business owners and freelancers. Though crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sound alike, they are actually very different means of gathering people together for a greater good.

Crowdfund Me Australia logo
Logo by Lutheriek for Crowdfund Me Australia.

Crowdfunding is a way to gather money for projects so startups can finance their products and services. Crowdfunding creates an investor collective while also seeking feedback and direction from these investors. These investors then follow the development of the product or service they are funding. (Think Kickstarter and Gofundme.)

Crowdfunding is actually a branch of crowdsourcing, which focuses on bringing together the collective intelligence that’s available to help on certain projects. Typically, crowdsourcing involves projects that a company heads directly or works outsourced to another service provider. Crowdsourcing can be seen in open-source software development or surveys that collect feedback from existing customers or a specific audience. As crowdsourcing has become a more widely used tool, companies now rely on it for a larger scope of projects.

Whether you’re a freelancer or a business owner, there are many ways crowdsourcing can help you. Let’s take a look at the various ways to use crowdsourcing and its primary benefits for both design and business.

Crowdsourcing applications

Companies of all sizes, from startups to freelancers, to large brands, benefit from crowdsourcing. The platform can be applied to numerous projects across every kind of industry imaginable.

Crowdsourced greeting card marketplace logo
Crowdsourced Greeting Card Marketplace Logo by A K 99™ for CrowdGreet.

For example, Netflix uses crowdsourcing to enhance the recommendations offered to customers through its software algorithm. DuPont has reached out to researchers and crowdsourced solutions to their research and development problems.

On the creative side, iStockphoto.com has crowdsourced visual talent to contribute stock photos, offering royalties when their images are bought by customers. Even Wikipedia enjoys the perks of crowdsourcing by gathering collective knowledge from internet users to develop an immense online encyclopedia.

Primary benefits of crowdsourcing

Modern tshirt design for an art school
Modern t-shirt design for an art school by Carolina Crespo for azabawa.

Business owners can enjoy a wide range of benefits from crowdsourcing specific projects, such as:

  • Increased productivity through focusing on core capabilities, while crowdsourced contractors handle more of the time-intensive activities. For example, project management is not necessary, freeing up managers to work somewhere else.
  • Greater creativity and innovation as those outside of the organization bring a different perspective. A fresh set of eyes can be helpful to problem solving and brainstorming.  The result will be a more comprehensive selection of options that get you closer to the ideal solution.
  • Reduced labor and research costs through more competitive rates offered by outside parties as well as lower overhead. Human resources expenses can be reduced as well, since contracted employees are usually not paid benefits.
  • A wider pool of feedback from your dedicated customers or clients. You’ll have the information you need without having to spend resources on focus groups or other internal research projects. Crowdsourcing helps to create a more targeted approach to your marketing, brand, and product development strategies.
  • Buzz generated from crowdsourcing participants. When your audience is passionate and involved, they will spread the word about your company’s product and cause. This will lead them to tell others about what they are doing with you. That is free publicity at its finest.

How crowdsourcing helps graphic design projects

Crowdsourcing has notoriously gained popularity with graphic designers over the past few years as it creates steady work opportunities no matter where you are in the world. If you’re a business owner looking to brand your company, you can create a design contest for logos, websites, and other design projects either through a crowdsourcing platform like 99designs or independently via your own network. You’ll be able to tap into a wide range of graphic designers that fit your budget and have unique perspectives that can take your design projects to a whole new level.

Team of freelancers that work together on crowdsourced projects
99designer Hitron is actually a team of freelancers that work together on crowdsourced projects.

With an array of talent at your fingertips, you’ll not only have the cream of the crop, but a diverse portfolio of work to select from. The feedback, creativity, and timely production of the design concepts further help make your dream a reality.

All of these advantages are within reach for any business owner or freelancer. Bright new talented designers often offer affordable rates, allowing companies of all sizes and with varied budgets to participate in crowdsourcing. It’s not all about the Benjamins—many graphic designers want the experience and to leverage participation in crowdsourcing to further their burgeoning careers.

Ready to start crowdsourcing?

As you begin with crowdsourcing, be as detailed as possible about what you want to achieve. Include a list of items to include in the project you are working on. Be clear in describing the type of skills or knowledge that is necessary for working on this specific task.

To get the best results possible, weigh what “best results” means to you – against the compensation you are providing. Be sure to factor in that you are saving on overhead when setting a price or reward.

Finally, don’t be too cheap about when compensating crowdsourcing participants. Their input and talent are invaluable. Consider that the more you give, the more they are likely to return great quality to you.