Crowdsourcing is one of those wonderful concepts that only exists because of the internet. A decade ago it would have been unthinkable that a small company in Brisbane could have tapped into the huge pool of brilliant computer programmers in India or cutting-edge designers in Russia.
But crowdsourcing isn’t just one of those cool web 2.0 ideas — it’s a quick and practical way for freelancers to save thousands on a huge variety of tasks. For a few hundred dollars, it’s well worth giving it a go.
- 99designs: SitePoint’s sister site, 99designs, is the place to go to get everything from a logo to a web site designed by the huge community of professional designers. It’s easy to use and has a strong community, so you are very likely to get the design you want over the course of a seven-day contest.
- ScriptLance: Don’t get an expensive local computer programmer in – put the job on ScriptLance and outsource your task to the cheapest bidder. Think about it – with armies of underutilised programmers sitting in Asia and Eastern Europe, there’s bound to be someone around the world to prepared to do your job on the cheap.
- Guru: Guru is a bit of a one-stop crowdsourcing shop, where you can find freelance professionals to help you with everything from legal matters to design to IT to engineering and accounting.
- NameThis: Need a name for your new product or business? Simply post a description at NameThis, pay $US99 and in 48 hours the community will come up with a selection of three names for you to choose from.
- iStockPhoto: If you need a cheap image for your corporate brochure, website or presentation, iStockPhoto is the place to go. It also has video files and will soon offer audio files for sale.
- Threadless: Loved by fashionistas and businesses alike, Threadless is a crowdsourcing design site dedicated to t-shirt design. If you want to get a great t-shirt design and create a bit of buzz about your brand, this is the place to go.
The Fine Print
Be prepared for a bit of an adventure if you decide to use a crowdsourcing site — you can never be quite sure what you are going to get back from the community involved.
On design sites such as 99designs, you will need to be prepared to wade through a large number of different designs, some of which will be entirely inappropriate. You might even find that your contest ends without you finding the right design, in which case you’ll still have to pick a winner and pay the prize anyway (it’s considered bad form not to).
The best way to get around problems like this is to be as specific as possible in your brief. Tell the community exactly what you want, provide examples where appropriate (such as your corporate style guide, preferred colours and other designs you like) and keep communicating with the community to refine your idea.