5 Online Resources for Crowdsourcing

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on October 31, 2011
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When it comes to outsourcing business projects or tasks, have you ever considered making an open call for submissions? Rather than hiring a single professional to complete an assignment, you could crowdsource it, which means that an entire group of people — some highly skilled, others not so much — will do the job on speculation and only receive payment if you choose to use their work. Crowdsourcing can be a viable option for company logos, slogans, names, and more (whether it’s the best idea or not is another story).

Here are five websites that give you access to the resourcefulness of crowds.

  1. 99designs. This site provides access to thousands of amateur and professional graphic designers who compete to complete logos and other designs according to clients’ specs. All you need to do is send in a rough idea of what you’re looking for and the rate you’re willing to pay. Within several days, you’ll have dozens, if not hundreds, of completed designs from which to choose. You’ll pay for only the design you want to use, and you’ll have the opportunity to request revisions to polish up the final version at no additional charge.
  2. TopCoder. Seeking a software developer to help you create a new app? Let this online community’s nearly 315,000 coders compete to solve your challenge. The site provides clients with access to a “co-pilot” to help determine needs — and how to best execute them. Because the process can be intensive, TopCoder also provides clients with tools to check in on development every step of the way. Many big-name clients, including PayPal and LendingTree, have taken advantage of TopCoder’s talent.
  3. Crowdspring. Primarily an online marketplace for logos and graphic design, Crowdspring’s members also handle tasks such as copywriting and company naming. The site provides access to more than 100,000 creative types and has crowdsourced projects for high-profile clients, including the band Phantom Planet and author Chuck Palahniuk.
  4. Mechanical Turk. While not technically a crowdsourcing site, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk allows clients to request the completion of tasks for very small fees, often as low as 1 or 2 cents each. If you’re looking for people to complete simple tasks, such as finding video links, submitting descriptive names for images, or even drawing sheep, Mechanical Turk can provide you with access to thousands of willing workers.
  5. Sparked. This network, developed exclusively for nonprofit organizations, allows individuals all over the world to “microvolunteer” by participating in short tasks that correspond to their interests and skills, such as blogging, copyediting, and translation. There’s no fee to use the service, but your operation must be a registered 501(c) organization to participate.
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