Crowdsourcing: A Solution for the Overworked Freelancer
Lots of solo business owners, freelance writers included, tend to dismiss advice about delegation when it comes to running their businesses. Why? Because being a solopreneur means there’s no one within the business to delegate the extra work to.
But freelancers do have options for delegation, and that’s because of the overwhelming number of virtual service providers out there. If you don’t have a go-to logo designer or website guy, for example, thousands of them can be reached through crowdsourcing sites.
For instance you can:
- Find Facebook developers on Elance
- Find graphic designers on oDesk
- Find virtual assistants on Freelancer
What makes crowdsourcing appealing for the business owners is that with relatively little effort, you can post a job that will be seen by hundreds and hundreds of professionals all over the world. On the flip side, with the traditional quoting process, you’d spend a lot more time contacting just a few different businesses to explain what you’re looking for and request a quote.
The Difference Between Job Postings and Job Contests
If you choose to crowdsource a task for your small business, there are a couple of ways you can go about it. The standard job posting allows you to give the details of your project just once and let interested contractors make bids. In this scenario, you’d probably make a hiring decision based on two factors: price and your overall confidence in the applicant’s ability to do a good job.
But you can also hold contests on some crowdsourcing sites. Take www.99designs.com, for instance. I ran a contest on that site over a year ago for a logo design. I gave some basic instructions on the project and designers began submitting concepts to me without receiving any upfront payment or any promise of pay. They were working merely on the hope that they would win and receive the “prize.”
I’m not a huge fan of contests, and don’t plan to ever run one again. Although my financial investment was protected (I didn’t have to choose a winner if I didn’t like any of the submissions), I didn’t feel it was particularly fair to the people doing the work. I also think overall the quality of submissions I received were just so-so — probably because the designers didn’t want to put in too much effort only to see the prize awarded to someone else in the end.
And can you blame them?
Crowdsourcing Pros & Cons
- You learn the crowdsourcing business. Freelance writers, designers, virtual assistants–you can all work for these sites too. If you’ve used crowdsourcing as an employer, you have an advantage as a provider because you know what you loved and what you hated about applicant bids.
- You have no shortage of choices. This can be good or bad, depending. If you’re easily overwhelmed by to many choices or have a hard time making cuts, crowdsourcing might not be your first choice for delegating your small business tasks.
- You can’t micromanage the entire process. Lots of solopreneurs work alone because they have control issues. (Yeah, I said it, and you know who you are.) If you crowdsource, you’ll have to trust someone else to take pride in the details.
This post is part of the April Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the posts on outsourcing here.