Crowdsourcing is the concept of taking a job one person would normally do and offering it out to a large number of people.
An increasingly famous example of this is 99designs.com. They recently won the Best Web Service & Application of the year in the Webby People's Voice Awards.
They work by taking your design project and turning it into a contest. Say you want a new logo, new website design, or new banner ad. Instead of sending this to your designer, you create a contest for the project and open it up to the entire world.
The winner gets a prize. Suggested prizes are:
And all the losers get: $0.
I did this for a Web design for a friend. I got 15 designs and paid the winner $450.
On top of that, the designer was incredibly accommodating. He eagerly made changes and updates to his design.
It was a great experience.
Last week, I was speaking on a panel where I mentioned I was experimenting with outsourcing and crowdsourcing. After the panel, a Web designer asked me my thoughts on crowdsourcing.
He summed up the big concerns with crowdsourcing quite well. He asked:
Let's deal with each one of these:
Don't you think the quality is crap?
There's good work and there's bad work. Not everyone can make that determination. You have to know what you're looking at. There needs to be a filter for that determination.
In the case of using a crowdsourcing solution for design, you really should do this hand-in-hand with a professional designer you trust.
Much to most people's surprise, most of us don't understand what good design looks like.
What would your clients think if they knew you were doing this?
They might love you for it. If you outsource the production work of a design project, you are saving them money. Additionally, I don't think I've ever gotten asked where work is coming from. My clients trust me to only provide them with quality work. If I used a partner in Chicago (which I do a lot) or a partner in Delhi, that has no bearing. All that matters is if the work produces the desired results.
My accounting firm actually proudly promotes bookkeeping services they outsource to India. They do it so that they can focus on strategy and ultimately save me money on mundane tasks. They are expensive bookkeepers. But they are great accounting strategists.
Aren't you feeding your own extinction?
I definitely am changing the way I think about my business. But it's a line of thinking we all need to consider. The reason someone would want to pay me a considerable amount of money for Web marketing is because I have experience and knowledge they don't have. They want guidance I'm able to offer them.
The amount of guidance they need from me is based on how big and complex the project is.
Part of that guidance likely should include ways I can save them money while still producing the desired results. Because of my experience, I'm able to bring that capability to them.
Using a crowdsourcing solution actually makes me more important in the process.
If you have no experience with key phrase research, link building, and on-the-page optimization, how will you possibly know if your crowdsourcing solution is any good? You actually could cause yourself damage by not using an expert in conjunction with crowdsourcing.
We all need to continue to move to the top of the food chain. That's where the money is at. That's where our value lies.
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Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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