Crowdsourcing on sites like Mechanical Turk rises and falls in popularity with the online community on a regular basis. It has its advantages and disadvantages for both the businesses choosing to go this route over hiring regular remote workers and the remote workers that turn to these sites for a little extra cash.
What is Crowdsourcing?
The bare bones definition of crowdsourcing is getting a bunch of people together to get something done. The “something” in this case is running a business. Rather than a small group of people working on the day-to-day tasks, there may be a large group of people each completing one small task. This guy is designing a logo. That guy is posting to Facebook. The girl over there is writing ad copy. Tomorrow, all of those workers may change though the tasks remain the same.
There are a number of ways this can work and just as many ways it can pay. Some sites pay per task while others may pay for results only. The whole setup has its perks and drawbacks.
There are usually no commitments with these sites. Pick up tasks as your schedule allows. Therefore, they can be a popular option for “filler work” when your client workload is slim.
Just as you have no commitment to the site or the clients, they will likely feel little if any commitment to you. We aren’t just talking about workload here, but also pay – which is probably going to be pretty low.
In some cases, the pay can be pretty high. This is especially the case with crowdsourced contest sites, but there are no guarantees you will win the contest for which you invested a lot of time, energy and effort.
List of Crowdsourcing Websites
There are a variety of sites out there for freelancers of every specialty. Some sites offer logo creation or website name contests. Others focus on microtasks. You can even put your art skills to the challenge and design someone a new tattoo!
99Designs – logo & web design
blurGroup – design, technology, marketing
CastingWords – transcription
Clickworker – microtasks
CreateMyTattoo – tattoos
Crowdspring – design and website naming
Crowdsource – writing, editing, transcription and microtasks
Fancy Hands – personal assistant-type tasks
FieldAgent – app-based, local work similar to mystery shopping
Fiverr – microtasks
Genius Rocket – video production
Microworkers – microtasks
Mturk – microtasks
NamingForce – business names
Poptent – video commercials
Squadhelp – microtasks & contests
Threadless – t-shirt design
Tongal – commercials
Interview with Tongal Workers Julia Lee and Tina Ragel
Please tell us a little about Tongal.
Julia: Tongal is a great site for creative people to put on their best Don Draper hat and to pitch an idea for a commercial (usually 140 character-long entry, the size of a tweet) directly to companies such as LEGO, Olay and Barbie. If your idea is chosen, you can win money for the initial idea, and if a filmmaker wins with a video based on your idea, you also win a 5% residual amount. If you are a filmmaker, you can also compete in the video phases for the possibility of even more prize money.
What made you decide to sign up for the site?
Julia: At first, I thought Tongal was a scam because it just sounded way too good to be true, so I told my boyfriend about it, since he was already competing in so many writing contests at the time. Within a few months, he won money off the site for an idea. So I thought, “What could I lose?” I actually won $1,000 for the first idea contest I ever entered. I was instantly hooked. 4 years later, over $30K, I still enjoy competing.
Tina: I’ve always enjoyed competitive contests” where you can increase your chances of winning by working hard and doing a good job. You can’t do that with a sweepstakes or a drawing.
Back in 2009, I was searching for video contests online. I stumbled upon Tongal. Their contest was uniquely structured in stages. It started with an Idea Phase and the winning ideas would then be used as a basis for the next stage, the Video Phase. So with nothing to lose, I submitted an idea and it won first place – $1000.
How much money have you been able to make to put towards your holiday shopping goals?
Julia: So far this year, I've won almost $5,000, so I will probably put at least $1,000 of it to go towards holiday shopping. My boyfriend and I just had a beautiful baby girl in June, so most of our winning goes towards diapers and baby supplies.
Tina: This year I’ve won over $3000 and I have saved $1000 in winnings to put towards holiday shopping.
What are your best tips for those wanting to sign up with Tongal?
Julia: My best tips on competing on Tongal are: 1) ALWAYS read the briefs thoroughly, 2) Do some research on your own by checking out the Sponsor's website/Facebook page/YouTube channel in order to get a better sense of their products and company's tone, 3) If you don't succeed at first, keep trying again and again, 4) Normally, since you get 3 – 5 entries, you should always put in 1 wacky idea and 1 straightforward idea because you just never really know which way a Sponsor will go, and 5) Think about the most memorable commercials you've seen and try to figure out why those particular commercials stayed with you, whether it was the humor or cinematography or message. Try to replicate it with your own twist, based on what the Sponsor is looking for.
How can we sign up and what’s the application process like?
Julia: It's pretty simple. You just have to be at least 13 years old and have an e-mail address. Visit Tongal.com and sign up today.
Have you ever tried a crowdsourcing website? Tell us about it in the comments.