How to Run Your Freelance Business Entirely on Crowdsourcing
by Boost Inspiration · January 23, 2013
If you haven’t been taking advantage of the many crowdsourcing resources available to you as a freelancer, then you’re in for a big surprise. New tools and sites make it entirely possible to run a profitable business from crowdsourced projects alone. Generally speaking, you have two options for running your freelance business entirely on crowdsourcing: gain lots of smaller projects and outsource larger projects – all using crowdsourcing.
Use Crowdsourcing to Find Small Projects
Most freelancers have down time they wish they could fill with smaller projects in between their bigger ones. This ebb-and-flow of income can be a killer, too. We’re all familiar with the feast or famine freelancer existence. Crowdsourcing can be that source of income that keeps the lights on from big project to big project.
For example, let’s say you’re a graphic designer and you’re waiting for that next big project to start. In the meantime, you’d love to have some smaller, filler projects. That’s when you can go to crowdsourcing sites and find some freelance graphic design work to keep you busy and income flowing.
You can add your portfolio and bid on projects – most small – and keep income flowing during downtime. These are an excellent way to build relationships as well. Don’t forget that even small clients sometimes explode and turn into that perfect customer that keeps work coming your way.
Tip: Crowdsourcing means that you will be competing with other freelancers for the job. You will have to go above and beyond in your work as well as match the client’s vision perfectly to get chosen above the rest of the competition. Make sure you…
- Do your research before beginning the project. Find out what the company image and vision is and incorporate this into your project.
- Get the job done as quickly as possible. Find a balance between time spent and the quality of your work; this is only an on-spec job, after all.
- Study any jobs you do not win. Find out what seemed to work for the freelancer that won, if the website you used offers this information.
- Only choose jobs you know are your expertise and that you can get done well in a short amount of time.
- See what others are bidding and try to keep your time spent on the project within a medium bid price you can afford to be paid.
- Grow your expert status by consistently using crowdsourcing sites that display a rank and/or your income earned. As your rank gets higher, so can your bids get higher.
Crowdsource Out Large Projects
Another common problem as a freelancer is that you sometimes get handed several large projects all at once. You, like most of us, struggle with letting a project go that you’ve worked hard to get. That’s where crowdsourcing can still come in handy.
Now you can use the same sites to piecemeal out these larger projects to multiple freelancers, or you can even announce your project on your Facebook or LinkedIn page. As freelancers turn in work, you compile and stay on top of quality. The key is that you don’t have to let go of the bigger projects and you can still maintain control of the quality of the work.
Tip: The quality of submissions you receive will be as good as your instructions. Therefore, make sure you…
- Outline the project in great detail, explaining the style and vision you have.
- Give required inclusions, such as fonts or word count.
- Do not give away your client information; you do not want other freelancers stealing your client out from under you nor violating the privacy of your client.
- Request a deadline that gives you enough time to clean up the project and add in your client’s information before sending on to your client.
- Pay promptly and via PayPal, other online secure system, or whatever the crowdsourcing website you used requires; this may mean you have to make a payment before your client pays you.
Whether you are entering a contest or submitting a formal proposal, be very careful and mindful of your intellectual property. In some cases, the projects on which you will bid state that they own whatever work you turn into them – whether that’s for pay or no pay.
If you’re alright with this arrangement, then that’s on you. But in many cases, freelancers do not get paid a single dime and find their work published later anyway. This is a harsh reality of the crowdsourcing world, but by no means makes these projects any less worth attempting. Just be careful and know the terms under which you are submitting your work. This may also be why it is safer to go with a crowdsourcing website host.
Benefit of Crowdsourcing Projects: Global Reach
If you live in a rural area – meaning not in one of about 10 big cities – you could see the biggest benefits from these crowdsourced projects. While your primary clientele might be local businesses, you don’t have to limit your smaller projects or outsourced gigs to locals. Crowdsourcing allows you to connect with clients anywhere – even in other countries.
Further, if you’re looking to expand into a new arena and need some pieces for your resume, look no further than crowdsourcing. You are competing on a level playing field. Is the resume builder more important than money? No problem. Just bid low or submit a project on a contest that has a small prize, where you know there won’t be a lot of competition. Win a few of those and you’ll have all the reputation you need to start competing on bigger projects legitimately.
Crowdsourcing is a huge tool for freelancers to stay busy no matter their current workload. Not enough work right now? Pick up some smaller projects or compete. Too much work? Break the project down into smaller parts and get other freelancers to help you out. And it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – crowdsourcing is available in just about every niche you can imagine, from graphic design to copywriting to videography and more. Just remember that it takes some learning to find out what jobs you are most likely to win, so start slow and keep building until you can smoothly run your entire freelance business on crowdsourcing alone if needed.