By now you’ve probably heard the term that has become associated with Tim Ferriss and his famous book the 4-hour work week – outsourcing. Outsourcing has come to encompass a whole range of activities, but the basic idea is to leverage your time by becoming a manager of others, and then paying them to do tasks so you don’t have to. Often the term refers to taking advantage of the huge cheap labour market all over the world. Many people in the online community outsource a whole range of repetitive tasks that can just as easily be done by someone in the Philippines for half the price of minimum wage here in North America. Often, the online expertise in these developing countries would be at a premium over here, so the strategy is working well for plenty of people, including Mr. Ferriss who has set up a model that many are now trying to emulate. Outsourcing isn’t exclusive to the cheap labour market however, there are millions of people around the world who are great at one activity and just enjoy doing that limited scope of activities. In order to make a living doing this, they specialize and outsource the activities they would rather not do to other people. Graphic design is a perfect example of this. If you haven’t thought about how outsourcing might help your business, I highly recommend the idea of freeing up your time and having others work for you.
Crowdsourcing vs Outsourcing
Writing an article talking only about outsourcing has been done many times and probably isn’t telling you too much you haven’t already heard, but the new evolution of the practice has led to something else altogether – crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is brilliant in that it gives the seller a bevy of options, and is kind of the ultimate extension of the free market. The basic idea is that you put a job up for “bids,” but then you also list how much you will pay the winner of the “competition.” People then compete for their product to be chosen, and if it is, then they receive the bid price. Often this will cost more than going with the ultra-cheap traditional methods of outsourcing, but it gets you an unbelievable return on your investment.
Crowdsourcing Graphic Design
My experience with crowdsourcing has been through 99 designs.com. I have never been an artist and I’m not great with computers, so you can imagine how much graphic design has appealed to me. This site allows me to list jobs I want done, and the end result is that for a fairly meagre (a couple hundred bucks or less) price you will not only get someone to do some pretty good work for you, you will get several dozen professionals submitting their designs. Those professionals know they are in competition, and they get nothing if they lose the competition. This strong motivation factor and the sheer quantity of designs that you get back basically guarantee that you’ll get something you can use.
Leverage Your Time and Money Through Crowdsourcing
Anything that allows you to harness the creativity and effort of a large group of people who specialize in a certain field is a pretty sweet deal. Most “experts” refer to this as leveraging your time. I love the utility of the term leverage, and it nearly always means something good for the person doing it (unless you are an investment bank of course). Think about it, engineers invented leverage to help them move items that they couldn’t simply lift. The pyramids were the end result. When you put a down payment on your house and then get to move into it, this is the use of financial leverage. Leverage allows you get great returns on your effort and resources. This is essentially what crowdsourcing does as well. If we each concentrate our time on what we do best, and hire others to fill in the blanks, the end result will be a superior product with much less labour cost (hours) and consequently much better efficiency, and a better business model (as a bonus, the business model can also be scaled easier as well).
Does anyone else have some cool examples of crowdsourcing that they have seen put to good use?