While we are undeniably living in the age of the self, with focus on the individual in every aspect of our social and professional lives, it seems that the business sector is slowly rediscovering the strength that lies in numbers. Inspired by the way grassroots efforts work, crowdsourcing is the name of the game across industries lately – but what could it mean for you as a freelance writer?
How Crowdsourcing Captivated the Business World
Crowdsourcing is not new as a concept. It was coined back in 2006 by Jeff Howe, then an editor at Wired. Even though definitions may vary, the central elements of crowdsourcing rely on one fundamental principle: Engaging a wide community of individuals with the aim of performing a task. Usually, crowdsourcing revolves around gathering information from a pool of individuals who are regarded are local experts in their niche area, or around finding people with skills relevant to the business-related task.
Crowdsourcing is popular across industries, with examples including Wikipedia and Wikimedia and even cryptocurrency projects or efforts to coordinate volunteers in addressing a humanitarian crisis.
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Crowdfunding remains perhaps the most prominent example of successful crowdsourcing. Crowdfunding success stories include The Dao blockchain project, which gathered $168 million on the Ethereum platform, the Star Citizen video game that amassed a total of $142 million across multiple platforms, an Elio Motors three-wheeled innovative car that got $75 million on StartEngine and the Pebble Time smartwatch, which raised over $20 million on popular platform Kickstarter.
Lately, the crowdsourcing process has spilled over to other non-traditional sectors – for example, some cybersecurity solutions like a website application firewall can rely on crowdsourcing to update its information pool, using current attack information from the provider’s network to immediately protect the entire customer community.
In other words, whenever you agree to a piece of software reporting anonymous statistics and data back to its central servers, you are providing such pieces of information, effectively helping the developer improve their product.
How to Make Crowdsourcing Platforms Work for You
Crowdsourcing as a working model can be not only relevant but sometimes vital for freelance writers. There are many crowdsourcing writing platforms online, like Upwork, which is the product of a merger between Elance and oDesk), Guru and Freelancer. But how can you make them work for you and not the other way around?
First, do your research: Each platform has different rules; some of them will let you get your initial bids for free and then have you upgrade to get more. Others charge you a monthly subscription fee or a get a specific percentage of your earnings as a fee. Certain platforms, like the aforementioned Upwork, are more competitive and famous which means increased volume of work on offer but also more writers bidding for each project.
Find the platform that you feel comfortable navigating and choose the right subscription plan for you – it depends on your finances and the amount of work you are looking to get from the site. It is better to focus on one site at first than try to go with many at a time.
Next, you have to market yourself. To do that, you need to identify your expertise. Perhaps your studies make you ideal for medical projects or your work experience lets you handle marketing jobs easily. Perhaps you are an avid traveler who really knows their way across camping and hiking gear or you can speak and write in a relatively uncommon language. Make sure that there is a market for your skills and position yourself as an expert to get better rates and build your own niche audience.
Crowdsourcing sites are a great way to supplement income when you are in-between assignments – even if you do not want to rely on them too much. But just having the option could potentially be a lifesaver during tough freelance periods.