Four ways to make crowdsourcing work for you

Sylvia Pennington

A professional brand and a business image which reflect the style of your company and the product you’re selling are “must haves” for small businesses looking to stand out.

Professional graphic design is key to creating a “brand story” that resonates with your target market but getting top-end-of-town quality on a shoestring budget has historically been a challenge.

The rise of crowdsourcing sites such as 99designs and DesignCrowd has allowed small business owners to tap into a global pool of creative talent, often at a steep discount on the price of hiring a local.

Businesses are able to create “design competitions”, giving designers from Brisbane to Bulgaria the opportunity to compete for the gig to create their company’s graphic, logo or web design.

It can be an efficient way of getting work done – or a source of disappointment and frustration if you don’t manage the process effectively.

Here are some tips for getting rockin’ results.

A good brief

Not sure exactly what you’re after but you’ll know it when you see it? If you struggle to specify your requirements, it’s a tall order to expect designers who're new to your company to be able to make something that fits.

Investing time upfront creating a detailed brief makes it more likely you’ll receive a selection of designs which meet your business objectives, 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn says.

Crowdsourcing will save you money, but don’t scrimp and save.

Engage with designers

Crowdsourcing platforms will attract a crowd of talent, from excellent to insignificant. Find the former by browsing designer directories and issuing invites to participate to those whose oeuvre appeals.

Sometimes it takes designers 24 to 48 hours to put their thoughts together so it pays to be patient, Llewellyn says.

“You’ll often see stronger designs as the contest goes along and designers get a better grasp of your brief.”

Fair dues

“Pay peanuts, get monkeys” is a business truism equally applicable in cyberspace as in real life. Offering fair payment to the crowd will result in a greater number of high quality responses, says DesignCrowd CEO Alec Lynch.

“Crowdsourcing will save you money, but don’t scrimp and save,” he says.

‘The more you pay, the more ideas and talent you will attract to your project.”

It’s good to talk

Open communication is the key to getting a design that really floats your boat. Seek opinions from others before locking in a design that you’ll use and provide feedback to designers on what you like and don’t like, Lynch says.

As a courtesy, let them know ASAP if they’re out of the running, he adds. “This means they can move on to their next project and you can get underway with the other designs you’ve chosen.”

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.