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Six ways small businesses can leverage crowdsourcing

Starting a small business can be expensive – especially if you want to do it right and hit the ground running with a brand and web presence designed by a professional designer.

Crowdsourcing has taken the internet by storm over the last few years. These services give business owners access to a crowd of people who will compete to produce the best product for your project, allowing you to pick the best of the litter. They help business owners save time and radical amounts of money as well as often getting a better outcome.

Here are five ways you can use crowdsourcing to get your small business off the ground, or rebrand an existing one, and save thousands of dollars.

1. Logo Design

Crowdsourcing logo design is a no brainer.  Offer $500 and get hundreds of designs from around the world while you sleep.  At DesignCrowd, logo design is our most popular category. Australian small businesses (in particular) have embraced logo design crowdsourcing but we’re beginning to see Brazilian, Indian and customers from Eastern Europe overlook cheaper local logo designers in favour of the power of crowdsourcing.

2. Web Design

Crowdsourcing web design can be trickier – but if done well it can help you generate more traffic and convert leads to customers. When crowdsourcing web design, consider limiting the scope of the project to 1 or 2 pages and avoid requesting complex coding or back-end functionality.  Good web designers are often different to good web developers, so splitting the ‘design phase’ from the ‘coding phase’ will get a better result.

3. Crowdfunding

Funding your venture is a hot topic in startup circles. Whilst incubators, accelerators and VC firms help entrepreneurs raise capital in exchange for equity, there are new disruptive forces changing how that funding is sourced. In the last few years, there’s been a spate of crowd-based funded marketplaces launching – like Kickstarter from the US and Pozible in Australia. These marketpaces fast-track funding for a wide range of projects by letting individual ‘backers’ in the ‘crowd’ choose which project to donate their money to. There is no financial gain for the user donating money to the cause, just the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being fulfill their dream.  A company called Pebble recently raised $7M (their goal was $100,000) via a Kickstarter campaign.

4. Video

If you’re in need of some promotional video for your website or beyond, there are services out there that help you crowdsource that process as well. Sites like Poptent and Production Party allow you to set your budget and have filmmakers around the world work on your project, collaborate with each other, and produce high-quality, affordable video.

5. Voice Acting

Crowdsourcing works for just about anything creative. An interesting and increasingly popular application for small business is voice acting crowdsourcing. A professional voice actor can give your YouTube video or your IVR recording a professional touch.  Services like Voice123 let you harness everyone from amateur Snoop Dogg impersonators to professional movie trailer voice actors. We used Voice123 to crowdsource our YouTube video as well as sourcing a UK voice actor for our UK video.

6. Social Media Promotion

You can even use crowdsourcing to promote your brand. Whether you run your own or use an app (like Wildfire or NorthSocial), running a competition on Facebook and other social media platforms, gets your audience to share the news about your brand – attached to an incentivizing offer that is meaningful to them, but a lot cheaper than an advertising campaign for you.

There are new use cases for crowdsourcing springing up all the time. Make sure you keep up with the industry as new services come to light – they might save you (or make you) a few thousand dollars while you sleep.

– Joel Falconer is the Managing Editor of DesignCrowd and Fuel Brand Network blogs.

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