From learning how to speed up the patent approval process to finding alternative sources of business financing, crowdsourcing has again-and-again proven to be an amazing productivity tool that can save time and money and produce outstanding results.

 

Today, brilliant innovators like Peter Diamandis are promoting crowdsourced competitions to spur progress on issues like literacy, women’s safety, and clean water through xprize.org. While influencer Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, uses crowdsourcing to tackle more immediate business tasks like designing new book covers.

 

Many sources cite that crowdsourcing, especially in the form of community competitions, dates back hundreds of year, but today the productivity-focused individual should, of course, leverage technology to facilitate crowdsourcing.

 

Myriad sites are already set up for this specific purpose, but depending on your budget, you may also consider developing your own platform and community or using collaboration tools such as WhatsApp or Basecamp.

 

Whatever tools you choose to use, here are four best practices that can help anyone be more productive with crowdsourcing:

#1 Be Specific

 

 

When it comes to crowdsourcing, you are always the project leader. Keep you crowdsourcing experience productive by defining your goals and providing clear and engaging project details. In the classic successful Kickstarter campaign (online funding) for Barbell Denim, you can see excellent communication in action. Note the compelling video, solid imagery, and excellent use of headlines and bullet points. There is a clear call to “HELP GET PRODUCTION STARTED” followed by a strong guarantee. To attract the cream of the crowd, make your project brief interesting, engaging, and clear.

#2 Brevity Matters

 

Brevity does not always mean short, but it does mean precise. In the famous copywriting books Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz uses the term gradualization to refer to the practice of bringing a reader from one ideas to the next with excellent logic and continuously engaging content, until everything the customer needs to know in order to feel excited and confident making a purchase is conveyed.

 

One of the biggest mistakes we see again and again in crowdsourcing is that, no matter what the project, people love to include a lot of background detail about their business. We know it can be difficult, but when crowdsourcing, strike out all tertiary information in your project description. You’re not dealing with an agency that will spend hours on explorative research. A brief brief will have a huge impact on the success of your crowdsourced project.

#3 Come Prepared

 

If you can’t explain your project clearly and lead it to completion, then crowdsourcing becomes very frustrating. Consider, for example, working with Kaggle, a data science and machine learning crowdsourcing platform: It is essential to come to the site with clean and usable data and enough knowledge of data science to explain the project clearly and direct it to completion. In this way, crowdsourcing can be very different than other vendors.

 

Take the time to educate yourself on the subject, so you are able to effectively lead the crowdsourcing project to successful completion. Otherwise, take a step back and consider going with a more consultative solution.

#4 Find the Right Carrot

 

 

Not only does offering value shorten the search for the right people to help you solve difficult business problems, offering value motivates your crowdsourced team to find a solution quickly.

 

Public validation, money, and other perks are the most common means of encouraging crowd engagement. Consider the community that you’re trying to tap into.

 

Today, crowdsourcing is typically facilitated by an established websites, like the ones that have been listed throughout this article. If you choose to use one of these sites, take some time to explore how other other customer’s compensation strategy. If you’re using a proposal based crowdsourcing site, such as Upwork, take some time to research standard hourly rates for the work your looking to accomplish across different countries. When using contest based crowdsourcing, such as Squadhelp.com, look to see if the site you are using has any standard awards and look into the award trends of actual users.

 

A big decision when it comes to investing in crowdsourcing is, Am I looking to save money or am I focusing on tapping into a large pool of talent? At the end of the day, the carrot you choose to offer will of course greatly determine the results you receive.

Conclusion

 

 

When executed effectively, crowdsourcing is an amazing productivity tool. Just remember, crowdsourcing is not magic. Ensure that you invest the time to prepare yourself to lead the project.

 

Like so many productivity tools, what you can accomplish is truly only limited my your ingenuity. For example, Darpan Munjal hacked together his first crowdsourced naming competition using a few forums he was active in. The success his first naming competition lead him to build Squadhelp.com, which has now helped more than 15,000 entrepreneurs and marketers develop amazing startup, brand, and product names. 

 

Exploring different uses of crowdsourcing and resources for facilitating it successfully can be enormously productive, and it could even spark your next big entrepreneurial idea.

 

Have you had any successful productivity boosting crowdsourcing experiences?

 

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com, helping entrepreneurs and marketers name their businesses (quickly and easily), create strong brands, and grow faster through a disruptive crowdsourcing process that connects them with the most creative people across the globe. His book on How to Name a Business is available to Sharetribe readers for free.