The summer stretches out before us, dear readers, and if you’re like me you face the delicate problem of being somewhere between “poor” and “bored”. Like most things, crowdsourcing is the answer. To help ease your summer slump, and get a little extra cash in your pocket, I present the top 5 ways crowdsourcing can keep you busy and (relatively) wealthy this summer. I’ve arranged these in order of difficulty, from easy to hard; the suggestions at the top of the list could be accomplished by nearly anyone, but the further down you go, the more drive you’ll need to succeed.
5. Micro Labor
In a nutshell, virtual sweatshops, minus the sweating because you can work in your underwear. Sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk, ShortTask, and CloudCrowd offer bite-sized bits of work that can typically be completed in less than a minute for anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars. You won’t get rich doing just a couple, but dedicating a few hours a day to it can provide a significant boost to your pay.
Similar to micro labor, except these require a modicum of skill. The idea is that the tasks are less mindless and the pay is a little better, but you may have to work a little harder to find a task that suits you. The idea is to complete tasks that are easy for you, but too much hassle for whoever posted them. Typically, they require passing knowledge in basic skills like writing, web searches, or design. Examples include MyCheapJobs, which puts a price tag on everything from lawn care to acting like a pet dragon; Fiverr asks what you’d be willing to do for $5; and ChaCha is a text-message-based Q&A service that takes volunteers on as “guides”.
If you’ve really got a hand on creativity, and you’re okay with the concept of spec work and non-guaranteed pay, you can clean up with design contests. Businesses everywhere are turning to services like 99designs to crowdsource logos, marketing art, commercials, and more. If you’re an artistic prodigy, winning even one of these contests can leave you sitting pretty with several thousand dollars. Of course, even if you don’t win, they’re a great opportunity to hone your skills and meet other artists. Poptent Media is another platform that offers such contests, and I mentioned a similar campaign spearheaded by Stephen Fry in a previous post.
2. Crowdsourced Job Platforms
Maybe all the uncertainty isn’t for you, and you just want a real-ass job? Crowdsourcing’s got you covered there too. There are several sites, like TweetMyJobs, oDesk, and WorkFu, that provide open-call job applications, or feature matching software to find suitable work. The variety here is both the strength and the weakness of the platform; you’ll have to pore through a great number of job applications, some of them bogus, before you find a good one. But hey, that’s… pretty much like the real world. At least you don’t have to kill trees printing out resumés.
1. Become an Entrepreneur
For the truly driven! The best thing crowdsourcing does is connect people who have needs to the people who can fulfill them. To this end, you have everything you need to start your new business; from finding funding to locating business partners to crowdsourcing your own market research, the ‘Net has your back. If you’ve got a killer idea, and can use a computer, you can start a business. How’s that for a “how I spent my summer” story?
Know a good site for any of these purposes? Is there a source of revenue I didn’t consider? Tell me in the comments, and enjoy your summer! (Those two suggestions not necessarily related)