As I continue my job hunt, I have simultaneously been searching for more and more freelancing jobs. While I have not picked up another one since the last one that I posted, I have had the opportunity to look at and analyze the process of crowdsourcing your projects out to the masses instead of finding a firm that does it for a living. Strictly speaking, when you crowdsource a project out, you take a huge risk with what could potentially be huge results.
Crowdsourcing Increases Your Range of Results
One of the sites that I regularly peruse for freelancing projects is DesignCrowd. It is simple to register, and kind of difficult to submit, but overall is a great site. I spend quite some time browsing the listings for projects that I think I could succeed in, and ultimately help the client achieve what they want. I noticed that, at its best, some projects can receive several hundreds, even thousands, of submitted designs and, while I haven't seen all of them, I can assume that there is a large variety between the results.
The difference between crowdsourcing and hiring a studio for graphic projects is that you receive a variety of results from multiple perspectives, whereas a studio will be more restricted in the sense that the money is basically guaranteed. When you leave a project open for artists to submit their own work with the prospect of potentially being paid for their work, artists will probably work harder. The money isn't guaranteed, so their effort has to be what determines whether or not they get it.
Crowdsourcing Tells You More About Yourself Than You Think
Last year, when I worked with Wong Fu Productions and AT&T in order to shoot a short film (essentially an extended commercial spot for AT&T), I learned about the suffocating situation that is working for a client. Speaking from a film-making standpoint, you can dress a set however you want, and it can look exactly how you envisioned it, but the moment the client says one color is wrong, or they don't like how a vase looks, all that goes down the drain. You are bound to your client because they are the one paying you. You don't have room to question their decisions on a major scale. In contrast, if you watch simple gadget "unboxing" videos, the creators of these videos have the liberty to say whatever they want about the product because they are not being sponsored in any way.
Likewise, I think the same is true for crowdsourcing projects out. When you provide a project brief and let artists read it and interpret it for themselves, the results you receive can be more telling than you actually think. Some project owners will outright tell you that you're submitted design is either good or bad, but fail to see the implications of seeing a "bad" design (bad meaning not what they asked for). Of course, this is not all project owners. However, think of it this way: when you provide a project brief, and all the designs submitted to you are the exact opposite of what you asked for, what does that mean about your brief or project? It means something went very wrong in the initial stages of the brief. Either it was poorly written or, if all you did was provide a link to your webpage (for example), it means that the image that your company or website portrays isn't what you originally thought. This insight can be especially helpful when you are trying to create and develop your brand.
Crowdsourcing is Cheaper
Generally speaking, crowdsourcing your project out to freelancers can be cheaper. Some freelancers will tell you their pay rate (it can range anywhere from minimum wage to $40/hr and above, depending on their experience), but if you use sites like DesignCrowd, it will basically be guaranteed for it to be cheaper than hiring an artist directly. Of course, it is probably rare that you will receive work from a professional artist using this method, but I think it's worth a shot because there are a lot of talented artists out there who don't do art professionally. It's a bit risky, but like I said before, the reward can be just as big.
Some of the requests are posted as contests, meaning that you can just set a 1st place prize reward of, let's say $200, and that value does not change, even if the winning design is the next Google or Apple logo in terms of how recognizable it is. So again, it could be really cheap depending on the type of results you get.
Crowdsourcing Isn't the Best
Even with all its merits, I wouldn't go so far as to say that crowdsourcing is 100% a better option than hiring a studio or firm. All things considered, I think that it could potentially give you greater results, but sometimes the risk is too high, or the deadline is too close. By hiring a studio, you are guaranteed a professional result, and one that you can have a part in from beginning to end, mitigating the mystery behind how many results or submitted designs you might get if you crowdsource. I think the biggest thing you have to consider is where you are trying to bring your brand. If you, like me, are simply trying to build a portfolio or website for personal usage, I would say crowdsourcing is a better option, especially if you don't have a large budget. However, for companies and businesses that already have a national or international presence, it would probably be smarter to hire a studio to do the work. However, I feel that it is worth mentioning that the sharing of opinions and ideas is immeasurably valuable when creating art, so don't look down on the freelancers of the world, either.
Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on the matter!