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Crowdsource Your Way to 'Net Success

Posted on 8.09.2010

You might think that crowdsourcing is simply the term du jour, but for many companies the benefits are immense – far outweighing the risks in most cases. Today in the Mastering SEO & SEM e-newsletter from Website Magazine, we're highlighting a few tools and online resources you can use to crowdsource pretty much everything for your Web business – all the way to 'Net success.

Crowdsource PPC Advertising (Adwords)

The benefit of crowdsourcing anything is that you have an opportunity to extract expertise and very refined knowledge from the collective to accomplish a project or meet a goal. One of the most innovative uses of crowdsourcing I've come across recently is Trada – consider it Crowdsourced PPC management. Through Trada, advertisers create a campaign, establish the parameters (like daily budget, max CPC, and networks, and target conversion cost), and PPC experts in the Trada marketplace begin generating ad groups, keywords and ads. Trada then gathers up all the information that was created for the campaign and sends it to Google, Yahoo and Bing, and it starts running. Here's the important part – if Trada workers generate clicks or conversions for less that the stated click or conversion price, they keep the difference between what the advertiser was willing to pay for the click or conversion and what it actually cost to generate it.

Crowdsource Design (Websites, Logos, Collateral)

Need a new logo, site design, banner ad or postcard quickly and want to leverage the crowd to get it done? Turn to – one of the newest crowdsourcing design outlets. The service enables you to launch a design contest to get the best design. Just indicate what you want (including the goals and target audience), pick your price (suggested pricing is available, but look at current contests and align it with your budget), and then start working with the designers and keep the best. There are quite a few others in the crowdsourced design realm that you may want to test out, including,, and

Crowdsource Code (Software)

Crowdsourcing is ideal for software developers, and this is no better exemplified than in TopCoder, a 250,000 member-strong community of "competitive" programmers, developers, software architects, graphic artists and others. Coders essentially compete in programming competitions. TopCoder can deliver solutions developed through these competitions in time frames and quality levels that are nearly impossible using traditional approaches.

You can even take crowdsourcing software one step further. The software development community (primarily the open-source community) often uses "bounties" to lure developers towards certain tasks. microPledge is an escrow service that allows people to contribute to and pay out software bounties, accept project donations or set up a fund/bounty for an in-house project. What that means is that people can give the crowd an incentive to work on a software development project. If you like microPledge, you'll also appreciate, another Web service for offering and managing software bounties focused exclusively on open-source software.

Crowdsource Anything

Often the most routine tasks are the ones that make the best candidates for outsourcing and crowdsourcing. CloudCrowd is an innovative application that uses Facebook to tap into the "vast underutilized pools of talent, labor and creativity" to get work done. Typical projects include image and video tagging, finding information online, and quick writing and editing projects. Work ranges in difficulty, and longer tasks typically pay more. If an unknown entity is not appealing, consider its more respectable alternative. Amazon's Mechanical Turk service is a far more established service for knocking out some of the more menial tasks associated with pretty much anything including cleansing data. The site's tagline is "Artificial Artificial Intelligence", meaning that humans (not computers) do the work that you don't want to. The service is what the company refers to as an "on-demand workforce." In reality, Mechanical Turk is a 100,000 member-strong crowd that people can call on to complete a wide variety of tasks – there are currently over 150,000 HISTs (Human Intelligence Tasks) to complete right now.  

Crowdsource Making Stuff

Ponoko is a service that I'm betting you've never heard of but will glad to know it exists. If you're anything like me, you routinely come up with ideas for tangible products but don't have the slightest idea of how to go about making them. Ponoko is the self-described "world's easiest making system". Ponoko is a place where everyone can make requests to get (almost) anything made. Creators then bid on the opportunity to design and/or make the item and win the job. It's an opportunity for buyers and creators to collaborate to get stuff made.

Crowdsource Business Innovation

From the ashes of crowdsourcing startup Cambrian House, Chaordix is an enterprise platform for people who want to engage the crowd via the web to “submit, discuss, refine and rank ideas or other contributions” in order to figure out “the most-likely-to-succeed solutions”. 

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