Using Marketplaces To Get Projects Done: Interview with Crowdspring

crowdspring.jpgUsing your local design shop, programmer or assistant for work is fine. We work best with those we know and feel comfortable with. However, you never know how better (in price or in delivery) you might be able to get your next project unless you use a new vendor.
Finding a vendor is not always easy. Do you get a referral? Do you look through the yellow pages? Pour over pages of Google search results?
Fortunately there are marketplaces to help you find vendors for just about every service you might need. BuyerZone, Craigslist, Elance, Crowdspring and others all provide one form or other other of marketplaces to help you find businesses providing the services you need.
I interviewed Crowdspring executives to get a better sense of their services and help guide us into how (or how not) to use competing marketplaces.
Often times small businesses (well all businesses) need help and/or expertise. They can ask friends for referrals or turn to services like crowdSPRING. Tell us a little about what crowdSPRING is and how it works.
crowdSPRING is a marketplace for creative services. Businesses looking for a new logo, website, marketing materials or anything else creative can simply post what they need, when they need it and how much they want to pay. Once posted, creatives from around the world will submit actual work – not bids or proposals – for the buyer to review. As the submissions come in, buyers are able to review, sort, rate, provide feedback and collaborate with creatives until they find the “the one.”
Simply put, crowdSPRING was founded on three core principles: offer buyers choice, give creatives a level playing field, and protect intellectual property for all. The crowdSPRING model takes the risk out of buying creative services by offering buyers choice up front – actual designs to choose from, instead of bids or proposals. The crowdSPRING marketplace empowers an underground, underdog creative community and levels the playing field by allowing creatives – whether established professional or talented newcomer – to compete solely on the basis of their talent. And crowdSPRING also protects the intellectual property of all parties by offering completely free, customized written legal agreements for every transaction.

What projects might not be best suited for an online marketplace and what services are better suited for it.
While some marketplaces try to be everything to everyone, crowdSPRING is a marketplace dedicated solely to creative services. Right now, we cover all kinds of graphic design categories (logo, business cards, print design, etc.), web design (web pages, ad banners, etc.), illustration and even photography. In the very near future, we’ll also be branching out into areas like copywriting, audio, video and maybe even animation.
So, any project that needs something creative would be a great fit for us. We have thousands upon thousands of designers spread all around the world just standing by and waiting!
What are the differences between crowdSPRING and Elance? Should small businesses use both services for their projects?
crowdSPRING and Elance are similar in that their both marketplaces for service but there’s a major fundamental difference between the two: on Elance you post a project and get bids in return, whereas on crowdSPRING you post a project, name your own price and get actual designs in return.
If a business needs anything designed – say a logo, business cards, website or even t-shirts – they can post a project on crowdSPRING and watch as our community of more than 20,000 designers submits actual ideas for them to choose from. On sites like Elance, they’ll get bids and proposals to choose from. Then you’ve got to read those proposals and try to decide who will be best for your project, hire them and hope for the best. And for anyone who’s ever used this method, it can be hit or miss to say the least. On crowdSPRING, this isn’t a problem because you’re choosing from actual designs right in your project. We guarantee that you’ll get at least 25 designs to choose from and the average project gets more than 70 entries! So, in essence, we’re guaranteeing that you’ll get your choice of designs as opposed to your choice of bids.
I also think of services like Craigslist and Buyerzone, how should small businesses use these sites/services compared to services like crowdSPRING?
While these sites are great for many things, they have the same limitations that sites like Elance do. That is, if you post your project on these sites, all you’ll receive in return are bids. After that, you have to sort through portfolios, looks at resumes, try to guess who might do a good job for you, hire them and then hope for the best. With crowdSPRING, you can post your project and watch designers in more than 150 countries submit actual designs for you to choose from instead of bids. Rather than sifting through 100 proposals, you’ll be sifting through 100 designs, and we may be biased here, but we think that’s a lot better way to buy design.
In addition, we also offer a number of protections that a lot of these sites don’t offer. For example, if you hire someone off of Craigslist then you may get a good result but, unless you’re an attorney or have one on staff, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a contract covering your relationship. On crowdSPRING, we offer completely free, customized contracts on every single transaction to be sure that everything is on the up-and-up. That’s an enormous (free) benefit that many of these others sites can’t possibly offer and is great peace of mind when you’re buying something as important as your branding.
I know ratings are important to the free lancers a small business highers, is it ok to use someone with no or low rankings?
While we do offer a rating feature on crowdSPRING, it’s not nearly as important to the process as in other freelance marketplaces. In fact, many of our designers may have little or no ratings because they may be new to the site or may not have even won a project before. But that matters very little. Because you’re seeing the design before you even choose a designer to work with, you’re that much closer to be done before you even commit to a relationship with anyone. And, when you add to that the fact that we hold your payment until you’re totally happy with the files you’ve received, there’s an incredibly strong incentive for the designer to finish the project quickly and painlessly and an extraordinarily low occurrence of non-delivery or other end-of-project problems.
I guess the better question is HOW to choose the right person for your project.
One of the beauties of crowdSPRING is that you don’t really need to worry about finding the right designer for the project – rather, you’re finding the right design for the project. We have professional designers, freelancers, students and stay-at-home moms all working on the site right now. But, at the end of the day, none of that matters. With crowdSPRING, geography, title and experience become wholly irrelevant – the only thing that matters is the idea, and only the best ideas win no matter who comes up with them.
What are some tips to get the best price?
Actually, unlike other marketplaces, on crowdSPRING you name your price up front – so there’s no bidding to worry about. Naming a price that you’re comfortable with will ensure don’t waste time getting lots of bids that you may not even be able to afford.
That said, we do have minimums for each category of work that you can’t go below and we even make suggestions on where you should price your project given how other similar projects on the site are priced. But, at the end of the day, it’s totally up to you and common sense prevails. That is, the old saying “you get what you pay for” is still true. While you can offer the absolute minimum if you want, your results won’t be nearly as good as if you offer more – not only will more designers be interested in participating in your project, but they’ll also be more inclined to invest quality thought and time in your project.


About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, & Infusionsoft. Full bio at . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Kristen Sabol

    re: marketplaces to help you find vendors for just about every service you might need
    Don’t forget – with over 800,000 registered Freelance providers, the site has more than 129,000 profiles in its active talent pool.
    re: HOW to choose the right person for your project. is also the only marketplace that offers a Quality Score based Rank to help improve the efficiency and reliability of provider selecton. Quality Score is a measure of Freelancer service excellence – it is based on actual data concerning the individual’s ability to generate new business, secure earnings and retain repeat business. The Rank is used along with other credentials such as skills tests, member statistics and robust profile features to help guide you to the best match.