How Contests Provide a Creative Way to Crowdsource Projects

When a small business owner wants a new logo or business card designed, that business owner usually doesn’t have the luxury of an in-house graphic designer. Projects must be sent offsite, to be completed by a company that specializes in design.

But paying a graphic design firm an hourly wage to create such an essential item can be costly for small business owners, especially those that are just starting out. Many businesses have turned to outsourcing, but searching through resumes and portfolios to find just the right candidate can be overwhelming. Even if a business owner finds a candidate with a perfect portfolio, there’s no way for the business to know the exact design they’ll get until a commitment to pay has already been made.

Contests provide a great way for businesses to locate great talent at minimal expense. The business offers a reward and choose from a wide variety of submissions. Hosting a contest is a great way to find great work without paying a fortune, but there are a few caveats. Consider these tips before hosting your next contest.

Choose the right site

CrowdSpring is a great way to find graphic designers for everything from T-shirts and web design. Businesses simply post a brief, sift through 110 or more designs from around the world, and work with the chosen designer to refine a project until it is satisfactory. For businesses in need of software and app developers, ChallengePost could be a better option. A contest site is only as good as its membership, so stay with the most popular crowdsourcing contest sites.

Think outside the box

Many companies turn to contests to crowdsource logos and other small projects, but those competitions are so common, talent is spread thin. To make a contest even more effective, a business owner can think outside the box. Consider posting a contest to name your company or brainstorm ideas for your next project. These unique uses of the crowdsourcing competition concept will stand out in a sea of “design our logo” contests on the most popular sites.

Be specific

It’s possible a business owner has no idea what he or she wants. But when entrants are working on the project, a business owner’s guidance can make a big difference in the choices that worker makes. By being as specific as possible up front, business owners can avoid misunderstandings and increase the chance of finding the exact design they want.

Pay better

While it may be tempting to save money by offering conservative prizes for contest winners, businesses usually find that low prizes gets undesired results. An impressive prize will attract more entries, giving you more options when you choose your favorite. Before you choose a price point for your next grand prize, consider what you would pay a professional firm for the type of project you’re launching and adjust your prize accordingly. You don’t have to pay the same rate to your contest winner, but a $25 prize will likely lead to 100+ lackluster submissions.

Be prepared for no winner

With many crowdsource contests, the host of the contest doesn’t have to choose a winner if no design is suitable. In some cases, a business may find that none of the submissions are viable, ending the entire contest without choosing a winner. In these instances, closing the contest and moving on to other options. In these cases, all may not be lost. The business owner may find inspiration in the theme of many of the designs, learning exactly what image the business should shoot for in a design. Or the business owner may learn from these designs what he or she doesn’t want, which will narrow down choices. A business owner may even decide to launch a second contest, adding in more specific requirements.

Crowdsourcing contests are a great way to find hidden treasures around the globe. While not all contests are successful, business owners can increase their chances of success by following these few simple tips.

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.