Crowds As Resources
You may have heard of crowdsourcing – it’s the basis of how websites like TripAdvisor work. You want to know if that little hotel you’ve found on the net is actually as good as it says it is. You go to TripAdvisor, type in the hotel’s name and, hey presto, a crowd of real people will have left their feedback on the place.
These days, rather than to be avoided, crowds are something to positively woo. Take crowdfunding. This is an idea that started in the States with websites like Kickstarter, which was set up for creative projects. It works like this: say you want to make an album or a film. Whatever it is, you describe what it is and how you’d like to make it and, crucially, how much money you need to complete the project. Folks who like the sound of what you’re doing can pledge to back it. If you never get the full amount needed to get the project off the ground, no one loses a penny but, if you reach 100%, then bingo! Their credit cards get charged and you get to fulfil your dream. What do the backers get? It could be as simple as a sense of having done good; it could be a free copy of the album – or it could be a share of the profits. It’s all decided beforehand.
Here in the UK, Spacehive is the latest to jump on this bandwagon and is the world’s first crowdsourcing website devoted to civic projects like playgrounds and turn empty shops into training centres for young entrepreneurs.
Could crowds help freelancers? Undoubtedly. For instance, a crowd of freelancers are more likely to get their voices heard than a single one, which is a good argument for joining the PCG! It could also work in that a crowd of freelancers who find working at home a little too isolating, could hire office space together and share resources. Similarly, you could band together to make bulk purchases of things like stationary supplies, which often means a substantial discount over buying a small amount on your own. There are plenty of other ways in which using the crowd could be beneficial.
And, as we hurtle toward the holiday season, here’s one last way in which a crowd can be better than an individual: the Christmas party. If you’re a solo freelancer, take a spin on the web and find out if there’s one in your area you can join. And, if not, why not start one yourself – meetup.com offers the ways and means.
By Liz Granirer