Crowdsourcing allows organizations to find and work with self-selected volunteers to accomplish tasks, gather information, or gain new ideas. The end result is not just the work and insight of one person, but of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands. However, project managers might wonder exactly who these “crowd workers” are. Because they choose to participate, rather than being selected by the organization, it’s easy to wonder if crowd workers are true as qualified to weigh in on the future of your organization. The truth is that they are far more qualified than you may think.
Who Are Crowd Workers?
Critics often assume that employed professionals don’t have time to participate in crowdsourcing projects. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Consider data from 2012:
- Most crowd workers – about 66% – are female.
- Crowd workers are majority millennials. Over 50% report a birthdate after 1975. When those born from 1970 onward are included, the percentage jumps to 70%. This can be a great asset when you’re looking to focus on gaining millennial customers or recruiting younger workers.
- Crowd workers are skilled and highly educated. More than 50% hold a bachelor’s degree and more than 20% hold a master’s degree. This means the crowd is as educated, if not more so, than your employees!
- Most crowd workers are employed. This means that crowdsourcing projects are generally a hobby or a second source of income. In fact, 20% earn between $25,000 – $40,000 a year, another 20% earn $40,500 – $60,000, and another 20% earn between $60,000 – $100,000. This can mean that money is a secondary motivator, and that other rewards are more important.
- Crowd workers live in smaller households. 35% are single with no children, and 55% live in a household of only 1 or 2 people. However, 30% of them report being married with children.
What Motivates the Crowd?
If most crowd workers already have a job, why exactly do they participate in crowdsourcing projects? Studies find that the most frequently mentioned motives of them are:
- Money. Many crowd workers see crowdsourcing projects as a way to use their talents and skills to earn extra money outside their primary job, on their schedule, and with less pressure than in a typical freelance workplace.
- Skill Improvement. Many times our favorite or most important skills aren’t used daily in our jobs. As a result, crowd workers seek out crowdsourcing projects as a way to learn and hone skills they don’t usually use in daily life.
- Fun. Many people are simply passionate about what they do. Programmers love to program. Designers love to design. They see crowdsourcing as a great way to do what they enjoy, especially if the project is in some way intriguing or challenging.
- Altruism. People love to feel that they are giving back. Crowdsourcing projects allow people to contribute to solving important problems and make a difference on a larger scale.
- Reputation. Crowd workers often love the accolades, awards, and recognition they receive for winning a crowdsourcing contest or submitting a key idea. Gaining recognition is at times much more important to them than a monetary reward. Some may also add a successful crowdsourcing project to their resume or portfolio.
Overall, only 15% of crowd workers use crowdsourcing projects as a primary form of income. Most of them are interested in side income, fun, learning, giving back, and reputation.
You may be surprised by what you’ve just read about crowd workers, and it should help boost your confidence in the use of crowdsourcing as a resource. They are generally educated, employed, and skillful. They use crowdsourcing to hone their skills, earn extra money, have fun, give back, and gain attention and recognition. As a result, they are sometimes easier to motivate and engage than your own employees.
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