As readers of this blog know, I am always interested in exploring different forms of open innovation, collaboration, and outsourcing. Personally, I have used a number of sites including 99designs.com and elance.com. I have used these for the development of logos, graphics, websites, and research. In most cases I would pay several hundred dollars for the work.
An interesting trend has emerged: microwork outsourcing. This is work that can be completed in a matter of minutes and costs only a few dollars.
My favorite microwork website is fiverr.com. Here you can hire people to do lots of things for only $5. I saw that someone offered to write an article for only $5, so I hired her to write an article on innovation. I was impressed with how she could pull together something of high quality so quickly.
This got me wondering: Can she make a living at $5 a time? How long does it take to complete a $5 job? And why do it at all?
So I invested another $5 and hired her to write another article. But instead of writing about innovation, I had her answer five questions about her experience on fiverr.
1. How did you write an article on a topic you don’t know so quickly…and for only $5?
Coming up with methods that businesses can use for innovation and creativity actually is something that I know very well. As an ex-model turned writer/teacher/businesswoman, I try to incorporate as much creativity into my life as possible. None of my income would be possible without a high respect for imagination. As a business owner, I realized quickly that low prices sell large amounts of goods, and it also is a very decent gig for me. Eventually, I will raise my prices, but not yet.
2. Why do you sell your services on Fiverr, when you could probably make more money per gig on sites like eLance?
Actually, I tried eLance, but never quite seemed to get any jobs off it. The minute that I tried Fiverr, I managed to get a gig in the first day. When people actually noticed that my work is decent, the orders poured in.
3. Is there enough money to be made doing micro work? Or do you do this for some pocket money? How many gigs can you possibly do in one day?
I do up to 30 gigs in one day. Microwork can be a decent way to make money, but I think having a part time job is also a smart idea. I like a balance of work.
4. How much time do you spend, on average, for each gig? I was impressed with the article you wrote on innovation.
Depending on how much research I do for the gig, I can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so (when I decide to watch TV or eat while working). My typing speed is notoriously speedy, so doing research and actually just compiling my thoughts coherently are the bulk of time spent on each gig.
5. Anything else you I should know about you?
Because of the extreme injustices that have happened to me as an inexperienced model, I have recently taken up advocating for women’s rights, as well as model’s rights. One of my photographers gave me a website which I update with my own blogs about various subjects that I feel are important to women, men, and everyone in that industry. I don’t think that many people realize how corrupt, how sick, and how twisted the world of modeling has become. This is the reason why I warn my students’ parents against getting their children involved in child modeling, and also warn young teenagers who want to follow in my footsteps about the dangers of being a model.
Conclusion AND the Article I Got for $5
All forms of open innovation, crowdsourcing, outsourcing and microwork are evolving. They are redefining what “work” means for individuals and is creating new career models. It provides exciting opportunities for both the buyer and the service provider.
Now, as promised, here is the article on innovation she wrote for $5. Not bad, if you want my two cents…
Innovation is one of the most important things to keep constant in your company. Without new ideas, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the business curve. For a good example of what innovative staff can create, look at businesses like Google or Apple. Both are innovative companies, and both are extremely profitable. It’s easy to see why you should encourage innovation in your staff as a business owner.
1. Hire innovative and creative people for your company.
If you continually hire people who lack creativity, or even a spark of passion for working in your business field, you aren’t going to get people who are going to be innovative. When you need to hire an intern, look for an intern who has a lot to say about what the company should do, as well as being able to help out around the office. By hiring people specifically because they are creative, you will create an atmosphere that promotes new ideas.
2. Offer rewards or bonuses for employees who come up with imaginative solutions to normal problems.
Giving people an incentive to “think outside the box” is one of the quickest ways to get employees motivated to start thinking differently. If you need to be blunt, tell them flatly, “Any time that you think to yourself, ‘I wish our product had this feature,’ tell us. If it’s a good idea, we’ll pay you a bonus.”
3. Take half an hour to an hour every week to come up with new ideas.
Call it a creativity break, call it a brainstorm, but meeting up with employees every week for the sole purpose of figuring out innovative solutions to all sorts of problems is a great way to get the wheels turning. Some businesses even take time off to let their employees partake in creative exercises such as painting in order to boost employee imagination in other realms of work. Moreover, these meetings offer a great opportunity for employees to prove their creative abilities to higher ups.
4. Even if the idea is downright awful, do not overly criticize or embarrass the employee who suggests it.
In order to encourage others to share ideas, it’s crucial to avoid making employees regret presenting their ideas. No matter how bad the idea may be, thank them for their input, and encourage everyone to contribute their ideas to the table. Embarrassing one employee will make others think twice about sharing any ideas with you.
5. Keep staff up to date on what other companies are creating.
Sometimes, reading a news article about the latest app to hit the market, or a new method of marketing is all that a person needs to jog their creative streak. Keeping staff updated on the latest in your business also will provide the added advantage of more knowledgeable staff on all levels of your business. Encourage your staff to come up with similar ideas every time you forward them an article. Talk about your business field, and keep them engaged. The more they think about the field they work in, the more likely it is that they will come up with a brilliant innovation that can turn into huge profit.
Stephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.