I first started crowdsourcing when I was 16. The door handle on my car broke, and I wanted to save money by repairing it myself. I googled “how to fix Mitsubishi Eclipse door handle.”

I didn’t find the exact answer I wanted, so I posted the question on an Eclipse enthusiast forum. Pretty soon, I had dozens of people helping me determine what exactly broke, where to buy parts, and how to fix the problem.

The door handles are hard to replace. But with the help of about 20 people from across the United States, I managed to get the job done. I got photos of how to fix the issue. One member of the group even gave me a good price on a replacement door handle.

My car was modified, so things broke every once in a while. This drove me back to the forums.

I continually sought more help from several amazing online communities. Forums were my first foray into crowdsourcing.

Back then, the seeds of crowdsourcing were being planted, but they hadn’t yet bloomed. In fact, the term had yet to be coined. Today, it’s possible to crowdsource almost anything.

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What Is Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is the process of soliciting services or ideas from a large group of people. You’ve probably heard of crowdfunding, which is a type of crowdsourcing. It’s important to remember that crowdsourcing is not always sourcing finances, and crowdsourcing and crowdfunding should not be used interchangeably.

Crowdsourcing is usually done through an online community. Typically, many people contribute a small amount to your end goal, whether that's copy editing your novel or designing a logo for your new site.

The Internet and Crowdsourcing

With so many ways to communicate online, from forums to Instagram polls to email surveys, finding the right person to help you out is becoming easier and easier.

Crowdsourcing is the way of the future.

“In a connected world we can, if we use the right approaches, tap the best talent globally,” says Ross Dawson, futurist and author of Getting Results From Crowds. “This helps companies to be more efficient and scale quickly, and can also solve social challenges by tapping the minds of many.”

A lot of crowdsourcing sites offer free solutions. Remember, though, that sometimes it’s worth paying for a service you can’t do yourself. If your friend was good at baking cakes and you needed one for a party, you’d ask that friend to make one and then pay for the ingredients. Crowdsourcing is just that, but on a much larger scale.

You’ll also want a way of assessing the credibility of those who respond. Most websites know this and will post a user’s reputation somewhere near the person's response. Bad advice is often worse than no advice at all.

I know that we often want to do everything ourselves, but there are so many people in the world with skills you may never have the opportunity to gain. And that’s where crowdsourcing comes in!

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18 Top Crowdsourcing Sites

  • UpworkPools together opportunities for freelancers and allows businesses to find a suitable candidate for their project.
  • Help a Reporter OutHARO helps reporters find sources for their articles. Simply sign up, submit your request, and watch the answers roll in. You can also offer yourself as a source if you wish.
  • Amazon Reviews: The online retailer an extensive number of reviews for many products. Even if you’re buying it in a local store, check Amazon for reviews from people who have tried and tested it.
  • Reddit: This is one of the best sources on the internet to gather people’s opinions. Ask a question on any subreddit, and you’ll get an email when someone replies — and believe me, you’ll get a lot of replies.
  • UserTestingWant to test out your new website? UserTestingwill give you the insight into what your customer really wants, and how to get it.
  • 99DesignsWant a design for your new product but can’t find the right one? 99Designs takes your request and finds a designer who will do just that for you — or you’ll get your money back!
  • Crowdfunding sites: If you need funds for your project, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter are some of the most popular and most successful crowdfunding sites there are.
  • FlickrThis site has tens of billions of photos. You’re sure to find the one that fits what you need!
  • ClickworkerThis site has over a million independent contractors from a variety of fields who can complete your task in no time.
  • Microworker: Crowdsource your micro jobs and pick from one of the hundreds of templates to complete tasks like add-on testing, product tagging, and video transcription.
  • Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s service allows companies to access a diverse workforce and a large Mechanical Turk’s aim is to take the hassle out of accessing human intelligence without breaking the bank.
  • DesignHill: This site offers some of the most creative graphic design solutions on the internet, including infographics, quizzes, and logo designs.
  • SquadhelpCan’t think of a name for your project? Squadhelp lets you run a contest to find the perfect name for you. With hundreds of naming experts at your disposal, this site claims to be the largest naming platform across the globe.
  • uTestIf you need help testing your site, uTest can help you. Users can gain points and badges for their participation in testing. uTest tests everything from cybersecurity to mobile food ordering.
  • GengoThis site specializes in anything language-related. It promises high-quality translation from professionals within hours. You can order your translation online and choose one or multiple languages. Prices vary per language.
  • TrendwatchingAnticipate what your customers will want next by watching tailored trends closely and making a report so you don’t have to.

Additional reporting by Emma Finnerty.