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Poll: Have You Used Crowdsourced Design or Writing Help? 6 Questions to Answer

By Carol Tice Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The sites seem to pop up overnight and proliferate like mushrooms. Associated Content, Demand Studios, Helium, CrowdSpring, Elance, Guru, Amazon Mechanical Turk.

In the freelance writing world, they're known as content mills -- places that offer writing and design services, often at astounding low prices. This technique is known as crowdsourcing -- tapping a large pool of writers or designers for help instead of hiring a single creative person. Articles are bid on some of these sites for $1 or $20. Models vary on the sites -- on some writers get a firm assignment, while others essentially run competitions that let business owners review dozens of entries and pick a winner, who is the only one paid.

The big question is, are small business owners who use these sites to get writing and design work done happy with the result?

I'm well aware of how writers feel about these sites -- many feel they're the 21st Century virtual version of old-time sweatshops. But what is the experience of business owners that use these sites?

Do you get quality work at a low price? Or do you find what you get isn't up to your standards, and you end up hiring a writer or designer on your own?

Most of these sites are populated primarily by newer writers and designers who're looking to break into their industries. Quality levels on some of them have a reputation for ranging from laughable to just mildly embarrassing.

But I'm interested in how content mills work from the business owner's point of view. If you have tried an online content or design site such as the ones I've listed above, please weigh in on the comments and let us know:

1) When did you try crowdsourced writing or design?2) What site did you use?3) What was the assignment?4) What did you think about the quality of the work you received?5) Did you use the work you commissioned?6) Would you recommend the site you used to other entrepreneurs?

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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