Making a Living in the Crowd: Disrupting the Agency Model

There are so many crowdsourced companies today it’s amazing. And it’s only going to grow. Some people fear the growing trend but I’m very optimistic about crowdsourcing.

Not that long ago TechCrunch had a story about Trada and their community of crowdsourced search engine advertising professionals.  Trada crowdsources the planning side but other agency disruptors like Victor and Spoils or Ideasicles are crowdsourcing the creative part. Ad man @edwardboches has a good article discussing the two.

Agencies are terrified of crowdsourcing, for good reason. I for one look forward to the day we can all make our living in the crowd.

I may be idealistic but I envision a world where you get a notification on your phone that a new task has come up that you would be an ideal fit for and it’s in your price range. You can choose to take it or not, depending on your workload, interest in the project and price.

You take the task, complete the task and money shows up in your account. You go on to the next interesting project or on to a hobby or spending time with your family or whatever.

We no longer work in offices, shackled to 9-5 jobs (as if those really exist). You no longer have to account for every hour of your day. You do the work you’re really good at and really enjoy and you get paid accordingly for it.

You may choose to work in a coworking space (I will). You may still be part of a small agency. Crowdsourcing doesn’t preclude the agencies. They’ll just be different. Only doing the jobs they really add value to.

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About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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  • Jeff Reynolds

    The smart “agencies” moved on from the agency model a couple of years ago. Are there those who still subscribe to the old way? Sure, but they’re no different than companies in any other industry that are having trouble jumping the curve. Though many call Rizen (our company) an agency, we don’t think of ourselves that way. And we certainly don’t behave that way. We’re much more adaptable and interesting.

    The irony is, while companies like ours will–and do–have increasingly dispersed teams, that makes geographically close teams more valuable. Why? Because while the benefits of crowdsourcing are great, the financial and functional benefits of geographically close teams are also great (e.g.  you’re living in London). 

    I, for one, get more excited for tomorrow every day. I’m not terrified of anything (other than snakes). Bring on the change!

  • tacanderson

    There’s not just a value to the clients, there’s huge value for the talent to focus on the work they love and not have to worry about the churn and burn attitude at most big agencies. I think the long term winners are the clients, the creative and the small agencies. The big boys are going to struggle. Agencies don’t go away, never will, but they will have to adapt and include the ability to tap into crowd-markets.” This was taken from a discussion thread on Google+ about this post So yes, I see small nimble agencies like Rizen to be in a good spot. 

    I will add to the comment about location. The reason I’m here in London is interesting because I’m not here to work with our London teams. I’m here because it’s more convenient for me and my family to live here where they at least speak a language close to the one I’m used to. And it’s also important that I’m in a close time zone as the rest of EMEA. I work with clients in South Africa from here with far more ease than I did with clients in NY from Seattle because the time zone. 

    One agency we both know well that has overcome this well is WireStone. They have offices in all the right markets but tap talent in Boise, Id which I’m sure helps bring their costs of production way down. I think all agencies are going to have to become more distributed one way or another. It may mean having a crowdsourced component or it may be a more distributed approach or relying on more telecommuters. 

    But like you said, it’s a really exciting time for sure. 

  • Jeff Reynolds

    Exactly. We agree. Your example re: location is precisely the type of functional benefit I was describing. 

  • Adam Green

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve actually been making a living this way (more or less) for the past year or so. And yes, it’s pretty fantastic. There are still difficulties – a lot of the best projects are still hard to come by through crowdsourcing, for instance – but I think these things will clear up with time as the model shifts.

  • tacanderson

    I do think that as the tech for collaboration gets better and as people become more comfortable with the model we will continue to see more companies and creatives embracing this model. I think we’ll even get to the point where these services will begin acting more like agencies themselves and could even start offering additional benefits, like benefits or co-work space. It’s still the early days but this is a trend that’s only going to grow.