crowdsourcing crowd of peopleCrowdsourcing is a buzzword we hear a lot about these days. But, what is crowdsourcing and how can artists use it?

On his popular blog, Jeff Bullas explains, “Crowdsourcing is the name used to describe how companies access resources from large groups of people around the planet.” 

In the post below, fellow artist and marketing guru, Todd McPhetridge generously shares his expertise with Fine Art Tips once again. This is Part 1 of a two part series that explains how artists can effectively use crowdsourcing to grow our art businesses. I am excited to give crowdsourcing, and Todd’s tips a try myself! ~Lori

How To Harness The Power of Crowdsourcing to Grow Your Art Business

What if I told you that you can harness the power of hundreds, if not thousands of people through crowdsourcing who can help grow your art business at an affordable price?

You’d think I was crazy right?

Think again.

I’m going to walk you through step by step on how to do this with your art business. I’m talking about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.


Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, abbreviated as MTurk, is a place where artists, professionals and researchers can use a technique called crowdsourcing in order to complete tasks at a lower cost.

First, let’s introduce you to a few things you should know about MTurk.

  • The idea behind this site is to allow businesses to post tasks or projects for others to complete for them.
  • The people who create the tasks are called “requesters”.
  • The people who log on to complete these tasks for a small compensation are called “workers”.

If you are an artist or photographer running a website or an online store, you may find that you have menial tasks that take up a lot of your time. Your business and art may be expanding to the point where you have more work than you can handle but the money hasn’t come in – yet. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for you to hire on another member to do all of these small tasks. The cost of their salary or hourly wages would set you and your projects back.

misty tree road todd mcphetridge

This is an excellent example of where the use of MTurk could be the perfect fit for an artist or photographer! All of those time consuming tasks that don’t necessarily require a specific skill set can be requested of MTurk workers who will be more than willing to do small tasks for a small fee!


Anonymity is a key factor for ‘Turkers’. You won’t be allowed to ask personally identifying information, but you can ask certain statistical demographic information – such as, age, location, qualifications, and income.

Almost anyone can choose to become a Mechanical Turk worker. This offers you a diverse group of people from all walks of life whose only real requirement is that they know how to navigate the website and perform the task. You could be reaching new audiences by posting creative HITs on Mechanical Turk.


Using Amazon Mechanical Turk can seem a bit daunting at first, but once mastered it can serve as a vital tool for the budding or veteran artist.

First things first, let’s get the terminology down that you will be using.

When you post a task it is called a “HIT”, which is short for Human Intelligence Task. You will need to be aware of the types of qualifications you will need for your project. You will want to make sure that your HIT or project is as detailed as possible to avoid any confusion on the workers part.

Upon creation of the HIT you will provide a synopsis of what the worker will be doing, how much they will be paid, and the time limit in which they have to complete it. If the worker decides this is something interesting and worthwhile to them they will accept the HIT and start your project.

Some examples of HITs that you could create for your art business are:

  • Tag photos,
  • Name suggestions for your art,
  • Write your bio,
  • Blog posts,
  • Research for articles and the list goes on.

Just think of all the small, time-consuming things that take up your day. It is entirely possible to eliminate all of these small tasks by asking workers (A.K.A. Turkers) on MTurk to do them for you, so you can spend your time creating new art!

Not sure about the quality of work you’ll receive? Never fear, MTurk’s qualifications allow you to further restrict who is allowed to access each of the HITs you create. Through tests and rankings you can ensure that you are getting MTurkers with actual skill sets or who are reliable workers that will actually take your HIT seriously and can provide solid results for you.

Once they complete the HITs you can either accept or reject their work. If they have done an exceptional job you can even give them a bonus of a few cents or dollars.

(Stay tuned for Part 2! Todd will share in-depth MTurk tips, and things you need to be aware of to help you get the most out of this program.)


Guest artist/author: Todd McPhetridge is a Fine Art Nature Photographer signed by Winn Devon. He is a marketing ninja with a refined taste for all kinds of music. His omelets are noteworthy and his sense of humor is twisted. Point your GPS at North Georgia and you will find him hiking the mountains and spending time with his son.

*Thanks to Todd for another great guest post! Look me up on Twitterand Google Plus, Pinterestand join in the fun at Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page! Please checkout my art too, or find me on Instagram lorimcneeartist. ~Lori

Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses. Lori is also a member of the CBS Entertainment Tonight & The Insider Tweet Team.

9 thoughts on “How To Harness The Power of Crowdsourcing to Grow Your Art Business

  1. Pingback: Tips for Using Amazon Mechanical Turk to Build Your Business

  2. Bob Ragland says:

    I have crowd sourced to pay my house off. Did it in 1998.
    I sent a proposal to the Denver Post. I said I would sell to works of
    art for a set price. I called the project- The Mortgage Burning/House
    Repair Art Project.
    The story ran in the Denver Post, I retired my mortgage in three

  3. Bob Ragland says:

    I sold art futures to go to Jamaica.
    I gave every one a proposal that let them
    know for $ 180.00 they could get a painting from my trip,
    that I would make ninety days after my return.
    The art would be worth twice the amount they paid.
    Long story short, I raised the dough , went , came back,
    Had a successful project.

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