Get Simple Tasks Done buyers guide by Inspector Jones

How do you get simple tasks out of the way, so you can focus on important work? Whether it’s data entry, building a list of sales leads, categorising products, data quality-assurance or cropping images, we’ve found the best ways to get basic tasks done.

The Best Way to Get Simple Tasks Done Online

Too close to call

In our independent review for getting simple tasks done online, we’re calling the industry too close to select a winner. We’ve found that the different approaches taken by different providers vary widely, and crowdsourcing is too immature an industry to choose a clear future leader.

Get Simple Tasks Done - Our Shortlist

Sourcing Simple Tasks - Features to Look For


  • Cost: In general, hourly rates are USD $1 to $5 for basic tasks such as photo cropping, transcription and data entry.
  • Fixed rate vs. Hourly paid payment: Consider whether you would prefer to pay jobs at a fixed rate, or by the hour. Most platforms offer weekly maximum hours and provide tracking and monitoring tools – this is a good way for you to manage the cost of your work.
  • Modes of payment: Most platforms have a variety of payment methods for both clients and contractors – wire transfer, credit card, check, Paypal, Payoneer and direct to bank.
  • Service Charge: Sites typically charge clients 8-10% commission for the jobs conducted through the platform. Fully managed services, such as SamaSource or Lionbridge, may charge a little more for project and quality management.


  • Number of workers: The best established crowdsourcing platforms have millions of contractors or freelancers. I recommend looking for platforms with at least 100,000 registered freelancers, so that the marketplace is competitive.
  • Pre-employment checks: Most crowdsourced markets have some form of pre-employment checks. Elance and oDesk have credential checking and ID verification facilities for contractors. Amazon Mechanical Turk has qualification tests for contractors. Lionbridge has pre-screened crowd workers on their private crowd program.
  • Specialised skills: Most of these marketplaces are generic, and cater to almost all tasks that can be contracted to a third-party. There are a few companies that concentrate on specific tasks – this may be helpful if you are just looking for certain type of low-skilled job as you can easily find contractors to match your requirements.


  • Manage your risks: The majority of low-skilled tasks are probably a low-risk to your business. However, if security and confidentiality is a requirement for you, look for platforms with Non-Disclosure Agreements, some notice of termination (at least 1-day), private job postings and pre-employment checks.
  • Ability to monitor contractors: Look for platforms that allow you to monitor contractor activity and output. Many crowdsourced marketplaces will track screen shots of contractor’s desktops, and record keyboard and mouse activity. Also, look for project management and reporting tools for both contractors and clients. Both Amazon Mechanical Turk and Crowdflower have additional monitoring features for automatically validating tasks were completed correctly.
  • Contractor Profile Reviews and Feedback: Review the profile of prospective contractors, looking for skills, current and, previous jobs, and a strong feedback history.

How to outsource simple tasks online

Virtually any simple task which you can describe to somebody as a series of simple steps, you can outsource online. We’ve found that there are two general types of service - those where you manage workers directly, and those that are managed by a service-provider.

Fully-managed services

Fully-managed services like Task us and SamaSource provide full management and end-to-end delivery of projects and tasks. This type of platform has a higher up-front price, but offers a dedicated, pre-screened team that manages the whole project.

Manage-it-yourself services

Marketplaces like oDesk and allow you to hire your own team of freelancers. These platforms are very open – anyone can join. You will manage contractors directly, and be responsible for monitoring quality, progress and output.

If your work can be broken down into many tiny independent tasks, you can also take advantage of microwork or crowdsourcing.

What simple tasks can you get done?

As an organization or individual, you probably have a large number of basic tasks that just need to be completed, so you can concentrate on your core business. Instead of hiring in-house employees, or doing it yourself, it can be far cheaper and faster to outsource these jobs. Whether you need workers on a regular basis, or just for a short period of time, crowdsourcing and online freelance marketplaces are a good way to get people fast, and scale to huge volumes of work.
Some types of simple work we think are good to outsource online include:
  • Building and managing lists of sales leads
  • Data entry
  • Reviewing search results or other automated output for quality
  • Tagging photos, videos or products
  • Quality assurance
  • Writing descriptions
  • Curation of content