OpenStreetMap

I had an idea that maybe you could make a little extra money when mapping, why not? It could be nice for kids especially, maybe some of them wouldn’t be interested in mapping otherwise, but money could be an incentive.

This could be possible in area which have some shops and businesses, but isn’t mapped well yet, perhaps small towns are the best candidates.

So I did my rounds, gathered data and made notes about potential businesses to contact and suggest to add them to OSM for a small amount of euros. And after I compiled a list, I emailed to them. Here’s a rough translation of the email.

Hello,

I noticed that your shop isn’t found in OpenStreeMap [1]. I can add information about your shop to the map, so that new customers can navigate to your shop using modern devices and will notice that you exist when they are browsing a map with a phone or a computer.

I have added hundreds of objects to OpenStreetMap which you can find following this link [2].

Price: 20€ (I explain how the can pay easily.)

Regards, weareborg

[1] I’m sure you already know Google Maps, but maybe you haven’t heard about OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is a free map that covers the whole world. It can be edited by anyone and it can also be used anyone freely. This is why it’s used by a lot of people and sometimes it’s more detailed and accurate than Google Maps. Millions of people use it for various purposes. For example, this Android application has more than 50 million installations https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mapswithme.maps.pro.

Trip planner of Helsinki Regional Transport uses it https://www.reittiopas.fi/.

Here’s the city of Uusikaupunki on the “official” site https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/2376177#map=14/60.8015/21.3991.

[2] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/weareborg/history#map=17/60.80067/21.41081

The results were unfortunately really poor. I sent 32 emails in total and I got only 3 answers and no deals. What could be done to improve the outcome? Maybe I asked too much. Or you could call the businesses, it’s easier to ignore an email. Or you when you are taking your notes, you could go inside and tell what you are offering, maybe print ads before and give it to them so you don’t take much of their time. Both calling and visiting will take more your time than just sending a bunch of emails, if you want to even think what you will make in an hour, because it probably won’t be much. And do you map the businesses anyway, who didn’t want to pay?

Comment from pkoby on 23 November 2019 at 18:07

I see a number of problems:

  1. Much too high asking price. You’re adding a point to a map, and if you add a bunch of tags (phone, website, address, hours), you’re probably spending 5 minutes per business. What’s your hourly rate to do that? €240? I suppose you spend more time per business to find that they’re not on the map and find their contact to email them. But should that be factored into the cost?

  2. By emailing them, you’re bring OSM to their attention, and some of them might just add their info themselves.

  3. Presumably, you either surveyed the area on foot or by combing Google Maps/OSM to compare their listings. You have collected a lot of information about these businesses already to then essentially hold hostage. Why not just add this information that you’ve already spent the time collecting?

  4. What value are you really offering for the business? I guess that’s where you came up with the 20€ value (that and time spent researching them). The actual ROI from OSM is probably pretty low.

  5. YES, of course map the businesses that don’t want to pay! If someone else maps the business, would you delete it because they didn’t pay you? You’ve already done most of the work, and OSM is a community effort to help the public. You’re probably not only mapping for yourself/for profit.

I think this might have some potential if the cost were much lower (like 1 to 5€). I still wouldn’t expect much interest, though, and the time spent contacting/negotiating would be way more than just surveying and mapping it.

I have made money from OSM systematically mapping a university’s sidewalks and entrances. There are also some freelance offerings on Upwork, but they’re rare. OSM is generally not a great platform for profit. But the skills you learn might be applicable for some light GIS work.

Comment from SomeoneElse on 24 November 2019 at 14:55

I sent 32 emails in total and I got only 3 answers and no deals

I’m not familiar with the territory, but I suspect 10% is actually not a bad response for an unsolicited email!

There are of course plenty of people “making money from OSM”, either directly or indirectly. People working for large companies like Apple, Facebook and many others do so. There are lots of smaller OSM-based consultancies, and there are lots and lots of people (including, ahem, “SEO specialists”) at the low end adding things to OSM for profit. The problem with the “low end” stuff is that you don’t get paid more for doing a good job; you get paid more for doing lots, badly.

I’d suggest you try and get more familiarity with some of the various tools around OSM - perhaps think about what you’d need to do to create a simple OSM-based map showing where a business is that they can put on their website, for example?

Then again, don’t take my word for it - I’ve always been a volunteer in OSM and an “amateur” in the original sense.

  • Andy

Comment from CloCkWeRX on 25 November 2019 at 00:43

Consider other options/different customers.

IE: Producing maps (via overpass) of solar panel deployment on residential or large commercial properties - would solar panel installers pay you to improve the coverage in the area; so they could target their marketing? Or would local governments find it valuable?

Comment from weareborg on 25 November 2019 at 11:35

Much too high asking price. You’re adding a point to a map, and if you add a bunch of tags (phone, website, address, hours), you’re probably spending 5 minutes per business. What’s your hourly rate to do that? €240? I suppose you spend more time per business to find that they’re not on the map and find their contact to email them. But should that be factored into the cost?

I map by walking or cycling and taking pics as notes, so I factored that in too. Of course I could just ask the information from the business owner once they contact me and not do any leg work.

By emailing them, you’re bring OSM to their attention, and some of them might just add their info themselves.

I emailed to a museum and their staff added museums to the map. I had data only for one museum ready and they added many. If they don’t want to pay me to add them, but they rather add themselves, it’s a good outcome for OSM anyway.

What value are you really offering for the business? I guess that’s where you came up with the 20€ value (that and time spent researching them). The actual ROI from OSM is probably pretty low.

Having the information in OSM can be seen as an ad. I can see some tourists have been mapping in the area.

Presumably, you either surveyed the area on foot or by combing Google Maps/OSM to compare their listings. You have collected a lot of information about these businesses already to then essentially hold hostage. Why not just add this information that you’ve already spent the time collecting?

YES, of course map the businesses that don’t want to pay! If someone else maps the business, would you delete it because they didn’t pay you? You’ve already done most of the work, and OSM is a community effort to help the public. You’re probably not only mapping for yourself/for profit.

I’m not holding anyone hostage by asking money to map them, they are free to map or ask someone else to map and certainly I’m not going to delete anything.

This was an experiment I did a year ago and I forgot to write about this. I thought I’d add the data after a while, in the case I get no response, but I didn’t do that, so I’ll do that some day, since this didn’t work out.

I think this might have some potential if the cost were much lower (like 1 to 5€). I still wouldn’t expect much interest, though, and the time spent contacting/negotiating would be way more than just surveying and mapping it.

That’s so small amount it’s not worth the trouble.

Comment from SK53 on 25 November 2019 at 15:04

Following up on SomeoneElse’s comment 10% response rate on a cold marketing email is pretty good! It’s also a useful data point. When direct marketing was by post I think anything getting over 3% was regarded as highly targeted, and I’d assume with email its usually much lower.

I think if you want to sell something it has to be more than the point on OSM: but I’d thought there was scope for value-added services around this: for instance customised maps of their location.

Ages ago I had a very interesting conversation with the owner of Chinese fast food takeaway: he knew his customers, they were local & knew his store. He saw little advantage of being on Google or OSM. The ones doing regular door drop leaflets with maps on the back tend to competing for much less loyal customers wanting delivery. Given their higher marketing costs, greater competition pressures on price and low customer loyalty something has to give. My guess is quality.

Comment from Cartophilic on 26 November 2019 at 02:49

I had an idea that maybe you could make a little extra money when mapping, why not? It could be nice for kids especially, maybe some of them wouldn’t be interested in mapping otherwise, but money could be an incentive.

The point of OSM is to give knowledge to people for free— not to earn money off of it. Don’t join OSM if profit is what’s in your mind. It’s the passion that drives people to make such beautiful maps for free in OpenStreetMap. Not profit.

Comment from SK53 on 26 November 2019 at 15:04

@nonoon: this is a fairly extraordinary assertion, people active in OSM have had commercial interests in it from the earliest days. They tend to be just as enthusiastic about it as any other OSMer.

Steve Coast founder of OSM set-up a company, CloudMade, based on OSM. Several well-known OSMers worked for CloudMade. Most of the outgoing OSMF Board members & candidates for the current board election either work for or have businesses which are OSM-based.

Many people in less-developed countries can only contribute to OSM if they are financially compensated. Furthermore because OSM often provides a platform which enables people to do their jobs better they contribute to OSM for that reason.

We have lots of universities, local government bodies, railway companies, bus companies etc, who use OSM and employ people to contribute to OSM.

Comment from weareborg on 26 November 2019 at 15:17

The point of OSM is to give knowledge to people for free— not to earn money off of it. Don’t join OSM if profit is what’s in your mind. It’s the passion that drives people to make such beautiful maps for free in OpenStreetMap. Not profit.

Is Linux kernel now a worse product when almost all the development is done by people who get paid to do it? I expected someone would say this. There seems to be always people who don’t like if someone wants to profit from free or open source software or other open projects.

Comment from weareborg on 26 November 2019 at 15:39

Following up on SomeoneElse’s comment 10% response rate on a cold marketing email is pretty good! It’s also a useful data point. When direct marketing was by post I think anything getting over 3% was regarded as highly targeted, and I’d assume with email its usually much lower.

Yes, I reckon 10% response rate is good, but I was little bummed out no one wanted pay, but I suppose it was expected.

Thanks for the suggestions. I have been thinking about asking governmental services who have suitable data, to make it open first and then mass import it for a price. But that’s probably not going to happen, since persuading them to license the data as open is not an easy feat in itself.


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