As with so many arenas, the internet has changed the landscape of art patronage. Before, artists had to apply for grants or scramble for funding by arts organizations, large corporations, and other monoliths of culture finance. Enter Kickstarter. Writers are no longer at the mercy of publishing houses, musicians can break free from record companies, and artists can start dropping that pesky 'starving' adjective so routinely placed at the front of their profession.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding means what it sounds like, large crowds of individuals fund projects with their donations both large and small. Artists, film makers, writers, dancers, and other creatives create project text, video, a funding goal, and importantly, rewards that allow project backers to be a part of the experience. The project then has a limited time, usually around 30 days, to make it to the funding goal. Kickstarter is an all or nothing model, which means that if the 30 days has passed and the goal isn't reached, none of the funds are received.
Since its creation in April of 2009, Kickstarter has facilitated over 20,000 creative projects. However, now that the word is out about this avenue for creative fruition, more projects are getting posted, which means more competition. Given this influx of new projects, it is important to do all you can to set your own project apart. Here are some do's and don't's gleaned from articles by Kickstarter veterans:
- Do read the Kickstarter project guidelines before writing your project text and making a video. It would be a pity to do a lot of work on a campaign only to realize that isn't what Kickstarter does.
- Do make sure your other web locations (your website or storefront) are up and ready for people to view it. Part of Kickstarter's appeal is that it will bring new eyes to your work whether your project gets funded or not.
- Do make a video and put some effort in to it. Introduce yourself, the project, and the rewards. Try to get it under 3 minutes.
- Don't forget to include shipping and production costs in your rewards packages. You'll have to deliver your rewards in a timely fashion, so be sure to do the calculating up front.
- Don't put a project funding goal way higher than you need. According to some Kickstarter pro's it is better to have a goal lower than you actually need so it has a better chance to get fully funded. People love to back a winner, so often times you'll get more than the amount you asked for.
- Do realize that most of every project's funding comes from the creator's existing network and their outreach. Kickstarter isn't a giving tree, it's a way to turn your audience and network into patrons. To do that, creators must spread the word.
- Don't think you've finished once the campaign is launched. Launching a campaign is only the beginning. The promotion and connections the creator makes after the launch is crucial to it success.
- Don't spam or send group emails. While it may take longer, a personal message telling friends, family, and colleagues about your project will not only make people more likely to support you but also less likely to ignore you!
- Do prepare for the stress that might come with waiting and watching to see if your dream project gets funded or not. Unless you are incredibly Zen, it is practically unavoidable.
- Do be excited for the rush that comes when pledges come in.
- Don't forget to thanks your backers immediately and ask them to share it with friends.
- Don't get bogged down by negative people or ignored please for support. People just don't get it sometimes or are simply busy.
- Do appreciate those in your life that are champions of your dreams!
Launching Kickstarter campaigns is a heady business. Be sure that you are prepared to put the work in and get ready for an interesting ride!