Crowdfunding - What is it, and why do you need to know?
As this lovely little image I found on BookLogix (Kajpust, 2015) suggests, crowdfunding allows your idea to get funded from many different sources with varying sizes of commitment.
In a nutshell this is what crowdfunding is, you present your idea on your chosen platform, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Patreon, etc. and then if people, the crowd, like it, then they will donate and help you reach the required amount to fund the project. Jenkins, Ford and Green (2013, p.251) describe this as audiences making micro investments in a new creative venture. Traditionally companies would be the gatekeeper, determining what gets made and what does not. With crowdfunding the audience get what they want rather than being told what they can have.
There are multiple platforms for crowdfunding, but here we will look at two, Kickstarter and Patreon. These two sites are examples of two methods of getting funding online that are different but can both be successful.
Kickstarter allows you to create a project, with a funding goal, and provide information on what the product is and rewards for different levels of backing. For example if it was a boardgame venture, the reward for a small donation may be a print of the art work, then a little higher you get a copy of the game, higher still limited edition figurines or art work, and so on. The rewards offer further incentive to the audience to commit their money to the project. Should the amount of funds you require be raised within the allotted time frame the project will be funded and can progress. The image displayed above is of my pledge to Elan Lee's new card game Bears vs Babies (Lee, 2017), as you can see the pledge of $35 got me a copy of the game, its not safe for work booster pack and all the stretch goals. You can also see the amount needed, $10,000, to successfully fund the game, getting somewhat beyond this. Stretch goals, as offered here, are what can be added to a project once it reaches its target. Already successfully backed? Okay so add more incentive to raise more. In this case they created achievements and as they were completed new stretch goals were unlocked.
Patreon goes further than these individual project funding campaigns, it allows artists, makers, and content creators, to ask for continued support from their audience. This may be in the form of a monthly contribution, or in the form of a per-project donation. For example you could pledge a few pounds/dollars to your favourite online comic artists or video maker that gets sent every month. This combined with a few pounds/dollars from other fans can add up to a decent wage. This basically remediating the old fashioned patrons paying artists/musicians a wage to produce their work.
As an example this is Rob Scallon's Patreon page. He makes music and music videos that he posts to YouTube. As you can see he, at the time of writing, gets $1,413 per main channel video. Meaning that for each main channel YouTube video he makes, he receives $1,413.
These are viable methods of income, if you can reach your audience and prove your work is good enough. It cuts out the middleman, allowing you to go directly to the individuals who you are targeting with your work. There is a lot of planning and effort that goes into running a successful crowdfunding campaign, but if you can tackle the challenge and are willing to take the risk of investing to get the initial project moving, then it can bring your content to a wide audience.
Jenkins, H., Ford, S. and Green, J. (2013) Spreadable Media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture. New York: New York University Press.
Kajpust, L. (2015) Kickstarting Novels, Part 1. Available at: http://booklogix.com/blog/2015/01/kickstarting-novels-part-1 (Accessed on: 21 April 2017).
Lee, E. (2017) Bears vs Babies – A Card Game. Available at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elanlee/bears-vs-babies-a-card-game. (Accessed on: 21 April 2017).
Scallon, R (2017) Patreon, Rob Scallon is creating music. Available at: https://www.patreon.com/RobScallon. (Accessed on: 21 April 2017).