* Free samples sell content. More often than not, people like to know what they're getting before they plunk down their hard-earned money. In a brick-and-mortar store they can just fondle whatever is on the shelves. Online shopping offers a much wider range but you can't always see what you're getting. So vendors are finding ways to substitute by offering videos, excerpts, etc. Crowdfunding involves an exchange between creator and audience, often with the viewers giving inspiration and feedback. Free samples don't just show people what they're buying, they reward participation and held hook viewers into ongoing projects. So look for bits of your work that you can afford to give away.
* Customization adds value. People love being able to get exactly what they want or need. This is actually a very old premise that used to be the norm, before mass production was invented. The economy has just shifted around to make it highly competitive again, by offering better ways to connect creators and shoppers. Often you can capitalize on this to make duplicates, because people may say, "Hey, I want what he just bought." For some types of content, that really reduces your workload.
* Find your niche. Marketing has always advised identifying and meeting unmet needs, but this really comes to the fore in crowdfunding. This business model can be small and nimble, or it can grow with demand. It thrives on connecting creators of unusual goodies to people who aren't fully satisfied with the mass-market stuff. So listen to what people are asking for, and look for places where there are gaps.
* The relationship is part of the process and the product. Traditional marketing of cultural goods has had a low level of interaction. Crowdfunding cuts out most or all of the middlemen and connects creators and fans directly. This connection makes the creative process more responsive, cycles energy back and forth, and generally means people have more fun. It's very different from the "lonely garret" model of creativity. Understand that going in, and plan to work with it.
What are some other things you are learning about crowdfunding?
SEC Proposes Crowdfunding Rules
I don't know that these would apply to small, individual crowdfunders, but thought it would be important to keep abreast of changes on the larger scale of crowdfunding as well.
As for putting money back into a business? I so wish. I know that's the most effective way to build a business, but pretty much all the money I make from crowdfunding goes straight into basic living expenses.
So, I think an effective option would be to do an end run around the mainstream. There are film festivals for indie producers, and indie film is increasingly active in crowdfunding. Those people are putting out their own movies; they have control over what happens with the products. So an indie producer should be free to do simultaneous screen and consumer release if they want to. Once people got a taste of it, they'd scream at the mainstream movie companies until it became the norm. Or until the dinosaurs became extinct.
If you are into indie movies, or know people who are, pass the idea around.
It seems to me that some projects might be better suited to crowdfunding than others...but I don't know how to tell what kinds of projects would work well and what kinds wouldn't work well.
There are a lot of different factors that could influence a project's suitability. While planning your project, it helps to outline its features as best you can and compare those to the set of things that crowdfunding does well vs. what other business models do well. Then choose the closest match.
* Does this project already look like, or could be made to resemble, an existing crowdfunding model?
It's easier to launch a new project in a model that crowdfunding folks will already recognize. If a project more closely resembles mainstream things, or is so new that it's not like anything else, the setup will be harder. Those might work better in a different business model.
* How much interaction does the project involve?
Projects that require or benefit from more interaction between creator and audience are better suited to crowdfunding than those that thrive as solo work.
* Is the material monolithic or expansive?
Monolithic projects can be challenging to do as crowdfunding; they're harder to divide into small sections for phased contributions, or to spin off bits for perks. Projects that expand or divide conveniently are better suited to the crowdfunding model.
* Does the material have a potentially enormous audience, or a smaller one?
If it's close to mainstream material and will appeal to that audience, a mainstream publisher will probably pay more than could be raised via crowdfunding. But if it's an odd little project appealing to a niche market, the mainstream probably won't touch it while the underserved audience could be all over it in crowdfunding.
* Does the project and/or creator already have a fanbase?
If not, crowdfunding is iffy because the audience would have to be built from scratch, which is a lot of work. But if there's already an audience in place and the mainstream markets aren't keen on the project, just go direct to the fans. Good projects pitched to an extant fanbase usually thrive.
* Is the content actually creative?
Creative projects such as writing, art, music, etc. do well in the branch we call "cyberfunded creativity." Crowdfunding as a wider business model can also be used to start a business, fund a trip, or do all kinds of other things -- but the venues are different and so are some of the strategies. But once you get outside the creative sphere, opportunities may be broader in mainstream options, not just for finance but other support as well. The mainstream is a lot more enthusiastic about businesses than books.
* Does the content lend itself well to cyberspace?
Most crowdfunding these days takes place online, and cyberfunded creativity evolved specifically in this dimension. Things like text, images, and sounds are easily shared online so they make good project types for crowdfunding. If it's something that can't readily be transmitted -- the flavor of a recipe, the fragrance of essential oils, the texture of fabric -- that makes attracting supporters more difficult. Some other business model might work better for projects that rely on realspace appreciation.
* Can there be copies of the material, or only originals?
Crowdfunding works best with things that can be shared widely. A story or song exists in as many copies as desired; a painting can be rendered as prints. But if you're making ceramic altar goods, each one is an original that you have to create by hand. That's less suited for crowdfunding.
* Does this project actually require money?
Crowdfunding is great if you need cash. But if you don't -- and I've heard a couple folks say that about their projects -- then it may be more bother than it's worth.
* If it requires money, how much?
A low entry threshold makes it easier to build a big audience. A low goal is more likely to reach fulfillment. Such projects tend to work well in crowdfunding. This business model is really all about pooling lots of little contributions to accomplish something that's difficult or impossible for individuals to do. If it costs more to buy in, fewer people will be able to afford it; and higher goals succeed more rarely. Such projects may require the deep pockets of a conventional publisher.
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Successful projects averaged 38 days while unsuccessful ones averaged 43 days. A short campaign is often better, such as 30 days. If you are raising a lot of money, consider 60 or 90 so you have time to build momentum.
Successful projects averaged $5,487 while unsuccessful projects averaged $16,365. Asking too much is a common reason for failure. Set reasonable goals. It's a good idea to start with small projects -- raising a few hundred dollars is quite doable, and a few thousand possible. Raising $10,000 or more is really hard.
Do you use a money-handler that is not on this list? Give me their URL and I can add them.
I'll be keeping an eye out to see if any new hits, bestsellers, superstars, etc. emerge from this exercise in alternative distribution.
In this lousy economy, people care a lot about creating jobs. They might like to know if a crowdfunded project is doing that, and it might attract more donations. So I'd like to encourage folks, when posting about their own projects or those they support, to include "JOB CREATOR" in the post.
But I write a webserial, and I know that nickles and dimes pay the bills. And why people tip is useful information.
We discussed this a bit in this post by stryck on tip incentives, but perhaps we can discuss, specifically, what top reasons motivate you to tip?
* I get something, or something more, directly for donating (djinni's icons)
* I can give something to a friend who's short on cash that week
* Sick kitty/kid/about to be evicted sort of call
* A really classy call for money (haikujaguar's Black Blossom)
* More of a product I've seen some of (Torn World)
I almost never throw more than $5 at something in this way, although for direct commissions I'll pay more.
What about you?