I heard about Kickstarter just a few weeks ago by word of mouth. It’s a fundraising website that works like an online pledge drive for creative projects. Artists are using the site to fund album recordings, independent film and video game production, book publication, liscensing costs, travel expenses and other art projects. I think this site has a lot of potential and it’s been cool to see it mentioned more and more on the web the past few weeks. Most projects need between $1000-$10000 to become reality. Prohibitive for many individuals; but with the help of a hundred or so backers chipping in the goals are being met. Kickstarter is there to bridge that gap between the dreamers and their benefactors.
For the past two years, I’ve published a free comics newspaper called Diamond Comics which I distribute through local coffee shops, bars, record shops and other cool businesses around town. Basically the same places where you might’ve found a copy of Arthur. Each issue would generally lose a little money, which I would write off as an advertising cost. But if this thing was sustainable I could afford to do it more often and put out new issues on a regular basis.
With the Kickstarter model I set the monetary goal and the deadline that we need to raise the money by. If we don’t hit the goal in the next 40 days, I actually get none of the funds. On one hand the potential for failure was a little intimidating. But I know from experience that the finances of a business are equally cold, hard, and fast, so it’s an accurate model.
Kickstarter suggests that I film a video where I explain my project and also offer different gifts or incentives for the various levels of sponsorship. If you sponsor a recording artist it’s likely you can get your name listed as a “producer” in the credits or even have something personal worked into a song lyric. With Diamond, I’m offering free issues, a printed ‘thank you’ in the next issue, and archival prints of covers from past issues. The video thing actually held me up for a couple weeks after my proposal was approved. Oh yeah, Kickstarter is invite only. Which I originally misinterpreted as something like a Google invite where users would have to invite me. No, you just email Kickstarter with your proposal and an individual responds within a day or two. They seem enthusiastic to have users spread the word about their site which is the right way to do cooperative marketing.
For anyone who’s used a Blogger, Twitter or Vimeo, Kickstarter’s interface is very appealing and easy to use. I set up my bio and profile, put a picture in, attached some links, came up with the incentive rewards, and finally recorded a video of myself talking to put a face to the project. Now the excitement begins as I watch people from all over the world sponsor the project and spread the word with their Facebooks and Twitters. It’s taking all this internet time and energy we normally dump into our computers every day but actually focusing it into tangible real world results. Put your money where your mouse is.