How to Create a Fantastic Video for your Crowdfunding Project

How to create a fantastic video for your crowdfunding project

Noah Blumenson-Cook walks you through each step of creating an awesome and effective crowdfunding video.

By Siena Oristaglio

Creating a video for your crowdfunding project is one of the most important (and potentially, most daunting!) aspects of setting up your campaign. In this segment of our online course, Step by Step Crowdfunding for Artists, Noah Blumenson-Cook guides you through making the most effective video possible. Watch below:

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How to Create a Great Reward Tier Structure For Your Crowdfunding Project

How to create a great reward tier structure for your crowdfunding project

Breaking down the most effective reward tiers for artist campaigns

By Siena Oristaglio

When running a crowdfunding campaign as an artist, one of the things you'll have to decide is how many rewards to offer and at what dollar amounts. Many artists we've worked with have felt overwhelmed by making these choices, so we created a simple breakdown of an effective reward tier structure that we recommend. Watch Void Academy co-founder Siena Oristaglio explain in the video below:

painting-tool

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Working Artists Today

Working Artists Today

Willa Koerner weighs in on crowdfunding and digital marketing opportunities for artists

By Siena Oristaglio on April 18th, 2018

Willa-Köerner_The-Creative-Independent

Willa Köerner is the Creative Content Director at The Creative Independent, a growing resource of emotional and practical guidance published by Kickstarter for artists of all types. She joined Kickstarter in 2015, at which point she she spearheaded the development of their creative prompt series, ideating, producing, and overseeing creative direction for initiatives like Make 100, Kickstarter Gold, Projects of Earth, and Commissions. These initiatives generated over a thousand new Kickstarter projects, and more than $2 million raised for creative projects overall — most of which were in the Arts & Culture categories. We had the amazing opportunity to chat with Willa here about marketing tools for artists and the ongoing struggle for financial sustainability.   

Can you tell us about the mission of The Creative Independent, and how you came into the role of Creative Content Director?

The Creative Independent came into existence because of a need to better understand the emotional and practical implications of being a working artist today. Our mission is to be a resource for creative people by illuminating many of the universal trials and tribulations experienced when working to bring new creative work to life. We live up to our mission by publishing interviews with working artists of all types to learn about how they got started, where they’ve struggled, and how they’ve overcome obstacles like anxiety, lack of support, time management—that kind of thing.

Lately, we’ve also been collaborating with various types of subject experts to publish how-to guides that demystify some of the more opaque aspects of living life as a creative person—from our artist’s guide to financial planning, to our guide on how to start a podcast. Our hope is that, over time, we can chip away at some of the misconceptions and myths related to being a working artist, and help people be more successful—both in terms of their creative practice, as well as in terms of their overall mental health and happiness. Sometimes we joke that TCI is like therapy or self-help for artists, but in all honesty, it kind of is. We’re here because everyone struggles to make good things, and rarely do we let each other see into the perils of doubt and confusion behind the finished work of art.

Now, for the last part of your question: I came into the role of TCI’s Creative Content Director after watching from the sidelines for a while from my perch as Kickstarter’s Curation & Content Director. I was somewhat involved in TCI’s birth and early conception, and then helped out from time to time as an advisor and contributor. Every time I worked on something TCI-related, it just felt so right to me—like the kind of thing I should be working on all the time. Then, you know how it is when things just work out? It was one of those stars-aligning kind of situations—the right clouds parted, and a series of fortunate events revealed how much sense it’d make if I joined the TCI team full-time. So, we made it happen, and the rest is history.

In your opinion, how have social media sites and digital marketing tools changed the landscape of funding opportunities for independent artists?

What it comes down to, for me, is that these platforms are really just another tool that artists can choose to make use of, or not. Just like any tool, these platforms aren’t going to work well for you if you don’t first put in the time necessary to master the craft. And, some tools just won’t make sense for certain artists. But overall, options are good—especially in the art world, where options have historically been pretty limited in terms of how artists can break through, earn a living, and just generally have mobility to advocate for themselves and be successful. (Of course, it also depends on how an artist would describe their own definition of “success” for themselves in their practice—some people simply want visibility and engagement with their work, while others might wish to make a living selling their work, or to establish a more notable reputation that could open other doors for them. Understanding the end goal is something that is so important to know when you’re deciding which tools to use, and how to use them. All artists should think about this!)

 

Understanding the end goal is something that is so important to know when you’re deciding which tools to use, and how to use them. All artists should think about this!

 

So yes—at their most basic level, social media platforms and digital marketing tools give artists options. You can cultivate a community around yourself easier these days, for sure—and if you can become close enough with this community that they’ll want to support you, all you’ll have to do is ask for what you need. I’ve seen artists shocked to see such an outpouring of both emotional and financial support from the people who they’ve previously just seen as “followers.” The internet can still be a place to build and sustain meaningful relationships. When people care about you, and care about your work, you might be very surprised to see how willing they’ll be to show their support. Moving into the future, I’d recommend to all artists that they be as direct as possible in advocating for their work’s value. Don’t feel weird when the subject of money is brought up. Be honest, and ask for what you need. You might be surprised to see what happens when you become confident in the value you bring. And: if you ask for what you think need, and don’t readily receive it, don’t take it personally. Use it as an opportunity to understand how you could be in better dialogue with your peers, friends and family about the value of your work, and slowly work to cultivate the trust and interest that’s necessary in order to be meaningfully supported by your community.

How have you seen Kickstarter (and crowdfunding, more broadly) evolve to fit the needs of artists? Is there anything that artists have done with crowdfunding that has surprised you?

Kickstarter is a PBC (public benefit company), which means it’s always striving to do more to benefit society, and artists in particular. That said, when I was in my old job and looked at Kickstarter projects all day, I found it endlessly depressing to see how much money projects in the Design, Technology, and Games categories would raise in comparison to projects in the Arts category. This is symptomatic of our culture’s confusion and/or lack of education around the value that art and artists bring to society. (And I’m not saying this situation is anyone’s fault in particular—it’s just a truth we should be honest about, so we can move forward with thinking of strategies for changing it).

Screenshot of the TCI homepage

Screenshot of the TCI people page

Who should pay for the arts? Obviously our government won’t (don’t get me started here). So for now, it’s really up to us people who understand the value of art to be vocal about why supporting and sustaining the creation of new artwork is important, and maybe even reorient ourselves to what we decide we should be paying for, as individuals. Personally, I try to buy art as often as I can from artists whose work I care about, and I support a growing list of artists on sites like Drip, Kickstarter, and Patreon with a small contribution every month. And, I know I can do more—it’s a personal goal of mine to do a better job supporting the artists I care about. It’s a learning curve, since most of us haven’t been conditioned to know how to support each other, and we all have weird relationships with money. For now, I’d recommend everyone think about how they can support artists. Even if you can only contribute a few dollars to someone whose practice you admire, it’s not just about the dollar amount—it’s about saying, “You and your work matter and I hope you will keep doing it.” We all need to get better at saying this, and not just to artists. If someone is doing something cool, you should tell them—odds are they don’t hear that kind of positive feedback or get that kind of support as often as they should. Capitalism sucks at creating supportive relationships so we gotta take it upon ourselves to do better, one person at a time.

And, no—I’m never surprised by anything artists do. Nobody can surprise me with their weird use of Kickstarter, either. Everyone should be as experimental and subversive with all digital tools at all times, and use all the platforms that exist in the most insane, awesome, over-the-top ways they can think of. People aren’t nearly experimental enough with these platforms. People should go crazy, break the internet, and earn a million dollars. It’s definitely possible… and I won’t be surprised if and when it happens. 🙂

 

...it’s really up to us people who understand the value of art to be vocal about why supporting and sustaining the creation of new artwork is important, and maybe even reorient ourselves to what we decide we should be paying for, as individuals.

 

What inspired The Creative Independent's current survey of visual artists on financial sustainability? What insights do you hope to gain from its results?

Our survey for visual artists stemmed out of a conversation with artist Yumna Al-Arashi. She’s an incredibly smart and talented photographer whose work is exhibited and collected widely. And yet, she emailed us because she still felt like she wasn’t “doing it right” (the artist thing, I mean). She wondered if she was messing up her career by not working with a gallery, and wanted to better understand what other viable paths other artists were taking to sustain themselves and grow their practices. Together, she, Brandon and I wondered why this type of information sharing wasn’t happening more openly. Why is it so hard to figure out how to make it as an artist?

I’m a pretty practical person, and seeing this serious gap in information made me want to fill it in with some real hard numbers. Since we have a platform through which we can pretty easily reach artists, I suggested we do a survey to actually illuminate, on a broad scale, how artists are making (or not making) money, among other things. We’ve been collecting responses for a few months now, and soon we’ll be releasing all the anonymously collected information as an open data set that everyone can learn from. Moving on from here, I not only hope the information will give people a more transparent look at how different structures within the art world are helping (or hurting) artists—I also hope we can continue to identify holes in knowledge, and come up with some actual next steps and strategies that will improve the situation. This could include commissioning more guides, convening conversations, launching more surveys, overthrowing the government… we’ll see. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen over time, always.

After interviewing so many artists, what is one common obstacle that stands out when it comes to creating a sustainable art practice? What do you see as potential solutions to this issue?

I mean, the obvious answer here is making money. As for solutions, ha! I guess my recommendation to artists would just be to figure out ways to make money that you can live with. Lots of people have day jobs to give them some stability, and to ease the pressure they’re putting on their creative practice. The idea of the artist who’s making most of their money through their work is a myth that needs to die. That situation is the exception, not the rule. Until our society completely 180’s and has a better understanding of the value art and artists bring, artists are not going to have an easy time making money. My best advice to artists is to become aggressively financially literate, even if it feels hard or counterintuitive. Don’t just say, “Whatever, I’m an artist, I don’t understand this stuff.” Make an effort to play the game of capitalism, and out-smart it. Take a business class. Keep track of your expenses. Learn the basics of saving and investing. If you’re an artist, the system is rigged against you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t one-up it. Figure out how to sacrifice the smallest amount of time/work for the biggest amount of financial stability you can get. Once you get a plan for financial security in place, you might be surprised to feel an enormously heavy weight lifted.

 

Even if you can only contribute a few dollars to someone whose practice you admire, it’s not just about the dollar amount—it’s about saying, “You and your work matter and I hope you will keep doing it.” 

 

Another common obstacle people face is that… making art is a hustle and it sucks sometimes (maybe even a lot of the time). Seriously, everyone I talk to for TCI has a laundry list of struggles that’s a mile long. I can tell you from experience: ten out of ten people are not waking up every morning and saying, “Wow, another perfect day in my life as an artist!” At face value, it might not seem worth it to be an artist. But for most people we talk to, it’s not a choice. They have to follow through on their ideas, and bring things out of their head and into the world. That process can be 90% painful, realistically. There’s not really a solution to this problem, except to just keep going, and to know that you’re not alone.

Willa-Köerner-The-Creative-Independent

Willa Koerner is the Creative Content Director for The Creative Independent, a growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for artists. Before TCI, Willa directed editorial and content strategy initiatives at Kickstarter, and before that, she managed digital engagement at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is currently a NEW INC mentor, and was formerly a founding member of Grey Area Art + Technology's Cultural Incubator. Willa has worked as a creative strategist for a wide range of arts organizations including the Smithsonian, Electric Objects, and Art21, and has been known to write, edit, curate, and create art for all sorts of cultural projects and publications. She's also currently working on a long-term plan to establish a futuristic art space in Upstate NY.

What Kind of Crowdfunding Campaign Should You Run?

What kind of crowdfunding campaign should you run?

The simple way to determine which crowdfunding model is right for your artistic practice

By Siena Oristaglio on April 11th, 2018

Crowdfunding Platforms

Photo by Luke Porter

This week, Void Academy co-founder Siena Oristaglio addresses a question artists frequently ask us: "What kind of crowdfunding campaign should I run?" When preparing to crowdfund, many artists have trouble deciding whether they should go with a flexible funding or an all-or-nothing model. Her video response, from our Step by Step Crowdfunding For Artists course, helps to answer this question for you. View the video below!

 
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Why We Teach Community Funding for Artists

WHY WE TEACH COMMUNITY FUNDING FOR ARTISTS

The fundamental philosophy behind using community funding as a means to sustain art

By Karina Vahitova on February 21, 2018

 

Community Funding

WHY DO WE LIKE THE TERM "COMMUNITY FUNDING"?

First, I want to address why we think “community funding” is a better term than “crowdfunding.” Although the two refer to the same process, the “crowd” in “crowdfunding” implies a random public. In our experience, almost no artist ever finds success by asking crowds of faceless individuals for support. Success comes when you ask for financial support from your people, your community, those who who know you and your work and have followed it, supported it, and even spiritually and emotionally benefited from it over time.

In school, artists are taught how to paint, dance, write, play music, and make films, but we’re almost never taught how to community build for our art practices or create a sustainable living. We teach and advocate for community funding models because they help to create an arts ecosystem in which the success of an artist is not measured by the ivory tower mentality of the museum or the gatekeeper mentality of the gallery, but rather by how many real people in the world want to support the artist’s work. This model allows for greater socioeconomic diversity amongst arts patrons and allows the supporters of art to be the same people for whom the art is made.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DEFINING YOUR COMMUNITY

In any standard business course, one of the first things you’ll be asked to think about is the question of your audience. Who are you making your product for? While the arts and utilitarian product creation are very different, if we suspend their differences for a moment and think about them both as the creation of experiences, a key similarity becomes clear. Regardless of whether you are creating a new ethically-sourced shampoo for curly-haired redheads or writing feminist poetry (like yours truly), you should be able to answer the question, For whom am I creating this? As an artist, knowing the answer to this question is not only vital for being able to find financial support, but also for helping your art find its way into the hands of those who need and want it most.

In the same way that my curly red hair will benefit from a specialized shampoo that won’t wash out all the color and flatten my curls, my soul will benefit from poetry because it validates and reflects my politics and life story. While I could live my life without the shampoo, I don't know that I could live — on an emotional level — without poetry. This is what makes me an avid financial supporter of the arts, through platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter, even though I don't have great wealth. Given the success rate of community-funded arts projects, I know that I am not the only one who supports artists in this way. In 2014 alone, $164.4 million dollars was given to individual artists and arts organizations through Kickstarter. On the ongoing patronage platform Patreon, monthly contributions to individual artists currently total a whopping $9,027,946.20.

WHAT ARE SOME ADVANTAGES OF COMMUNITY FUNDING?

When you ask your community to support your artwork, it creates the possibility of fiscal and emotional freedom from traditional art industries. Projects can be budgeted for based on the capacity of your community (which grows over time as long as you continue to community build), rather than based on a scarcity model of grant-getting. We all know there are many more artists in this world than there are grants — 2.1 million of us, according to a 2011 census by the NEA. When you fund work through community funding, you may also get an emotional break by cutting the amount of time spent interacting with institutions that often replicate racist, sexist, transphobic, and ableist ideologies.

As artists, we should care where the money for our art comes from because this is often a marker of who is engaging with our work. If we allow ourselves to benefit from the advantages of creating and interacting with our own communities, it gives us more control over our art practice while keeping the arts in the hands of the public rather than the gatekeepers. One of the best parts of community funding is that artists can (and do!) combine income from community funding with grants and other sources of revenue. However, community funding on its own can be a sustainable source of income. Your community believes in your vision and your work and they will continue to support you if you continue to connect with them. Our goal at The Void Academy is to support you on this path to sustainability, whatever that means for you.

Related article: Words from the Wise: Do These Things Before Launching a Kickstarter Campaign

 
If you liked this article, jump on our mailing list here and get immediate and free access to our artist resource library, which includes a PDF version of this article, as well as Fundamentals of Crowdfunding for Artists online course, discounts from our awesome partners, artist interviews, and weekly DIY arts business tips.

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The Pre-Launch Checklist for Crowdfunding Artists

THE PRE-LAUNCH CHECKLIST FOR CROWDFUNDING ARTISTS

A handy guide for the month before your campaign

By Noah Blumenson-Cook on February 14th, 2018

glenn-carstens-peters-190592

Crowdfunding for your project is one of the most exciting, stressful, and rewarding ways to spend a month of your life. But what about the month leading up to your campaign?

Before you start, you need to understand the fundamentals of crowdfunding. Know what you're getting into. Crowdfunding is much more than a way to get funding for your idea. At its core, it's an exercise in trust. When your potential backers find out about your project, they need to trust that it's worth putting money into, that you'll deliver the project you're describing, and that backing your campaign will be a positive and rewarding experience for them.

To that end, you'll need to have a clear picture of where you stand. It's important to assess your community, your web presence, your project structure and which crowdfunding model and platform is best for you. Our Step By Step Crowdfunding course covers all these topics in detail, with guides and templates to help you gain the clarity and purpose you'll need.

So without further ado, here's the basic checklist of the things you need to have in place before the big launch day.

FOUR WEEKS TO GO

  • Clear your schedule
    The best thing you can do for yourself in this first week is give yourself as much breathing room as possible, especially if this is your first campaign. If you've got other projects cooking, now is the time to make sure they won't interfere with your campaign prep.
  • Create your content plan
    You're going to be pushing out a lot of communication via your website, social media and mailing list. Getting a schedule together early takes a lot of stress out of the equation!
  • Choose your rewards
    It's important to be able to feature your rewards prominently in your video, your reachouts and the page itself. Get your rewards ready as far in advance as possible to give yourself a great head start.
  • Shoot your video
    The more time you can leave yourself for writing, shooting and editing your video, the better. We recommend having all the footage ready to go no less than a month before your launch date.

THREE WEEKS OUT

  • Start talking about it!
    It's time to announce your project and activate that content plan. Announce your project on your website, social media, and mailing list. If you're not excited yet, you should be!
  • Secure early backers
    This is the week to start reaching out one-on-one to your potential early backers. The more people you have ready to back your project as soon is goes live, the better your chances of success.
  • Edit your video
    By now, you should have the video footage, audio, images, and testimonials in place for an amazing crowdfunding video. This is the week you start putting it all together.
  • Get your page content ready
    For your crowdfunding page, you're going to need a solid design, images, text, and your final reward structure. By the end of this week, all those elements should be done and ready to go.

TWO MORE WEEKS

  • Secure ambassadors
    If you've built relationships with press outlets, bloggers and other artists, now is the time to make sure they're ready to help you get the word out during your campaign.
  • Reach out to higher-level patrons
    If you have rewards in the $500+ range, chances are you already know the people who are going to back at that level. Get in touch and make sure you're giving them the best possible experience!
  • Finish your video
    No crowdfunding campaign is complete without a short, compelling video. Complete any final details this week so you can move on to the next step.
  • Build your crowdfunding page
    Get all that juicy content into the system! By the end of this week your crowdfunding page should be complete and ready for review.

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

  • Platform review
    Platforms like Kickstarter offer a review process that needs to be completed before you can launch. This takes 2-3 business days, so submit your campaign at the start of this week to leave time for any changes that need to be made.
  • Find an impartial eye
    This is also a great time to let a trusted friend or two review your page as well. The more feedback you can get before you launch, the better your campaign will be.
  • Activate your early backers
    It's time to get your backers on board and ready to go. Getting a head start on day one is vital to the success of any campaign, so make sure you're setting yourself up for success.
  • Throw a party
    We're serious! A live event is one of the best things you can do to inject life and energy into your campaign, and there's no better time than launch day.

We hope this gives you a solid idea of what to expect when you're expecting (to launch a crowdfunding campaign!) If any of this seems overwhelming, well that's why we created our Step By Step Crowdfunding course, which dives into the details and gives you templates and examples for every one of these important tasks.

Words from the Wise: Do These Things Before Launching A Kickstarter Campaign

Words from the Wise: Do These Things Before Launching A Kickstarter Campaign

Three Kickstarter veterans give advice to artists planning to run a crowdfunding campaign

By Siena Oristaglio on February 7th, 2018

We know running a crowdfunding campaign for your art can be intimidating. That's why we reached out to three Kickstarter crowdfunding veterans to seek their words of wisdom about the process.

Artist Lois van Baarle raised £383,404 to fund an art book, The Sketchbook of Loish, with the help of nearly 10,000 backers. Caroline Hirt and Christian Etter raised over $100k to fund The Museum of Digital Art, Europe's first physical and virtual museum dedicated to digital arts, with the help of 567 backers. Lastly, Joel Daniel Phillips raised $55,448 to fund limited edition screen prints and collectibles designed by himself, created for Pierce Brown's "Red Rising" trilogy, with the help of 973 backers.

We asked each of these artists a single question: What advice can you give to an artist who plans to run a crowdfunding campaign? Read on for their answers below!

Lois van Baarle, The Sketchbook of Loish

"Together with my publisher, I've launched two Kickstarter campaigns, each for an art book featuring my work. My main advice to an artist who plans a Kickstarter campaign is to keep a close eye on your prizes and stretch goals. Artists love to give extra goodies and incentives to back the project. For example, in my Kickstarter campaigns, my publisher and I offered signed copies, stickers, bookmarks, card sets, tutorials, feedback sessions, and commissions as special prizes. It seems like such a fun idea and it generates a lot of enthusiasm for the campaign. However, after my first campaign, I learned that the choice to offer commissions and one-on-one feedback sessions as backer prizes was not a great one. It ended up taking up so much of my time, which was already being gobbled up by signing book copies and other tasks related to the campaign. By the time we launched our second campaign, we limited the amount of signed copies and picked stretch goals and prizes that were less time consuming to create. This way, I had more time to focus on the product we were trying to create — the art book! It's important not to let the main goal become buried by other responsibilities. So, in short, try to be as time-efficient as possible and don't underestimate how much extra time goes into fulfilling your project!"

Caroline Hirt + Christian Etter, Museum of Digital Art

"There is nothing more public than a crowdfunding campaign. It can be intimidating and undoubtedly a lot of work. Therefore make sure to use this tool for a project you can stand 100% behind and also has a certain dimension (if you need a small amount to fund your project it might be more efficient to finance it through a side job). Communicate honestly, close to the nature of the project, as well as yours. This way you can't lose, even if you lose. And if you win, you win for the right reasons. For us it was an uplifting and thrilling experience and we still can't believe that the Museum of Digital Art is celebrating its second birthday soon!"

Joel Daniel Phillips, Red Rising maps, prints and designs

"One of the biggest repercussions I didn't think about regarding crowdfunding was around taxes and timing. The way that Kickstarter works from a tax standpoint is that every penny you raise is taxable, and Kickstarter will issue a 1099 for the entire amount raised at the end of the year. This gets really complicated if you are producing a product and only a small part of the money that comes in is actually going to be profit (and the rest will be deductible production expenses, such as printing and shipping, etc). It is complicated because if you received your funding in say, December, you would be liable to pay taxes on the entire amount minus your deductible expenses come April, and if you had not started production yet, you wouldn't legally be able to claim any expenses and you would end up being taxed on money that was supposed to be deductible — funds that you needed to actually produce your products. Long story short, aim to launch a campaign in the first half of the year so you have time to receive your funding and get things sorted long before tax season."

 

 
If you liked this article, jump on our mailing list here and get immediate and FREE access to our artist resource library, Fundamentals of Crowdfunding for Artists online course, discounts from our awesome partners, artist interviews, and weekly DIY arts business tips.

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Myth Busting: Arts Crowdfunding Edition

Myth Busting: Arts Crowdfunding Edition

There are many harmful misconceptions about crowdfunding. Let's break four of 'em down.

 By Karina Vahitova on December 6, 2017

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

We love crowdfunding and think it’s a great way for artists to make a living, make art happen, and engage diverse communities in their work. Over the course of our work in this field, as consultants and crowdfunding experts, we’ve seen some misconceptions about crowdfunding that are damaging both to artists who are thinking of running a campaign and to those who are already running one. In this article, I will discuss four things that are simply not true about running an arts crowdfunding campaign!

1. “Crowdfunding feels like charity, and I don’t like asking for help.”

As an artist, you produce work. You do this by using physical and emotional energy, and you spend money to keep yourself going so that you can keep making art. When you ask for money to make your art, you are asking to be supported for something that other people believe in. Nobody is going to give money to something they don’t want to exist in the world. The fact that charity exists is great, because lots of people need that kind of unreciprocated support, but as an artist, you are not a charity. You are giving something to those who support you, and you are asking for something in return. There is an even exchange. This is why most crowdfunding platforms include a section for rewards. It is expected that in asking for financial support, you are giving back to those who support you in some way.

Though crowdfunding has existed for centuries (see Noah’s History of Crowdfunding article), in the age of the internet, we sometimes struggle for the right kind of language to describe our experiences with new forms of exchange. Let’s not confuse charity with direct-to-patron exchange. Let’s not devalue our labor and the importance of art in our world. Let’s believe in ourselves and others and let’s stop creating cultural capital for free.

2. “I need to get press/popularity/mainstream success for my project to be successful."

Crowdfunding is built on trust. Successful campaigns happen after the artist has spent some time building their community. They've worked to move folks through the tiers of the community building cycle (see my Community Building article) and now they feel comfortable asking for financial support because they know folks love their work and want it to exist in the world. The kind of exposure that artists get through press is the equivalent of the walk-in tier in the community building cycle. These folks just “met” you and they haven't yet built a trusting relationship with you and your work. Due to this, they are less likely to immediately back your campaign than those who have experienced and supported your work over time.

This is not to say getting press during your crowdfunding campaign will harm your campaign. It certainly validating for backers who have already backed and it helps to build excitement around the campaign. It also gives something for folks to share, such as, “Hey look! My friend's project is in the Guardian today!” Press can be great — it even gets more folks into your community building cycle — but it is not something to depend on for reaching your crowdfunding goal. Doing the legwork of  reaching out individually to those who love your art is what leads to success in the most effective arts campaigns we've seen and worked on.

3. "I just put the page up and strangers on the internet will give me money!”

Busting this myth takes us back to my point above: you cannot depend on those who are totally new to your work to immediately back your project unless they've come through a trusted source or friend. We see so many pitch videos that start off with “Hi Kickstarter!” or “Hello Indiegogo!” as though the creators are talking to a faceless crowd of random humans perusing these platforms just waiting to throw money at something. Think about yourself — how often do you peruse these platforms just itching to let go of some money? Crowdfunding platforms are powerful fundraising tools, but just because you've got one doesn’t mean things will build themselves. A good thing to think about when this myth comes up is to use yourself as a litmus test. What would need to happen in order for you to give money to a project? How much trust does an artist need to build with you before you feel excited to support an artwork?

4. “Missing my funding goal is failure.”

Crowdfunding is not a perfect science. Even if you fail to meet your goal, you’re going to know so much more about this process than you did when you started. Yes, missing your goal can be frustrating but the knowledge that you’ll walk away with about your community is information some people pay tons of money to consultants to discover. What is the capacity of my community? Is my current community interested in supporting this project? Crowdfunding is a way of taking the temperature of where you’re at in terms of financial support with your work.

Remember: even if you don't reach your financial goal, any backers who did back your campaign don’t go anywhere. They'll stick around as long as you continue to communicate with them. The true failure in crowdfunding is meeting your goal but not actualizing your project, your rewards, or failing to maintain trust with your community. To combat this myth, we encourage artists to not just think about a crowdfunding campaign in terms of its financial goal, but also about ways in which running a campaign helps you to rally your people, assess where you’re at, and have folks share your work with new potential supporters. We encourage you to focus on how, without running a campaign, you would not know nearly as much about yourself, your community, and your work as you did before.

Let us help you succeed!

Perhaps most importantly, if you prepare well for your campaign, you will reach (and even surpass!) your funding goal. This is why we at The Void Academy created a course that helps you to do just this. It’s called Step by Step Crowdfunding for Artists because we take your hand and lead you through every step along the way — including the step where you assess your community with some nifty templates we made and figure out what a reasonable ask is! If you're thinking about running a campaign, join us in this course. If it doesn't help you to feel comfortable with and excited about the process, we’ll give you your money back — we promise!

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If Mozart could crowdfund, so can you!

If Mozart could crowdfund, so can you.

Crowdfunding is an ancient art. In fact, you technically don't even need a computer.

By Noah Blumenson-Cook on November 15th, 2017

 

What comes to mind when you think of the term "crowdfunding"? Something like websites, social media and email lists, right? How about Mozart? Or, the Statue of Liberty? It turns out, the history of crowdfunding is stranger and more lo-tech than you think.

The video below is an excerpt from Fundamentals of Crowdfunding for Artists, our free intro course. If, like most people, you've only recently heard about crowdfunding, check it out. It might very well change your whole perspective. Also, there's pizza.

Video animation by Hailey Wojcik

Crowdfunding, at its core, is not about technology. It's about arts patronage. In the modern context, it's about empowering artists to learn how to seek out and maintain their own network of patrons, which is, in our opinion, extremely exciting. Before publishing houses, movie studios and record labels were a thing, patronage of some form or another used to be the single most common method for artists to sustain themselves. The challenge, however, was immense. Communication, especially before electricity, simply wasn't cheap or easy enough to create the kind of widespread campaigns we see today.

In only the past 30 years, the effort and resources required to simply stay in touch with people has dwindled to practically zero. With tools like email, social media, and crowdfunding platforms, all you really need to create a patronage-powered art practice is knowledge, willpower, and work. We're here to help with the knowledge part, and you can get started for free by taking our Fundamentals of Crowdfunding course right now.

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If you found this interesting, fun and/or helpful, but you're not ready to jump into a course right now, click here to hop on our mailing list. We'll instantly send you our free 15-page guide on how to start making sustainable income from your art, and you'll get weekly updates with free guidance and resources to help you build your independent art practice.

Girl Crush

Girl Crush

Editor Meg Wachter On Kickstarter and Independent Print Publishing

By Winter Mendelson on November 8, 2017

Got a Girl Crush

Got a Girl Crush is a NYC-based blog and annual print magazine created by Meg Wachter that is "made by women, about women, for everyone." They also host events and pop-ups to bring their audience together and build community. This year, Got a Girl Crush raised over 30k on Kickstarter to fund their sixth print issue. I chat with Meg here to learn about her experience running the campaign, what she would have done differently, and why independent print publishing is important.

How do you describe your work and who you are as an artist?

My name is Meg Wachter and I am editor-in-chief and co-founder of Got a Girl Crush — a magazine and social platform about women, by women, for everyone. We disrupt the broken narrative of most women's publications and tell stories of all ages, races, and backgrounds of women all over the world. We believe that print is not dead and that there is value to having a tangible medium to read, digest, and share —rather than sharing a link online that is easily forgotten tomorrow. Living somewhere between a magazine and coffee table book, rather than something disposable, Got a Girl Crush is something to keep and re-visit.

What inspired you to do a Kickstarter campaign for Issue 06 of Got a Girl Crush? 

One of my only goals this year with Girl Crush was to pay everyone involved. The past 5 issues has been people donating their time and talents to make this happen. We wanted to compensate those making the magazine what it is for all their hard work! The success of the Kickstarter allowed us to start paying all of our contributors (both online and in print). We believe that people's work is valuable —regardless of being an indie publication — and wanted to compensate them as such. We want to create high quality content with more frequency. We want to hire more artists and more writers, but to do that we needed a bigger production budget (currently without advertising). So, we asked our readers to invest in the future of the magazine before we consider partnering or being sponsored by large entities we believe in, in order to maintain our voice.

We also​ need funding to scale the size of the magazine. This involves larger runs (our last issue was only 1,000 copies and now we've moved up to 2,000). We are considering a bi-annual format, we need to be paying distributors, and hiring someone that is skilled at marketing to a wider audience because we truly stand behind that although this is a woman-owned, run, designed, published, distributed magazine — it is for everyone.

Got a Girl Crush

What steps did you take to prepare for the campaign? Looking back, would you have done anything differently? 

I think our biggest issue was that we really didn't prep for this campaign and sort of just dove into it (even though this is our second Kickstarter we've done with Girl Crush). I'd recommend doing more homework like knowing what percentage the community-funding platform takes, calculating shipping prices accordingly, including shipping costs into your final monetary goal, and promoting the fact that you're having a Kickstarter campaign well before you launch it, so you don't just surprise folks with your fundraising campaign.

How do you use the internet and social media to support and promote your project?

We've developed a pretty large following on Instagram and used that as well as TwitterFacebook, emailing past supporters, and stockists to help get the word out. Kickstarter has also always been a big supporter of the magazine and was nice enough to feature our campaign on their homepage. We had also already had the magazines by the time we launched our campaign — so that was helpful in showing people tangibly what they were donating their money to. We also sent advance copies to social influencers to promote us in exchange for a free copy of Issue 06.

Got a Girl Crush Cristy Road

Is there anything you've learned about the business of art and publishing that you wish you knew when you first got started? 

I've been feeling my way through it the whole time since day one. Our first issue was printed through a print-to-order website so they were made on demand and at no cost to us to start out (you could tack on money to the cost of making a publication, so I think we only made like $3/issue). Issue 02 was funded out-of-pocket between myself and the other original co-founder, Andrea Cheng. We did not break even and it was definitely a learning experience about how much to order, how to project demand, how to get into brick and mortar shops, what our goals were personally and financially, how to build our reach. For our third Issue we had a Kickstarter just to cover the cost of printing (and recoup our losses on fronting the money for Issue 02). From there we were self-sustaining, but still built solely on folks volunteering their time to the project. I'm really pleased we pretty fairly compensated everyone on Issue 06 and are looking into sponsorships and advertisers that would be a good match moving forward to make this a sustainable thing!

What do you currently wish you knew how to do from an arts business and publishing perspective? (If there was a course you could take right now, what might it be about?)

How to make money off of independent publishing so I can quit my full-time job!

Bonus Question: Do you have any favorite artist websites, mailers, crowdfunding campaigns, or social media accounts that you recommend we follow?

Boss Babes ATX is doing really radical and wonderful work for the women of Texas right now!

Related article: Funding Spock: Adam Nimoy on Arts Business

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If you like this article, click here to hop on our mailing list. We'll instantly send you our free 15-page guide on how to start making sustainable income from your art!
Got a Girl Crush Meg Wachter

​Meg Wachter is a photographer​, ​​​skilled retoucher​, and avid cyclist​. She is bosslady-in-chief of Got a Girl Crush (a blog and annual independently printed magazine about women, by women, for everyone). Meg lives in Brooklyn, New York​ with her husband, 2 dogs, and 14-year-old turtle​.

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