Author Etiquette - Crowdfunding

by Jennifer 28. June 2018 12:33

Imagine if you will, you have an enjoyable hobby. One that allows you to express yourself creatively. You are good at it. People like the things that you produce. However, the money that you earn from this hobby does not support you, no matter how hard you work at it.

 

Welcome to the life of a creative.

 

Very few authors are able to make a living primarily from their writing. Most have day jobs, or other side jobs such as editing, transcription, or content work, that help keep bills paid, groceries in the pantry, and cash for fun things. This is a fact that most authors have come to accept, even if it makes life pretty complicated. To be able to put words on the page and support themselves or their families financially with a job, authors have to give up time with friends and family, activities such as watching movies or TV, and other things.

 

But over the last few years, things have changed a little. With the rise of social media, more fans have wanted to show their support of their favorite creatives. Up came platforms that allow people to support things that they love.  These online finance support systems have given some authors the freedom to be creative and still support themselves, get assistance in paying for an emergency, and have a bit more time to do more than just work all of the time. These programs are called crowdfunding.

 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a way for normal people to show support of a person, place, or thing by pledging money. Pledges can be monthly, yearly or even a one time show of support. The funding projects can take a variety of different forms such as support of a new series, monthly support in exchange for a newsletter or stories, or even an emergency fund. In essence, crowdfunding is a patronage from a group that anyone can set up or support.

 

For a lot of authors, this has been a life saver, not only because they get a little wiggle room in the finance department, but also because when an emergency arises people pledge their support. This can alleviate a lot of stress from an author’s shoulders. At no point in time should any author or creative feel guilty about opening a crowdfunding campaign if they have researched the platform, have a plan to promote it, and are willing to follow through on promises. If you have a social media presence, feel that you need a bit of help, and are willing to do the work involved, crowdfunding can be a very rewarding venture.

 

Types of Crowdfunding

There are several types of crowdfunding. Some are open for a limited time and allow others to show support of a project or help raise funds for emergencies. Other types are open all year round. A few are for a one time donation, while others allow supporters a subscription service. Crowdfunding is also available for groups, not-for-profits, loans, and other applications but today we are dealing with the ones creatives have contact with most often.

 

Emergency funds

When there’s an emergency, and you don’t have the cash, many authors turn to their friends, family and fans for assistance. Crowdfunding sources such as GoFundMe and Fundly and allow users to set up a campaign for a certain amount of time.

 

Project Support

If a creative has a project (whether it’s a book, game, or perhaps something bigger) they often turn to project support crowdfunding platforms.  The most well known is Kickstarter, but other platforms such as IndieGoGo and WeMakeIt are also used. These platforms allow users to introduce a project, raise funds, and stay connected with contributors throughout the process.

 

Tips

Some social media and crowdfunding platforms allow people to leave tips for creatives. Ko-fi allows supporters the opportunity to buy their favorite authors a cup of coffee. Other tipping

programs exist such as Tipee and Curious Fictions.

 

Subscription Based

The last group of crowdfunding platforms used by creatives involves a subscription service. Subscribers pledge a monthly (or sometimes a yearly) fee in exchange for newsletters, short stories, sneak peeks, and more. Patreon is one of the best known, but other services such as Drip from Kickstarter could be available soon to users.

 

What Crowdfunder Works for You?

Before you start fundraising you need to take a look at what kind of money you would like to raise, length you are willing to promote, what kind of backers are you looking for, and if you will offer some sort of reward system. Not all crowdfunding platforms are right for every application.

 

Slow trickle or fill the tank

Depending on what crowdfunding platform you choose, your options will be to run a fundraiser for a certain length of time and hope that you meet your goal or take the longer approach and have a steady stream of income over a longer period of time. Crowdfunders for emergency funds usually rely on the fill the tank method, while tip and subscription based funding is a slow trickle.

 

Backers

As a creative, you will be using your social media presence as a funding base. If your base is large, then chances are you will have a successful campaign. If you have a small base, then your success if limited.  Not only do you need a large social media presence, you also need an active one. If you are active and have a large participation record, your campaign will do just fine.

 

Promotion

Like with story and book releases, a crowdfunding campaign will need you to promote it. People will not magically find these things unless they have asked for a recommendation or get lucky. For short campaigns, you will need to spend time and effort in getting the platform in front of your base and giving convincing arguments on why they should back it. Long campaigns such as Patrons and Ko-fi require reminders that these options exist.

 

Risks and Returns

Every crowdfunding venture comes with rewards and risks. The rewards for you are obvious but sometimes the risks are hidden.

 

Costs

Many crowdfunding platforms take a cut of your funding. So if you were looking to make x you might want to pad that number some. Check the fine print to see what the platform charges and then be sure to fluff up your estimate just to be sure. In some crowdfunding venues you don’t get the money unless you reach the funding goal. If you’ve never run a campaign or are unsure of how to be successful, talk to those who have run campaigns or hire someone to run it for you.  

 

Products

If you are running a Kickstarter or a subscription based service, be sure you are delivering on your promises. People will understand if there are slight delays or small complications, but being overly tardy or not receiving a product at all will sour even the most die-hard fan.

 

Updates

This is a very important step in many crowdfunders. When people back a project or artist, they want to know that their money is going into the project. Updates through the fundraising platform or through emails is a great way to keep in touch of what’s going on. Even if things aren’t going as planned you can still update your fans. Plus you can also use the backers list to announce new projects or signal boost other projects similar to yours.

 

Crowdfunding can help authors and creatives achieve goals that they’d normally be unable to reach on their own. It’s a win-win situation for creatives and fans. You get the funding you need, and because the funding is spread out between fans, it’s a great option for those people who only have a few bucks to spend.

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