Crowdfunding – an alternative way to fund your creative project?

Following a fantastic Enterprise Thursday discussion yesterday around the Creative CV Guide, we touched on the idea of crowdfunding as an alternative way to fund your creative project.

I’m not a crowdfunding expert, but there are a lot of useful resources out there, so this just outlines some key ideas around crowdfunding projects and signposts to more detail.

UK Crowdfunding describes crowdfunding as:

a way of raising finance by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money. Traditionally, financing a business, project or venture involved asking a few people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding switches this idea around, using the internet to talk to thousands – if not millions – of potential funders.

Artquest offer some useful information in their How-to guide to Crowdfunding, which is aimed at creative artists and is a good starting point to find out more about how crowdfunding works.

There are many crowdfunding sites. One of the most popular for creatives is Patreon, which offers specific information for visual artists. Other well-known sites are Kickstarterand Indiegogo. 

For those interested in socially engaged practice, there are also specialist crowdfunding sites for non-profits.

All have pros and cons (and all have genuinely helpful resources on their websites which equally, tend to promote their own product). All have slightly different models. Patreon produces a useful comparison of the ‘big three’ sites on their blog.  Livewire (a tech blog) has an interesting comparison of Kickstarter and Indiegogo and a post about Patreon.

Some HCA graduates already use crowdfunding sites. Here’s Holland Otik’s amazing site on Patreon.

One of the pieces of information about crowdfunding that most seem to agree with is that you are at a huge advantage if you already have a well-established social media network (or ‘live’ network who you can signpost to your site). Looking around the crowdfunding sites it’s easy to see that although some make their ‘targets’, many more do not.

It’s also worth mentioning that when I looked across the sites, it’s clear to see that the more successful sites have thought hard about how they appear on-site, and use words and images well together, with a clear statement and purpose.

One of the considerations that we touched on in our conversation on Thursday, and might be worth thinking about, is how unique some of the material objects and practices at HCA are – all those beautiful, diverse, curious things being made by current students and grads. This uniqueness, at first glance, doesn’t speak to the often disembodied world of crowdfunding sites, which tend to ‘unlock’ videos or posts more than they make ceramics.

However, material objects can be a part of this world, as does curiosity and bravery. And if you have a big project you’re planning then this is a clear goal or target that would be easy and understandable for a diverse audience to understand and support.

So, it might just be worth considering – and if you do give crowdfunding a try, and have a story to tell, please post on our opportunities board (so we know about your venture) or email me if you’d like to write a blog post about your experience.

And, if you’re interested in how crowdfunding might ‘fit’ with other funding sources, there’s a great blog post on Enterprise Nation, which looks at 13 ways to fund your small business (crowdfunding being one of these).

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