A few years ago, you may never have even heard of the term crowdfunding or crowd sourced material. The idea is simple: A crowd of people fund your project. And when executed thoughtfully, it can work. In a truly democratic manner, online fundraising provides the means for an entrepreneur to engage with people from all over the world.
See below for crowdfunding tips, and read more about Tijeras, New Mexico, pastelist Nance McManus’ success story in the February 2014 issue of Pastel Journal.
4 Crowdfunding Principles
By Deborah Secor, pastel artist, workshop instructor and Pastel Journal contributor
To have success in a crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to remember four things:
Take the time to look at successful and unsuccessful campaigns in all disciplines before you start. Ask yourself who might invest in your idea and how you could interest them. Your goal may be anything: a show, continued education, a new series of paintings, a travel opportunity, instructional materials or a book. Think creatively but realistically, envisioning the outcome. Analyze what would work for your project and what might cripple it.
Once you’ve decided on your project, read through all of the guidelines and advice the crowdfunding site offers. Calculate the costs of all the elements involved as closely as you can to determine your budget goal. Choose what types of rewards you’ll offer backers. Make your incentives creative and attractive to involve many people at all levels, including those who might only invest a few dollars. Make a realistic timeline and add extra time to accommodate unexpected delays.
Make sure your campaign page tells your story from start to finish succinctly and clearly, including the written description and a video, if you use one. Once your campaign is online, contact those on your mailing list, especially your family, friends and collectors, to let them know about this exciting opportunity. Use social media and other Internet strategies to link people to the campaign page. Keep the excitement going throughout the campaign by regularly reaching out to people in various ways.
4. Follow Through
After your project is completely funded, be sure to let your supporters know what’s happening, especially if there are any delays in shipping the rewards or in implementing the project. It’s up to you to complete what you’ve promised in a timely manner. Use your success to generate even more interest in your art by letting everyone know the results and how gratifying the hard work has been.
By Nance McManus, Tijeras, New Mexico, pastelist and author of her crowdfunded book, Pastel Passion: Birds
- When the project involves your artwork, be sure to start photographing it ahead of time. Shoot your art clearly and at high resolution, using TIFF or RAW format. The more information you’ve recorded, the easier it will be to edit the images for publishing.
- Sit down and make a business plan or outline. If you can’t focus on a plan, you won’t be able to focus on the whole project.
- It’s necessary to be computer-literate and comfortable working online. You’ll spend a lot of time there.
- A video isn’t required, but it’s very helpful. Look at other videos for ideas. Keep it simple.
- The reward you offer supporters has to be tangible. It’s what attracts people to invest in the campaign.
- Be prepared: You’ll have to set up an account with the fundraising site, which will be linked to your checking account.
- You have to wait until the campaign ends to collect the money. Keep the deadline short.
- Ask friends for help. Do you know someone who could write the description? Make the video? Or help with budgeting the project? You can thank them publicly.
- Cultivate a good email list. Friends, family and your art collectors will be the first to support you.
- Remember: This is not free money. You will work for every bit of it.
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