Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Kickstarting Your Project
Crowdsourcing as an option for photographers
Kickstarter uses a format known as the threshold pledge system, with a set goal that donors are asked to reach. The projects are presented on a social media-like page that introduces the general concept with text and a video that generally incorporates photos to describe the project in detail, and also what the project needs from fiduciaries to become fully realized. Kickstarter keeps the funds in escrow via Amazon Payments until the threshold is reached, and if it’s not, the investments are returned to the initial investors. Kickstarter funds itself by collecting 5% of the total amount raised, with Amazon taking an extra percentage for housing the funds. An important aspect to Kickstarter’s success is that it doesn’t claim ownership over projects, though after a project is finished, the respective pages are archived and can’t be edited or taken down because they’re then used as “successful” projects to effectively illustrate the potential of the site.
Kickstarter isn’t a way to raise a budget for your special effects-laden blockbuster movie idea, however. Presenters must pass a screening process in order to post their project, a concept that keeps the projects interesting to the Kickstarter audience and also ensures that projects fall within the overall concept of innovation that the site encourages. These aren’t multimillion dollar ideas, either. The majority of projects in the top-10 tier of Kickstarter money producers raised far less than $100,000, and most projected thresholds are within the range of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Projects must also belong to the creative arts sphere, which is limited to art, comics, food, dance, design, fashion, film, games, journalism, music, photography, publishing, technology and theater.
Crowdsourcing, also known as crowdsourced capital, isn’t an entirely new business model, but thanks to the Internet, it’s finally a viable one. THE GENERAL CONCEPT IS TO RAISE MONEY NOT FROM THE DEEP POCKETS OF A SINGLE INDIVIDUAL OR BUSINESS ENTITY, but rather through smaller pledges from a large group of people that combine cumulatively into a sizable amount.You can fund everything from initial startup costs for short-term or long-term projects to requests for printing costs of full-blown portfolio books. Pledges also can receive more than just the satisfaction of helping an artist in need. One-of-a-kind memorabilia, limited-edition prints, signed books and many other innovative ideas can be brought to the table by the creative team behind the project, but “rewards” are required by the site to engage the investors. While the Kickstarter guidelines explicitly state that charity projects or causes aren’t allowed, charity-driven organizations and benevolent projects obviously have a big leg up on Kickstarter. The public at large is much more apt to contribute to a project if they relate to a cause. Granted, and possible because of this very reason, like many charities Kickstarter could be a passing fad, especially as people are forbidden by the site from making money off of their investments. Right now, however, the site is garnering plenty of attention and plenty of dollars.
As of press time, Ludwig is still embroiled in preparations for his Chernobyl project. He was able to almost double his goal of $12,000, with a total sum of $23,316, thanks to more than 400 backers. This still wasn’t enough to cover the true costs of the project, however, as he had set a realistic threshold in order to be able to keep the entire amount of funds pledged to him through Kickstarter. Currently, he’s raising the rest of the estimated $25,000 that he needs, and once the project has been completed, we’ll revisit Ludwig and his important work in the pages of DPP.
To see more of Gerd Ludwig’s work, visit www.gerdludwig.com. Kickstarter can be found at www.kickstarter.com.
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