'Lo all. I've got something I really want to share with you today. It's something that's actually made me feel really good about people, and about creativity. I no longer feel like money can stop me from having good ideas.
Some of you may have already heard of KickStarter, but if you haven't, then let me tell you about it.
I was stumbling about on Facebook earlier today, and came across a post by Diesel & Juice. She makes wonderful illustrations of animals, some are premade, while some are custom, but all of them are just amazing. If I still had any furry little beasts I'd certainly solicite her services. But the post featured an image of her products as iPhone cases - something I hadn't seen in her shop yet.
Well, I followed the link above the image, and was led to this page.
The website, KickStarter, is a funding platform for projects (and can be used if you have a US bank account, but it is being extended for use in the UK this autumn). These can be used to create independant movies or pieces of art, or, as Diesel & Juice has done, a new line of independant (see: not mass produced) products. Etsy even has a page onthere.
You work out how much you need - in D&J's case, it's $7,500. I've seen amounts varying between $4,500 and $1,000,000 at just a brief glance at the website. Note from the beginning, however, that KickStarter takes 5%, and the payment method (Amazon Payments) takes 3-5% as well, so you have to be sure that you can cover that amount as well as see the project through.
Now, let me tell you the best parts: first of all, is that you can generally donate as little as $1 to a project. But you're not charged right away. It works like this: a goal is set up, for example $1,000. You use the page provided to talk about your work, and what the money will go towards. Pictures of the people or person behind the project are usually mandatory as well, for the same sort of reason that it's a good idea to have a picture of yourself on your Etsy About Page. You spread that page around on twitter, facebook, your blog and so on (but not in a spammy way). People see the link, go to the page, and are invited to read about the project, in much the same way I just presented the above Diesel & Juice page to you all.
Anyone is able to donate, from as little as $1, and the project funding page can be seen by anyone, and is easily accessible through the KickStarter website, meaning that complete strangers who agree with your idea can also donate easily as well as pre-existing fans.
But, the payment isn't taken right away. A deadline is set up with the target amount, and if that amount is not reached by the deadline date, then anyone who donated is not charged, and the person behind the project doesn't receive a penny. It's an "all or nothing" funding method.
More good news for contributors: KickStarter has a reward system. In D&J's case, for example, if you donate $1, you will receive an email with a video she made featuring her happy dance, and an appearance by her dog, Diesel. If you donate $5, you will receive a decal sticker of Diesel in her drawing style and a hand written note, as well as the video. If you donate $15, you get an "at-a-glance" calander featuring one of her artworks, as well as the sticker, note and video - these go all the way up to $500, which includes everything mentioned so far, a custom piece featuring 2 pets, and an iphone case with that same custom drawing. As well as other things I've not noted.
These rewards are chosen by the project leader, and work the same way as with donations: if the target amount is NOT reached, no donations will be taken, and neither will any of the rewards. This means that there is definitely something in it for contributors as well as for the project leader.
There is of course another few ways that makes it so good: if you have a great idea but you just can't afford to try it, you can set up funding (provided that you have actually done some planning for the project, maybe even have a prototype or something) through KickStarter, and if people think it's a good idea, you will receive the funding for the materials, enabling you to make the piece/s at no cost to yourself, which will encourage people to work on much grander things than clay jewellery or stuffed monsters.
It's also a good way to see if anyone's actually interested in your idea. If you're working on a new product or something, then it'll be a good way to see if anyone would actually buy it. If you don't get enough interest or enough funding, it's probably not worth it to try. If, however, you do get the interest and the funding, you've not lost out on much if they take a while to budge.
It's a great website all around, and, looking at it, a lot of projects get the full funding (the $1,000,000 example I gave earlier was one such success). It can encourage people to try bigger things since money won't stand in the way as much, and donators gain from helping - both in the form of helping a new piece of art or product come to life, and in gaining physical goods for themselves.
I can't realistically see any way that I would use the website, personally. I wouldn't know what sort of projects would be worth asking for funding. The only thing I can really think of would be to self-publish my writing, and if I was going to do that, then it would all be Grumble Cave Monsters-based. I want to take my real writing to agencies and do it the old fashioned way.
There are, of course, restrictions on what can and can't be used as a project for funding on the website, and, given the amount of money that you could get your hands on, there are a lot of guidelines - but if you have an idea, and it seemed outlandish, like a movie, it no longer is.
Bookmark the website. You never know when you might get a great idea. I certainly have.
Thank you, now you may go about your business.