‘Money makes the world go round.’ It’s one of those adages that we writers might be reluctant to admit is true. And for those engaged in writing-for-its-own-sake with no desire to make any sort of living out of it, it’s okay to believe – pardon my chucking out another cliché – that money is the root of all evil.
But for a lot of us, we do have a desire or need to be commercially successful. It might be that we’ve been made redundant from our previously lucrative career and have to pay the rent. Or that we’ve chosen to leave a previously lucrative career and have to pay the rent. Or it might just be for some good old-fashioned validation…and money talks (cliché number 3).
As we know, especially those of us who have looked into making a living from our words, the most traditional methods are write a novel and get it published or write a movie and sell it to a producer. Unfortunately, neither of these are the easiest thing to achieve. Thankfully, with both self-publishing and independent film-making becoming more attainable, the need for publisher- or producer-backing is no longer absolute.
Of course, we do still need some money to support our creative venture and, for those of us who didn’t find a hundred-grand cheque under our pillows recently, crowd funding might be the answer.
Crowdfunding is the practice of getting a number of people to each make a small investment in a project until it all comes together to make the project financially viable. Crowdfunding has actually existed since the seventeenth century, used mostly by corporations in its early derivations. But since the invention of the internet, and especially in the last ten years or so, it has become very much a tool for the masses.
Kickstarter is the name everyone associates with crowdfunding, especially since actor Zach Braff used it recently to bring together a cool million dollars for his independent film project. But we Irish seekers-of-funds will quickly realise that Kickstarter is not for us as, currently, it’s only available in the US, the UK and Canada.
Despair ye not – there is no shortage of funding platforms in this country – well, four, at the moment. But before we get into talking about the places we can go to ask our friends, family and complete strangers for money, it might a good idea to look at how crowdfunding works and how we might set up and run a campaign.
Forbes Magazine gives us the broad strokes of what it’s all about and suggests that it’s actually a powerful enough tool to potentially help the recovery of a country’s economy. On Forbes.com, it is suggested that crowdfunding allows individuals to showcase a product or service to the world using sharp description, video and images and to tempt others to invest by offering rewards – anything from a souvenir to part-ownership of a company.
On her website writeontrack.ie, Lorna Sixsmith talks us through her journey of being a crowd-funder and offers advice on how to set up and maintain a campaign. She also goes into some detail as to why people pledge to these projects. This will help you design your campaign including, mostly importantly, the pitch.
Alon Goren from Invest.in gives us five great tips on crowdfunding in his no-frills film. He suggests, for example, that we need to be realistic in the rewards we give our investors. For example, if we’re only giving a free copy of our self-published book, we can’t really ask people to invest hundreds of euros. He also suggests that we pay close attention to our project so that if, for example, our potential investors ask a question or request an update through the project’s website, we need to make sure that we’re there to answer that question and give that update.
Crowdfunding might not be for every venture – the key to winning interest is to have an original project – ideally one that has ‘wowing’ capacity. The singer Bjork is a good example of what not to do. She set up a fund to support the development of a phone app. But, when all was said-and-done, all it was, was a companion app to her existing album, an album that had already achieved the lion’s share of its sales. So development of the app didn’t exactly blow anyone’s skirt up, certainly not enough to make them hand over their hard-earned cash.
So now that we know the ‘Do’s and ‘Do-Not-Do’s of crowdfunding, where do we actually go to get this sought-after backing? As mentioned, there seem to be four choices in Ireland.
The front-runner is FundIt.ie. It’s been around a while and has a very encouraging, intuitive and transparent environment, supporting crowdfunding to all creative endeavours from arts, crafts and design to novel-, film- and computer-game-writing. There is a fair bit of work to do to create a project that will pass muster on the site. But putting in the work now will help us determine how serious we are about our project and whether its ready for this next step – it will, ultimately, help us get the funding we’re looking for. Fundit.ie are happy to help us put all the necessary content in place (help us, not do it for us) and they give plenty of advice as to how to create an attractive ‘fund-worthy’ project.
Hot off the presses is news of a crowdfunding service aimed solely at the writing community. (I know, the excitement.) It’s offered by Wattpad, the writers’ social networking site, which, it has to said, has always been brilliant for offering useful and entertaining services, such as a platform to publish stories, a blog and even a regular award ceremony for the best published stories. This new fan-funding (as they call it) feature is currently running with a small group of loyal Wattpad writers – it will no doubt expand if this experimental phase is successful – who have pitched their story projects on the site. The rest of us can support our preferred project through pledges, in exchange for rewards and, of course, that warm fuzzy feeling from helping a fellow writer succeed.
LinkedFinance.com isn’t technically a crowdfunding service as, by using it, we’re actually looking for just one investor to get involved in our project, not a crowd. We’re appealing to the larger-scale venture-capitalist of the world, hoping to find one to pair up with us and essentially be an ‘angel-investor’ or ‘dragon’. We might also be also looking for them to be a mentor for us during the duration of the project, so finding one willing to fill this role, as well as invest a few thousand (or more) into our self-publishing or film-producing endeavour will be a challenge. It could prove very lucrative though, not to mention invaluable when it comes creating new business relationships.
ifund.ie tell us that they’re the longest-running crowdfunding website in Ireland. Unfortunately, there seems to have been only nine projects ever set up on it, all of which are now finished and only one was successfully funded. Setting up and running a campaign on iFund is free but all donations/investments are through Paypal which do charge for transactions.
“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” – Oscar Wilde
So What Is It Exactly?
Forbes Magazine’s run-down on the basics of Crowdfunding.
“Crowdfunding offers a chance at success, by showcasing businesses and projects to the entire world.”
The Secret Of My Success.
Lorna Sixsmith talks about her crowd-funder journey.
“People are philanthropic and like to see projects come to life that might not if it wasn’t for crowdfunding. People like to help others.”
Five Is The Magic Number.
From Invest.in, Alon Goren‘s short film gives us five top tips on running a crowdfunding campaign.
“Be realistic when choosing your rewards. What you give back is very very very important.”
When Crowdfunding Goes Bad.
As Bjork found out the hard way, crowdfunding might not suit every creative project.
“Crowdfunding monetizes loyalty but you still need a lot of ducks in a lot of rows to have a successful crowdfunding campaign.”
Top Of The Heap.
Fund it is a crowdfunding website for Ireland’s creative projects, and has been tried and tested by some of our most innovative creators including Kerrie O’Brien (Bare Hands Poetry) and Peadar O’Donoghue (The Poetry Bus).
“Fund it is designed to support greater individual giving to the creative sector; an area that up until now has been under-utilised.”
The long-running writing-community website Wattpad recent launched its crowdfunding service.
“Fan funding is a new experiment that lets you connect with your favorite writers in an entirely new way.”
Is it Crowdfunding? Well, not exactly.
Use LinkedFinance to find your very own ‘angel-investor’ or ‘dragon’.
“Where businesses looking for funding can meet real people looking to lend.”
You Fund? iFund.
iFund is a free crowdfunding website.
“By iFund-ing each other, we can enable business start-ups, local initiatives and much much more to flourish in Ireland.”