The seductive and delightful premise of Kickstarter, and the new trend of crowdfunding in general, goes like this:
You dream up a creative project — a cool event, a clever new tech object, a book, an album, a documentary. Then you roll up your sleeves, and with enough cunning and moxie you persuade the Internet to bankroll your dream. Thanks to financial backing from Internet denizens, your dream becomes a reality and, with a lot of blood and sweat, you can finally create what seemed an impossibility before.
The bad news: This involves a lot of hard work! You’ll have to create a promotional campaign, make an awesome video, devise neat “rewards” for your donors, and so on. Running a really good campaign on behalf of a crowdfunding project is a project in itself.
So it makes sense that as crowdfunding has gotten to be a more popular idea, a variety of expert services have popped up to help. Turns out you can now farm out major portions of your crowdfunding project to third parties.
Wait a minute — doesn’t hiring a bunch of ringers to execute the details of your campaign kind of violate the DIY spirit of crowdfunding? Uh, yeah, well, probably, sure.
But whatever! Here’s a handy guide to outsourcing as much of your DIY crowdfunding effort as possible:
1. Want to offer T-shirts as a reward, but don’t feel like actually making and shipping T-shirts? Check out tee launch, which promises to handle all of that for you: “Why pack and ship your Kickstarter rewards yourself?” its site asks. “Let tee launch do all the work.” That’s what these successful campaigns did.
2. Know you should make a promo video, but you don’t feel up to it? Consider We Make Videos, whose services include “Kickstarter video production.” According to its site, the company is “experienced in helping companies get funded and many times that happens through Kickstarter!” A slew of its crowdfunding videos can be found here. Not sold? Check out these alternative studios, as suggested by the Q&A site Quora.
3. At a loss about how to promote your campaign in general? No problem: Several promo/PR outfits now focus on the crowdfunding market.
Notably: Breadpig, co-founded by Alexis Ohanian of reddit fame, and staffed by a crew of Web culture savants, offers advice to crowdfunders on reward strategies, keeping backers revved up, generating press and publicity, and so on. It will also “review, or even write, campaign copy and updates.” Sounds like you can practically take the month off!
But depending on just how much promotional work you care to farm out for a fee, you might shop around. Command Partners bills itself as “one of the first agencies in the industry to specialize in crowdfunding,” and Agency 2.0 is “a crowdfunding PR agency, Kickstarter marketing and digital media agency.” Even the big-league ad agency Fallon now has a division that specializes in “venture storytelling for promising crowdfunding projects.”
4. Not really interested in hassling with your backers once you’ve got their money? “What many people don’t realize about crowdfunding: raising money is actually the easy part,” says BackerKit, which offers a suite of services for communicating with and handling your massive fan base with as little effort as possible. Lots of crowdfunders have signed on.
Now, it may occur to some of you that if you had enough money to hire all these entities, you wouldn’t be begging the crowd for funding in the first place. A fair point.
But perhaps the emergence of what looks like a burgeoning secondary industry — largely overlooked in most stories about the crowdfunding idea, so far as I can tell — suggests that the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo are a permanent new feature of the creative-business landscape.
(Obviously many crowdfunders always relied on third-party help for actual manufacturing and the like, but it’s notable that entities explicitly devoted to the making of crowdfunded objects have sprung up, too: See Make That Thing, Dragon Innovation, and the like.)
Kickstarter and Indiegogo, once lauded for enabling entrepreneurs and artists, are now enabling entire cottage industries of their own, feeding off those entrepreneurs and artists themselves.
There’s something jarring about the realization that the ecosystem has gotten this thorough and sophisticated this fast. If you loved the DIY spirit of crowdfunding’s early days, you may have mixed feelings about the DIWHH — Do It With Hired Help — era.
But, clearly, that’s where we are. Given all these for-hire services, all you really need is an idea for a project.
And if you’re stumped, I’ll sell you one.