Writing Tips

Fundraising for Writers

Patreon, Kickstarter, GoFundMe; the trio of “Give me money!” is very popular right now. Do any of these actually benefit writers though? I’ll talk about all three, and the impact they can have on you as a writer, as well as personal experience and discussions with other writers.

 

GoFundMe

 

GoFundMe is the number one crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events such as celebrations, graduations, and challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses. It’s been running for eight years and is obviously successful.

This form of crowdfunding is vastly more popular for families or individuals who have had serious medical emergencies or suffered great loss. However, from a writer’s standpoint, you won’t find much support from the GoFundMe crowd if you asked for money to help market or pay a cover designer.

Pros

  1. World’s largest charitable crowdfunding site
  2. GoFundMe eliminated their 5% platform fee
  3. Nonprofit crowdfunding also available
  4. Can collect funds without meeting your goal
  5. Free downloadable app for campaigners
  6. Accessible to anyone on any social media platform

Cons

  1. Poor customer support
  2. Must give your SSN to withdraw funds
  3. Some campaigners have trouble withdrawing funds
  4. Better suited for serious medical emergencies or those that have suffered great loss.

I know several people who have had, or do have, a GoFundMe account and, despite the hundreds of writers I know, the only successful GFM’s I’ve encountered were illness or death related.

 

Patreon

Patreon is a mix between a kickstarter and a subscription. It’s aimed at fundraising for long-term projects that include recurring creations. It’s been around for five years, and processes over one million in pledges every month. It’s good if you have an established fanbase. I’ve scoured at least eight writer groups for discussions on Patreon and 9/10 of them are negative in reference to writers.

Pros

  1. Patreon may be the only subscription processing service that doesn’t charge money up front. It also takes PayPal and credit cards
  2. Patreon creates a link between you and your greatest fans, which gives you a new layer of interactivity.
  3. Consistent money stream.
  4. Allows you to leverage many small donations to raise a larger total amount.

Cons

  1. The BIGGEST con for writers: If you don’t have an established following, or something people are really excited about/interested in from the get go, your Patreon will probably fail. This is the main downside, especially new writers who are hoping to get money for their work without being published or known yet.
  1. While Kickstarter dedicates their pages to introducing people to the various projects they are hosting, Patreon’s home page is dedicated to introducing people to Patreon and convincing people sign up rather than introducing them to the people using the service.
  1. Monthly subscriptions process even with no new content. This can be an issue for those subscribing to a creator.
  2. Not a good route for getting a project started, it’s long term.

In short, it will do well if you have a loyal following from the get go and have interesting or fun prizes for the patrons, but without it will be difficult to find success. I’ve seen illustrators, writers, and sculptors with Patreon accounts, and honestly the sculptor is the only one who is succeeding.

 

 

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a fundraising platform that is entirely driven by crowdfunding, meaning the general public. Started nine years ago, it was created as a way help bring creative projects to life. Backers are given prizes based on the amount they give, sort of like Patreon but it’s a one-time deal. You can stay in contact with your backers and refer to them for future feedback as well.

Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal. It has been used–to great success–by a number of writers. Kickstarter even has a dedicated publishing category, where you can browse literary-minded projects, from proposals for self-published novels to anthologies and literary guides. There are cons to it, but let’s start with the pros.

Pros

  1. You do not have to fulfill the rewards unless you reach your funding goal.
  2. The platform often helps you promote your campaign and your brand
  3. Over 12 million people have previously backed a Kickstarter campaign. This makes it easier to raise money as potential funders already understand how crowdfunding works.
  4. There is a lot of excitement around the launch and success of a crowdfunding campaign. This has created an active and helpful community. There are a ton of resources online (good and bad) about how to successfully launch a campaign.
  5. Allows you to leverage many small donations to raise a larger total amount.
  6. If your idea is terrible, you’ll quickly find out because no one will back your project. It allows you to take an idea and get funding in less than a month. It can be a quick way to raise money and get started actually fulfilling your campaign promises.
  7. If you are looking to start a business, it allows you to launch your idea quickly with minimal personal financial investment.

Cons

  1. If you do not already have a large audience, it will take a considerable amount of time to market your campaign.
  2. Most platforms have strict rules that gives you less control over your project. For example, Kickstarter has the following set of rules:
  3. Projects must fit in their categories
  4. Projects must have tangible thing to share
  5. You cannot fundraise for charity on Kickstarter
  6. Kickstarter only operates in a few countries.
  7. Most platforms do not allow you access to pledged money until the end of the campaign. This means you have to wait until your project is over to get the money pledged. This could be as long as 60 days depending on the duration of your campaign.

 

Kickstarter is a great way to get off the ground with a project, as long as your goal isn’t too high and you have a cause people want to help with.  It’s how Pixie Forest Publishing was started, thanks to the generous support from the combined followers of my co-owner and myself.

 

Conclusion

This article is not written to deter you from trying, but rather to inform you. There are more ways to raise funds, but as a writer you need to look at the overall picture before committing to one, if any. What do you need? A steady flow of income? A jumpstart? Do you have a big enough following, or a cause people can believe in and support? Do your research, be honest, and never, ever, stop writing.

Go forth and conquer

-Jensen

 

 

 

Sources

http://refinancegold.com/crowd-funding/pros-cons-gofundme
https://www.gofundme.com/
https://www.patreon.com/
https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-kickstarter-3486258
https://www.kickstarter.com/
https://fundbeam.com/pros-cons-crowdfunding/
https://litreactor.com/columns/on-the-pros-and-cons-of-kickstarter-as-a-tool-for-writers

 

 

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