Times are tough. The economy is in bad shape. Its hard to get a small business loan. And even harder to gain trust for a large project that may seem a little risky to some. So how are people doing it? Through crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is described as the collective cooperation by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or companies. It can occur for a variety of purposes, from disaster relief, to world help, to artists seeking support from fans, to start-up capital for new businesses.

The great thing about crowd funding is it can work in many different ways. It can come in the form of donations. It can come in the form of small loans. Or it can come in the form of exchanging funds now in exchange for a final output at the end of the term.

I reviewed KickStarter a while back in How A Photographer Can Find Money For A Project. I’ve also been a part of a great program, Kiva, for many months now, and love giving small loans to business owners around the world.

While KickStarter is a great crowdfunding source for photographers, it isn’t the only option.

ChipIn – If you already have a great fan base, and they love what you do and are willing to support you in your endeavors, ChipIn might be the perfect solution for you. ChipIn is a widget you can quickly build and add to your website or blog, and it will showcase how close you are to your goal.

IndieGoGo – This is another crowdfunding source that targets photographers as one of their categories. Its very similar to KickStarter, and allows you to build your project by setting up and offering your “investors” different parts of the project.

RocketHub – This site is slightly different than IndieGoGo and KickStarter, and offers you the chance at various artistic opportunities. It’s a community specifically build for independent artists and entrepreneurs, and provides a way to discover and support innovative work. One of the examples they use on their site is for the Artsicle Photography Show in New York City, which was an opportunity for five photographers to have their photographs exhibited at a Chelsea gallery.

While there are many ways to use crowdfunding to support your next project, there are key things you should keep in mind if you are considering this as an option.

1. Develop your project so that others will find it intriguing. While you will have passion towards your new idea, your audience may not see your project the way you do. Discuss it with several people around you before you post to a crowdfunding site to make sure its appealing to the masses.

2. If your project is centered around a cause, connect with people who blog on your cause, and see if they are willing to talk about your project. You may offer them something special for motivation.

3. You are your own marketer and publicist. You can’t put an idea on a crowdfunding site and expect to become 100 percent funded with no work. This is your product/service and you will have to stretch beyond this one site, and tell people your idea exists.

4. Provide meaningful donation rewards. People love to help out a cause, especially if they get something in return. An autographed photograph is a great motivational tool, and you can change up the sizes depending on donations.

5. Find and review several other programs as you are planning your own. Search the sites mentioned above, plus any other crowdfunding site you come across, and review what others ask for and provide as rewards. This may help you in planning and coming up with your own ideas.

6. What is crowdfunding? Many people have never heard of this term. If you talk about it on your blog, Facebook, etc, make sure you have a link on your site that explains the overall concept. This is a great time to bring out the video as well, and create your own unique video for YouTube.

7. Spread the word. Always have a way of sharing your message with others. While social media makes it easy, if you are out in your community, you’ll have to provide other ways of sharing your message. Consider having special business or postcards made that you can freely hand out.

Have you every tried crowdfunding yourself? I would love to hear below about your projects, an what kind of results you experienced.

 

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