In recent years, with the growth of social media and connectivity, people no longer have to rely on larger companies or grants to get their personal or professional projects funded. Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter have collectively already raised $34 billion globally in 2020.
Once seen as ‘charity’, crowd-funding is now fast becoming a solution that artists, creators, and entrepreneurs can use to accumulate funding for visionary ideas, new technology, unique products, personal needs, and niche offers that would ordinarily struggle to get the attention or funding from the traditional channels.
Indeed, some crowdfunding campaigns have gone on to become massively successful, multimillion-dollar businesses. To give one example, Oculus VR virtual reality goggles started out with a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that raised $2,437,429 USD. The company was later acquired by Facebook in 2014 and was forecast to amount to 4.95 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2019.
So for those looking for funding, what is it that creates a successful crowdfunding campaign? How do you get people to back your project and pledge?
We caught up with Ian Mackenzie, New Paradigm visionary artist, filmmaker, writer, speaker, and facilitator, to talk about ways in which artists can use models like crowdfunding to bring their ideas and gifts to the world. We also discussed Ian’s unique take on the current pandemic, his journey to becoming a filmmaker, and deconstructing the cultural narratives that we live by.
Ian has taught the subject of crowdfunding online for 6 years, through webinars and online courses like ‘Crowdfunding for Social Change’. He is an authority on what it takes to stand out and get funded and has some advice for readers looking to get funded via crowdfunding.
Here are three things to focus on in order to run a successful crowdfunding campaign
For Ian, it’s more important to know who you serve and cater to them, rather than try to be everything for everyone.
“Maybe there’s only a hundred people on the planet that would love what you do, the very specific thing you do, and it’s better to aim at them than to try to appeal to the masses and draw in ‘kind of interested’ people,” he says.
Ian talks about resonance, and how that ‘resonance’ between you and your people is what matters – “you actually want somebody who is aligned with and interested in what you’re doing… you don’t want somebody who is kind of interested or has to be seduced into it because they’re always gonna be a tension, they’re not going to be that satisfied…”
Cast aside the ‘rhetorics of success’ based on the current market
For Ian, resonating with your target audience is more important that ‘selling x amount’ or ‘hitting six figures’ or whatever the rhetorics of success of the current paradigm are.
Ian stresses that you don’t need thousands of people flocking to your page or to be pandering to a certain standard of what success is in order to be successful – “when you are liberated to reach out and make contact with the very specific fans and people that really jive with what you do, you recognize that you really don’t need that many people to support you, to keep going… it’s actually a relatively modest amount of numbers… Patreon is a really great example of that…”
Tell a compelling story and focus on the WHY
According to Ian, “ Everybody has an interesting story if it’s told in a way that really highlights its compelling nature…it does really come down to, can you tell a compelling story?”
Your job as an artist or a creator is to “excavate what is true” and to compel people to act by interacting with their emotions through sharing the personal level of what you do – “how would describe what it is you do over dinner? Something personal about that that really connects…why do you do what you do, what’s so compelling about it for you?’
“Your task as you craft your offering is to bring that level of passion that people can feel – oh wow, you’re really passionate about this – because it evokes the principle of resonance…” and resonance is precisely what pulls the ‘aligned’ people to you, which we already touched on in point 1.
Check out Ian’s podcast, documentaries, blog posts and Patreon account here
Take Ian’s donation-based webinar – Patreon for Artists