“If you’ve got friends in creative places, you’ve probably been asked to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign.” That’s how I started the first installment back in January of our “best local crowd-funding” column Pumped Up Kicks, which returns this week with a cooking show from Meat Clothing LLC. Over six months later, that statement feels even truer. The chatter surrounding Kickstarter and similar platforms has drawn more and more cash-seekers to its promises of quick fundraising and audience building. The website’s role in financing worthy projects is impressive, but there’s danger of oversaturation. As the blog Your Kickstarter Sucks chronicles, the success stories may have been a bit too persuasive for anyone with a weed-fueled T-shirt concept or a too-half-assed-for-Etsy craft line to hit their friends up digitally for money.
Nothing as egregious as those projects appears among this city’s Kickstarters, but the recent stagnation of Pumped Up Kicks isn’t only because of my own laziness. Maybe I’m getting cynical, but I haven’t been seeing as many intriguing, original projects tagged “Minneapolis, MN” as I used to. Every single Kickstarter user I’ve questioned for the series has told me that running a campaign takes genuine work and dedication, not just throwing some poorly lit product photos online and sticking out your begging hand. The site’s increasing value as a fundraising option has, I think, fooled some would-be entrepreneurs into thinking that it’s an easy shortcut.
I’ve never built a crowd-funding campaign myself, but I do know how hard and unlikely it is to come up with unique, viable ideas, and I don’t think those should be squandered. So here–based on my criteria for featuring a project in Pumped Up Kicks–are three basic tips:
1. Set a realistic goal. I’ve steered clear of otherwise appealing projects because their monetary targets seemed far-fetched. You’ll only reap the reward if you reach that goal, so aim on the low side. Don’t assume you can get all of your money from Kickstarter–you might have to look into more traditional means like grants or small business loans.
2. Make a budget ahead of time, and include that in your Kickstarter description. I’ve always appreciated most the Kickstarters that tell me exactly how donations will be spent. Not even your mom wants to click “Back This Project” and see her money disappear into a void, so break down for your donors what each dollar raised will be used for.
3. Don’t make the page alone. You’re already going to be asking your friends for money, so it might seem extravagant to also hit them up for favors like editing your pitch or producing your video, or to pay for such services. But you need to make your page look professional and inviting. At the very least, if your project isn’t already a team effort, get someone who’s savvy and knows how to spell to look it over and offer suggestions before going live.
OK, that advice might seem dull, but that’s kind of the point! Kickstarter may be wondrous, but it’s no magical playground where money to do what you love falls from the sky: It still requires boring old practicality and effort. And, of course, you need to have a good idea to begin with–but I’m confident that the artists and innovators of Minneapolis won’t run out of those. If you’ve got one cooking now on Kickstarter or a similar website, like Indiegogo, let us know: email@example.com.
Coming soon on MPLS.TV: We talked with The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe and with new local magazine InCOLOR’s founding editor Tiffany Trawick, so watch for those interviews. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out our conversation with Iggy Azalea (filmed while she got her nails done) and the new City of Music featuring P.O.S.’ bone-rattling live performance of his single “Bumper.” Also catch up with our Fringe coverage–lots of show reviews by Nick Decker and Kevin Albertson–as well as a recipe for vegan scones from Babes in Soyland.
Offline, MPLS.TV is co-sponsoring this weekend’s Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, and our creative director Chris Cloud will take on other quick-thinking, sharp-tongued Minneapolitans tonight (Thursday) at The Loft Literary Center’s event The Ultimate Master of Words. See you around?