Sickness always makes people do strange things. A couple of weeks ago, fueled by a head full of cold medicine and a heart filled with “try it and see what happens” (one of the unofficial mantras of the MCDM) I decided to submit a proposal for a Kickstarter project. Had the process taken more than 15 minutes, I probably wouldn’t have submitted my proposal, but it did take just 15 minutes. After hearing a couple of stories from friends who had projects rejected, I fully expected the same result.
A few days later, I got an email saying my project was approved. Interesting. Not what I expected. I later learned at they accept roughly 60% of the projects submitted weekly (which is about 2000) so I’m not unique, but the Kickstarter people at least see some potential in my project.
Just what is my project? I want to build a web series that focuses on teaching people how to make cocktails at home. In the past few years there has been huge interest in people trying to eat better and not nearly as much interest in people drinking better. How many cooking shows are there? Plenty. How many cocktailing shows are there? A handful on the web. I want to build a web show that is designed for consumption via high-definition TV (what I consider to be the future of web programming) and I need money to buy equipment for the all HD production—probably a few thousand dollars.
I had so many questions as I stared at the blank fields required to build my project: will people give me money for this project? Why would they give money to somebody they don’t know? Why is Kickstarter doing so well? Is this the new model for product (or content) development? Being an alumnus of the Mater of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington, I’m as interested in the Kickstarter model as I am in making my own project successful.
Started in 2008, Kickstarter has had a number of recent successes. The Doublefine video game project currently running on Kickstarter has raised more money than any other project. Kickstarter recently predicted that they’ll facilitate about $150 million in funding in 2012, which is more than the National Endowment of the Arts. This is a big deal.
I’ve been thinking about why Kickstarter is enjoying so much success and I think it stems from two main motivators. The first is strength in numbers. With the safety net in place that no money changes hands unless the project funding goal is met, you know that you’ll only be spending money if enough other people (who, are naturally as smart and forward thinking as you) sign on to the project. The other motivator is the concept of patronage. Throughout the ages, royalty has patronized the arts, albeit not always by means modern society would deem proper, and I think we’re seeing a modern version of this concept play out with Kickstarter.
People love the feeling that they are discovering something new, exciting and exclusive. Projects that can play off of these feelings are well suited to be successful on Kickstarter. I’m trying to figure out what emotions my project plays on.
I’ve been grappling with the above question as I build my project. Who would want to give money? I think I can get some people from the cocktail community to support me, as well as people who are interested in good food, but I think the support of my social networks will critical.
I’ve been planning my rewards, figuring out what could be interesting to people, what could motivate them contribute money towards my project. I’ve got some feel-good rewards and some material goods and some experience items. My big selling point for this project is that I’m designing original, high-quality content for an underserved audience.
I recently launched my Better Cocktails at Home project on Kickstarter. Please check it and let me know what you think (or even contribute if you’re interested in cocktails.)
Whether I reach my goal or not, this is going to a fun adventure. Follow along as I run my project with blog posts here on Flip the Media as well as on Twitter.