Your creative mind is working serious overtime. You know you have some great ideas. If only you could bring those projects to life… but creative projects require money to even get off the ground, let alone complete, and, well, you have no idea how to come up with the funds to exercise your creativity and bring your ideas to fruition. Think Kickstarter.

Launched in 2009, Kickstarter is the largest and most unique crowd funding platform on the internet today. Currently operated by seventy-five dedicated individuals in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (New York, USA). You will not just create a profile page, share it with friends, and hope for the best. Kickstarter offers tutorials, support, and a plethora of information to help you create a detailed project page and to successfully fund your project. The site is simple and user-friendly, and you will not be bogged down reading thousands of lines of legalese within their terms and conditions, FAQs, and guidelines. The wording is straightforward, plain English, helping you to understand things quickly so you can get the ball rolling on your next creative project.

Mission Statement

Kickstarter's mission is straightforward and simple - “To bring creative projects to life.” So, if you are an independent artist – or even a group of artists involved in a team project - whether you are writing a book, planning an art show, making a film, or something else, Kickstarter is the website for your funding. There are a few restrictions and guidelines, but overall, most projects are welcome. Moreover, this site does not charge you to become a member, and they only charge a small commission on successfully funded projects. Best of all, all artists retain exclusive ownership of their work. You simply set up your page and seek funding, offering a small end reward to backers for their loyal support.

What is Crowd Funding?

In general, crow funding is a public fundraising platform designed for the average person to raise money for specific purposes. There are several crowd funding websites on the internet these days, as well as software designed to create your own crowd funding venue. Users create a profile explaining a little about themselves and the reason they want to raise money. This can be done for almost any reason, as long as it is legal and within the individual web site's guidelines. Many people use these sites to raise money for a cause, to obtain financial help due to health problems or for a specific need, for educational expenses, and for creative projects as well.

Crowd Funding is Not Exactly a New Age Concept

Crowd Funding has been utilized by artists for centuries. Mark Twain, Beethoven, Mozart, and many others solicited financial backing in a similar manner. Often, those who supported their work on this smaller scale were rewarded for their patronage with a first edition or special edition copy of the work or some other small token of appreciation. Kickstarter allows artists to reward their backers as well, although some conditions do apply.

How is Kickstarter Different from Conventional Crowd Funding?

Kickstarter only allows funding for creative projects. You may not raise money for a cause or for personal financial needs. Unlike many similar sites, while the use of social media is highly recommended, Kickstarter does do a good job of presenting projects to prospective backers by displaying them on their site and inviting site users to back a project, as well as featuring select projects in their e-mail newsletter. Kickstarter's expectation is that a project equals production – reaching a set goal and delivering on any promises associated with that goal. Those who fail to meet their goal are expected to cancel their project and ensure the funds are sent back to the backers whose expectations will not be fulfilled.

Approved Project Categories

Remember, Kickstarter is for creative projects. Therefore, the web site only supports projects that fit into their specific categories: art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater. Of course, this is a broad range of categories, encompassing nearly limitless possibilities for creative projects. There are a few additional guidelines in place for hardware and product design projects, and all projects must go through an administrative review process before becoming active on-site.

How Kickstarter Works

First, sign up for free and set up your profile and project page. In order to launch the project, you will need to set up an Amazon payment account, providing your tax information and completing the verification process. All payments will be sent to this account, which is connected to your external bank account. Additionally, depending on your project, amount of funding raised, and deductible project expenses, your funds may be subject to taxation. If you raise more than $200,000 and have more than two-hundred transactions in a single calendar year, Kickstarter will send you a 1099-K to file with the Internal Revenue Service (in the US; tax laws vary for other countries). Tax implications vary from individual to individual, so it is advisable to speak with an accountant, tax lawyer, or other financial adviser.

Unlike many crowd funding web sites, Kickstarter does not require you to meet your goal or to have a substantial amount available before providing payouts. All funding goes into your Amazon Payments account, and while the deposits for new accounts take about two weeks, after six months meeting certain criteria, deposits into your bank account typically occur within a couple of business days. It is best if you set up a savings account, separate from any bank account used for personal everyday expenses, so you can better track, save, and utilize your project funds.

While it is true that Kickstarter assists project creators in getting their projects in front of prospective backers, users are advised to make the most of their fundraiser by using social media and other means of advertising. This gives web site users a head start and can help them to raise the money they need by alerting friends, family, colleagues, and others in their network about the project.

Fees for Funding

Kickstarter charges a nominal five percent commission on the funds collected and only when a project is successfully funded.

How to Create a Winning Kickstarter Project Page

A stellar, detailed profile will receive far more attention than one that seems sloppy and hastily thrown together. That being said, you want to put more effort into your profile than a simple “Hi. This is my profile. This is my project. Now give me money.” The basic Kickstarter profile page asks for minimal information: your name, location and time zone, a brief biography, and a photograph. While this is not your project page, you should put some effort into the profile itself, ensuring that potential backers get a strong sense of who you are and what you are doing. This does not mean you should tell your life story inside that tiny little box. However, you should be creative and offer some insight into who you are and what you are passionate about. You will also want to include a real photograph of yourself so backers know you are serious and are not scamming people.

Your project page begins when you click the “Start” icon on the top left side of the screen. Any project page you create should be clear and concise, and it must fit into one of Kickstarter's approved categories. Additionally, it must comply with the web site's project guidelines. When setting up your project, details are crucial. You should not give away every element of your project; after all, you do not want anyone else taking credit for your ideas. However, you will want to convey the basic concept of your project, as well as the results you aim to achieve. Including photos and videos are an option and one you should definitely consider. You should also set realistic goals regarding the amount of funding required and your estimated project completion date.

Staff Picks

Create an enticing project page, offering plenty of detailed information, as well as photos and videos, and you may have the opportunity to see your project become one of Kickstarter's Staff Picks. These are featured projects that the website administrators have reviewed, approved, and decided they love. Your project may be featured on the site, as well as in their newsletter, where it will be seen by millions of potential backers outside of your own social circle.

Project Guidelines

Kickstarter's guidelines are fairly simple. They do not present a ton of restrictions, but like any crowd funding site, they do have to set some standards to protect their interests, project backers, and fundraisers as well. The web site is currently only available to project creators in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. All site users must be 18 years of age or older, legal residents of one of the approved countries, and they must also meet a handful of other requirements.

It is highly advisable that you read every detail before signing up for Kickstarter, including How It Works, FAQs, and Guidelines. The guidelines are not excessive, but there are a few things that are simply not allowed.

  • No funding for charity or causes
  • No funding for personal needs or expenses
  • No funding for websites, e-commerce, or business
  • All software funding must be for the actual developers
  • No real estate funding
  • Limitations on incentives and rewards

Of course, a few other limitations do apply, so be sure to read the guidelines in full to ensure your project is Kickstarter approved. The guidelines are expanded and revised from time to time to better fit the needs of the website and its users.

The Kickstarter School

The website offers a short but thorough tutorial to help you get your project off the ground, to fund it successfully, and to fulfill your obligations to your backers. The tutorial consists of eight sections: Defining your project, Creating Rewards, Setting Your Goal, Making Your Video, Building Your Project, Promoting Your Project, Project Updates, and Reward Fulfillment. Whether you are new to Kickstarter or need a few refreshing tips on creating a successful project fund raiser, this tutorial gives you step-by-step instructions and expert tips on how to make the most of your Kickstarter experience.

Success and Bragging Rights Since 2009

Having helped fund over 100,000 projects since 2009, Kickstarter has proven a successful platform for crowd funding. Since their 2009 inception, $994 million dollars have been raised and more than 56,800 projects have been funded. The website boasts of more than five million project backers with more than one million of those being repeat backers. Last year alone, more than three million backers pledged more than $480 million dollars in support of Kickstarter projects. These backers came from all seven continents across the globe, and many supported multiple projects. In fact, 975 backers actually supported 100 projects each. 19,911 projects were successfully funded during 2013.

Notable Successful 2013 Projects include:

  • An Emoji Translation of Moby Dick
  • Berlin Wall photo exhibit
  • Independent film Blue Ruin won at Cannes
  • Inocente won an Oscar
  • The resurrection of Veronica Mars (TV series)
  • Independent movie theaters saved by backers
  • A Delorean hovercraft was created

And that's just a mere preview of the many projects successfully funded in 2013 alone. From start to finish, this website offers the best opportunities and support to help you fund your creative projects and to bring them to completion. You are not on your own, as they provide quality instructions every step of the way. Creating a stellar profile and project page will help you ton find backers, not just amongst your own friends, family and acquaintances, but also possibly from dedicated Kickstarter backers who stumble onto your project and through featured advertising via the web site, their newsletter, and possibly as a staff pick.

Kickstarter serves as a reminder that when people and ideas come together, great things can happen. So, if you have a dream, don't let your project fester in obscurity. Get it on Kickstarter, get your funds, and bring your creation to life.

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