Archive for March, 2015

Independent journalists are now turning to Kickstarter

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Entrepreneurial journalists are now turning to Kickstarter to raise money for their story projects and startup ventures.

Last spring, the U.S. crowdfunding site widened its categories to 15 to include journalism, according to Kickstarter outreach lead Nicole He. She spoke to a small group of journalists at the IRE/NICAR conference earlier this month.

Since the category launched, Kickstarter backers or subscribers have pledged $6 million to more than 530 independent writers raising money for their own projects, publications funding projects and entrepreneurs launching new tools.

Some successful Canadian examples include ex-Globe and Mail photographer and colleague Louie Palu, who’s making a documentary, Kandahar Journals, about his years covering the war in Afghanistan and online newspaper, the Vancouver Observer, which has raised nearly $81,000 to help it expand and go national under the banner, the National Observer.

Other campaigns include Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins, an investigative citizen journalist who’s done impactful work on Syria and is launching a new website to host his work and teach people citizen journalism; rap journalists Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson who are behind culture magazine, HRDCVR; and independent journalist Colin McDonald, who raised $17,000 to travel and report about the disappearing Rio Grande river.

A typical Kickstarter campaign includes three components: the project video, the rewards and the updates, He says. The project video by its creator tends to be short and shareable and aims to introduce backers to the project.

Rewards include mementos and experiences that you give to backers for contributing at a certain tier. Examples include a copy of your film in the form of a digital download, or a unique experience that only your backers can access. There are usually five to seven reward level tiers. The $25-reward level is the most common pledge, while $100 is an important tier as that’s where the bulk of the money comes from, He says.

And finally the project updates are a good place to inform subscribers about a new reward and for subscribers to share news.  They’re like a blog and newsletter all rolled into one, He says. When the funding ends it’s a good place to keep backers in the loop, she says.

The majority of your backers are going to come from someone you know or through your efforts, He says.

“They’re not a faceless crowd; they’re your community.”

I asked her how Kickstarter differs from the other crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo and she says that Kickstarter campaigns tend to be about creative projects not causes, and that it uses the all or nothing funding approach. (Here’s a story about why journalism crowdfunding site Spot.Us died.)

So you pick a funding goal and a deadline and you collect the money if you hit or exceed the goal.

Kickstarter projects are small typically in the $1,000-$10,000 goal range. Nearly 40 per cent of projects reach their funding goal and 17 per cent don’t get a single pledge, He says.

Tap the below interactive chart on successful Kickstarter campaigns. Mobile viewers, click here.

Click here for more stats.

You can find more information about journalism Kickstarter campaigns here:

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