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A Crowdfunding Primer For Your Photography Project

by Rhonda Callow on July 1, 2011 · 16 comments

After we made mention of an opportunity that RocketHub offered The Photoletariat readers, we thought: why don’t we offer some more information on crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding, as the name implies, is a way for a person to acquire funds from several people. Rather than counting on one or two sponsors to commission a project, a crowdfunded project depends on smaller donations from several people.

Here is a primer on the crowdfunding platforms that could help you raise money for your next photography project.

RocketHub

Describing itself as “a launchpad and community for independent artists and entrepreneurs,” RocketHub works as the middleman between what the company calls Creatives and Fuelers (the donors).

When you launch a new project, you set a financial goal that must be reached in between 15 and 90 days, and you are required to offer rewards to Fuelers. For example, a photographer who is crowdfunding a project may offer a free 5×7 print in exchange for a $20 contribution, a signed 8×10 print for a $50 contribution, and so on.

If you meet or exceed your goal, RocketHub takes eight percent of the total money raised: four percent is their fee, and the other half is a transaction fee which covers credit card processing. If you fail to meet your financial goal, you’re stung with an eight percent RocketHub fee plus the four percent transaction fee, so make those goals realistic! RocketHub discourages Creatives from running more than one project at any given time.

You do not need to live in the U.S. to become a Creative on RocketHub.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter claims to be the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Unlike RocketHub, Kickstarter takes an “all or nothing” approach, meaning if the fundraiser (“the Creator”) does not reach his or her financial goal, the pledgers do not provide the money they’ve offered.

If you do not meet your financial goal, you do not owe Kickstarter any money. If you’re successful, the company takes a five percent fee from the total amount you raised, and you’re obligated to pay Amazon credit card processing fees, which are typically three to five percent.

Like RocketHub, Kickstarter projects must offer rewards, and while Creators can have more than one project going at the same time, the company discourages this. “This can distract backers and split support,” their FAQ says. “More than one live project will likely dilute your attention and energy.”

IndieGoGo

IndieGoGo provides tools like social media integration, campaign widgets, and customizable promotional e-mail features to help you reach your goals. Although the company recommends that you offer rewards to pledgers, it is not required.

If your campaign is successful, IndieGoGo takes four percent of the total money raised, plus about three percent in transaction fees. If your project is unsuccessful, the company charges you nine percent of total funds raised, so be sure to set very realistic goals. If you don’t meet them, not only is your photography project out of reach, but you could be out of pocket even more than if you had met your goal.

You can use IndieGoGo’s services whether you reside in or out of the U.S., and you are allowed to have multiple campaigns running at the same time.

Emphas.is

Unlike the above three sites, Emphas.is is actually geared toward photojournalism. It’s a relative newcomer to the space, and it compares favorably to its competition in some ways (donors’ money is returned if the goal isn’t met), and unfavorably in others (Emphas.is takes fifteen percent of the total raised in successful campaigns).

Have you had any positive or negative experiences with crowdfunding? Do you know of any excellent crowdfunding websites? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

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