We live our lives online. We share our stories, photos, and opinions. We sell our clothes, cars, and furniture. We even start our careers online. Kickstarter and Patreon are two crowdfunding platforms that can help us launch and maintain creative endeavors, but there are pluses and minuses to each approach.
What is a Kickstarter Again?
a device to start an engine by the downward thrust of a pedal, as in older motorcycles.
Kickstarter, in keeping with the definition above, helps creative entrepreneurs start their engines by sharing a project they want to launch. The project is crowdfunded, which means friends, family, and the world at large help fund the product, game, book, or artistic project in exchange for a variety of rewards or an actual finished piece of work.
Kickstarter creators set up a description of what they’re working on, record a pitch video, and share their fund goal and reward list publicly. The bigger the monetary backing is, the better the reward is. The fund goal is usually the amount it would take to develop and produce the product.
However, the project will only be funded if the goal amount is completely reached by the set deadline. As a plus, this is a very low risk way to begin trying to validate a concept. If the goal isn’t reached, the product will not be developed at that time and no money exchanges happen. If the goal amount is reached, though, creators can start sending out rewards / the actual product.
Kickstarter is a great way to raise money quickly and move to the next step in launching your business, and while these advantages may perk your ears, there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind.
The Fees – Kickstarter takes a percentage of the pledge money and, depending on your financial margins, this could be a deal breaker.
Transparency – You have to keep your backers up to date every step of the way, which can be frustrating if the project isn’t going well.
Restrictions – Your project must fit into Kickstarter’s categories; you must have tangible rewards for your backers, and you cannot raise money for charity.
So, Is it Worth It?
Any creative jumping off point can be risky. Kickstarter could be a viable way to generate startup costs and even long-term product investment, but ultimately it’s up to the creator to decide.
So, What The Heck is a Patreon? How is it different than a Kickstarter?
1. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity.
Patreon comes from the word patron and, as another form of crowdfunding, also relies on public pledge money. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon focuses on funding the person running the show: the person behind the product or service. The pledges are acquired without a deadline as one of the goals is to provide the creator with sustainable income over time.
Bloggers and podcast hosts can find a place on Patreon as well as crafters, novelists, and musicians. Patreon allows active artists and other creative types to find a way to further monetize their work.
Like Kickstarter, Patreon has multiple tiers; subscribers gain access to more or better rewards when they invest more money. With Patreon, however, you can also give out levels of service in addition to, or instead of, gifts or products. For example, at a lower level you might receive newsletters, exclusive digital content, and discounts on merchandise, but at a higher level you might receive a special Q+A or instructional Skype session with the creator, not to mention the finished book, game, or album they were working on.
Patreon gives creators the chance to be in frequent contact with their subscribers and can rely on consistent cash flow as it is subscription-based.
One of the setbacks of Patreon is the lack of discoverability. Unless you’re already a fan of someone who is starting a Patreon, it’s difficult to search their site for your interests. Kickstarter, however, has categories lining the front page – Music, Comics & Illustration, Film, Arts, Publishing, etc…
Another check in the con column for subscribers is that monthly subscriptions process even when there is no new content or reward. Inactivity for a long period of time can cause a creator to lose subscribers and money.
Can I Make a Living Doing This?
Patreon can work alongside a creator’s social media, blog, and YouTube presence to expand a fan base and perhaps reach their end goal of creating full time. But, unless you’re in the thick of that process, maybe don’t quit your day job just yet.
What kind of idea do you want to launch? Weigh the pros and cons of both crowdfunding platforms and if you feel one of them is a good fit, may the viral marketing odds be ever in your favor.
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