When Kickstarter launched in 2009, most of us had never heard of crowdfunding. The concept of connecting members of the public with creators for the purpose of funding a specific project seems basic, even obvious, now — but the idea was revolutionary. Competitors like Indiegogo, Patreon, and GoFundMe sprang up quickly and there are now more options to crowdfund a project than ever before.
Feminist creators — especially female-identifying creators, non-binary creators, and people of color — have historically faced discrimination in almost every industry, including comics, games, music, technology, and film. In the world of female entrepreneurship, only two to six percent of venture capital funding is allocated to women. However, crowdfunding provides a way for creators and entrepreneurs to push back against the gatekeepers of these industries and access fans directly in a way that was never possible before. There are even crowdfunding platforms designed for marginalized creators, such as iFundWomen and Pinkstart, an LGBTQ crowdfunding website.
Interestingly, while venture capital funding is disproportionately skewed in favor of men, women are, on average, 9% more successful in raising money on Kickstarter than men.
Examples of successful crowdfunding campaigns in the past few years include The Ripped Bodice, the sole romance-only bookstore in the US, and the Lammily doll, which features the proportions of an average 19-year-old American woman. (Lammily was a huge hit with my 11-year-old niece!).
I have also seen the positive effects of crowdfunding in my own work. Last year, I successfully raised $2,500 to produce the first issue of my historical adventure/romance comic, Wild Rose. The project received national and international news coverage and I launched the campaign to fund a second issue this week.
What are the steps to creating a successful crowdfunding campaign for feminist creators?
- Identify your audience: Your chances of successfully funding your project will depend on how well you are able to engage with potential funders. Friends and family are great resources, but you will need to draw in outside backers by tailoring your project to an audience that is on the lookout for projects like yours. For example, if you are raising money to open a new business, you might have good luck on a platform that is designed for entrepreneurs as opposed to artists.
- Tell your story: Projects that share information about their creators are far more likely to be funded. Telling your audience why you care about this project will help them understand why they should care, too. Crowdfunding isn’t about investors looking to make a profit, it’s about creating a project that resonates with people. Across all platforms, campaigns that feature a video are more likely to be funded.
You will also need to devote time and energy to promoting your campaign on social media and to the media. Sending a press release or even a simple email to a targeted list of websites with a connection to your industry can result in increased visibility and more pledges. Not everyone you reach out to will be willing or able to share your message but identifying people who share similar interests is bound to be a more successful approach than throwing the proverbial spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
- Be realistic: Set a funding goal that will allow you to pull off your project but don’t expect to retire on the money you raise. If you don’t have a strong social media presence, you are not likely to raise six figures in your first crowdfunding campaign. There are always exceptions, of course, but the reality is that most runaway successes had some marketing advantage to begin with.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is Kickstarter’s most funded children’s book ever ($675,000 raised with an original goal of $40,000). Without detracting from the creators’ amazing accomplishment, they weren’t complete unknowns in the world of children’s publishing. Prior to launching this project, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo had already built the first children’s iPad magazine in the world and created twelve mobile apps and six print books.
Have you explored crowdfunding for your project? What tips do you have?