The real secret to success is in the drive to get there. You have to want to be successful and you have to work at it. So that’s why it was such a surprise to this reporter when I attended the crowdfunding panel at VidCon 2013 and found most of the seats empty. This is a panel that was hosted by FreddieW, ShayCarl, Hannah Hart, Jon Enge and Tom Lipka — all extremely successful crowdfunding participants.
The main thesis of this panel was not only why/how to use crowdfunding, but also, what crowdfunding. FreddieW got the ball rolling with a comment that was straight off an SAT test at Video Game High School: “Kickstarter is to Indiegogo like YouTube is to Vimeo.” That is to say neither one is bad or even better — they’re just different. But here’s the other thing: they can be ENORMOUSLY valuable to creators when used correctly. And considering that many of the VidCon attendees are small creators looking to maximize their potential, this panel experience should have been standing room only.
Dammit people: Hannah Hart was able to travel around the country for 10 weeks doing shows and interacting with fans off of money she accrued via Indiegogo — why are you not doing the same thing? Or at least trying to do the same thing? See, one of the fundamental differences between Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition — you either hit your goal or you get nothing. Indiegogo, on the other hand, allows you to keep whatever you raise, but they take a higher percentage of your monies. While in the admittedly small line for the show, I met up with two smaller creators, Lindsey the Nerdiest and Kimberly Aiello, the producer of SpaceCat Casio (launching today). Their reason for attending the panel (aside from the kickass lineup) was Kimberly is looking for a crowdfunding venture and couldn’t decide between the two. At the beginning, she was leaning towards Kickstarter (the lower fees thing), but was open to the idea of both.
There were a number of fascinating considerations brought up that creators considering crowdfunding hadn’t likely thought of — namely, correctly budgeting your end goal to account for all the kickbacks and prizes. As Enge and Lipka, two panelists who had crowdfunded a film called “Mars Rising” pointed out, you have to make it worth doing. “Don’t promise a t-shirt unless you’re going to make money on it.”
FreddieW admitted that the difference between his first round of crowdfunding kickbacks and the second round came down to the enormous cost of shipping weighty or large rewards to their contributors. “Think that about one-fifth of your budget should be for kickbacks,” FreddieW said.
Interestingly, FreddieW was the only one of the group who had utilized Kickstarter. For some, it was the Indiegogo consideration that they would get any money donated even if they didn’t reach their goal, but the important thing was that each panelist was happy with the relationship they’d fostered with their respective crowdfunding site. By the end of it, Aiello still admitted that she’d have to do her research, but now seemed like she was leaning towards Indiegogo. Admittedly, for smaller creators, Indiegogo seems like the safer bet (though they too offer an all-or-nothing plan if you’re interested).
So comprehensive was the panel and the camaraderie, I was able to click off any questions I might have had during the course of it. At the end, all that was left was for me to ask NMR friend Hannah Hart why she thought the panel was so poorly attended. Hart said: “I honestly think panels are based off of interest. I think a lot of the kids that come to VidCon are not here for the industry stuff, but just to interact with their creators, so I’m not surprised that the crowdfunding panel didn’t have a lot of attendees.” I think she’s letting the majority of you off the hook lightly. This was a hell of a sharp panel with a lot of good insight into how smaller creators can get where the panelists are by using the financial backing of well-wishers. At the end of the day, that knowledge is going to be worth a hell of a lot more than the Prancercise lady’s autograph.
Luckily for those who can get to it, there is another crowdfunding panel on Saturday — different panelists though, so I’m not making any promises.