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Getting That Big Project Off the Ground

We’ve all heard those stories of the good old days when a talented artist would find a patron, one person who would support the artist financially, often in exchange for some of the artist’s work. If you think those days are over, think again. Patrons of the arts are alive and well in the 21st century, but the system looks quite different in the digital age. Today’s artists use crowdfunding websites to gather together a group of patrons, and it’s usually with the goal of financing a specific project, not your entire lifestyle.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to spend a month plein-air painting in the Tuscan countryside because you think it will transform your landscape painting abilities. You’ve figured out that you need $5,000 for your airline ticket, hotel rooms, a rental car, and meals, but you’ve only got $1,500. You could use a crowdfunding site to reach out to your social network—and all the people in their social networks—and ask them to donate to your cause.

Choosing the right crowdfunding site is the essential first step in the process. While Kickstarter is the biggest and best-known crowdfunding site around, it’s not your only option. Several of these sites, like IndieGoGo, BigArtBoost, and Patreon, specialize in projects related to the arts, which could give you a helpful push in the right direction.

Most important, you want to be sure to read the terms required by each website to make sure they’re compatible with your plans. Most crowdfunding sites, for example, have an all-or-nothing policy, which means that you don’t receive any money pledged to your project if you don’t meet your goal amount by your specified deadline. A few platforms, on the other hand, give you however much money you’ve raised, even if you don’t hit your goal. Another key factor to explore is the fees charged by the crowdfunding site, which could be a percentage of the money raised and/or transaction fees for collecting the money that’s pledged to your project.

Once you’ve chosen the right platform to use, you’ll want to come up with some powerful incentives to motivate your friends and their friends to support you. The cool thing is that you can offer different incentives for different donation levels. So, for example, you might offer an original painting of Tuscany to the people who give $300 or more to your Tuscan painting trip, while people who donate $100 get a giclee of one of your favorite paintings from the adventure.

Here are a few other tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign:

  • Be very clear about the goals and purpose of your project. People will be more inclined to donate if they know exactly what they’re investing in.
  • When you set up your crowdfunding page on one of these websites, use visuals like photos and videos of yourself and your artwork to get people excited about the project.
  • Work your online social networks as hard as you can! Make sure you contact everyone you know through your social media platforms, blogs, emails, and more, and always ask them to share the request with all of their friends. People you don’t even know may be willing to support you, just because you’re a friend of a friend.
  • As you get closer to your goal, continue to work those six degrees of separation by providing frequent updates on how close you are to your goal. It builds momentum and excitement, inspiring those who haven’t contributed yet to get out their credit cards and donate.

Okay, so we may not be able to find a patron for complete support, but at least we can find patrons willing to fund specific projects. What project are you dreaming of that you’d like to fund? Let’s connect!


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