Asking for money is never easy. Even if you're just sticking a gun in someone's face and outright demanding it, there's still the risk that things might go awry and you'll have to shoot someone, making your crime all the more frowned upon in this political climate. It becomes even more difficult when you're not using weapons. I would know, because asking for money is a thing I had to do recently. For what, you ask? Well, you can hear all about it on this episode of the Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Jeff May and Cracked editor Alex Schmidt. Or you can just hold your damn horses and trust that I'll tell you right here in this column today. Here are a few things I learned asking the internet to give me money.
5Decide How Much Confidence You Have In Yourself
One of the great things about the internet is that it's made asking people to support your dreams infinitely easier. In the olden days, if you wanted to convince the public that they should give you money in exchange for your talent, you had to literally sit somewhere in public and perform with a donation box in front of you like those people you still see on train platforms and whatnot. That's a lot of goddamn moving. Who has the time?
Luckily, internet magic has given the world a quick and easy way to replicate this process in front of more proverbial commuters than ever before. You just upload your work online, and then hit your local neighborhood crowdfunding site to solicit donations. Except the "local neighborhood" part was a joke. The truth is, there are just a handful of sites people actually use. They have some pretty important differences, and you can bet that once you let the world know you're using one, plenty of people will instinctively tell you all the reasons you should have used a different one.
Case in point, I opted to use Kickstarter. Almost immediately after launching the project, someone tweeted this at me:
No way! I didn't even think to research such things!
That's true. With Kickstarter, if you don't reach your stated goal, you get zero money. It's like appearing on Judge Judy, but being a young punk about it, so she gives all your appearance money to your shitty ex to cover legal fees and the $3,500 you borrowed and never paid back. Just like that, actually.
With sites like Indiegogo, if you shoot for $25,000 but only get $12,500, you at least get to keep what money you did make. That's cool, but they also have at least part of their homepage dedicated to convincing me Charlie Sheen should have his own line of condoms. Also, it's called confidence. Try it sometime.
However, that shouldn't be your only concern. If your project is something that absolutely can't happen if you don't get the exact amount of money you're requesting, Kickstarter is the move. If you ask for $50,000 and only get $10,000, the people who did donate are going to expect you to follow through on all your wild promises, whether you have the money for it or not.
I launched my Kickstarter to build a podcast studio.
Not that our current setup isn't great and spacious.
Why? Because we're going to start doing the podcast every day. The episode we do now will still be free, while for the rest, there will be small monthly subscription fee. To go with a service that lets you keep everything even if you don't make your goal doesn't make sense in that case. If I can't round up enough support to fund a studio, I probably don't have the audience necessary to support a subscription service. It makes for a good indicator of whether following through with the rest of the plan is even worthwhile.
Basically, Indiegogo (and similar sites) are a good way to find out how many people like you. Kickstarter is a good way to find out if people like you as much as you think they do. Each site has its benefits. Choose wisely!
4Learn How To Write Good
The hitch and/or best thing about asking for money online is that you don't have to do it in a face-to-face way. That's great for someone like me, who doesn't like most faces or the things that come out of those faces. I'd much rather write down everything I have to say and let you read it. For a lot of people, I'm sure it's the exact opposite.
Whatever the case, it doesn't matter. If you're going to embark upon a crowdfunding campaign of any sort, be ready to do a lot of writing. For my Kickstarter, I wrote the approximate word count equivalent of a Cracked article (around 2,500 words) for the initial launch alone. That was less than a week ago, and I've added maybe another 1,000 words' worth of updates since then.
That's just for the text part of the presentation. If you're using crowdfunding to finance some big idea of yours, a video is all but mandatory. I suppose you can get away without one if you're just posting a plea for rent money on GoFundMe or some shit, but if you're trying to sell people on something, you need a video.
Like this one!
Have you ever written one of those? I had, to some extent, but they've always been "stand in front of a green screen and talk" kind of things. Nothing like what I had to do for this.
This isn't how panhandling is supposed to work, you know? It should just be you sitting on the ground with a coffee cup, but instead it's all this ... work. Gross! Fortunately, I'm comfortable writing long walls of text in the name of self-promotion, so it worked out. A lot of people aren't, and that probably explains why Googling something like "Kickstarter help" will bring you a litany of results from companies that will do all of the work for you. It's probably not cheap.
Even after I managed to get the video written, I still had to shoot it. Is that a thing you know how to do? I don't. Sure, I work for a company that makes videos, but the people who make those videos are generally too busy to put that work down and help with mine. So what do you do in that case? Simple!