In With The Crowd

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on April 29, 2013 in Personal |

Nothing stands still, the world is constantly changing and we all need to be able to keep up with it, to adapt, to move with the times. Unless, of course, we happen to belong to the Amish Community, but even they have had to change according to the world around them in small ways.

In my post from yesterday – Getting Into Print – I played with the notion of publishing some of my short stories and articles, those which have not yet seen the light of day, as print versions, as real books. For many this might seem like a pipe dream, something for long winter evenings when sleep doesn’t come, for times when you look ahead and plan how you’re going to be a mogul or the next big thing in whatever. For me it is something a little bit more than that simply because I love the written word – even words that I have written get love from me! – and I have come to discover, through many experiences, just how difficult it is to get certain works into print. Once you’ve made a name for yourself it is relatively easy but, for those of us still teetering on the brink, the hurdles are higher than we can jump. There are many publications out there looking for good writers in an amazing number of different fields. But there are also many, many more writers looking for a publisher. The level of competition, for those who haven’t yet made their name, is massive and, with modern technology, growing by the day.

So yesterday this idea of Crowdfunding – also Crowdsponsorship and Crowdinvestment – was floated, something that I have fleetingly taken a look at whilst surfing the Internet and read about as one of the up-and-coming investment possibilities for the future on various news sites. But what exactly are these three things?

The three, despite their common source, are completely different. Crowdinvestment is a group of many people investing in a start-up or an established firm with small sums in the hope of gaining some form of financial return on their money. Crowdsponsorship is another group of small investors but mainly geared to charitable projects and good works where an investment return is unlikely or ruled out completely. Crowdfunding is where people invest in an idea or project with the hopes of a non-financial return.

The basic principle is that many people donate, invest or sponsor with small sums of money to achieve a large sum for the project creator. There is little loss for those sending in or promising their ready cash since the sums involved tend to start at about $10 which, for anyone looking at such a project, is very little money indeed and with most of the sites no payment is necessary unless the project reaches its financial target. In theory almost anyone with a good income can afford to invest in the future of someone else. For the creator, the person who is prepared to put their time and energy on the line, the benefits are much greater: the chance to realize a pet project with the help of others who are not necessarily financially tied to the success of the whole and who do not require a large financial return on their investment.

Payment on most sites promoting Crowdfunding is made when the bids are closed and when the project reaches its target. If the target summed isn’t reached, the whole thing closes and no one makes a loss, or a gain. One or two sites also allow continual finance, that is: when a pledge is made it is passed straight on to the creator of a project so that they can begin or cover the running costs. In this case the project does not need to reach its maximum target at all.

What people do get out of Crowdfunding is a so-called reward. This reward might be a service, an example of the work produced, a discount on something and is stepped according to how much a person pledges.

There are many sites now operating Crowdfunding schemes, so a difficult choice has to be made: which site is best for a specific project; which has the most chance of success; which has shown the greatest return amongst all the projects offered; where will the project be seen. The last is of great importance since a site which constantly has new projects offered is likely to push the new creator’s project further and further down the list, making it harder to find, harder to achieve its aims.

How are such things promoted? The site itself does no promotion aside from the creation of web space for the product or service to be offered with appropriate photographs, a video perhaps and description. The site handles the administration and makes the payments, sometimes also checking the viability of a project, and cashes in on the end sum collected with up to 10% (I’ve seen 12%, but only once) of the total sum as administrative fees. Real promotion to find sponsors is handled exclusively by the creator who has to publicize their project and the Crowdfunding site through their own web space, through Social Media such as Facebook and twitter and through any other means they can find.

Regardless of which Crowdfunding source is used, the hard work remains squarely on the shoulders of the creator, who retains full control of the product and company – unless the Crowdinvesting method is used. It requires a good deal of hard work and dedication and, in the end, a good deal of luck in being successful. A project which does not reach its financial target is dead in the water – but can be offered again – and a project which doesn’t get any follow through, with a product or service, results in the creator getting a bad name and, possibly, problems of a more legal nature, especially if it is discovered that a really good idea has only been created to raise a bit of ready cash and no end product is planned.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am looking at getting into print through my own company, through my own publishing business and, one day soon, being able to offer a publishing service for others. I have a good deal of work still to do, especially when it comes to creating the products that I wish to print and sell, but Crowdfunding looks to be the way forward, especially since, initially, the whole is likely to work at a financial loss and that, as we all know, rules out all the banks and other financial institutions who lend money at a decent rate. I am at the beginning of this particular journey, but perhaps, in a few months time, you’ll see a good list of titles available here – or in your bookstore, on Amazon and elsewhere – and know that you were there at the start, even if you don’t contribute financially. That said, those who do sponsor me, when the time comes, can expect some really good rewards!

As they say in the cheap press: watch this space!

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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