Kickstarting a Project With Freelancers
I haven’t made it a secret that I am gearing up to launch a Kickstarter project soon. It won’t be my first. I created a Kickstarter months ago for Geek Seekers. It was successful, but not wildly so. I learned a lot from it. I’ve watched others launch to failure and success, and a few to mind-blowing success. Based on that, I have a number of ideas that will hopefully help make my Kickstarter successful (that is to say, attractive, interesting, and valuable to gamers). We’ll see.
In the past I have worked as a freelance writer. I have employed freelance writers to work for me. And now I’ve been a part of other people’s Kickstarters as a freelancer. And I have freelancers involved in mine. In all of these roles, I’ve seen the good and the bad. I’ve seen things work well and I’ve seen mistakes that trip us up.
With crowdfunding becoming more and more common for books, rpgs, and similar products, it brings with it its own issues in this regard. For example, one thing that I have always felt strongly about is that a creator should never ask too much of those interested in his work. You need to be careful how many times you go back to the well, so to speak. This is something that can happen all too easily in a marketplace funded with Kickstarted projects. I wouldn’t want to compete with myself in two different crowdfunding projects written by me. I feel like I’d be asking too much of gamers to contribute to two such projects at the same time. I think some people are already a little weary of contributing to crowdfunding projects, even interesting ones. I’m a supporter of many Kickstarter projects, but my funds–just like everyone else’s–are limited, particularly in any given period of time.
And that’s really the key–the short period of time involved. It’s not the same as a writer who writes two different books that happen to come out in the same month. People who like the writer’s work can buy one now and maybe one next month. Crowdfunding programs like Kickstarter need contributors to fund the project within a short window.
This means that if you are launching a Kickstarter (or whatever crowdfunding method you like), and you’re using freelance work, it behooves you from the get-go to tell them that you are doing so, when the project will be launched, and when it will be completed (hopefully funded). A wise freelancer is only going to want to be a part of a small number of crowdfunded projects, particularly at one time. Further, you need to make the freelancers very aware of how much effort you expect from them to help support the project in the form of promoting the project, providing additional rewards for contributors, and so on. These things are likely very valuable to your project, but they’re additional responsibilities for the freelancer.
Similarly, is the freelancer’s name and past experience going to be used to promote the project? Is the freelancer going to have any say in what the rewards or stretch goals might be? Is there some kind of extra compensation for the freelancer if the project exceeds its funding? These things need to be discussed ahead of time.
And of course, the most important aspect of all–the freelancer needs to know if the job you’ve contracted with him is dependent upon your crowdfunding project getting its funding.
It’s a whole new world out there, in many ways. I think crowdfunding is fantastic, but we need to adapt to it, as publishers, as freelancers, and as consumers, so that it works for all of us.