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September 2008

September 2008 -- Blades

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  • How to Practice Cyberfunded Creativity
    by Elizabeth Barrette

    As we have previously explored, there are diverse options in cyberfunded creativity. Patrons should explore widely to find projects that interest them. Creative people should investigate previous examples for inspiration in designing their own CFC projects.

    Starting Tips for Donors

    For patrons, the process is fairly straightforward. Are you bored with mainstream books, music, art, and other cultural material? Are you frustrated by watching your talented friends scrabble for a living? Take part in cyberfunded creativity instead.

    Once, only rich people could really afford to "keep" entertainers. Now you can become a patron of the arts through cyberfunded creativity, without needing outrageous sums of money. This way you can choose what the good stuff is, the stuff that deserves fame and immortality, the stuff you want to see more of.

    Seek out online venues that give you places to look for cyberfunded creativity projects that might appeal to you. Talk about what you like, what your shopping/donation habits are, what things attract you to CFC projects, and so forth. Post replies to CFC projects; most creative people love feedback. Make new project posts to tell other people about favorite art, fiction, or other news. Full reviews of CFC offerings are welcome in some venues. These help raise awareness of cyberfunded creativity among people who may never have heard of it before.

    Starting Tips for Creators

    Establishing an effective CFC project takes some careful preparation. Creators who do their homework tend to get better results than creators who jump in without forethought. Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of success.

    • Consider your product. What goods or services do you want to offer through cyberfunded creativity? What do you do best? What do people pester you for? What is likely to generate more profit and better material via CFC than more conventional approaches?
    • Consider your audience. Who enjoys viewing what you plan to produce? Who has money to spend on it or goods/services to barter for it? How will you reach these people?
    • Consider your presentation. Will your project work better on a website, in an online gallery, as a blog, or in some other format? What programs, platforms, and service providers are available in your chosen format? Which of those have the best features and prices?
    • Do your homework. Research cyberfunded creativity in general. Study available CFC projects to see what does and does not work. Observe the habits and desires of patrons.
    • Make a plan. Outline what you want to accomplish, including steps to take towards your goals. Cover short-term and long-term aspects.
    • Set a budget. Most CFC projects require supplies, such as art media; all of them require online access. How much can you afford to invest in this project? How much do you need to make from it in order for the project to be worthwhile? Does it have to turn a profit, or will you be happy if it simply helps defray the costs of something you’d be doing anyway?
    • Start small. This allows you to gain skill with a manageable project before expanding to something more ambitious. Always leave your audience wanting more!
    • Start free. Hook your audience by providing basic goods or services related to your intended CFC project. Use this phase to test different options, then build a CFC project out of the most promising one(s).
    • Introduce CFC features slowly. Offer one or two new options at a time. When those work smoothly, or people make requests, add more. Avoid charging for something that used to be free; instead, charge for new or improved things.
    • Explain support options clearly. Make sure people understand what you’re offering in exchange for what they’re giving. Using familiar services such as PayPal aids clarity. Include a range of prices, if possible; be open to bartering if someone has goods/services that would benefit you.
    • Cultivate your audience. Unusual, interesting content attracts people. Network with other content providers who have an audience you admire. Encourage audience feedback and engage people in discussions.
    • Follow the audience interest. Sometimes they’ll want things you can provide that are different from the things you expected. Give them what they want! Use good ideas and suggestions; thank the provider and acknowledge their contributions. Everyone loves to be appreciated.
    • Promote your CFC project in appropriate venues. Mention it in posts you make to forums or blogs, when a related topic comes up. Join communities, e-lists, and other venues where you can talk about CFC in general or your project in particular. Pass around business cards or flyers for your project at conventions or other facetime gatherings.
    Common Features of Successful Projects

    Cyberfunded creativity is a vast, fascinating experiment. Creators and patrons are trying new things all the time. However, some things have emerged as common features of successful projects. Not every thriving CFC project necessarily has all of these features, but the more features a project has, the better its chances of success.

    • Strong content. Excellent art, fiction, music, and other material draws and holds audience support. In CFC, good material with moderate marketing tends to out-perform mediocre material with extensive marketing.
    • A lively audience. A group of interesting people all talking together helps attract new members. Networking among CFC creators and donors introduces people to new projects.
    • High audience/artist interactivity. This is a hallmark of CFC and most projects include it. People love to get involved on a personal level.
    • Perks for frequent posters, donors, etc. People love getting things for free, and this is an effective way to reward behavior that you want to encourage.
    • A sense of personal connection. Donors frequently cite this as a reason why they donate to a particular creator. They not only like supporting a favorite flavor of literature, art, etc. but also supporting a creative person whom they want to see succeed.
    • Specific projects for donors to support. This not only lets donors put their money in an area of maximum interest, it gives creators a way to track what is most successful and popular.
    • Ongoing involvement via series fiction, artistic progress reports, regularly repeating events, etc. Benefits include giving people more of what they enjoy, and providing a long window of participation for people who want to contribute but may only have spare money occasionally.

    Recommended Resources

    “15 Tips to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic” by Susan Gunelius
    http://weblogs.about.com/od/bloggingtips/tp/TipsIncreaseBlogTraffic.htm

    The Fix: Short Fiction Review – webzine featuring some reviews of CFC projects
    http://thefix-online.com/reviews/fsf-april-2008/

    “How to Hold a Raffle” by Shadesong
    http://shadesong.livejournal.com/3567637.html

    “How to Start a Blog”
    http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog

    “How to Support Your Favorite Author” by Elizabeth Barrette
    http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/159789.html

    “Poetry Fishbowl Report for May 18, 2008” by Elizabeth Barrette
    http://community.livejournal.com/cyberfund_creat/12228.html



    Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality. Recent publications include the short story "Clouds in the Morning" in Torn World and poem "The Forest of Infinity" in Star*Line. She serves on the Canon Board, editing and selecting material at Torn World. She hosts a monthly Poetry Fishbowl on her blog, The Wordsmith’s Forge (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com), writing poems based on audience prompts. She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee-jumping and spelunking in other people's reality tunnels.
    Would you like to support our contributors? As a subscriber, you could use your subscription fee to pay this author for their work, as well as receive lots of extra subscriber perks!



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