Friday 15th December 2017,

Crowdsourcing Funding for Web Series

UPDATE: I have updated the stats and figures below in this post here.

I have a post over at Tubefilter looking at Kickstarter as a tool for funding web series and giving tips on how creators can harness the full potential of the site, partially intended to coincide with the website’s first film festival, held Friday in Brooklyn.

After the jump, the first half of the post — the basic information — head over to Tubefilter for the rest!

Creating a web series is challenging at every step, from production to marketing, but perhaps the biggest hurdle is among the first: getting money. Kickstarter, a site for crowdsourcing arts funding, is increasingly become the go-to source for web series creators unable to secure grants, industry money or private funds to get production going. We Are With the Band, for example, used their Kickstarter funds to upgrade their camera and sound equipment. GOLD used the site to finance their first season DVD.

Kickstarter is simple. Creators develop a pitch on the site, using video, text or both. They set a fundraising goal and have 30 days to reach it. Users donate money – it’s not an investment – to the projects and if the project reaches its goal, creators get the money. For more information, click here.

“We like for Kickstarter to be a tool,” co-founder Yancey Strickler said, noting how funds can be used for anything from production to traveling to a film festival. “We’re happy to just fill in gaps or be a way to get from X to Y.”

Over 5,000 projects have used Kickstarter for funds, and of those just under half have reached their goal. But the number of projects is accelerating: 2,500 campaigns are currently in progress and 300 new projects are added each week, Strickler said.

How many web series are using Kickstarter? I found over 100 producers who are currently soliciting or have already solicited funding through the site. I decided to take an informal snapshot of 100 of these projects and crunch some numbers. I also took a look at some of the most successful pitches to see what works and what doesn’t.

First, the facts. Out of 100 projects I chose on Kickstarter, 28 reached their funding goal, 40 were unsuccessful, and 32 projects are still working on it (of those, only three are more than 70% of the way there). All in all, more than $200,000 had been pledged to web series, and the vast majority, about $180,000, is already in the hands of producers. That’s a lot of dough! Among those projects that reached their goal, the average sum received was about $6,400.

Web series pitches seem to make it about 40% of the way toward their desired goals, which isn’t bad. It’s a steep curve, however. Most projects never make it past 10%, though several projects raise much more than they asked for. So how do you become one of those few success stories? Take the example of “Little Brass Bird,” a web series starring adorable plush toys. Little Brass Bird is a very modest project by web series standards. The producer team had a goal of $1,200 and eventually raised $1,427, or 20% above the their goal. How did they do it?

“We promoted and networked the heck out of ourselves,” writer-director Rhodrick Magsino told me. He and artist Robin Poppert were on all the usual suspects: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Facebook helped them reach out to friends and their friends; MySpace helped spread the word to the fans of the bands developing music for the show.

But much of money came in the old fashion way: showcasing their show. “The real spike in funding occurred when we released our first teaser episode. Once people physically experienced the show’s potential, the pledges just started rolling in,” Magsino said. The producers used the funds to buy rights, merchandise, production materials, and establish their business. The show is being screened at the Kickstarter Film Festival in Brooklyn tonight.

Click for the rest.

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.