Some careers offer a clear path forward. Learn a trade, find an entry level position, do good work, and you will progress gradually through the ranks. This is not the case with careers in the arts. There is often no clear path forward, if there is a path at all. Often it is up to the artist to carve out his or her own journey which can be a daunting task to say the least. These days there are some hacks, so to speak, when it comes to moving from cloistered studio artist to working artist. Kickstarter is one of those hacks and with a little education, it can be a true benefit to your career advancement. Here are five ways you can turn a Kickstarter experience into a jumpstart for your career.
1. Exposure: In the creative world, exposure is a blessing and a curse. It’s what can make an obscure artist into a thriving, well known artist. And it’s sometimes what is offered in lieu of actual payment—something exclusively frustrating to this sort of work. But no matter how the word makes you feel, there is no denying that without exposure you will never face the world as an artist. Kickstarter can offer a chance for you to gain some of that much sought after exposure simply by virtue of its very nature. As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, Kickstarter is an online crowdfunding resource for creative projects. By mounting a Kickstarter campaign, you automatically expose your art to those who may have never seen it before. You can use social media to further that exposure, and whether your Kickstarter is fully funded or not, you can’t deny the usefulness of the exposure gained.
2. Commerce: As an artist, you no doubt understand that every new experience is a chance for growth. There is always something to be learned from the process of creating your art, and there is much to be learned in the process of a Kickstarter too. It is easy to get tunnel vision as an artist and forget that only a fraction of what you do as a working artist is actually art (for more on this topic, check out our course bundle with Time Management for Artists). Kickstarter can be a great way to open your eyes to the commerce side of the art world. As you move through the steps of creating your Kickstarter, you will gain valuable insight (with the help of the Kickstarter team) into what works and what doesn’t when seeking funding. This is a great jumpstart to the business side of a career in the arts.
3. Merchandise: You probably know by now that as part of your Kickstarter campaign, you are required to offer incentives to your donors. These incentives are only limited by your imagination and, while you may not have considered this angle, they could be another way to jumpstart a piece of your career. Putting serious thought and resources into your donor incentives not only increases the chances that donors will want to fund your project, it may just turn out to be something you can sell outside the world of Kickstarter. If you have spent time turning your art into something saleable while maintaining the integrity of your work, you should be proud to present these objects to area merchants for sale. Keep a lookout for a future post offering tips and ideas for Kickstarter donor incentives.
4. Small business opportunities: Because Kickstarter funds creative startups, you may be able to use this resource to fund more than just a single project. If your work translates into a small business, Kickstarter may be a way for you to raise the funds to make this dream a reality. It is critical that you have a fully realized business plan before you even begin, and that you have carefully worked out the resources needed. But if you do your research and put in the work, Kickstarter could be a tool to jumpstart your career in a very literal way.
5. Personal growth: The final way that Kickstarter could be a boon for your career as an artist is that it requires discipline. This is not to say that art itself does not, it most certainly does. But much like the ability to begin understanding the commerce side of the art world via Kickstarter, there is a very real lesson to be learned in the practices of connecting and maintaining business relationships with potential backers. From the creation of your detailed Kickstarter plan, to the ins and outs of promptly shipping thank you incentives to donors, to continuing these relationships once your project is funded and running, you will learn a lot about how to operate in the business world through a Kickstarter campaign.
There are numerous ways that Kickstarter can help launch your art career. Some are obvious and others are less intuitive. Some are based on external factors, and others begin and end with the growth you will experience as you move through this process. You’ve read it here before, but it bears repeating, there is no such thing as a wasted Kickstarter campaign.