03 May 2014

Crowdsourcing Part Two: Platform, Platform, Platform

"Don't you know she's pooped?!"
(Madeline Kahn as Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles)
Yeah, I know May is supposed to be "The Lusty Month" here at Beyond the Veil, but I'm not in the mood. I'm too tired--the principal cause of lost libido across all sectors of society, according to a study I read some time ago, which I'm too tired to look up.

The cause of my exhaustion is six weeks spent pitching, hawking, shilling and strong-arming people into supporting Monkeying Around for a Good Cause, the Indiegogo campaign to help fellow SF/Fantasy writer and beloved curmudgeon CJ Henderson in his battle with cancer.

I don't regret a minute of the time or the effort. As always when the writing community pulls together for one of their own, I'm awed by the kindness of strangers and how a writer's reach can extend far beyond their words. I'm also so grateful to my fellow bloggers at Beyond the Veil for letting me pimp the campaign here, when most of them don't know CJ. BtV's own Sheryl Nantus was even in line to write a story for one of the stretch goals.

But we didn't get there. We did great by most measures. The final tally was $10,000, 33 percent above our fully funded level, but when you compare that with Athena's Daughters, which funded at five times it's initial level...

Which brings us to the meat of today's blog. The determining factor in the two campaigns was not the product. The anthology built around CJ was awesome. The campaign was packaged by the same team, and had the same crazy band of hucksters pounding the social media. No, the determining factor was the platform.

Indiegogo has less than one-tenth the reach of Kickstarter.

So why didn't we go with Kickstarter? We couldn't. Despite having a guaranteed deliverable, Kickstarter called it a charity and wouldn't touch it. Silence in the Library Publishing argued against this every which way. But Kickstarter would not be swayed.

As someone later explained to me, Kickstarter wants to see itself as the ultimate boutique emporium, the place for the rare and rarefied, patronized by all the Cool Kids. But its users are all about the bargains. They want to buy in cheap on the ground floor of something that will later give them bragging rights. Charity falls outside the emporium model. Charity means funding an intangible, which might as well be giving something for nothing.

With that outlook, it's not surprising Kickstarter won't touch what it defines as charity. (How it defines all those "deliverables" that never show up is another matter, but I digress.) I wonder if the founders realize their stance is essentially saying: Charity Isn't Cool. I also wonder if they'd care.

It didn't help that in the middle of the campaign Indiegogo faced its own deliverables crisis, and muffed it royally. But that, too, is a digression, because even before the kerfuffle hit, our numbers were still below our Kickstarter numbers by a factor of three.

So, the takeaway? If you're looking to crowdsource a product, hie thee to Kickstarter. You'll start out in a better place and stay there. However, if for some reason you need to go to Indiegogo, Go-Fund-Me or some other platform, offer to decapitate someone by name in your next story. The crowd will go wild.

But that, my sweets, is a story for another day. Can't you see I'm pooped?!

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