21 January 2019 | 10 Comments
A few weeks ago, someone on Instagram took offense to a passage from my crowdfunding book:
Your livelihood should not depend on a single crowdfunding campaign. You’re raising money to create something, not to fund your personal expenses. Most people will have tough financial times at some point in their lives. Those times suck, but they’re neither the time nor the reason to launch a Kickstarter project. Figure out your personal finances and keep them separate from your project when it’s ready to launch on its own merit.
The person took the paragraph out of context (I was explaining some bad motivations for launching a project–basically, personal desperation doesn’t typically translate to good results for backers and creators on Kickstarter). However, context aside, I agree with him/her and disagree with Past Jamey. Specifically, I no longer agree with this sentence: “You’re raising money to create something, not to fund your personal expenses.”
You’ll see this sentiment if you go back and read some of my earliest Kickstarter Lessons. At the time, I believed that pledge prices should be calculated based on covering manufacturing costs, shipping, sunk costs, and a small buffer. Not once in my “funding goal” lesson do I mention one of the most important and invaluable assets: YOUR TIME.
Your time is valuable, and you deserve to be compensated for your time. How you spend that money is up to you, whether it’s personal necessities, cat toys, or board games.
I once thought this conflicted with a backer-first mentality, but I now understand that if a creator is going to best serve their backers, fair compensation for their time (built into the reward costs) is part of the equation. I think you can respect both backers/customers with great value and yourself with some form of financial compensation.
How you determine that calculation is up to you. For me, my full-time job is running Stonemaier Games, so I earn a salary. I don’t earn royalties from any of my games as a designer, but that option might be more appealing to you.
One important caveat to mention is that any budgeting you planned for a Kickstarter campaign is hypothetical until you actually pay the bills. The product might cost more to print or ship than you thought, and you’ll almost certainly run into an unforeseen cost at some point. That’s what a healthy buffer is for.
But the biggest difference between my previous philosophy and now is that I would recommend that you include some form of financial compensation for yourself in the budget that you use to calculate your funding goal and reward prices.
Does this change in philosophy resonate with you as a creator? If you’re a backer, how do you feel about part of your funding going to the creator as compensation for their time?
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