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How To: Get Things Done With "Crowdsourcing" Sites

Fund a "Passion Project"

The most impressive use of crowdsourcing might just be crowdfunding. After all, $1 from 100 people is a much more manageable expense than $100 from one person. Sites like Kickstarter, RocketHub, and Indiegogo are turning some passion projects into million dollar ideas. Three Kickstarter projects have already reached more than a million dollars in funding.

Besides raising money, these crowdfuding sites build and expand fan bases and increase excitement surrounding a project. It’s as much about the crowd as it is about the funding, according to Eric Meyer, a 29-year-old multimedia artist in Denver, CO who’s raising money on RocketHub for a multimedia novel.

“It’s a way to build interest and investment from your audience, and simultaneously expand your budget for the project,” he said.

For most independent artists, exposure is the biggest roadblock. For filmmaker Ricky Laprade, age 31 of Providence, RI, crowdsourcing was a way to level the competitive field and give his feature film a chance.

“It’s without a doubt the easiest way to introduce your own unique brand of awesomeness to a large audience,” Laprade said.

Aspiring filmmaker Scott Leisk, age 40 of San Antonio, agrees. He’s currently using Kickstarter to launch a feature film as well, and hopes to build the same following for his project that he’s observed other campaigns receive.

“I’ve seen a wide variety of projects looking for and finding backing that otherwise would never have found a market,” he said.

Laprade believes crowdsourcing gives people the option to throw what was once a local grass roots campaign into a national – and sometimes international–spotlight. But the donations who often make that dream a reality usually come from an already-established fan base.

For Digital Summer, an up-and-coming band that doesn’t want to rely on a record label to front the money for their next album, asking their fans to front $25,000 on Kickstarter was an obvious choice. Guitarist Ian Winterstein, age 27 of Pheonix, likes crowdsourcing because the band can reward fans who donate with incentives, like a Skype session or a private drum lesson.

“We’re able to offer the fans really cool experiences with the band – things they might have never been able to do otherwise,” Winterstein said. “This is an opportunity for a fan to be directly part of the music they love.”

Independent film producer Mary Ratliff, age 31 of Washington, D.C., agrees that a fan base is important – and is what will make or break most campaigns. During her first Kickstarter project, 90 percent of her $500 donation came from friends and family.

“The average person doesn’t always find that kind of success,” Ratliff said. “While I’ll consider crowdfunding in the future, it would be with an eye toward creating a fan base and engaging the community.”