Episode 313 – New Markets for Artists / In Summary

In Summary

Let’s summarize how I prepared for the MONA project on Kickstarter. I made a simple MONA website with a small text block and a few widgets. I also revamped my regular artist website with a similar look of minimal text, a few links, and the “like” and “tweet” buttons. Free from advertising and other clutter, my pages were clean and easy to navigate. My primary goal was not to share content, but to get many “likes” on Facebook, and most of all, gather more email addresses. The email signup form is incredibly important, especially if you keep it simple so subscribers need only provide their email addresses and hit Submit. Having this kind of email marketing service is very helpful. It allows all persons interested in your work to receive updated information from you in a single email blast. That is the basic skeleton and summary of what I did online, but of course to be successful I also had to consider the content of the MONA project and recruit James Franco. There are many steps to making a project like this successful and the best it can be, and we knew we wanted to broadcast it inside and out of the art world. James Franco was essential in achieving that goal because of his popular appeal, and his mind for art. He has a way of thinking and working with art that is similar to ours, and we knew he would communicate to casual and main- stream art observers as well as those outside the world of art. We were so happy that he liked our idea, and his contribution fit perfectly with our project, just as we thought it would.

The Final Statistics

The Kickstarter project for MONA ended on August 31, 2011. By the end it had raised $16,000, had 1,012 new subscribers on the email list, got 2,780 Facebook “likes,” and got 165 project backers. Those are pretty incredible statistics for a ninety-day project. It also generated over forty articles in the press and James Franco promoted the museum on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The MONA idea was a good one, of course, but tools for generating that kind of success are clearly laid out in this book for anyone to replicate. I am grateful my project created with my wife worked so well, and that I could use it as an example in this book!

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 311 – New Markets for Artists / What We Want from Our Website

What We Want from Our Website

There are three things we want from our website viewers. We want their email addresses so that we can keep in touch and let them know about future projects; we want their financial support; and we want them to spread the word about our project on Facebook and Twitter. To help facilitate these activities, we made new webpages. One was for MONA, and the other was for Praxis, our general art page. Then we opened new Twitter and Facebook pages for Praxis. The next thing we needed was an e-marketing program.

E-marketing  Program

E-marketing programs, of which there are many, are used to create signup forms on your website so people can join your mailing list. When they do this, their information is stored in a database and they will be included in future newsletters and updates. These programs are very important because you want to be able to collect contact information from potential customers who visit your site. Artists’ websites are usually a bit of a mess, with lots of old work, and typically a homepage that hasn’t been updated in a while. I have an idea to solve this problem, a kind of web 2.0 artist homepage for the 3.0 world. And it’s really much easier than current website models.

New Web Design with “Like” Buttons

The MONA website that I designed with my wife is very simple. There is some brief text describing the museum, and above are two widgets and a simple graphic of the acronym MONA. One is a Facebook widget that allows other people to “like” and share the website on their Facebook page.  The other is a Twitter widget that lets them tweet about your website directly.  The page also has a  sign-up form which  I keep extremely simple so that subscribers only have to enter their email and click the “Submit” button. Additional things like email verification and more personal information is unnecessary, and may discourage people from signing up.

Simple Signup Form

The sign-up form is super simple, even elegant, and there are no other photos on the site—just a link to the Kickstarter project. The website’s simplicity is important because there is little to navigate, and just a few elements for sharing , so it works perfectly. People can read the entire page in less than a minute and they can post, like and tweet it without leaving the page. The only other thing they can do, also without leaving the page, is sign up for the email list. You can still see the site by going to thenonvisiblemuseum.com. However, at the time of this reading, the site has been redesigned by the Saatchi & Saatchi, who did it for me pro bono, and incorporates much of what I just said above.

A New Artist Website, Too

Another similar site focuses on all the work I do with my wife (twobodies.com). You may already have your own site or are thinking of building one soon. Twobodies and MONA have similar web designs—few to no pictures, the same “like” and “tweet” buttons, a sign-up form, and some descriptive text—but the big difference with Twobodies was four large live-feed widgets which constantly update and displayed portions of my Facebook page. On Twobodies, these four rectangular widgets sit next to each other on the bottom of the page showing new information all the time. One of the widgets is a Kickstarter widget tracking the progress of the project, and others are for Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Now, whenever I post something new to my social networking ac- counts, my Twobodies homepage updates automatically.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 310 – New Markets for Artists / James Franco

James Franco

We thought James Franco would be good, as he has done some very high-concept artwork himself. We decided to email him a short note inviting him to be in our video. The email was very brief, and there were no images or website link. We simply asked him if he would talk to us about being in our project. After a few days he wrote back, saying that his assistant would set up a meeting.

Arranging a Meeting

That meeting took over a month to plan, but he was and is a very busy actor and artist. Finally, we had a lunchtime meeting with him at a small cafe. He was dressed very casually and so were we. We only had about thirty minutes of his time, so after initial pleasantries, we told him our idea. We explained that if someone bought a piece of art, they would actually get a card in the mail with a description on it, which they could then put on their wall. If someone asked, or if the new art owner wanted to show the work, he or she could use the description on the card to talk about the art. James understood the idea and liked it. He told us that it made him think of film projects he has wanted to do, and maybe we could use those for our museum promotion. We liked that idea, and he told us about a film he wanted to make that never happened for several reasons. He agreed to make a five-minute video describing our museum and his movie project for our Kickstarter promotion. We were super excited.

Making the Video

After he made the video of himself describing the work, we edited it and submitted it to Kickstarter. A word of caution here: Kickstarter is not YouTube, and when you propose project to them they can accept or reject it. If your proposal gets rejected, as our first one (before MONA) did, don’t lose heart. Try again and make your rewards more interesting. When MONA was accepted, we began writing out our descriptions of the museum for our rewards. The following things we did to prepare the project for launch are things you need to consider for your own work, even if you are not fundraising or selling at the moment.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 309 – New Markets for Artists / All-or-Nothing Funding

All-or-Nothing Funding

Let’s say you are a musician and you want to make a CD, that will cost about $4,000 dollars to produce. Your Kickstarter video might be some creative form of you talking about your music and maybe playing a song. You are allowed ninety days or less to raise money. If at the end of ninety days only $3,500 is pledged, the project’s financial goal has not been reached and you will get nothing. The reason funding is all or nothing is so that the project actually gets done well. It also ensures that the donors’ money will only be spent on successful projects. The key to any project on Kickstarter is to create interesting rewards for those who donate larger amounts of money. For example, all donors will receive a personalized thank you email from you; or those who donate $5 will receive an mp3 of one of your songs, $10 will earn them a copy of your CD, and $15 gets them tickets to one of your shows. The more creative and enticing your rewards are, the more likely people are to donate.

You as a Philanthropist

The easiest way to see how Kickstarter works is by exploring the website. You will see that most projects never get funded, but the ones that do get funded all have promotional angles and good rewards that make them special.  Try funding a few projects for a dollar to see how it works. In the case of non-visible art, we wanted the rewards to be the art itself. We thought we could make a video describing the museum and raise $5,000. The rewards would be descriptions of the non-visible art. For a certain donation amount, we might describe a painting of a horse in a field. That is what we wanted to do, but the challenge was deciding how to make the videos and promote the project.

Promoting the Project

The reason project promotion is so important is because if you just post something on Kickstarter and wait for pledges to come in, usually nothing happens. You have to tell your friends on your various social networks what you are doing. And if you are trying to raise a significant sum like $5,000 or more, you may even have to make calls. Promotion is something you must tackle and manage well. In our case, we began with deciding how to make our video. Since we didn’t actually have anything to show we thought we should both talk about the museum. As we discussed that possibility, we also thought it would help to have someone else in the video who understands what we were planning to do.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 164 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Kickstarter.com is now the largest funding platform for the arts in the world. When you go to Kickstarter, you will see a format that looks very much like YouTube. There are different artists and creative people like inventors, writers, artists, and musicians showcasing their projects on Kickstarter. They make a short video explaining what they want to achieve, like the funds to make a CD of their music or maybe the funds to make the prototype of their invention or some art project about a road trip, a painting series, and anything else you can imagine. Then after you see their pitch in a video, you can pledge money to their project. The amount can be as little as one dollar. In each category, starting at a dollar, there is a description of what you will get for your donation. It might be a thank-you letter or a CD or a print, a book, or something else, depending on what the category amount is and your project. But here is the unusual part, so pay close attention and be sure to see the site as well. If you decide you need $5,000 for a project, then unless you get a total of $5,000 in pledges, you will not get any money, and the donors who pledged money will not give it. That means if you get a total of $4,500 in pledges for your project and it ends after a time of thirty days, you will receive nothing, and the project will be over.

The reason this works so well is that you only get the money that you actually need because if you did get the money before your goal was reached, you would be in danger of not being able to complete a project and disappointing the funders.

Starting a Project on Kickstarter.com

Now what I suggest to get going is not that you begin a project today, but that you begin funding other people’s projects, which will give you a clear insight into how it is all done. When you go to kickstarter.com, start looking around at projects you like. Then pledge a dollar or so to one or two. That is a small amount of money to pledge, but it will serve several purposes. One, it will show you how people thank you for the pledge. Also, it will show you how the system works financially because you will have to create an Amazon account for this. Most of all, you will have the pleasure I was describing of being a philanthropist for very, very little money! You will see the joys of being thanked and knowing that you are helping a truly good cause. The amazing thing here is that if you are pledging an amount like a dollar to ten or twenty projects a month, you will find that most of them never get funded. That means that your pledge is never actually taken out of your account because the target for funding was not reached.

So go ahead, explore that website, fund several projects, and you will get the perspective of a donor and the pleasures that come with it. You will also learn what kind of letters you like to see, what kind of thank-you notes work, and what doesn’t. Then you can start your own Kickstarter project. They make it easy and very personal, though not all ideas get accepted. All you have to do is go to the section of the website that says “start your project” and write a brief description of what you would like to do. Once your project is accepted, you can sit back and watch the money roll in—just kidding. Once your project is accepted, you must tell your friends and begin to promote your project. That means getting the word out there through emails, phone calls, and more. The best way to begin thinking about your project or designing it is to look around the Kickstarter website. Look at the most popular projects, the ones that received the most funding, and look at the projects that didn’t get their funding. Then, ready or not, launch your idea into the world.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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