Breaking even

Twitter pal @peterdamien was musing today about whether crowdfunded projects make any money for the creator, or simply fund the project. Now, I haven’t created a project of my own, but I’ve observed from the sidelines for the last year or so, and I think the answer is a rather complicated “maybe”.

To me, the ideal use of crowdfunding is to apply polish to something, and get it ready for a wider audience. In my case, I’ve given a little thought to using crowdfunding to finance the completion of a mobile game. A simple analysis of this sort of project tells me that there’s five major areas I’d need to address to create a sellable indie game: game design, coding, graphics, audio, and marketing. Game design and coding are the fun parts, I don’t want to give those up. Marketing, to some degree, is fun too, and for an indie game seems maybe to be about marketing the creator as much as the game. So I’d want to control those, and would probably do them for free.

Graphics and audio (which I’m considering to be in-game sounds and music) are my weak spots. I would probably need help for those. And that help is what I’d be funding via my campaign. I’m using the crowdfunding platform to take something I’ve made and make it ready for others. For a fiction project, this would likely be used to fund editing, cover design, e-book formatting, printing, etc. And of course if you have special rewards, those aren’t likely to be free.

So, it’s totally conceivable and probably a reasonable expectation that you come to the end of a successfully funded project that doesn’t demolish it’s goal (or does, and adds in stretch goals) with a polished, sellable piece of work that you have made zero profit on. But, and this is the salient point here, I think, you have a much better end product than if you hadn’t done the campaign. And, you now own something that can continue to be sold, and if you’ve been a gracious and sensible creator, you also hopefully have a few hundred fans out there awaiting your product and talking about it. And it’s the sales after the campaign that make money, since those are much “cheaper” sales (i.e. you’ve already paid the costs of creation, and you’re doing marketing only) (not that you should shortchange marketing) (again, take me with a grain of salt, but I would assume creation cost > marketing cost) (and don’t overdo it with the parentheticals).

So, do crowdfunded campaigns make money? Maybe! What do you think? If you’ve run a campaign, what has been your experience?

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