Crowdfunding and Connecting With Your Audience

On the surface this is all about musc rather than writing, but John Scalzi's recent post about the success of musician Amanda Palmer's Kickstarter campaign doubles as a really spot-on analysis of what makes a truly successful crowdsourcing campaign.

The whole thing is worth reading, but the part that really stood out for me was the emphasis he placed in the following paragraph (in the section discussing the fact that it's taken 10 years of work for Palmer to reach this point):

Between then and now most of what I know about Palmer is her working her ass off: Making music, playing that music, going off and making more, and building both awareness and a fan base. She left her music label a few years ago and has been putting out music independently since then; she’s presumably learned a thing or two about the mechanisms of DIY art during that time — and in that time she’s trained her fans in the fine art of supporting a truly indie musician (or at the very least, a truly indie Amanda Palmer). This is hugely important.

The notion of training fans to support your work is both intimidating and brilliant, but the thing I always end up pondering in these kinds of stories is how writers do that.

Musicians often have the option of connecting with their audience via performance, and there are established social norms at work when a performer wants to connect with people in exchange for immediate, if haphazard, support. For instance, Amanda Palmer was a street-performer/busker prior to forming her band, and the ethos has infiltrated her work as a musician with her use of free public gigs. It's a trade that fans already understand, taken to a new level.

The writer equivalent of busking is...what? Giving away content on blogs? I'm curious if anyone has thoughts.

Comments (2)

  1. Meg Vann:
    May 11, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I love this idea of writers training our fans/readers. I recently had my first ever story published, and the temptation to provide free copies to friends/families/supporters was very strong! But instead I always let them know how grateful I am for their support, and refer them to where they could purchase my story - it is easily accessible and very affordable. Often I need to explain different platforms and e-readers, too, so it's training them in more ways than one! Offering free content can be an effective component in an overall audience-building strategy adn I do share regularly through my blog, but in this case I felt it was a great chance to offer my wonderful supporters the opportunity to pay, and they have responded positively :)

  2. Sue Swinburne:
    May 17, 2012 at 01:44 PM

    Here is AFP's own perspective on working with fans, building relationships and authenticity:

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20120502/15324918745/how-amanda-palmer-built-army-supporters-connecting-each-every-day-person-person.shtml

    To quote the great Donna Summer: She works hard for the money.

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