Topic: Turning a trickle into a flood

Topic type:

Taking some small drips of revenue from a legacy project and turning them into a large pool of money for work via crowdfunding.

My former notabli and Cubspot co-conspirator, Jory Raphael, is running a kickstarter campaign to update Symbolicons. Besides being really impressed with what he's offered and how well he has done, I was struck by how great a model for revisiting a project that you have been wanting to do for ages it is!

Most of us that have been doing creative stuff have a once successful piece of work that still brings in a little cash, but is in dire need of an update. Every now and then we try and get some client or grant or whatever to fund the necessary time to make it happen, but no one bites because it's too big. Meanwhile a nagging drip, drip, drip of little guilt drops pools in the back of the mind where the project is slowly getting creakier and creakier.

Can you see it? It's rocking back and forth and mumbling "help me" in a feeble whisper.

So it is for me with Kete.

I've been mulling a top to bottom revamping of Kete for years now. I've tried to sell many people on it because it remains super useful, but painfully stuck in the pre-mobile days.

This post isn't about that project specifically though. It's about how crowdfunding an existing project in general is a great way to minimize everyone's risk while bringing it back from its near death state.

Bringing it back to life

A lot of people may still be using that once mighty thing. You may get enquiries about its future. You may get questions about what has replaced it. Sadly nothing has. So some people may be paying you a little here, a little there, to keep it plugged into life support. It has a community, though diminished, from its proud glory days.

You want to take that now-zombie like project and apply a shock of electricity to it. To re-animate your beautiful monster!

You need to gather all those little drops of interest so they gush forth into backing for a crowfunding campaign that brings in sufficient cash for you to get the job done.

Jory's campaign is a great case study in how this plays out:

By being able to demonstrate past success, i.e. the ability to deliver something cool and useful, you have a major selling point for your potential backers. There's less risk that you'll crap the bed and they get nothing.

People in the community that want to see the new version ship will be happy to step up and give you that sweet, sweet social proof with testimonials. Maybe someone who uses the old stuff has a great logo for some solid name dropping on your campaign page.

You can speak from experience about how rad it will be. You already deeply understand the things that it needs to make it super cool again. That detailed and exact knowledge inspires confidence for people to go ahead and hit the back this project button.

Lastly, but most importantly, you already have a built-in audience of people that have invested in the past version of the project that you can reach out to to get the ball rolling with pledges.

Go forth and fund that monster sitting in the back of your head

So yeah, I'm inspired! I've often felt that legacy projects were dragging me back. Seeing Jory's campaign as a template and a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, I feel like I can use things that I need to get back to as building blocks for rewarding self directed work.

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