I came across a news story about a very popular celebrity musician selling their book of poetry for $1 a copy. After experiencing writers block during the production of a new batch of recordings for a CD, the artist turned to poetry, feeling that much of the lyrical ideas and images that resulted from lyric writing attempts were really poems. With millions of loyal fans waiting for the new CD and tour, it was an easy decision to make this book of poems available for sale. And even if it was never meant as a money-making venture, the result from its sale will certainly make for a sizeable bank deposit. It drew my attention to a reverse scenario: Artists asking for donations and patronage in order to continue to produce their works.
As poets, writers, and other artists venture into making their craft available to the world -- and eventually their fans, the online experience and social media offer easy ways to assist in acquiring funding. An open guitar case in the subway or a desk in the park is still used to request compensation in exchange for an original song performance or a custom poem, but when it comes to creating a new chapbook or self-publishing a more formal collection, here are a few suggestions that can produce the necessary cash:
There are three levels of membership when creating an account with Patreon, a website that allows creatives of all types to connect directly with their audience online, making their content available to followers in a subscription format. A writer or poet could deliver their work directly to an expectant audience as a membership subscription business. Recurring income is collected in exchange for scheduled installments.
This may not seem like a sexy new chapbook, but it’s certainly a positive move in the direction of building an audience and being compensated for your craft. And there are many more tools and informative workshops on the Patreon site to help make the most of this powerful online audience-building opportunity.
For those who prefer a less formal approach, there’s Ko-fi.
Often we hear NPR and other non-profit telethon campaigns asking possible contributors to consider foregoing spending their $3 (or more) on a cup of coffee and pitching in for something far more lasting and valuable. Now is your opportunity to do the very same thing. Create an account and add a button to your website to give everyone the opportunity to be generous in their support of the arts: your writing project. And it goes without saying, be certain your work is strong – especially since your fans will be skipping a coffee now and then!
3. Go Fund Me
Often used to crowd source funds for a new invention or idea, GoFund Me has helped millions of individuals in their personal fundraising efforts. From quickly raising emergency medical funds, to assistance with paying for the recording and production of an indie band’s new CD, and much in between – this could be an easy way to clearly lay out what is needed and present it to your audience for their consideration. GoFundMe is “the most trusted free online fundraising platform.”
4. Add a Paypal button to your site – click and donate
How many times have you seen this on a website? It’s there for a good reason – it works! Seamlessly connect to your bank account and allow website visitors the chance to support your writing project. Explain to them what you’ve been working on and what you require to continue. Be sure to post sample poems and pages, as well as frequent updates on your progress. “Reward” generous audience participation and behavior with limited editions, signed books, or other displays of your creativity and gratefulness.
5. Social Media / Cry For Help
I’m not going to mention the largest hunter-gatherer of data on the Internet. I’m also quite certain you have your own strong opinion about spending time using it, or being used by it?
I have an artist-friend who has made use of social media over the past years as a way to stay in touch (she leads a nomadic lifestyle), inform her friends, fans, and followers of projects and paths, post travel photos (astounding remote places, oftentimes traveling alone), and very occasionally to make a plea for funds. She lives an adventurous, difficult, and dangerous lifestyle, and definitely follows and relies on her inner promptings. She suffers (unnecessarily?) for her art and there have been times when financial assistance is required. As a friend she is at times infuriating and stubborn, as a human being she is supreme, and those in the know offer support without question.
An artist/writer has a responsibility to their art and calling to follow through to completion, but sometimes too, living gets in the way. Financial support is necessary to make ends meet and keep up one’s strength to continue the process. Being able to ask for help can be a hard lesson to learn, but once it has been mastered, one can push onward to the studio. Knowing you have others awaiting your results might sound like pressure, but it can also be an act of loving support. Their message: “We’re cheering for you to succeed at this project! Your work is of high value! Keep going! Eat something!”
-- Scott Lesniewski, Contributing Editor, Brilliant Light Publishing