Funding Faux Pas: Patreon V. GoFundMe And Other Kickstarters

By: Amy Cooper

One thing that many artists have to grapple with is cost. It is a constant struggle that many of us tackle, trying to find a way to get paid for what we do on top of selling work or services. Especially if we are creating things to show our talents, many of us sink a lot of money into our projects without return. 

One of the things, especially us photographers struggle with is updating equipment. Now, there are many things out there that are kickstarter programs, the most notably being GoFundMe. Now, here's the thing that you need to understand about platforms like this: 

You are literally posting on your social media to have other people fund your goal or dream without giving them anything in return. 

And you may not like my response to this, but doing that is wrong. It is not anyone's responsibility to pay for your equipment or your education. Especially if you're already owning or operating a business of this same craft. Asking people to pay for your equipment would be the equivalent of standing in a store and yelling "Hey, can you each give me $5 so I can put it toward my groceries?"

On a respect component, many of us have worked for our equipment. Now a select few newbies maybe had Mommy and Daddy to help, but most of us earned our glass by working hard, taking jobs we didn't necessarily like, and building our arsenals. I should know, I've done it with two camera brands now. 

So when it comes to something like Patreon, I can say so far, I'm a little more lenient, and here's why: With Patreon, you are (supposedly) offering goods, services, discounts, or otherwise something as a response for someone to support you. You're saying "Hey, for X amount of dollars / X amount of dollars a month, you will get the following things: A, B, C, D." 

For example, many Suicide Girls or photographers who post more X-Rated Sets will make a tier for that, and have people pay to see those images. Some will send out images per month in print form, while some will offer seminars or even simple social media follows (for those big named artists). Namely, you are getting something in return for your patronage. 

Though that may help you get to your goal as well, and it's a lot more work than a GoFundMe where you just beg for someone to support you, at least they are getting content, goods, or services by using Patreon to support your craft. And let's face it, many of us post our work for free online to show off what we can do, but not many will offer to put their money where their mouth is. 

So, if you're considering using either service, let me ask you this: Are you the type of person that wants to have everything handed to them and not give anyone anything back in return (a taker), or do you want to be a business person and give people goods, skills, and art to view for supporting your craft? You decide. 

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