Kickstarter Sites Need a Giant Kick to Get Results, Seattle Weekly's Ex-Intern Discovers

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Julia Waterhous, 22, had a great idea for a documentary in India. So, like many young artists, she turned to Kickstarter--the hot Web-based fund-raising platform for creative projects. What she discovered: It's not that easy.

Potential donors don't magically discover your Kickstarter site, says Waterhous, a Corvallis resident, recent Boston University graduate and former Seattle Weekly intern. You have to work at getting the word out. Constantly. "It almost becomes like a full-time job," she says.

She put up her Kickstarter page this summer, asking for $8,750--the bare minimum she thought she needed, covering her flight and equipment, but not much else. She had an impetus to keep the amount low: If you don't raise your target by the deadline you set, you don't get any money at all.

On her Kickstarter page, she put up a video of herself talking about her idea to film New Delhi's so-called "waste-pickers," a poor and oppressed group of people who eek out a living by collecting recyclable materials from the city's landfills.

Within 24 hours, she says, she got nearly half of her requested funds, mostly from family and friends. And then, almost nothing. It this thing was going to work, she realized, she'd have to amp up her efforts on other social media sites. One Facebook post wasn't going to cut it, because if someone doesn't see it right away, it'll likely get buried beneath the dozens of other posts that quickly accumulate.

So she's been posting every other day, trying to think of fresh ways to promote her Kickstarter site and keep herself from being "thoroughly irritating." She'll ask what she hopes are intriguing questions--who are the waste-pickers?-- and include a link to Kickstarter. She does the same in tweets to organizations that she thinks might have an interest in her project. She's also trying to get the word out the old-fashioned way, by plastering Corvallis with flyers.

Her deadline is a little over a week away. She's got $4,500 to raise, or the $4,200 she's already raised will vanish. "It's on my mind all day, every day," Waterhous says.

 
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