This is not the most exciting part of a creative degree, but it certainly brings one down to earth to realise that the business side of photography has to creep in at some point!

My pre-photography career was in project management, so I am familiar with the need to both plan and track resources, especially financial resources, on any project. For the SYP publication I need to produce a draft budget in order to construct the crowdfunding campaign; I need to confirm not only how much I want to raise in total, but also how much any associated rewards will cost and therefore how much money will be left over to spend on necessary products and services to actually produce the publication in its various forms.

Estimated costs

There are two components to my proposed publication: a virtual exhibition and a printed publication.

The idea is that ‘visitors’ to the virtual exhibition would be sent a free printed exhibition catalogue in the post, in return for providing some feedback on the exhibition experience. This would be capped at the first ‘x’ to respond (‘x’ being how many catalogues I have left after fulfilling the crowdfunding rewards, explained later in this blog post).

Virtual exhibition

I will concede that making the exhibition virtual rather than physical has made the financial side of it simpler! It is basically the cost of the virtual exhibition platform.

My current thinking is that I will pay for three months of the virtual exhibition hosting, at the entry-level Art.Spaces package which is €10/month. This will be two months public exhibition preceded by a bit of prep time.

  • Exhibition total: €30 (approx £27)

Note that from a crowdfunding point of view this amount is negligible and so I may just self-fund this aspect and make the funding purely about the printed publication, to keep the campaign simple.

Printed publication

Although I haven’t pinned down the precise format of the printed publication yet, I have got enough of an idea of costs to draw up a budget. It will break down into three component parts, printing, packaging and postage. Below is based on a print run of 50x publications:

  • Magazine:
    • Printing: £2.99
    • Packaging: £0.08
    • Postage: £1.40
    • Subtotal: £4.47
  • Newspaper:
    • Printing: £4.06
    • Packaging: £0.08
    • Postage: £0.88
    • Subtotal: £5.02
  • Total publication cost:
    • Range is therefore between £223.50 and £252.50
    • If I choose to pay for a proof copy before committing to the full print run, it will add approx £20
    • So the total is up to £272.50 at the higher end
    • To net down to this amount after crowdfunding platform and payment processing fees (~10%) would require a crowdfunding target of almost exactly £300

Crowdfunding rewards

A project budget isn’t just what you spend, it’s also what funding you get in. My proposed funding method is crowdfunding (topped up by personal funds if necessary).

It’s not just as simple as estimating how much money people might pledge; the picture is complicated somewhat when you take into account how crowdfunding campaigns work. It is common in crowdfunding campaigns to offer rewards at specific levels of pledges. Some of these rewards will have a financial cost and others won’t.

I’m currently thinking of offering three levels of reward:

  • Level 1: pledge £10:
    • High-resolution (print quality) digital image file of an image from the exhibition
    • Name printed in publication acknowledgements
    • Priority invitation to online artist’s talk event
    • Cost: £0 (so nets me £10)
  • Level 2: pledge £20:
    • High-resolution (print quality) digital image file of an image from the exhibition
    • Name printed in publication acknowledgements
    • Priority invitation to online artist’s talk event
    • Printed exhibition catalogue, posted*
    • Cost: £5 (so nets me £15)
  • Level 3: pledge £30:
    • High-resolution (print quality) digital image file of an image from the exhibition
    • Name printed in publication acknowledgements
    • Priority invitation to online artist’s talk event
    • Printed exhibition catalogue, posted
    • A3 print of an image from the exhibition, posted (already printed so just p&p costs to add, assume £5 max)
    • Cost: £10 (so nets me £20)

[* Yes, I know this begs the question: why would someone pledge for a ‘reward’ that they could get for free once the virtual exhibition is live? Well, the answer is that the exhibition can only take place if people pledge funds in advance, so… chicken and egg! Also, the pledge levels bring other rewards not available to general virtual exhibition viewers.]

If the crowdfunding campaign hits the £300 target and the mix of pledges was:

  • 4x level 1
  • 10x level 2
  • 2x level 3

… then the rewards would have cost me £70, leaving me £230 to fund the publication [NOTE: see the Edit at the end of this post]

To net out at £300 to spend on the publication would actually require exceeding the target, e.g. getting £400 in pledges apportioned something like:

  • 7x level 1
  • 12x level 2
  • 3x level 3

But rather than try to second-guess this, and cover all eventualities, I propose to set the crowdfunding target at exactly £300 and take care of any overspends out of personal funds.

As an aside: if things went surprisingly well and I attracted more than £400 in total then I would order more printed catalogues to send out to the virtual exhibition visitors.


Next steps

Next task is to research the main crowdfunding platforms. More to follow.


EDIT:

I’ve belatedly realised that I have double-counted some of the rewards, and the finances might not be as tight as I first thought.

To explain: I plan to order a run of 50 exhibition catalogues. If, say, 15 of these go to Level 2 pledgers then I will have 35 left to send out to people who view the online exhibition and give feedback. I don’t need to be able to pay for 50 magazines/papers after I’ve fulfilled the pledges; it can be whatever amount is left… “while stocks last” and all that.

So getting pledges totalling £300 doesn’t leave me £70 “short” after all.

I will however leave the flawed maths in place above as a record of my thinking. I will make sure it all makes sense when I submit the assignment itself!