Crowdfunding: The Art of Asking

Trusting in the goodness of people is a tough ask, especially for the more cynical amongst ourselves. In fact, we’re often taught to develop the exact opposite instinct, with blind trust being viewed as naivety.

Amanda Palmer is the lead singer of the Dresden Dolls, a punk rock band, and also a firm advocate of crowdfunding, a principle which she outlines both in her TED talk and her book by the same title.

As a musician, upon first leaving university, she supported herself financially by being a street performer, namely as “the eight-foot bride”, a job which she says taught her the invaluable life lesson of asking strangers for help.

Supported by her own experiences and story, she highlights the importance of making human connections, allowing oneself to be vulnerable and learning how to ask for, and accept, help from others.

Many people, at one time or another, wish they could drop their responsibilities, quit their unfulfilling jobs and pursue their passions, but few actually follow through with these ideas. They become no more than a daydream.

That being said, we are quickly seeing jobs and entire industries changing with the growth of technology. The phenomenon and rapid rise of self-employed content creators, who use the Internet as their platform, has brought about a source of income to thousands of creative individuals and is forever growing.

The number of people who are able to live solely off this income, however, is still in the vast minority. Therefore, many of these creators turn to other avenues to boost their revenue, such as selling merchandise to their fans, asking for support through subscriptions, likes and shares. Alternatively, they use services such as Patreon, which allows people to contribute set amounts each month in exchange for rewards or other benefits.

All of these are simply different tools for doing exactly what Palmer describes in her talk and follows the principal of crowdfunding.

However, crowdfunding is not as easy as it seems. Some of the most challenging aspects are disassociating from the shame around asking for help, and believing in the value of what you are providing in exchange for payment; whether that be art, content, music, or whatever else you can offer.

Palmer’s belief is that being authentic and truthful creates a more personal connection, leading to people responding with overwhelming positivity and a willingness to help.

This isn’t just wishful thinking. Palmer has led one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time, after deciding to leave her label and provide her music for free. By daring to ask for the help of those who see value in her work, those who could afford to do so, contributed.

It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and there are definitely unique struggles with this kind of lifestyle. Whether you are a creator yourself or would like to support individuals instead of corporations, crowdfunding has provided a direct avenue for artists and sponsors to create meaningful connections and foster creative growth.

Watch the talk below:

COVER PHOTO Editorial credit: Ken Teegardin /

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About Helena Viegas Araujo

Helena is a twenty-something year old with a passion for adventuring, drinking wine, binge-watching TV shows and curling up with a good book. Occasionally, she puts her thoughts down on paper, either with a pen or digitally.

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