Today Creative Commons publicly launched its first-ever Kickstarter campaign. We’re raising money to write a book about open business models that incorporate CC licensing.
If our Kickstarter is successful, we’ll spend the next year searching for answers to the question we are so often asked — how can creators make money to sustain what they do when they are letting the world reuse their work for free? In its simplest form, we think of this project as an exploration into the ways creators can make a living in the digital age.
To do this, we will find and profile 24 businesses, creators, and organizations that are successfully using Creative Commons. One of those businesses will be Medium. Since they integrated CC licensing a few months ago, Medium has become one of our favorite storytelling platforms. It is simple, beautiful, and they seem to really “get the Internet.” They have agreed to work with us, and we’re excited to dig deeper into how they operate.
Our project will seek to tell success stories of companies like Medium, but our ultimate aim is to take our analysis a step further to reveal strategies that other businesses and creators can use for their own endeavors. At the end of the process, we will put our findings together in an ebook, and we will publish an interactive tool that people can use to develop and evaluate their own open business models.
As we do our research for the book, we’ll be publishing regularly here in our Medium publication, which we consider our digital whiteboard. Here, we’ll share insights as we go, try out new ideas, and we’ll openly discuss obstacles we face, questions we have, and issues we are mulling. Our hope is that the process of researching, analyzing, and writing the book will be truly collaborative and open.
In fact, this Kickstarter campaign is itself a case study of an open business model. Crowdfunding has become a tried-and-true method to fund creative works in the digital age. After doing the prep work for this project, we can also safely say that crowdfunding is not for the feint of heart. First you pour yourself into your project plan, then you find a way to express it all creatively, and finally, you launch and wait for the world to say yay or nay to your work in one of the most visible ways possible. To be honest, it isn’t always a comfortable way to operate. But crowdfunding on sites like Kickstarter is about as open as a business model can get. Not only does everything happen in the open, but you’re forced to consider important aspects of your project like community-building and collaboration right from the start. I consider this Kickstarter campaign to be first-hand research into the topics of our book. It’s also a great chance to get people interested and involved in our work.
So, if you care about open content, working in the open, and the ways creators survive in a post-scarcity economy, join us for the ride. Together, let’s show the world how Creative Commons can be good for business.