Websites That Bring Your Creative Projects to Life
Let’s face it: No matter how much you enjoy your 9-to-5 job, chances are there’s another hobby you’d really like to pursue professionally, if only you could get the necessary startup costs. So we’ve rounded up 10 great websites that help users do just that. Whether you’re looking to cut a record, market an invention or write the next great American novel, these sites will provide you with a community of peers who offer feedback, as well as the tools to market your project so you can earn some real money.
Photo Credit: dotbenjamin
No website is as essential to aspiring inventors, artists and entrepreneurs as Kickstarter, a micro-venture capital site that gives users the power to find funding and an audience to turn their ideas into the next big thing. Every day, Kickstarter highlights new projects that need to raise a certain amount of money to get off the ground. Users then decide whether the project is worth investing in, and if so they can pledge anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand to help the creators.
Since the website first launched in 2009, Kickstarter has helped countless projects raise money and gain media attention, including one project to build a competitor to Facebook and another to make a documentary about a teen who overdosed in the suburbs. In essence, the site, like several others on our list, succeeds by helping to eliminate the middle man and give creative people a powerful tool to reach out directly to potential customers.
Photo Credit: Kickstarter.com
Etsy is the ultimate craft fair, and best of all, anyone who has a craft to sell can join. Local merchants, amateur designers and tech geeks all flock to this site to market their products to an online community of millions. On any given day, you might find art prints and beaded jewelry or even a typewriter that’s been rigged up to connect to a computer. Several users have managed to parlay the exposure and money earned through this site into full-blown small businesses.
Photo Credit: Etsy.com
You might think of inventors as being a lonely lot who sit at their workbenches trying to figure out the next brilliant idea, but Quirky has turned inventing into a social activity. Inventors pitch their product ideas to the thousands of users on Quirky, who then offer feedback and suggestions on how to make it better. Users then vote on the products, and if one proves popular enough, Quirky will make it available for pre-sale in their online store. Finally, if enough customers pre-order the product, Quirky will help fast-track the product through the production stages.
Some of the products already on sale in Quirky’s store include an alarm clock shaped like a light bulb that doubles as a reading light, a cord holder that keeps your wires from tangling and cluttering up your desk and a small double-bladed ice scraper designed to help you clear off your windshield more quickly.
Photo Credit: Quirky.com
YouTube Musicians Wanted
YouTube, the leading online video portal, has always served as an excellent tool for new and old musicians to post music videos and reach a wider audience, but last year, the website took it one step farther. YouTube’s Musicians Wanted program gives artists the option to partner with YouTube, meaning the site will help build and promote a musician’s own online channel, develop a following and even share ad revenues generated from the videos.
Photo Credit: YouTube.com
If YouTube’s program isn’t enough to help the aspiring musician, there’s also Indaba Music, an online community of music professionals who can help produce tracks and collaborate with artists. This site can also help you find performing gigs and market your music on iTunes, MySpace and elsewhere so that you actually start earning some real money.
Photo Credit: IndabaMusic.com
Kindle Direct Publishing
Getting a book into print used to be a long and sometimes costly ordeal, but now, with the rise of digital books, it’s easier than ever. Kindle Direct Publishing, an online service, makes it easy for users to create and sell their own e-books through Amazon. Writers don’t need to pay anything to use this service, and they receive 70% of the royalties for any book that is sold through Amazon.
If you’re looking to have someone edit your book or offer feedback before you put it up on Amazon, then consider joining RedRoom.com, a free-to-join community of writers full of useful tips on the craft, as well as professionals who provide copy editing and advice.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
iStockPhoto is one of several websites that offers photographers a way to monetize their hobby. Photographers apply for a position as a contributing photographer for the site, allowing them to build a portfolio and share pictures. These photos can then be found and used by other websites, magazines and brochures for varying prices. In this way, you’ll be able to say you’re a published photographer and be able to pocket some money in the process.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com
ImageKind is another site dedicated to giving photographers (as well as painters and cartoonists) an outlet to promote and sell their work. Artists can join for free, create a profile, upload pictures and set their own prices for publishing rights. Users keep 100% of whatever they earn on the site, and beyond that, they earn a 15% commission on any frames or accessories that customers buy to accompany their work.
Photo Credit: Imagekind.com
Fiverr launched with a simple mission last year: give people the power to buy and sell a wide range of services for just $5. If you’re an artist looking to make a few bucks by helping someone draw a greeting card or a musician willing to play a song at someone’s party for five bucks, this site is for you. Obviously, $5 won’t do much to pay your bills, but the real promise of this website is providing a way for creative-minded people to do small gigs and network with potential fans in the hope of building up their brand. But hey, $5 can be nice too.
Photo Credit: Fiverr.com
The Awesome Foundation
If your passion is to find a new and innovative way to help your community, there’s a new organization to help you do that as well. The Awesome Foundation, which has branches in cities all over the world, awards $1,000 grants to cool projects every month to help get them off the ground.
Former winners include a “diaper bank” that provides baby supplies to needy families and a farmers market dedicated to helping poor families eat healthy, both of which were funded in the Washington, D.C. area. Not only did these ideas win $1,000, but the Awesome Foundation also consulted the creators on how to get their projects started, and in the case of the diaper bank, the organization did pro bono graphic design to create a logo.
Photo Credit: AwesomeFoundation.org
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