Cram Magazine

The Cram Issue 2 Postmortem

On August 31st, the Cram Magazine Issue 2 Print project Cindy and I put up on Kickstarter in late July was fully funded at 110%, or 5 1,735 dollars from a 1,575 goal. Those 38 days were (at least for me) a tumultuous mix of nerve-wracking, enlightening, scary, and euphoric moments. I’ve put up the time line for funding below so that you can see the breakdown (click on it to enlarge)

 July 22- July 25: The funding kicked off  with 8 backers, most of them contributors of issue 1 with excluding two unrelated backers (one was a regular Kickstarter fairy giving us 15 dollars, while the other led to the second-most interesting part of the drive which I will get to later). The highest amount pledge was for 100 dollars from Toph Puglia ( he wrote the Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Movies a while back). Big daddy fat stacks wouldn’t be the only one dropping big pledges like that  during the drive.

July 26 – August 4: The inflow of money slowed down during this period. The backers consisted of friends and earlier coworkers of mine (big ups to JP Castillo and Lily Rosenman from PowerReviews, Inc. I’m gonna miss you guys) and my good friend and photographer Michelle Lauren. The largest pledge was 100 dollars yet again, this time from Cindy’s family.

August 5 – August 10: This was the most worrisome part of the drive for me. the inflow plateaued at $508. I ramped up my Twitter and Facebook ( along with some on Google + and Tumblr) posts out of fear that we would be stuck at 25%. In that period I made 50 posts, 35 from tweets and 15 from posts on the event page I created on FB. Nothing changed.

I started flashing back to Malcolm Gladwell’s article on the illusion of social media as the lynchpin of new activist movements . I know that comparing a magazine funding drive to something as  high-stakes as a revolution is foolish at best and narcissistic at worse, but the idea of weak community ties diluted from an expanding number of  online friends or followers made me fear that my campaign was filled with fraught little social connections that would produce buzz but not pledges. The one thing I did take away from the article was in the need to make a central team of sorts to push things forward. I started personally emailing or messaging people to help instead of posting status messages, not only to convince them to pledge but to convince others to. Despite that there wasn’t much improvement.

August 11 – August 16: …until an incredibly generous donation from a family member of Cram cohort Phil “Advocate of Truth” Schmitte made a 200 dollar pledge! Phil is the strongest proponent of the magazine since day one (or maybe three, but that’s just getting into unnecessary details) and with his help started a steady incline from that point forward, reaching to a 56% funded status (compared to the 32% it was stuck at) for the rest of this period. 9 backers pledged, the largest one for 200 dollars.

August 17 – August 24: Another moment of punctuated funding occurred with a large pledge, but this was an interesting one. The backer originally pledged for 30 dollars back in when the drive started, but adjusted the number to 100 in the next period. Another adjustment was made, this time for 200 dollars The backer was most likely trying to match the highest bidder as they came along. Regardless, this pledge  still wasn’t the largest one during the course of the fund drive.

August 25: Cindy sent a text saying “We are funded.” I rushed to my computer ( by which meant that I swiveled my chair from my laptop sitting on the edge of my bed to my desktop right next to me) and saw that on the project home page an anonymous backer pledged two hundred and fifty four dollars. We were now  100% funded; the generosity of the 35 backers up until then would not be in vain. I blasted posts from my personal Facebook account, the Cram FB page, and the Cram Twitter asking who was the mysterious donor. I asked Gwen if it was her, which she denied. I asked my friends back home. I almost asked my coworkers, thinking that they were giving me a going away present seeing as I was leaving the company soon, but I doubted that was the case. Cindy told me that at first anonymous backer pledge 360 dollars, but then adjusted it back to just enough to get the funding. I wonder why the anonymous backer made that$1o6 drop, not that I’m complaining about it.  My questions will eventually be answered when we ship the requested copy of the magazine, but I still have moments where I want to interrogate people Jack Bauer style until they tell me where the money came from.

August 26 – 31: The subsequent six backers added an additional 151 dollars. They consisted of family members and one from Sense Nassy, whose poem “BAD CREDIT” will appear in issue 2. Here’s the list of all the people contributing to issue 2 were backers:

Jason Williams

Jacqueline Rainieri

Elise Webb

Timothy Swann

So, at the end it took the generosity and straight up awesomeness of 42 backers to get Cram Magazine into a new level of operations. We’ll have future fundraisers of course, and what I learned will definitely help in creating and meeting our goals. There’s already buzz from the project (you can see my nasty mug along with photographer JJ Casas on his You Kickstarted Me project). Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to step it up again.