This is my first article for Ms. In The Biz, and initially I had wanted to begin with an intro on myself and my military background; “what brought me from the Marines to Hollywood” kind of piece. Well, new friends, I will entertain you with that delicious tale on the next go-around. Today, however, I find myself compelled (yes… compelled!) to write about something I am in the trenches of at this very moment. Another type of war; a war with Crowdfunding: the two-headed beast.
Crowdfunding, for some, holds the connotation of funding your project free from artistic-interference. For others, it means another friend is about to hit you up for your hard earned cash. So, what’s the approach?
In today’s day and age, as an indie-filmmaker/ creator, I feel crowdfunding is a necessity, at least until Quentin Tarantino’s production company starts banging down my door (which they WILL). With so many Youtubers and internet content, crowdfunding can help set you apart with a well-produced, quality piece that’ll launch your career!
The first thing to understand if you are traveling this path, though, is to know for every widely publicized successful campaign (Amanda Palmer, Veronica Mars, etc.) there are many, many that barely succeed or do not succeed at all. The uber successes are almost always due in part to the built in audience or web presence they already have. Not to say you can’t have a very successful campaign if you don’t already have a web presence, it just takes a bit more work.
Now, I have yet to be the face of success when it comes to crowdfunding as I only just launched my own Indiegogo project last week. But, with all the research done, along with bringing on Indiefund.it to guide us through our campaign, I strongly believe success is in my future.
Since I’ve been researching my buns off, allow me the opportunity to bestow upon you a couple key-pieces of info that I learned, which could make the difference between your own success and failure:
1) WARM-UP YOUR SUPPORTERS…
One of the biggest things I learned was how to “warm up” our friends and family (AKA Campaign Contributors). The problem with most campaigns is that they approach all friends and family after they’ve already launched, resulting in surprise. Had the potential contributors known beforehand, they would have already been primed to pledge. It’s like hitting up a friend for dinner NOW and getting upset when they can’t because they’ve made other plans. Have them start committing to small things like liking your Facebook Page or getting feedback on your campaign video. Let them know when your campaign will be launching and how much their support will mean to you. If you can get their commitment in any way prior to going live, you are 10 times more likely to gain their financial support when you really need it.
2) HAVE A KICK-ASS VIDEO AND PAGE…
How many of you have clicked the link to your friends’ crowdfunding campaign video and the talking head pops in and lulls you to sleep? Be honest. Think about it, you are asking people to part with their treasured time and money, you’d better – at the very least- entertain or inspire them! The more you’re asking for, the more time and better quality your video and page should be. This is your first chance to make an impression. People will expect the same quality in the finished product. Also, don’t forget about your page. Headers, pictures, graphs, etc. all help to break up the text and make a world of difference in an ADD society. Lastly, your perks should be original, fun, and worth the money they’re about to spend. Don’t be afraid to steal ideas from others who have gone before.
“Talent borrows, genius steals.” – Oscar Wilde
See the “Newlywed and Broke” Indiegogo campaign HERE
3) MAKE YOUR MONEY FROM THOSE OUTSIDE YOUR NETWORK…
I don’t know about you, but I have a mere 600 Facebook friends and statistics tell me I can only count on 10% of them pledging to my project and the average pledge is $20. I’m looking to raise $25,000, so that’s just not going to cut it. Before and during your launch, you should be conversing with popular bloggers, contacting web publications for press, going out to events and talking about your upcoming endeavor to create buzz, etc. These individuals are your connection to a larger pool of people. And do not, I repeat, DO NOT only reach out to film or crowdfunding bloggers and sites. If you have a dog in your project, reach out to animal sites. If someone’s getting married, reach out to marriage and newlywed sites. This is the number one way to get the word out to thousands of potential pledgers you’ve never met. Someone in Uzbekistan may be the difference between your success and failure, so long as they know about it!
4) DON’T FORGET THE LOVE…
Who doesn’t like love?? When someone, known or unknown, goes out of their way to visit the site, watch the video, pull out their credit card and make a pledge (even just a dollar), they deserve some of that sweet tender love. Give them a shout out on the page, take a picture, or create a video, anything to show them what their support means to you. Personal contact, you better give them a phone call. This works on two levels. First, if you make them feel special enough for contributing $5, when, by the end of your campaign, you’re in a pinch trying to make the last hundred or so, they will be more likely to up their pledge. Why? Because with any amount, they have enrolled themselves in the project and in you, you are their investment. Secondly, when others see what public love you’re giving to someone else, they inherently want some of that too and may give anything just to feel as special as you made that other person feel. We all need love folks, so don’t be afraid to spread it around.
These are just a few tips I’ve found useful for myself and campaign thus far. And, if there’s any other wisdom I can impart about crowdfunding, it’s that it ain’t easy. It is truly a beast that takes hard work, attention and dedication. But in the end, if you stick with it and do it right, you’ll be able to make that passion project and have the first bunch of people ready watch and support! Yay! I am rooting for you already!
And, if you have any tips of your own that worked for you, please share! I am always looking for the next nugget of golden information to utilize in my own campaign. Let’s help each other! =)