So, after an initial 48-day crowdfunding campaign, an unexpected 14-day extension, and still ending short of our goal – I am left wondering, “what went wrong?” What could I have done differently? And, what do I do now? I know I am not alone in this. As I discussed in a past post here on Ms. In The Biz about crowdfunding, it is a beast and many, many campaigns complete their run “unsuccessful”. So, what’s the takeaway? Well, allow me to reflect on my own campaign so that you, my child, may learn from my mistakes.
Our campaign for a new webseries started with a bang. The polished video and well-written campaign page garnered quite a bit of positive attention. We did radio interviews, articles were written, the campaign made the front page and newsletter for Indiegogo who declared that it was “destined for the Indiegogo hall of fame…”. It was even featured on the Huffington Post. And yet…
To be or not to be a non-profit campaign? We chose Indiegogo as our platform for two reasons. It was the second most popular crowdfunding site next to Kickstarter, but more, because they worked with the not for profit organization Fractured Atlas. We were able to submit our project for non-profit status so long as they deemed the artistic venture something that would give value to society. Webseries do not traditionally make money, so, using our abundance of good sense, we figured our well-to-do friends would jump at the opportunity to support an amazing project while benefiting from a tax-deduction. They jumped… but only so high. When the pros were compared to the cons, the cons won by a landslide. What we hadn’t known was that for the privilege we must have every perk approved by them, any type of raffling would be not allowed, and tangible perks would only be partially tax-deductible, this limited what we were able to offer. The worse problem we encountered, however, was that since every pledge had to go through Fractured Atlas’ server and not Indiegogo’s, we had numerous people express issues in completing their pledge. This was our greatest downfall as anyone who wasn’t a friend (the “randoms” as we liked to call them) who stumbled upon our campaign may have attempted to give but given up at the first sign of a struggle. Alas, I believe the decision to attach our project to this non-profit was our greatest downfall.
Team members fall off the wagon. If you are looking to garner a humble two to five thousand for your project, then your own efforts or yours and a partner’s may be all you need to get the job done. If you are looking for a substantial amount, even as low as $10K, having an awesome team in place can help for many reasons. Perhaps you are not so skilled at social media or your personal pool of friends and acquaintances isn’t large enough fund a larger goal. This is where having a formidable team can help your chances of success. We had a team of individuals who were very excited about the project and were eager to help get us to our goal. Unfortunately, they also had jobs and lives and other interests. We couldn’t make any promises and could not offer any capital gain and thus, one by one, our team members fell by the wayside until it was just myself, my Fiancé and our Indiefund.it guy attempting to do everything on our own. And attempt we did. We tried to do it all ourselves: the thank-you’s, the update videos, the personal e-mails, the phone calls, the Facebook Posts, updating our Indiegogo page and all the other little things that make up a successful campaign. We fell short and the steam left our engines very quickly. So, make sure you find those who have the time to dedicate a great effort to the campaign. If you can offer them a greater stake in the project or outcome, even better! Have others ready to jump in where needed to replace those that fall out. And, I would highly recommend paying someone to deal with your social media and updates if you are not super enthusiastic about it. It will save you tons of time!
Have new news often and offer exclusive perks! For the first few days your campaign will be buzzing with activity. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s exciting! And people who are following your campaign are eager to hear about all the NEW things that will happen next. If nothing changes, the eagerness fades and they trail off to other entertaining ventures. Just how a commercial you found hilarious at one point turns into “eh, I’ve seen this a hundred times”. You’re only as good as your last update. We did fairly well with this, but not in all areas. Our Indiegogo page suffered from a lack of constant change. Ideally, the page should change daily so that if someone is visiting often they can be pleasantly surprised to find it looking different with different graphics and information every time. Also, exclusivity can be a powerful friend. If you have a nice bunch of people who have already pledged, what better way to make them feel special than to offer an additional perk available only to them! The idea is that those who have pledged before are already invested and can be coerced into pledging again. Unfortunately, we did not learn this lesson until too late and weren’t able to take as much advantage of repeat customers. Don’t make the same mistake!
So what’s next? We came close enough to making our goal that we can still give our contributors and new fans exactly what we promised. Can you? If you’re too far off, you can, A) relaunch your campaign after understanding what went wrong and how to fix it, or B) use the money you did raise to put together a trailer or something similar to attract other investors.
Take the time to reflect on the positives as well. There were still many ways in which our campaign was very successful. We were able to attach some high profile individuals to the project, garnered a great amount of publicity, and had over 35,000 people view our campaign thus having an audience of viewers excited for the premiere of the project. What ever you do, don’t get discouraged; failure is the cornerstone of success!