I’m going to be very blatantly honest. We may not make it. I have faith, I know Chocolate is Not Better than Sex is a winner, but I am going to outline here, what I think I did wrong so that you have a better chance of making it. I will also outline what I’m certain I did right plus some interesting anomalies that happened with our Kickstarter campaign which one would think would mean success.
Mistake #1: Day 1 was not planned to the letter. In the majority of Kickstarter or any fundraising campaigns that I have seen which ended up successfully raising their goals, if not more, Day 1 was planned impeccably and most likely 3-6 months ahead of time or more. I had planned it, yes, but in that I didn’t get a chance to meet with my co-producers, actors and die-hard supporters or at least get them on the phone for a very serious conversation about how things should start and when, I opened myself up to failure from the start.
Mistake #2: Following mistake #1, if this doesn’t happen, you ensure the next mistakes. The cast, crew, etc, don’t know you’ve gone live and aren’t prepared with their own follow-up to your “we’re live” announcement. Nor are they prepared with letters, emails, tweets, updates, videos, a number of items that are “must-haves.”
Mistake #3: Team work falling on the shoulders of one person and whoever will share the project. Without thorough planning, tight and understandably tedious scheduling, correct timing and willingness from a very large team, any goal outside of the range of what one person alone can donate is just out of range.
Mistake #4: Too high a goal or why you should split your campaigns into tiers. Understanding that Kickstarter rules state you must put the realistic number, the number that truly will get you what you need to have in order to successfully pull off the project, I set our goal for $60,000. The truth is I was thinking with everything, all aspects of production and if I had simply thought, I’m going to just fundraise for the equipment rental or the locations rental and done the campaign in stages, I very well could’ve been quite close if not over the target right now.
Mistake #5: Being overly optimistic and under-prepared for what’s involved emotionally and physically. It’s wonderful to be optimistic and enthusiastic. In fact, that is half the battle won. Raising money is an intense process. It’s humbling, humiliating, embarrassing, and completely draining. It makes you wonder who are your friends. It plays tricks on you. It shames you and cuts your ego down to size. But if you can get through all that and still get on with it, wear a smile on your face and interest people in your story, you still have a fighting chance.
Mistake #6: Didn’t make changes until it was too late. More than half-way in, I had a long look at our campaign with one of our amazing and incredibly sharp actresses, Lee Purcell, and we discussed what was off-putting and confusing in the text of the campaign. We also discussed the rewards. I realized that I had gone and made the campaign live before it looked like the hottest thing going. That’s when you go live, after long prep, after you have your team and after your team knows certainly that your campaign is the hottest thing since hot chocolate. So, I made the changes we discussed. But, it was already too late. And by the way, doing this can confuse your backers so you must update them.
Here are some incredibly interesting anomalies:
1. We had over a thousand shares and only 50 backers (at the time of changing the text and rewards).
2. We were a Staff Pick on Kickstarter.
3. In real life, meaning on the street, offline, I had people talking to me left and right about Chocolate is Not Better than Sex, the moment they saw my movie poster on my car, they were interested. So, now, we have over 1200 shares and funded only 6 percent with a deadline of November 7. We are cutting it really close. In fact, one of the changes I made to the campaign was vowing to shave my head if we made the target. I’m not certain if people think that’s desperation or dedication. So it may be working against us.
You have got to make yourself stand out. That is a certainty. I thought we stood out because of our title, we’re women filmmakers and our movie has to do with single moms, sex and chocolate. I thought we had an instant community. But that was a mistake.
Mistake #7: Never assume anything, anywhere, any time. You must KNOW with certainty that everything is in place.
Mistake #8: I thought I built my community, but I hadn’t. It wasn’t quite there yet. I had started to but making a film for women and getting people excited about it is not all that it takes. You really have to have people who stand behind you or better yet with you 100% and your purpose is their purpose.
Mistake #9: Just because you have tons of twitter followers or friends on Facebook (you think) doesn’t mean you’re communicating to them when you tweet or post a status. Imagine yourself standing at the Grand Canyon and yelling into the abyss of the canyon. That is what it is, an abyss. Your status is not really directed at anyone in particular, so why should it mean anything? You may as well be standing in a room full of people with a “The End is Nigh” sign over yourself. Nobody cares.
Mistake #10: Thanking people is more than a required duty. It’s a beautiful acknowledgment of a sacrifice your backers are willing to make for you. Give them a beautiful thank you, an artsy one, a cool one, something they can laugh at, cry at, feel good about, share…that’s a big thing. A thank you that people share is meaningful and will likely get you more backers and people who believe in your project or at least are willing to look at it. My thank yous are definitely sincere. But I have myself contributed to others’ projects and sometimes quite large amounts and I received nothing, not one thank you. It’s not only ill-mannered, it’s terribly upsetting. So it’s not just making the rewards awesome that counts, but also immediately thanking them for their contribution.
What I’m doing that’s right.
- Calling and texting family and friends.
- Writing personal emails, letters, and posts.
- Updating my current backers.
- Talking to people on Linkedin.
- Finding out what people want, what I could do for them that would be of value to them (that got me my largest contribution.)
- Learning from others, joining Kickstarterforum.org and attending Kickstarter School, Seed and Spark’s #stayIndie crowdfunding tour, and gleaning what I could from article after article.
- Having an awesome video.
Other sites filmmakers should consider:
You can check out our Kickstarter campaign here: Chocolate is Not Better than Sex