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Embracing Crowdfunding as a Business

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Leah CevoliIn the past 19 months, I’ve managed 20+ crowdfunding campaigns; coached a dozen others, and consulted on dozens more. I’ve got a 15 for 15 winning streak on Kickstarter, and I’ve been instrumental in raising over a million dollars (that’s $1,000,000), in funding for feature films, music albums, feature documentaries, web-series, and more. Yet, I’ve never written about crowdfunding for Ms. In the Biz, till now.

Originally, I got involved in crowdfunding because of a web-series I was set to star in back in 2011; it was a small goal around $6500 and we ended up raising about $9000, maybe a little more. From there, there were a few other projects I was involved in that were crowdfunding and succeeded, and then seemingly over-night I was being referred around town as a crowdfunding expert. I haven’t spent a dime on advertising or marketing, it’s all been word of mouth and a proven track record of success.

As an Actress/Producer/Host – most of us have ‘thrival’ jobs; but ya really don’t talk about your waitress gig in front of the people you hope to work with, hire, or be hired by. For me, that’s what crowdfunding has been; a waitress gig, and every time one of my Industry friends introduces me as a “Crowdfunding Expert” I cringe a little inside.   No, no, I’m an actress. Why aren’t you referring me for an acting, hosting, or voice over gig? I don’t want to be known as the Crowdfunding Gal.

Although this seems like a counter-productive way to build a business, having this mentality around it (the waitress gig), really put me in a better mindset to demand the wages I want, AND to be super selective about the clients I work with. A lot of times, as up and coming actor/producer types, we take just about any entertainment job thrown our way, for another credit, or more likely, for personal validation, but, because I was viewing crowdfunding as a waitress gig, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to be wait-staff at a place with rude customers, nasty bosses, or disgusting food, I became very, very selective about who I would take on as a full client. And now a year or so later, it shows. It shows in my list of wins, and it shows in the people and projects I’m now attached to and those I’m being referred to.

Truth is… I am an actress, and I am also a crowdfunding expert. The word expert gets tossed around a lot these days, similar to the word Guru, but after 20 successes and a million plus dollars raised, it’s time to embrace that title and own up to the fact that I’m an entrepreneur, more specifically a service-preneur and an info-preneur.

10398030_10152595461408892_5055365658262597989_nSo what does that mean? Well, it means it’s time to treat it as a business. To put a solid plan into place for this little business that’s popped up out of nowhere. In the past few months, I’ve updated my website and asked a friend to help me design a one-sheet of successes and a rate-sheet for the different services I’m now offering.   See at first, I only offered a one hour consult OR I’d come on and manage the campaign… I soon realized there needed to be some middle-choices, for my own sanity and basically out of the demand for it. I created various coaching level packages and I’ve finally added “Crowdfunding Advisor” to my hyphenate business card, as well as speaking on more and more panels and workshops about Crowdfunding.

The interesting thing about all of this is, even though I’ve resisted it, it continues to find me, AND it’s become impossible to deny that this is a side-business I should give some of my attention to. I’ve created a solid system of how to achieve your goal, and I’ve built up a small team of freelancers; video editors, graphic designers, and social media pros, that I adore working with. I’ve begun to create package plans for clients that want me to bring my full team on-board. My plans for the New Year are to take this to the next level. I’ll be creating online, downloadable video courses and workshops, so that I don’t have to be in the trenches so much, yet I can still offer assistance and expand my clientele even more. This will also free me up, to be in the trenches with only my top-tier, premiere clients.   If you’ve done a crowdfunding campaign, you KNOW that the trenches are long and deep, so imagine what my brain feels like after 20 campaigns.

It’s been an interesting ride, and I’ve learned a lot.   If you’re an entrepreneur like myself, my best advice is to stay open to anything. Look at the possibilities around you, look at the things you enjoy and are good at, BUT more importantly take a look at what OTHERS are saying you’re good at. They have no ego involved, and sometimes our ego clouds our vision because we only want to be known as one thing, when the rest of our community is yelling, “You are both of these things.”

I’ve also recently joined a mastermind group focusing on entrepreneurial pursuits and will very soon be raising my rates, bigtime. Cause, I’m worth it. And boy, has it taken me years and years and years, to be able to say THAT confidently.

What strengths are you pursuing? What strengths are you not pursuing? Is there a way to combine them? I’d wager there is and I’d wager that when you find that right combination you will become a more valuable player on all of the fields that you play on! Good Luck!

Interested in Crowdfunding? I’ve just created an email blast, where I’ll soon be sending out tips, trick, and all sorts of freebie information and discounts to subscribers! Sign up Here!

Leah Cevoli

About Leah Cevoli

Leah Cevoli is a multi-talented entertainment professional whose work stretches across many genres. She is a rock ‘n roll enthusiast, body image activist, a certified yoga teacher, and fan of all things horror, Leah's acting credits include appearances on high profile tv shows like HBO’s "Deadwood," and voice-over on the Cartoon Network hit "Robot Chicken". Leah is a contributing writer for Ms. In The Biz and the founder of AllShapesAndSizesWelcome.com: Body Image & Women’s Issues in Entertainment, a group of women who speak on panels and at conventions nationwide. Leah has a reputation for crowdfunding success and social media magic. To date, her company, GreenlightYourPassionProject.com has managed 50+ campaigns, and have been instrumental in raising over $5,000,000 for indie projects. Her latest projects include: the feature-length documentary "Remember The Sultana" narrated by Sean Astin, the gritty feature-length drama, "Girl Lost," distributed thru Cinema Epoch, and the light hearted comedy, "Dance Baby Dance". All three films were released in the spring of 2018.