Crowd-Funding: The Breakdown

I received a tweet a few days ago from Rachel on Twitter. She’s running an IndieGoGo campaign like we’ve been for With A Little Help From Our Friends and as we’ve managed to pull off such a successful campaign, she wondered if I could give her some tips.

I want to start off by saying this.

If you’d told me before we started that the campaign would raise over $2000, I’d have laughed at you.

I had no idea that our campaign would work as well as it has. We honestly thought that we would struggle to hit $1000. We decided to only ask for a portion of our budget as we thought it would be greedy to ask for the whole thing. We toyed with only asking for $800! As it is, we’ve now raised the whole budget anyway. Incredible.

That’s the thing with crowd-funding. You never quite know what’s going to stick. But from my experience from this campaign and watching other campaigns, I’ve picked up on a few things that might help.

Build a network.
I think this has been pretty key for our campaign. There are only three of us behind it and even then I think I’ve been the one talking about it the loudest. But I was talking to people who already knew who I was. I have a network on Twitter which has been expanded through the blog so people knew what the film was. It’s no coincidence that the majority of people who have chipped into the campaign are people that I know and speak to semi-regularly. Of those people, most I know through Twitter. They’re part of my support network. But I think it would’ve been much harder without that network of people supporting me, retweeting my tweets and getting the word out. If you’ve got 30 people in your team, each pushing it, you’ll have a pretty good hit rate too. But if there’s only a few of you, try asking the people you know to help you out first, then strangers will chip in too.

Have a well-made video pitch.
The part of the campaign I got the most comments on has easily been the video. They love the cutout characters, the simplicity which (apparently) gives it charm. I knew that the hand-drawn characters could’ve gone either way – tacky or charming – but I think that because it’s shot well, the tackiness gets taken away. But I’ve seen pitches that are fifteen minutes long and full of ramble and dark too. It’s obviously your call as to how you put your video together, but I’d suggest a few key points:

  • keep it short – mine is around a minute long. I think three minutes max.
  • tell people the story, quickly – it’s a pitch. Don’t get bogged down in the details
  • what do you want their money for?  – don’t go in to too much detail, just the key things.
  • conclude it – give your pitch an ending. Mine’s a pun on my title. But conclude it.
  • be yourself – don’t be afraid to let yourself come across in the video. These people are investing in you! The line from mine I once had quoted back at me was: ‘It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.’ That has nothing to do with anything, that’s just me being an idiot.

Don’t forget that you’ve got heaps of room underneath to go into detail. Put your key points in your video to pique interest and then put further detail in the words on the page. It means that people don’t read the same thing over – they learn something about you and your project by reading the extra bit.

Be noisy but don’t be annoying.
This is a fine line. IndieGoGo says that you need to hit your audience seven times before they actually contribute. I reckon that’s not far off. But remember, you’ve got 30, 60, 90 days to reach them seven times! I tweeted the link once in the morning, once at night and when someone contributed and I thanked them on Twitter (one of the perks), I included the link in the tweet. That was enough – although people I spoke to often still said to me after a few days in that they didn’t know I was running a campaign. But those tweets got retweeted and retweeted etc etc. Put a link on your blog, in your Twitter bio – anywhere people click to see who you are. But don’t be that person who tweets their link every two seconds. Then, instead of getting a ‘Oh, yeah, Alli’s campaign! I have to contribute to that!’ reaction, you get a ‘Oh. Alli’s campaign. Wish she’d shut up about it,’ reaction. Be noisy, but not annoying.

Put thought into your perks.
Make your lower perks accessible. Not everyone can afford to but in mega bucks, but even those who chip in a few bucks deserve your thanks. I knew that our $25 and $50 perks would be pretty popular, so I wanted to make them attractive to those who hadn’t decided how much to give yet. $25 was always going to be a copy of the DVD, but that’s a pretty expensive DVD, so I included exclusive content in the Behind The Scenes Stills. $50 was even more special – a copy of the script and a handmade thank-you card. Now, my hand-made cards are pretty ace (just ask my best friend who received a Hufflepuff birthday card this year) and I know I’ll make them all particularly special as a show of thanks. But make your perks attractive enough so that someone might spontaneously decide to jump the next bracket up.

Update it.
Updates rock. People want to see where you’re at and what you’re doing. I did two video blogs early on in the campaign and our contributions went up after each. People are curious as to who the person behind the video and words are. So SHOW THEM. Like I said earlier, they’re investing in YOU. Show them how proactive and productive you are. Show them that you’re going to get this project made – that you’re passionate enough to drive this campaign on. Keep it moving forward.

That’s just a couple of key starting points off the top of my head. Be realistic about how much you ask for, but trust the people you know to support you in the time you’ve allocated. Figure out what your target for each week should be and aim for mini targets throughout your campaign. Offer to put up a new video blog when you get to a certain amount, make yourself accessible if people want to ask questions.

There are heaps of websites you can use to run your campaign now. I used IndieGoGo, but there’s Sponsume and Kickstarter as well – I’d suggest doing some research before you lock onto one. Some give you the money even if you don’t hit your end target, some require you to hit your goal to get anything. One will suit what you’re after.

These are just suggestions, there is no proven formula to what works and what doesn’t. The With A Little Help From Our Friends campaign is still up for another day and a half if you haven’t chipped in yet and would still like to – if we can hit $2500, I would be completely and utterly overwhelmed. As it is, I’m already amazed that we even broke $2300. Like I said, you just never know.

Hope this helps you crowdfunders out there – good luck with your campaigns!

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