Some Brief Thoughts On Crowdfunding
I wanted to write down a few quick takeaways from the Kickstarter campaign while it was still fresh in my mind. Not that I think I'm a crowdfunding expert but I definitely gained a new appreciation for how to run a successful campaign.
- Stop Asking For Money - I know that sounds counter-intuitive. The more you just keep saying "give us money" the more you will turn people off. They know you want them to pledge, they got it. It's not that you shouldn't ask but you have to keep their attention so they will stay interested for the duration of the campaign. This is a skill. It's all about endurance. For you and for your potential backers.
- Engage Or Die - We had a unique challenge because of the design of our campaign. Three filmmakers. Three films. One city. Every week we posted a one on one with the audience to engage them as we saw fit. I did my pitch video and followed it up with a series of three videos revolving around the influences I was drawing on for my short film, THE EXAM. It seemed to help because it got some attention.
- Have Friends In Place - Knowing that people will back you is imperative but it's not a guarantee. Campaigns typically follow a pattern. A strong launch when everyone is hearing that you're doing this amazing thing followed by a dip into a bleak, dark place. Then, if you're lucky, it picks up at the end. That's when it gets really exciting. Knowing deep down that your people will step up will help get you out of that hole. Have a network in place before you launch and know your network.
- Social Media - Just because you have 10,000 Twitter followers that doesn't necessarily mean it will translate into money for your project. I personally don't have a massive social presence but I was combining mine with other team members' followers and friends. It still wasn't anything that broke 3,500 people.
- Timing Is Everything - We ran our campaign sandwiched between big holidays. To be honest, it was a gamble. We really didn't know if it was going to hurt us or help us. The reality was people can spend their holiday gift giving money in so many ways but they chose to help us. Try to launch at the best time for you and your backers.
- Duration Is Everything Too - The length of the campaign is a serious choice. Can you hammer away at this thing for six weeks? We couldn't. We wanted to keep it short like a sprint not long like a marathon.
- Disappointment Is Inevitable - Some acquaintances, close friends and maybe even family who you think are a lock to back your project say they'll help but they don't. It stings a little but you just have to roll with it. Don't get caught up in counting everyone else's money. Don't take it personally. Move on.
- Whatever Your Final Goal Is, You're Not Getting It -- After fees to Amazon Payments (the only way you can pledge money to a Kickstarter campaign at the time of this post) and Kickstarter along with non-processed credit card errors, that final total is what you get. Budget for it.
- It's An Ongoing Conversation -- Some people will get this, some people won't. When running a campaign you're putting yourself out there for everything from ridicule to confusion to praise. People might look at you and want to know why you can't just get a job and finance your own films. Others might look at you like you're a symbol of internal fortitude and following your dreams. Either way, side with the ones who want to be fans of your work and you can't go wrong. This is Audience Building 101.
- Shout-Outs - Via Facebook and Twitter. Another filmmaker friend and The 3X3 Project team member, Jeremiah Kipp taught me this one. When a friend backs your project a "thank you" is great but going a little beyond is better. I would name check these people and tell a little story in my status. It was like I was looking through a photo book of all these people in my life and reminiscing, some who I haven't spoken to in years which was very humbling and touching. It made it real for them and for me.
- "Thank You" Videos Before You End - I'm not sure if it was the pure momentum of the campaign coming to an end but we got a nice bump on our last day of crowdfunding around the time we launched the videos. Either way, when the campaign comes to an end it's a good idea to thank everyone who showed interest in what you're striving for.
- You Can Analyze The Data To Death - Or you can just run a campaign. Do your homework and make some educated predictions but at some point you need to pull the trigger and just do it.
I'm sure more observations will arise and if they warrant another post I'll do a follow up to this one for everyone.