Ten (More) Must-Read Posts Before Running Your Own Crowdfunding Campaign
I’ve learned a lot over the past 36 days of running a potentially record-breaking Kickstarter campaign for my film Man-child. The clock has switched from “days” to “hours” remaining and we may or may not make it! I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned about crowdfunding along the way, including a Ten Must-Read Posts Before Running Your Own Crowdfunding Campaign post. Here’s a second compilation of valuable posts.
One thing I learned after the first couple of weeks: I implemented an unsaid rule for my twitter account that I wouldn’t mention my film campaign (or retweet the mentions of others) unless I had talked about something else since my last mention of the campaign. There’s a balance between talking about yourself and remaining relevant. And while that might balance might have shifted over the past few days — there are only 2 days left, so my sense of urgency is overpowering the desire to show self-promotion restraint — this Twitter lesson is included in one post below.
As I say in the introduction to the first ten, “luck favors the prepared.” And in setting out to run this campaign, I read a whole lot more than ten posts. So here’s a second set of ten posts to read when preparing your own campaign.
“Story is everything. Let me back up. Your story is everything. People aren’t so much getting behind the idea as they are getting behind your passion to produce it – be it a book, film, album, live event, business, it makes no difference… In my experience, and my opinion, this is the very heart and soul of an effective kickstarter campaign (or any crowdfunding campaign). It HAS to have heart. Kickstarter isn’t a place people come to make an investment expecting a financial return. They come to engage with other interesting people and to help along artistic projects they believe add value to the world in which we live.” 7 Things to Consider BEFORE you Launch your Kickstarter Project | Nathaniel Hansen
“A key factor in a project’s potential success is how its rewards are priced. The PBS-style fundraiser would have us believe that tote bags should cost $100 and Ken Burns DVD sets $400. There’s an assumption that the act of sponsorship carries a tax: “Because of your generosity, items are marked at four times the sticker price.” But Kickstarter isn’t charity: we champion exchanges that are a mix of commerce and patronage, and the numbers bear this out. To date the median pledge is $25. Small amounts are where it’s at… ” The Price Is Right | Yancey Strickler, The Kickstarter Blog
“Charlie Chaplin said it best in his famous speech at the end of The Great Dictator: “You are not machines, you are men” (and women!) That said, do not flood your feed with tweets exclusively about your campaign. While crowdfunding is a full-time job and you should maintain a steady presence on Twitter while you’re campaigning, you should still be interacting with your followers in ways unrelated to your #Project. Remember, people give to people, not @bots. Once you nurture and maintain those relationships as a person more than a campaigner, you build a network that will walk beside a person they’ll forever be proud to know and support.” The Tao of Crowdfunding: Twitter Tips for Crowdfunders | John T Trigonis, Hope for Film
“From day one I decided to approach this campaign as a full time job. Everyday I would track down where, and how, the film and this campaign were being discussed online. Luckily it was mostly positive, but whether it was positive or negative I just put myself out there and engaged with the quite vast, and diverse MMA (mixed martial arts) community… I was full time 24/7 with this. I spent all day in MMA discussion forums, responding to blogs, and emails, sending new emails, keeping in constant contact with backers via Kickstarter updates, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, I used YouTube annotations to update the two trailers I had online there to both explain and help guide people to the campaign, did a couple of MMA Radio shows with Jens…it was basically an all on the table approach.” Success Story: Jens Pulver – Driven | Gregory Bayne, The Kickstarter Blog
“The $50 tier dominates, bringing in almost 25% of all earning. Surprisingly, $100 is a not too distant second at 16%. $25 brings in a healthy chunk too, but the overwhelming conclusion from this data is that people don’t mind paying $50 or more for a project they love. It’s also worth contemplating going well beyond $100 into the $250 and $500 tiers: they scored relatively high pledging rates compared to other expensive tiers. The lower tiers — less than $25 — are so statistically insignificant (barely bringing in a combined 5% of all pledges) that I recommend avoiding them. Of course this depends on your project — perhaps there’s a very good reason for a $5 tier.” Kickstartup | Craig Mod
“When does this become either glorified begging or a poorly veiled Amway schema? When do you become the friend everyone avoids for fear of your never-ending sales pitch?… Okay, so I may sound cynical about all this, but it can work, if you don’t expect the world, or $200,000. Like I said before, it pays to have raised some cash and support before you post an on-line campaign. Prove that you belong among the big-time players. But also, don’t ask for too much, if possible. And be creative in how you pitch and promote your idea. Even a catchy title helps. I named my amp campaign “Reliving Dylan’s Newport Moment,” in the hopes of attracting knowledgeable music lovers. And when it’s all said and done, have a backup plan. Your campaign may not succeed, so you must be prepared to make do with what you have. There’s always room for another “Blair Witch Project” success story out there.” Reaching out to the Crowd: Is it Worth it to Crowdfund? | R.C. Varenas, Film Slate Magazine
“Building an audience as a way to appeal to investors/financiers might sound like a great idea, but having a bunch of YouTube hits does not translate into dollars and means almost nothing to the buyers or financiers. Filmmakers need to remember that their job is to market to buyers and distributors, not to audiences. It’s the distributors’ job to market to their audiences. It’s easy to lose sight of this during the publicity phase leading up to your film’s release, because distributors use filmmakers to market to their audiences. But you have to remember who is pulling the PR strings: the distributor.” Crowd Film Funding: Losers and Winners | Jeff Steele, Film Closings
“Approximately 43% of Kickstarter projects are successfully funded. The project success rate has held steady between 40-45%. There’s no clear benchmark to judge whether this number is “good” or “bad,” but in the concept stages of Kickstarter we had projected a 5% success rate. We think this is a great sign. Another thing to note is the difference between the 43% success rate and the 85% pledge collection rate. This means that the overwhelming majority of pledges go to successful projects. Of the projects that do not meet their goal, 21% never receive a single pledge.” Happy Birthday Kickstarter! | Yancey Strickler, The Kickstarter Blog
“Start a mailing list. I got the best flow of new pledges directly from sending an email to my mailing list explaining the situation. I even sent everyone an email in my personal email list which is pretty massive even though I hardly know some of the people on it. My mortgage broker is on it and so is my wife’s friends sister who emailed me a invite for her dog’s party that I never went to. I hit them all up. But aside from your personal email list, a Opt-In mailing list for your blog, webcomic or website is very important. Not only to the success of your Kickstarter campaign but also to the success of anything else you do.” Grassroots Funding with Kickstarter.com | Jason Brubaker, reMIND
Finally, this isn’t a post about one person’s crowdfunding success or failure — instead, it’s a compilation by FilmmakerIQ of the 25 most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date. There’s a lot to be learned by looking at what these campaigns did; also see the non film-specific Kickstarter Hall of Fame. “How do you get strangers to give you money for your film on Kickstarter? We’ve rounded up the top 25 successful Kickstarter pitches totaling over 2.2 million crowd funded dollars to get an idea of what works.” Top 25 Most Successful Kickstarter Film Pitches | FilmmakerIQ
And there you have it — ten posts that will hopefully help you to run your own crowdfunding campaign. If you didn’t catch the first post, be sure to read or bookmark the first ten posts. Also see some of my own thoughts about what I learned in the first week of fundraising for Man-child, and there are also a number of other posts tagged crowdfunding. I hope this was helpful — if it was, check out my own campaign to make my first feature film, which is running out of time as we speak, but could potentially make history!