A few years ago I ran a successful crowdfunding campaign through the Australian crowdfunding platform, Pozible, for my comedy web series, Freemales. If anyone has looked into running a crowdfunding campaign then they’d have likely come across the usual tips and tricks ie: Set a realistic goal, have a great pitch video etc... and while those are extremely useful and worth looking into, I want to share 5 things that I learnt while crowdfunding that are also worth keeping in mind.
1. Crowdfunding isn’t ‘free’ money
Don’t think of a crowdfunding as free money because believe me, you work for it. You will spend many hours perfecting your pitch then filming, editing and uploading a fabulous video to go with it. Once you’ve launched your video campaign then you’ll spend even more time managing the accompanying crowdfunding campaign across your socials. It’s important to put this time and energy into your campaign too, because it’s a reflection on how the final product will turn out. If you half-ass your campaign then what’s to make people think you won’t half-ass the project they’re helping to fund? You get out what you put into it, so make sure to show people you’re willing to put in the hard work and they’ll respond well to your campaign.
2. Research is KEY!
This might sound super simple, but I’ve seen many crowdfunding campaigns that clearly never bothered to research even basic tips. In additions to the basics, which can easily be found through a simple google search, I’d recommend looking into similar projects that had successful campaigns on the platform that you intend to launch yours. For example, if you’re wanting to crowdfund a sci-fi web series on Kickstarter, check out other successfully funded sci-fi web series on Kickstarter. Take note of their budget, experience, who is donating to them, what comments they’re leaving, what types of rewards they’re offering, and which ones are proving popular. It’s also worth checking out any links to social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram etc...) to get a sense of their support network, what they’re sharing, how people are responding to it and what types of promotional materials they’re posting in conjunction with their crowdfunding campaign.
3. Don’t go overboard with rewards
The last thing you want to do after running a successful crowdfunding campaign is realise you’ve underestimated the cost of reward production and delivery – something we didn’t do was take into account the cost of delivery for our interstate supporters. So make sure to calculate the potential costs, as well as some contingency and factor that into your overall goal/budget. There are heaps of great ideas for rewards that will save you time and money - mugs were an extremely popular rewards for our campaign but were costly to get made and delivered. Luckily we have a number of other rewards that were popular and inexpensive including social media shout outs and exclusive access to blooper reels. We also had fun milestones prizes that included writing and performing poems about supporters live to our Facebook page for those whose donations got us over certain price points.
4. There is a fine line between campaigning and spamming
For that 3 - 4 week window that you run your crowdfunding campaign, you want your project to remain as visible as possible without having people - particularly those who have already made their donation - feel like they’re getting nagged. Our social media campaign was focused mainly on Facebook and these were some of the guidelines we followed to make sure we didn’t start to sound like a broken record:
Don’t post more than once a day.
Don’t just post about the campaign, mix it up with occasional posts about the project itself. We shared behind the scenes photos, posted featurettes on the cast and crew, and created funny memes from the footage we had already shot.
When you do post about the campaign, instead of posting generic ‘please donate to our campaign’ posts, weave them in with announcements ie; ‘We just hit the halfway mark/only 1 week left - you can help up reach our goal by donating to our campaign’ etc...
5. Campaign after the campaign
After you have successfully crowdfunded your project, don’t disappear and abandon your supporters. People have donated their money to support you, so make them feel appreciated by providing them with regular updates, photos, and posts, and make sure to deliver their rewards within a reasonable amount of time. If you maintain their interest in your project they’ll be more likely to support your project upon its completion, whether that is through online views, likes, shares or attending film festival screenings. This will also be extremely beneficial if you find yourself running another campaign in the future. Showing you can not only deliver on your project, but also make your supporters feel valued and part of the process, will certainly increase the likelihood of them supporting your next campaign also.
I hope these 5 things I learnt from running a crowdfunding campaign will help you successfully run one of your own!