51 Things I Learnt From Crowdfunding…in complete random order.
by David Barker
1. Have an arresting campaign picture – it’s the first thing people see and it must grab attention and reflect the quality and theme in your project.
2. A short campaign creates urgency.
3. Video updates are a great way to engage and inform. Plus viewers and pledgers get and idea of the people involved in the project. It can also show how creative you are – because, really, that is what you’re pitching: your creativity.
4. Generally, you can see the spikes in pledging after considered online action on Twitter and Facebook.
5. Personal e-mails are still the best way to encourage those in your circle to jump on board. These are the core people of your campaign, and every other success rides off that success.
6. Plan your campaign in advance. Day-by-Day. Week-by-Week.
7. We had four people involved in our campaign, which not only made it able to achieve a greater workload, we had a wider group of people we could call out too.
8. Make an engaging, entertaining and creative campaign video. We had people in the US commenting on how our video had lifted the level of crowdsourcing videos. Whether that’s true, or not, who knows? But we’re moving past the filmmaker simply talking to camera (unless it’s Woody Allen, of course)…it’s about showing what you’re made of; giving an idea of the material you are making; getting the information about the project and the people involved across.
NB: Be creative, but do keep within the boundaries of what you can achieve realistically. We chose to get a small crew on board, shoot it as quickly as possible, and generally keep the shots tight, but well executed. The use of VO helped. And the transition to the filmmakers is a great way to surprise people.
NBB: Also, it was a bonus that our Production Assistant’s father was Mark Lee – star of Gallipoli.
9. We announced our two lead cast members during the campaign. It really helped create a buzz about the project, both online, and with PR.
10. Everything must look good – from video, to artwork, to website – the visual matters.
11. We looked to the US for guidance. In 2011 only four films raised 100K (the number is higher in 2012 – and the Kaufman project raised $400K). We took this as a yardstick here in Australia, which has been slower to take onto larger projects with require bigger investments. We were initially going for 50K. Then we decided 100K, but in the end, after many discussions, we levelled at $75k. It was as much a gut decision, as anything.
12. We had an event in an Art Gallery 3 weeks into the campaign. We screened work. We had the author live on Skype from Melbourne read a passage from his novel. We introduced our lead, Sarah Snook. We had the book publisher come along. We had a DJ. We had sponsored booze. It was a great night. About 60 people showed, and it kept the momentum going after that initial blast. Plus, it kept us busy and on our toes.
13. Try to devote all your time to the support of your campaign. You need to be active. Keep the money coming in. You want to stay on the front page of Pozible: you’ll look like a winner. We were on the front page of Pozible within 24 hours of going live – and we stayed there for the entire campaign.
14. You may at times have to put some of your own money in to keep up the momentum. We did a little mid-campaign. You may also have to top up at the end to get the money (at Pozible you only get the money if you reach the target). We didn’t. We had enough momentum, and we were so close that people came out of the woodwork in those final days. Pozible people say that up to 50% of your target can be pledged in that final week. The last week is crazy.
15. You can use humour to attract attention, but don’t be too flippant, as we discovered. You want people to take you seriously (unless your Will Ferrell).
16. We decided from the outset that we wanted to be a premium project and so everything we did had to reflect that quality.
17. Tell as many people as you can about the campaign: your barista, your taxi-driver, your rich Aunt.
18. We made the $25 & $50 pledge rewards decent, but we made the $100 pledge far better, and that worked a treat. It was by far the most popular pledge. And that idea came from Angie’s partner Hamish – good ideas are everywhere!
19. Getting the right balance of rewards is tricky. The people at Pozible really helped. They’re a good resource - use them. They want you to succeed. Also, research other campaigns and see what else is happening out there. But try and do something different as well: unique to your project
20. It’s important that you get across to people that they are working with you, together in collaboration. It’s not about them simply giving you money. It’s about creating a community with shared interest and likes to foster creative endeavours.
21. Make sure your Facebook isn’t simply about the project. Keep throwing up your everyday normal posts, so people can see that the campaign is an extension of your online social presence.
22. Post previous work by your team – short films, doccos, music clips, commercials, etc etc. Keep up the awareness.
23. Being the Director I have a Tumblr blog, that was another way for people to see deeper into the creativity. Another extension of the storyworld your creating.
24. Have regular progress meetings in your team. We would Skype weekly, sometimes more. We would e-mail everyday.
25. Be confident, but not arrogant.
26. Always thank people for pledging and putting up with your barrage of online banter about the campaign.
27. Always be polite. Use the word PLEASE. It works.
28. Take the piss out of yourselves.
29. Take the piss out of each other.
30. Have fun.
31. Work hard.
32. Don’t stress in the middle lull.
33. Always keep thinking of new ideas to help keep up awareness and interest.
34. The hardest people to get involved are those Facebook friends who you see all the time online, and you interact with them, but you probably only met them once, or they might be in your industry and you’ve never met them. You need to work out ways to get them on board – incentivise. They’re probably not going to give you 100 bucks. But they will probably do a 20. Make that seem attractive.
35. Have regular project updates, but not too many, you don’t want to become a pest.
36. And if you have a Facebbok page, like we did, watch that you don’t annoy people with too many posts, or irrelevant posts. It’s a fine line (Sorry CJ)
37. One way we got a great conversation going on Facebook was to confess what film we hadn’t seen yet – I hadn’t seen ET. I know, weird. Anyhow, about 30 people got in on that conversation. Follow that up sometime later with something about the campaign, but don’t get all “retail” on it. Just keep making people aware.
38. Pitch your unique points – ours was based on an award-winning book. We got the author Andrew Masterson heavily involved. It’s a unique Aussie genre film, which helped. It’s got religious themes - we exploited those.
39. ALWAYS try and think what the people out there are thinking. In some cases it is probably very similar to what you’re thinking about when you look at other projects. But I think the real trick is to try and think what people outside your industry, outside your circle, are thinking – and that’s hard.
40. Don’t be lazy.
41. Don’t respond to any negative feedback.
42. Respond to positive feedback every time.
43. Every person out there is potential collaborator on your project – impress them.
44. Listen to your teammates – everyone has good ideas. The not so good ideas generally fall by the wayside.
45. Use everything at your disposal – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, E-mail, The Press, YouTube, Vimeo, Blogs, Text Message, Word Of Mouth – write it in the fucking sky with a plane! …maybe don’t do that.
46. Be creative.
47. Don’t get disillusioned in the mid-lull. Make something happen!
48. Ask your friends to spread the word/campaign on their networks.
49. I found even people I hadn’t seen, or spoken too in years, came on board. One think to consider is that Facebook can be a bit boring, so your campaign can actually make Facebook more exciting!
50. Toward the end of the campaign, encourage those who have pledged to up-pledge. Some of our friends even pledged twice (maybe because that was easier than up-pledging?)
51. Traditional PR generally helps as well. Gets the word out there. Angie’s first feature premiered at Sundance, so her follow up got us some leverage in trade mags and online. Use whatever you think is news worthy to help get your crowdfunding campaign seen. It’s getting very competitive.
We raised $76,585 in 42 days
THE CAMPAIGN VIDEO & MORE ABOUT THE FILM CAN BE FOUND @
THE CAMPAIGN TEAM