Crowdfunding. The Do’s & Don’ts

NYC screening 2016.JPGIt’s no secret that the world of self starters, indie filmmakers and entrepreneurs has really exploded in recent years, thanks to the help of a global community of willing ‘funders’ sites like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter and local Thundafund, have made it slightly easier to bring BIG ideas to life.

In 2015, I too had a BIG idea and decided to pitch my first Indiegogo campaign for my documentary film “What is Real?” The story of Jivamukti Yoga.

Here are 10 serious questions you and your partners should consider before you take the giant leap whilst managing your expectations:

1. Take your time to plan.

Cool, you have a great idea and you’re so excited to share it with the world. This is the best time to take a breath and really pick the idea apart. Once you decide to launch on any crowdfunding site the clock is ticking and you don’t want to waste valuable time making up the marketing strategy on the fly.

Give yourself at least 1 month pre-campaign planning time before you even launch your campaign. Take the time to build excitement and intrigue on social media platforms, your website. Write, blog, vlog, tweet and snap etc. Whatever your market, know them and go to them. If you do this first step well, then your first and most important week of launch should trend well for you.

2. Don’t be shy to share.

As mentioned in point 1. Your pre-campaign time is as important as the campaign time. Friends and family should be your first port of call. Connect with them on all your platforms and ask them to share your social media links. These are the links you have connected to your ‘ready and waiting’ crowdfunding page.

People take time to absorb information these days because we’re inundated with so much of it these days. Allow your greatest fans a.k.a. your friends and family time to help you spread the word of your soon to launch BIG IDEA.

3. Be honest with yourself.

Its easy to make the mistake and assume that people have the cash or are even willing to drop big dineiro on your BIG idea. So be honest with yourself. If it were your own money? How much would you really need? Potential Funders want to know that their hard earned money is going to be put to good use.

Most Crowdfunding sites offer the “All or Nothing” option. At first you may see this as a failure, but in actual fact it may be a saving grace. Partial funding can be stressful to say the least, especially when you have to fulfil your promises to your funders on a shoestring budget. This leads us to the next point…

4. Create a thorough budget.

I can’t stress this point enough. If you’ve never done a budget before, then get help. If you’re doing this as a solo project and are quite versed in budgets, great! Get another set of eyes on it. If you’re in a team and this is your role in the team, then pull your team together and work through the ideas with the budget items, line by line.

When in doubt refer back to point 3.

Don’t over extend yourself.

Don’t over promise and under deliver.

5. The Perks will get you.

Again be honest with yourself here. Create perks that are enticing, eye-catching and easy to deliver on. Ask yourself questions like: Do I have a supplier for this perk? What time frame do I need to ensure delivery? Will it still be available when I get the funding or is it seasonal? How much is the postage or courier service to each country and am I covering myself for these costs? What will I package the items in? Do I need to employ someone to help me with this?

Aim to earn at least 70% from each perk for your idea. Anything below this threshold is no good.

In my experience, we had too many perks. Around 13 in the end. Our most popular perks were the ones that were personalised and coupled with the BIG idea. Funders are generally ok to part with $5 – $50 dollars. Anything over $50 becomes difficult to sell unless its truly extraordinary. So make sure its that!

6. Are you strong enough?

This may seem like a an arbitrary statement but finding the money is actually the easy part. Once you have it, you need to be prepared. Prepared to give 110% to the project and your funders in order to deliver on your promises. Our film took 2 years from idea to its New York premiere and in those two years there were many times I felt like giving up.

Communicate your hopes and dreams for the project with your loved ones. Get their input. Take their advice and assume that this may be a good time to ask whether your relationship can handle the energy you’re about to invest. Because boy oh boy, you’re about to jump down one exciting but time consuming rabbit hole.

7. Make it personal.

I’ve always tried to maintain a certain level of mystery or anonymity in my social media presence. Maybe I’m just old skool that way. But as you step into this realm, you need to assume that nobody knows who you are. Its time for you to step into the lime-light and ‘dance monkey dance’!

Grab your smart phone. Grab a friend. Find a good location. One which best represents you and your idea. Script a short dialogue to pitch to your potential funders. Hit record and show them what you’re made of. Keep it short. My mentor always said “If you cant explain the idea in 30sec or less, then maybe its too complicated!” If you’re trying to fund a movie, documentary or TV-series, you know that this step in the most important. So make it a good one!

8. Prepare to Launch.

What most crowdfunding sites and various other experienced bloggers will tell you, is that the first week is the most critical in your campaign. It gives you and potential funders great insight into how well your campaign is going to do and how much or how little effort you’re going to have to continue to put in as the week’s progress.

Be prepared. Have an arsenal of articles ready to blog on your website. Be ready to upload at least one picture or story every day onto your Instagram account. I say Instagram because I have found it to be a very useful visual tool but there are awesome APP’s like OVER which do a kick-ass job too and integrate well with other platforms. 

9. Go Live.

Finally you’ve made it through to the BIG DAY. It’s time sit back, for a brief moment, and enjoy the rush. “Will they like it? Will they fund me? What could I have done differently?” All these questions will come to haunt you. Dont let them! You’ve done the best you can, now you need to be prepared to shift and move with the daily analytics as you keep the momentum going.

Be vigilant and be prepared to communicate on social media daily. Work at posting on the crowdfunding site you’ve chosen, at least every second day if not more. Build your mailing list in order to schedule weekly mailers. Whatever you do, keep it consistent, fun and to the point.

10. Don’t get trapped.

Almost immediately, you’ll be inundated with offers from companies trying to sell you various packages to help you boost your campaign. In my experience, none of these worked for me. I’m sure there are campaigners out there who have had great success with these platforms but the old saying was true; “If you want something done right, then do it yourself!”

If you’re concerned that your campaign isn’t gaining enough traction after week one, don’t stress you have time. Get your network you’ve built to date i.e. friends and family, to help you spread the word. Another sneaky trick to keep your campaign trending on top  of the others is consistent donations. Nothing holding you back from spending some of your own personal / marketing budget you may have set aside, to anonymously donate on a daily or weekly basis. Keep hustling and dont get complacent. 


#PranaFilms #Crowdfunding #WhatIsRealMovie

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