We’ve all been on the receiving end of some form of solicitation. Someone with some idea wants you to give them money in order to make that idea happen and in exchange you get… well nothing really, nothing that you want, except maybe gratitude from the solicitor. As a film maker who isn’t independently wealthy I (unfortunately) find myself frequently in the role of solicitor. I have been involved with projects that succeeded and projects that didn’t come close, so in this article I’m going to explore what to do if you don’t want to succeed.

First off, this just has to be shared. I stumbled across this on Film Courage, and while it’s mostly specific to crowdfunding films I think the message applies to all crowdfunding endeavors.

So that brings us to our tip for not succeeding in crowd funding number one.

1. Make a crappy video

To be clear, I will determine if I’m going to give to your crowdfunding campaign based solely on your video. Does it have to be academy award winning quality? Absolutely not. Does it even have to be the quality of the final product? No not really. What it does have to do is show me that you not only care enough to take the time to make a quality video (or at least that you have enough of a business brain to realize investing in a great video will positively impact your campaign, and likely make you more money than you spent). Talking to a web cam for 10 minutes with poor audio and nothing to back up what you’re saying is not the way forward. This is the realm of show me, don’t tell me, so get your visuals together and craft a solid story that shows my why your idea is worth my time and my money.

 

2. Be unclear with your ask

One of the earlier crowdfunding campaigns I worked on probably should have succeeded. The talent behind it was great, what we were trying to do was original, and the video was solid. We showcased the talent and gave an example of what we were trying to accomplish and did it in a fairly creative way. However, we did a very poor job of being clear to our viewers about what we were trying to accomplish. Many questions came in mostly asking “what exactly are you making?” If it’s a film, say that it’s a film, if its CD say that it’s a CD, if its a product, then tell us exactly what sort of product it is. Do not leave any doubt in your potential patrons mind as to what you’re trying to do.

 

3. Choose the wrong platform

There’s a good number of crowdfunding sites out there. There’s no reason you should feel pigeon holed into using one that doesn’t craft the campaign to exactly what you need to succeed. For example, if you want to ask for $100K and you know that $70K will be enough, don’t choose Kickstarter…. it’s all or nothing, which means you may get $75K and you will see no money at all. Also if your social network is not very strong, don’t use one that relies solely on your social network for promotion. Also if your goal is to offset costs over a long period of time you might want to look at a source that allows money to come in at intervals and doesn’t have a short deadline. Do your research and choose the best site for you.

4. Ask for too much/too little

I’ve been on both sides of this on more than one occasion. Asking for too much can put an insurmountable mountain in front of you. Ask for too little and people won’t take your seriously (or worse, you’ll succeed and have to fulfill everything you promised without nearly enough money). Count the real cost, costs of materials, time, labor, marketing, and reward fulfillment. Count all of it, even if you know some of it is going to be donated. Then work your goal based on those numbers. Even if you take out everything you think will be donated at least you’ll know how much it should cost and how much it will cost if someone doesn’t come through with those donations. On the other side, the corwdfunding sites aren’t their to pay for your lavish lifestyle, don’t pad the numbers because you want to be an overnight millionaire, people will see through that and you will get nothing.

5. Be unprepared

If you want to succeed with your campaign you’re going to need to have a very clear plan, a plan with contingencies. Day 1-10 work out great, but on day 15 you don’t have a contributor in sight, what are you going to do? You met your goal early and have a month to raise more, can you think of something else to do with the extra money? It’s the last hour and you’re missing your mark in an all or nothing campaign by $100, what are you going to do? All of these things are things you need to consider. Also you need to figure out ways to refresh your campaign when it stalls, new videos, new posts, endorsements etc. Finally the bigest thing you need to be prepared for is that this is a 100% hands on activity. You line up donations before you even start, then you have to e-mail and call the people who have promised to give you money, then you spend all day sending your campaign to blogs, talking to people about it, handing out flyers, whatever you can do to raise the money.

 

Hope you guys find these insights helpful. I by no means want to be the definitive authority on crowdfunding, nor do I expect my experiences are universal in the crowdfunding world. However I have been on both successful and unsuccessful campaigns and these are the things that I took away from them. If you have any further insights to share on crowdfunding, let me know in the comments below!

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