Over the last decade, crowdfunding has become a fantastic alternative to traditional fundraising methods such as loans or venture capital. Whether you’re raising money for a film, a product, or a start-up, crowdfunding has leveled the playing field and made it (somewhat) easier for newbie entrepreneurs to access funding. And crowdfunding allows you to build a following early on, so that by the time your film/product/start-up is ready for release, it already has an excited audience waiting for it. It’s a win-win!
That said, crowdfunding definitely takes a fair amount of time, energy, and planning to pull off. But, as I’m currently in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign for my first movie, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way!
Reach out to supporters before the launch date:
In the month or so leading up to your campaign launch, start creating a list of all the names you’d like to reach out to. Family, friends, colleagues, your first grade teacher… Don’t limit yourself! You never know who will come out of the woodwork to lend their support to your endeavor, and it’s better to cast a wide net. Make a Google or Excel spreadsheet with their emails and begin reaching out to your list the week before you launch. The first week of any crowdfunding campaign is crucial, so it’s critical to start getting people excited about it before the launch even happens. You’ll want to be sure that you can reach at least 30% of your goal in the first week of the campaign.
Send personal emails throughout the campaign:
This is one of the most time-consuming parts of the campaign, but it is also one of the most rewarding. A fellow producer told me that they like to think of it as an opportunity to catch up with everyone in their network, and I believe that’s a great way to think of it. And while you can use services like Substack or Mailchimp to email your entire mailing list updates, the individualized emails are what will get people interested in what you have to say. Create a Google Doc that has an email template you can use containing all the important information (where they can find the campaign, why they should donate, where they can follow along on social media). Then, every day, write roughly ten emails that include a personalized note at the start of the message. Though it takes time, it also helps make the whole process feel less cold and distant. Generic mass emails can feel like spam. Personal check-ins are more fun for both you and the recipient.
Build a social media campaign alongside your crowdfunding campaign:
This is why it’s important to start planning your crowdfunding campaign at least three months in advance. As you’re building your target audience spreadsheet, you should also be creating a spreadsheet to plan your social media posting schedule. Plan fun and engaging weekly content for your followers. Make sure to incorporate social media shout-outs for your crowdfunding supporters. Create a Google Drive folder with all of your graphics ready to go, so all you have to do is post them on the appropriate day. Delegate clear roles among your team (i.e. one person in charge of social media posts, one person in charge of press reachout, one person in charge of creating graphics, etc.).
Create a visually engaging crowdfunding page that incorporates multimedia elements:
Your pitch video doesn’t have to be Hollywood quality… I’ve seen effective campaign videos that were shot on iPhones that conveyed a great and clear message! If you do have any friends who are filmmakers and/or editors, you can reach out and ask if they’d be available to assist you with it. Beyond filming an engaging pitch video, you also want to have a clear and fun graphic design throughout the crowdfunding page. Websites like Canva offer simple yet visually interesting tools for creating graphics such as page headers and pie charts that break down your budget. Choose a color palette and be consistent with it on both your crowdfunding campaign and your social media.
Have fun creating unique incentives!
Spend time choosing and accurately pricing the reward tiers for your supporters. Crowdfunding sites like Seed&Spark will assist by providing feedback on your incentives before you launch. The most common reward tiers are $15, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, and $1,000, and the most common contribution is at the $25 level. Create fun incentives that will make your supporters feel like they’re part of the creation of the film/product/start-up… because they are! They’re part of the team now and that should feel exciting for both them and for you. Price your incentives appropriately… rewards like executive producer credits or premiere invites should be priced higher than, say, social media shout-outs. We also offered things like one-on-one script consultations and other unique but on-brand incentives. Once you’ve made your list, ask yourself if the incentives you are offering would be enough to make you donate. And again, have fun with it!
Crowdfunding can be very daunting and time-consuming, and it will certainly become a job on top of your regular job! However, it is also an excellent way to gain both exposure and funding for your endeavor. It is also a great way to connect with your current network, as well as build your community beyond your current reach. With a little teamwork, organization, and advance preparation, you’ll be able to launch a crowdfunding campaign that is a huge success!
And if you’d like to check out the crowdfunding campaign I’ve been working on as my “night job” when I’m not at A4H, you can do so here: The Sound Guy: A New Comedy!
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Written by Jessie Cannizzaro