How to raise $6666 in 40 days.
Steps to get from zero to 6666:
1) Research your platform options. I decided to go with Indiegogo since this was my first crowdfunding attempt. Kickstarter has a “do or die” policy where you lose all money raised if you don’t reach your goal. Many people “achieve” their goals by having wealthy friends and family members step in at the last minute to get past the finish line. If you don’t have the rich uncle failsafe, I recommend Indiegogo so you can definitely reap the rewards of your efforts. There’s no free lunch of course. Indiegogo takes a 9% cut from the amount you’ve raised if you don’t reach your goal, and 5% if you do. Plus there’s a credit card transaction fee of 3% and PayPal fees which vary.
2. Start early. I launched my campaign at the end of November, but started work on the campaign in September. Many people start preparing their campaigns a year in advance. Shoot your promo video in advance, prepare a press release, and start talking about your project so your friends aren’t surprised when you ask them for money.
3. Get used to talking to people about money. Asking for any sort of help makes me extremely squeamish. When I was in college, I stranded myself in the middle of nowhere at 2 a.m. because I was too timid to inconvenience my way cooler friends for a ride home. I definitely have a more practical view of life now, and understand that everyone needs help once in awhile and that it is okay to ask for a favor as long as you’re polite and upfront about what your needs are. People are generally more open-minded and generous than we give them credit for. Sure, you’ll encounter some negativity during your campaign, but do your best to assume the best of everyone and focus on the people that care about you. The best sales pitch is sincerity, so believe 110% in your project!! Believe that you’ll succeed and be able to give everyone back their money’s worth.
4. Do your research. After studying other campaigns, I realized that they successfully achieved their goals because their product had one or more of the following:
*A HUGE fan base. Thousands of followers on Twitter and YouTube. Toss in a name actor or two, and you’ve got funding.
*A promo video that went viral. Or their campaign was featured on a prominent website.
*Disposable income. On his website, Tim Ferris shares tips on how to raise $100,000 in 10 days. Very cool, if you have the spare bucks to hire virtual assistants and a team of fundraisers to do the work for you.
I had none of the above, but I did make use of the 1000+ friends on Facebook. I PM’d every contact that I figured would be cool with supporting an indie film. I created a spreadsheet of indie film and horror blogs/news outlets and reached out to as many fans as I could. And I also did a Q&A article for the Examiner.
5. Timing matters. I ran my campaign during 4 major holidays: Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. This was helpful to me since for my day job I’m a high school teacher, and LAUSD closes school for a decent period of time during the winter. Crowdfunding is a full-time job in itself, so if you’re working another job at the same time as your campaign you’ll have to survive on less sleep and food.
The nice thing about the winter holidays is that ’tis the season for giving, and you can add a nice “happy _____” at the end of your messages. The downside is that people tend to be busier with their family obligations and are saving their money for presents and travel plans. Many people recommend running crowdfunding campaigns after tax season so their friends are flush with rebates and more able to donate. I say, pick a time that works best for your own schedule.
6. To quote Avenue Q, remember that “there is life outside of your apartment.” There were days when I got in the rut of plowing through work on my laptop: responding to messages, editing more promo videos, pre-production on the film … the list goes on. However, I found that the times I said “fuck it” and decided to just hang out with friends, I was able to better connect with people and explain my film project in detail. Sure, a personal email is nice, but nothing beats a one-on-one conversation with a potential donor.
7. Rewards. In addition to giving your supporters a tangible reward, you can use the reward system as a marketing tool. Try to put your logo on something useful. I went with Purgation t-shirts. Other friends have suggested totes, especially since LA now charges for grocery bags. Basic rule of thumb, don’t give out a reward that you yourself would not want. For example, wallpaper (I personally only like kitty wallpaper), a key chain (who the fuck wants to add weight to the keys they have to carry), or lunch with the creative team … because unless you’re famous, people shouldn’t have to pay to have lunch with you.
In conclusion, I’m grateful for my crowd funding experience because it reconnected me with many friends who I hadn’t talked to in years and renewed my faith in the basic goodness of humans. I squealed with delight whenever a horror director I had reached out to on the web supported my film, it was almost like getting into this secret horror club.
I couldn’t have done this without the support of my Sicker and Sweeter producers Jeremy and Nacia, who were the first people to believe in my film and be my constant cheerleaders. I’m thankful for my boyfriend who patiently stopped me whenever the stress of the campaign caused me to devolve into Blue Jasminesque mumbling.
Finally, even though my Indiegogo campaign is done, fundraising will continue on The Purgation mainpage via PayPal. Literally the day right after my campaign ended, ten friends asked if they could still donate. Yes, you can!