How to Crowdfund, Really: An Actionable Timeline

Before, During, and After Your Campaign

Every phase of your crowdfunding crusade requires a slightly different approach. With that in mind, I’ve put together a really actionable list that breaks your marketing plan into before, during, and after your campaign.

BEFORE

Crowd-funding requires pre-production—just like movies do. That means the old adage “It’s all in the planning” also applies here.

Social Media: Turn your social media on long before you launch. Who’s going to follow a Twitter handle whose sole purpose is to ask for stuff? There are some basic platform-specific tips and tricks like how to use hashtags well, how to tag Vimeo videos, etc, which are covered in tutorials all over the internet.

Direct Outreach: All the members of your team should go through their email lists and divide them up between who to contact with a personal email and who to put on an email blast.

Let your core group of supporters know in advance what you’re about to do and line them up to contribute during the first seven days. Remember: Not everyone knows what crowdfunding is. Explain it simply.

Spend at least a week researching the bloggers who are writing about anything related to your campaign. Reach out to them and let them know what you are doing. Do not ask. Offer! Show them what you’re working on, offer them an exclusive opportunity to view footage or meet with your team. These folks have deeply engaged followings. If they get behind you on Twitter, the sky is the limit.

Project Outreach: Make a plan to release two to three pieces of sharable visual content every week during your campaign. Short videos are ideal. It helps to record this stuff in advance (like while you’re shooting your pitch video, for example— outtakes from that can be great) because you’ll be really busy with the other two during the campaign.

DURING

Kickstarter released an amazing statistic that 80 percent of projects that reached 20 percent of their funding goals in the first seven days hit their target eventually. The first seven days, therefore, are key.

Then THERE WILL BE A LULL. No matter who you are, the middle two weeks of your campaign will be really scary. That’s when you try new things!

Social Media: Look through the trades, read the critics, peruse Vimeo and YouTube, and share what’s interesting to you. Then, respond to everyone who tweets at you. Just do it.

During the lull, offer short-term, personalized incentives that you can share on Facebook and that your supporters will want to share with one another (e.g. “We’ll photoshop you into one of our locations”).

Direct Outreach: You will get out of this what you put in. The more emails you send and the less time you spend worrying if people will be annoyed with you, the greater your chances of success will be. Set a goal for yourself, like “10 emails per day.” Just do it.

In your emails, be sure to include sample tweets and Facebook posts with the links clearly displayed to make it as easy as possible for people to take action. Plan to send a weekly update to your mailing lists.

Pursue the bloggers on their Facebook pages, through Twitter, and by commenting on blogs they’re posting. Engage them and they will engage you.

Project Updates: Keep them coming! If you have exciting news about the project or anyone on the team, that should go in the update. The purpose of these updates is twofold: To demonstrate the value of getting involved with you as creators (building your audience); and to give your growing community of supporters lots of ways to share/brag about the project they’re involved in.

It’s super easy to sit down in front of your computer and record a personal thank you video for your supporters. Just do it.

AFTER

The campaign is over, but your job isn’t done!

Social Media: You have probably built a big(ger) following by the end of your campaign. Do not let this go. These are the people who will amplify your message, not just during your campaign, but throughout your career—because you’ve taken the time to develop a relationship with them. Don’t let that go.

Direct Outreach: Your mailing list is bigger now. Thank these people meticulously and send them what you promised them when you promised it. Yes, that means you have to set aside time to fulfill these incentives. With that in mind, as much as you can, offer things like behind-the-scenes videos you can record while on set (that you may need for your press kit later anyway!). Avoid offer rewards that are expensive or time-consuming to make.

Project Updates: Use the tools available on your platform to bring your new community with you on the journey of making the film. Share the triumphs and tribulations. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good—just let them know how your project is progressing. Once a week is enough. Always include a sharable photo or video to make it easy for your supporters to continue to spread the word. If you go radio silent, you may lose them forever.

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Crowdfunding is a lot more than just convincing people to give you money. Implemented correctly, your campaign can be the first step in building an audience that outlasts the life cycle of your film’s funding and production. Get people emotionally invested in you as an artist, and when it comes time to exhibit your film—at festivals, online, in theaters—you’ll have a troupe of supporters who feel like they made the film with you, and who will work hard to help you get the project out into the world. And if you really win them over, they’ll support you in your next endeavor. You’ll have a sustainable career as a moviemaker before you know it! MM

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3 Comments

  1. Jerry Lentz

    October 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Thank you Emily, Seed&Spark, and MovieMaker! I wish I had read this, or contacted you before I started my ‘NEBULA’ campaign on IndieGoGo!

    I hope and want to pull this through. It’s so important to me!

    Thanks so much,

    Jerry

  2. Eliz1abeth Karr

    October 16, 2013 at 12:37 am

    This is a superb article. We did a successful kickstarter campaign for theatrical distribution of our Philip K. Dick film, Radio Free Albemuth by following these tenets. One thing more I would add, is that before you crowd fund – fund other people’s projects. Creates good will and you learn the ins and outs of crowdfunding by seeing firsthand as a backer what is involved.

  3. Jerry Lentz

    October 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Thank you Emily, Seed&Spark, and MovieMaker! I wish I had read this, or contacted you before I started my ‘NEBULA’ campaign on IndieGoGo!

    igg.me/at/nebula/x/7626

    I hope and want to pull this through. It’s so important to me!

    Thanks so much,

    Jerry

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