Hi, there. Are you thinking about launching a crowdfunding campaign for your project?
You’ve been thinking about it for years, quietly clicking on all your friends’ and colleagues’ campaign pages, giving a few dollars here or there, or secretly watching their success or demise, filing it away for later.
You’re waiting for the perfect time to launch, when you’re feeling the most confident, have the perfect project, the perfect fallback position if it doesn’t work, and a hype crew to egg you on.
Still waiting? Ok. That’s an approach.
But what’s really stopping you from launching your campaign this year?
If I’m the first person to ask, hear me out as opposed to all the other people who put bad thoughts in your head about it ending in colossal failure, leaving you to flee from public view with your tail between your legs. None of that has to happen.
Most people who run successful campaigns do a ton of planning in advance, baking success into their outreach efforts long before the campaign goes live.
I’m often surprised at how many people aren’t aware of that, and throw a page up with no plan, but then many of us don’t know the capitals of every country in the world, either, even though it’s public information. (If you’re like me and don’t know them all, you could learn a thing or two from this 17-month-old child!)
If you do the planning, manage, and market your campaign well, chances are you’ll raise some money.
If it’s your first time, you might need to choose a smaller chunk of money to test your target and find out if your network can sustain it. But what I know for sure is one of three things will happen: you’ll meet your goal, exceed it, or fall far short — none of which is a tragedy, or cause for public ridicule.
But if you never try, you definitely won’t raise anything. #FACTS
I created a survey to find out the biggest fears people have about crowdfunding — and answer why they should go ahead and do it anyway. So here it is, according to a cross-section of artists…
10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t (But Really Should) Crowdfund Your Dream
- I’m too busy. When I launched my first campaign, I was a grad film student at NYU/Tisch, in pre-production on my film while trying to raise enough money to afford it. It was crazy, but it’s definitely possible with planning. And if you’re a struggling artist, living in expensive cities like NYC, crowdfunding (on Patreon, for instance) can be a great way to turn your side hustle into a sustainable business, making you less busy, better compensated, and happier in the long run.
- I don’t have the experience. Ah, yes! The experience trap. This always baffled me applying for jobs outside of college (ie, can’t get a job because you lack experience; but can’t get experience because you lack a job). You can actually get experience in crowdfunding by launching a campaign, or by learning about crowdfunding before you launch your campaign. Visit Indiegogo or Kickstarter for best practices!
- I’m worried about the fees. You’re right, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (unless you’re Amazon and don’t have to pay taxes on your massive earnings). If you don’t want to pay admin fees, you could place a donate button on your website that allows people to contribute directly to your work. But you’d still have to do the work of marketing yourself, so they’ll know it’s there. Also, to clarify, the admin fees on crowdfunding platforms come out of your earnings, not your pocket!
- I’m too disorganized. Well, I can’t help you there! Just kidding, there are lots of tools to help manage and track your campaign and donations. DM me for more info!
- I’m worried about not succeeding. I think we covered this one above. You either will or you won’t, but you won’t know if you don’t try.
- I’m not strong at building an online audience. This is actually VERY important. You should start building your public presence well in advance of your campaign. Set up your social media pages, start adding friends and coworkers, joining social groups online, and engaging with folks who share your interests. Trying to build your online presence at the same time as you launch your campaign is often too late. Start today, so you’ll be ready to launch down the line.
- I’m bad at asking people for money. This is deep. For many of us, the challenge with fundraising has little to do with the actual task, but our inner feelings about it. We have to overcome those fears first, or feel the fear and do it anyway. In my webinars, I also talk about the impact of different cultural attitudes toward money and giving, and how this must inform the strategies we use. Know that you’re not alone, but that it doesn’t have to stop you, either! The more you practice fundraising and marketing your work, putting yourself out there, the easier it gets.
- I don’t have the right team. This is also important. Crowdfunding projects with stronger teams do better than those with one or two team members. Also, your team members will help manage and market your campaign, so make sure you’re confident in their ability to do so before you launch.
- I tried it once and it didn’t work. Well, a campaign isn’t like a television, ie, you press the button and it works or not. It’s a process that has various metrics and opportunities for improvement. Can you grow your mailing list? Increase your site visits? Market your campaign better? Make a stronger promo video? Set better rewards? Chances are, there are many things you could do differently today to radically shift the outcome of a new campaign.
- It’s just not for me. Ok, well, if getting funding for your creative work is a bridge too far, that’s cool. I would argue that crowdfunding is for everybody (hence, the crowd), but at this point, I’m being pushy.
Are you planning a fundraiser for your creative project? Or thinking about planning one? To find out what’s holding you back, take the crowdfunding survey here.
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Iquo B. Essien is a writer, director, and business consultant with an MFA in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.