Guest Post by Leah Lamb
Crowdfunding is one of the more powerful initiations and rites of passage into actualizing your vision. And while it is exciting and inspiring to hear of so many people’s successes, it is equally powerful to learn from their mistakes. Below I have outlined 12 big mistakes it is oh so easy to make, and 11 tips to developing an effective and efficient crowdfunding campaign.
1. Thinking Too Small When It Comes to Long-term Relationship Building
Most of the people who are launch crowdfunding campaigns are maker-types. And most likely that means that there will come a day when you will want to make something again. So don’t think of the people who participate in your campaign as disposable…consider them epic allies that are joining your team for the long haul.
- Super Stealth Tip 1: Get Personal: You are building relationships that have the potential to last a lifetime and could potentially see you through many projects. Along with sharing information about your project, be authentic about who you are and what you care about. Reach out to people after they donate with a personal email where you thank them; you may even want to tell them what they funded. For ex: “Thank you for donating $10, you paid for 10 pages of my book!
- Super Stealth Tip 2: Just because your campaign ends doesn’t mean that your relationship ends. You can continue to message people through most platforms, and you can also download the contacts list and integrate that into your mailing list. You can use that mailing list to maintain contact with people over time, keep them engaged with what you are creating, and make them part of your tribe/family/pods that actualizes cool things in the world.
2. Not Realizing That Your Main Job Is To Inspire People
I realize you thought that your main job was to get people to give you money. But atlas…it is actually to inspire people. One of the very first winners of project runway actually called her fans to see why people were watching. Turns out her fans watched because they loved watching someone accomplish something. You are DOING something amazing… you have taken a bold leap, put yourself out there, and are manifesting your dream. So flaunt that, and know that people are inspired by you.
- Super Stealth Tip 3: Share Your Vision. Don’t be shy about sharing your big vision. Maybe it’s as fabulous as bringing more joy into the world by making people laugh, or as serious as feeding the homeless, or as practical as telling a story that will inform people. Connect people to your big vision for change, and tell them what inspired you to create this project.
3. Not Preparing for Taxes
Taxes and crowdfunding are for real. If you raise more than 20K you will be reported to the IRS and you will be taxed on what you raised. So make sure that you run your campaign early enough in the year so that you can spend as much of your funds as possible to avoid large tax bills.
4. Ignoring the natural cycles of online behavior:
August, September, and December are historically the months with the highest amounts of campaign failures. Don’t become a stat. Know your facts.
- Super Stealth Tip 4: If you find yourself feeling the impulse to begin your campaign in one of those months, make sure that it is timely and irresistible OR use that time to your advantage for doing all the campaign planning…
5. Rewards: bad, boring, and costly
So many things can go bad with rewards… but the top pitfalls are: 1) Not budgeting for the time it takes to assemble and distribute rewards 2) Not budgeting the cost of mailing.
- Super Stealth Tip 5: Develop as many digital rewards as possible.
- Super Stealth Tip 6: Take every talent and gift you and your best friends and allies have and think about how they can be made into rewards. Rewards don’t have to be a literal representation of your project, they just have to be inspiring and result in something that people want. Extra points if you create a pick up location where people can get their gifts so you don’t have to mail them.
6. Lacking an eagle eye when it comes to the details:
There are a lot of details that can bite you if you aren’t paying attention. Such as the fees that crowdfunding platform charges, taxes, and the time, energy, and cost involved with fulfilling rewards. You don’t need a super stealth tip to tell you to read all of the fine print.
7. Making a crappy, boring, or really long video
Enough said. Your video reflects on the quality of product you will ultimately deliver.
It doesn’t have to be Hollywood quality, but it needs style, good sound, good editing,
and great messaging.
- Super Stealth Tip 7: Consider using the following recipe while writing your script: 1) Build credibility, tell us who you are and why you are the person who can do this job 2) Be your authentic self…in front of the camera. This isn’t as easy it sounds. Get someone to stand behind the camera and talk to them. 3) Deliver a concise and inspiring vision for what you want to do…and why you want to do it. 4) Inspire us with your idea! 5) Ask us for money. I know…it seems so obvious and so many people don’t do it. 6) Keep your video under 3 minutes. 2:45 seconds is even better.
8. Avoiding Proper Planning
So many people think they can whip out a campaign in a weekend (ehem, I was one of those people once upon a time). The truth is…doing it right means setting yourself up for success. Give yourself the time you need to develop the strategy, rewards, and copy for your campaign page. Schedule time to and write and rewrite your video, gather your production team, and schedule an editor. Reach out to your network to develop an ambassador program. Coordinate with friends or partner organizations who would want to throw a launch party… all of this takes planning and time.
- Super Stealth Tip 8: Give yourself 4-6 weeks to develop your campaign.
9. Creating Financial Goals That are Out of Your Reach
This one speaks for itself. You need to assess the size of your network, and assess the size of your friend’s networks, and then do the math.
- Super Stealth Tip 9: Around 1/10 of the people who visit your campaign page are going to make a contribution. The average contribution is $50. Now develop the math equation (or use the one I created in my 23 page Action Guide (see below).
10. Not Treating Their Campaign Like A Job
You know that saying, “If you build it they will come.” That doesn’t apply to your crowdfunding campaign.
- Super Stealth Tip 10: Plan on treating your campaign like a part time job. It will require you to be relentless and persistent. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the weekends off, because you need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. But doing a little bit of promotion on the weekend couldn’t hurt.
11. Ignoring Your Special Sauce
There is something unique to you and your project. It might be your sense of humor. It might be your epic persistence. You might be able to do a handstand like no other. What ever it is…make sure that you thread your campaign with the specialness of you. I realize this concept is abstract, so I’ll provide an example. One of my goals in life is to strengthen and build community. So when I did my second campaign I became aware that there were a lot of entrepreneurs and artists, and I wanted everyone to know about each other. I started flaunting my awesome tribe in my email updates, and I celebrated people on facebook. It was one of my ways of giving while receiving…to celebrate the people who joined my mission to put a story into the world that I believed would make a difference in the lives of youth. So I posted links to their work, and bragged about the amazing skills and talents of the people who were joining my project’s community. People still mention the impact that had on them. That’s my special sauce. What’s yours?
12. Not making a mid-campaign strategy
Every campaign has a natural cycle: lots of attention at the beginning, lots of attention at the end, and a flat line in the middle. You need to create a strategy before you launch your campaign for how you are going to enliven your campaign in the middle.
- Super Stealth Tip 11: Don’t announce all of your rewards when you launch. Keep a few reward that you can announce in the middle or end of your campaign that will encourage people to increase their reward. In other words: plan all your rewards at the beginning, and then post a few halfway through your campaign when things get slow. Cause they will.
Want more help? YOU ARE IN LUCK!
I will be hosting an Online Workshop October 4th-Oct 8th Everything You Need to Rock Your Crowdfunding Campaign where you can study with myself and other experts who have successfully raised 100’s of thousands of dollars through crowdfunding. When you take the course live you have access to me for live Q&A and you can even sign up for the bonus package to have me review your materials. I know. It’s an awesome and crazy affordable program. I made it this way because I wanted the makers, creatives, burners, and more to have easy affordable access and support so they can build kick ass campaigns.
Can’t take the class but want to dive deep into the topics touched on above? You can get the recorded version or you can Get this 23 page DIY How To Launch Your Campaign Action Guide. (Of course it this comes free to everyone who signs up for the online course)
Leah Lamb is a Writer, Producer, Transformational Storyteller, and Multi-media innovator. Her work plays with a lexicon that weaves myths, archetypes, and the hero’s journey into our modern world. Leah weaves her love of theatre, wilderness, film, and social justice together into her work as a storyteller and crowdfunding expert. Her first novel The Whale Dreamer, is almost finished. For more info: leahlamb.com