Monday, September 14, 2015

Crowdfunding 11 – The Campaign is Complete

 Part 2: Do’s and Don’ts


•    Do study whatever you can find about the various platforms. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best established. I can’t say much about Kickstarter’s platform and how they support their campaigners except that your campaign must be vetted before you launch, and they only offer the fixed payment method which only pays if you meet your contribution goal, which I think is standard for most platforms.

•    Do browse through the platforms and see which one you click with.

•    Do talk to anyone who’s done crowdfunding. I only found two and they weren’t too willing to share but as more and more people are doing crowdfunding it should get easier.

•    Do start talking up your campaign several months before you go live. Recruit friends and family to talk up your campaign and spread the word. This isn’t quite as easy as it seems given that today’s complex world is so full of other demands and some will be uncomfortable with the process. So the more the merrier but do make sure the campaign isn’t the only thing you talk about. Keep in mind that you’re asking for people’s good will and you don’t want to abuse it.

•    Don’t set your funding goal too high. Not only will you lose the end-game momentum that occurs when you’re almost at the goal, you’ll lose the In-Demand bonus that Indiegogo offers when you hit your goal. This allows you to keep the campaign open and accept new contributions.

•    Don’t expect many contributions from friends of friends or people you don’t know. PR campaigns might help and I'm getting to that.

•    Do spend a lot of time writing and polishing your pitch (called ‘story’ inside Indiegogo). Keep your tone light, a little sassy or even snarky depending on what kind of book you write. This is what draws people into your campaign and if they smile they’re more likely to leave a contribution behind.

•    Do line up a press release distribution service before you launch the campaign. This is where I fell down. For some reason I can no longer identify I thought press releases wouldn’t be helpful for crowdfunding, at least not for a small campaign like mine.

    Once your campaign activates, distribution services will be soliciting you through the Indiegogo comment function. The solicitation always comes with a disclaimer from Indiegogo warning you to be cautious about who you do business with. I checked out some of them, many with price tags into four figures, then picked up a small service on Fiverr, which turned out to be the big mistake I’ve already talked about. By that time it was actually too late to invest in major PR but if I had I would have chosen Krowdster (@krowdster). They have huge social media presence and their pricing is more than reasonable.  

Near the end I hired Green Inbox (@greeninbox ) mostly because their pitch didn’t sound so hyped. They used the message function in Facebook and generated a healthy jump in my contributions. I used them again in LinkedIn without good results but I think that was more because I’m not very active in LinkedIn than because of the service. I’ll use them again for book launches.

 I recommend these two companies, but keep in mind that my experience with them doesn't very deep and there are a lot more services out there. I’m sure many of them are good. Unfortunately, too many of them like to hype about the huge fees they’ll generate for you while charging you fees that are higher than your campaign goal and delivering questionable results. So be cautious and don’t ever, ever use Fiverr (by the way, I did get my refund after filing a dispute through PayPal).

•    Don’t be blindsided by platform hosting fees and do shop around. Fees vary from company to company and they can change while you’re setting up. In my case, Indiegogo actually lowered their fee and I think Kickstarter did too.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter have a flat 5% fee plus bank charges.  The third most popular platform, GoFundMe, which is geared toward humanitarian or wish fulfillment campaigns, charges 7% plus bank charges. My bank fee, through Paypal,  was 5%, which I think is a little high but it is a highly trusted, versatile, venue.

•    Don’t worry that they’re taking too much. Once you’ve researched the services you’re provided from these platforms, you may find yourself thinking you’re lucky they don’t charge more. What you do get is almost priceless — there is no buy-in charge to use the campaign and you’re given guidance and tools to help you succeed.
  • Do budget your perks. Take care not to promise more than you can afford or forget to include all expenses when you price the perks. The perks aren’t mandatory but they provide an edge of excitement and a feeling of fair exchange for your contributors. And I doubt you’ll fare well without them since they’ve become the standard.
•    Do stay on top of perk fulfillment. If you’ve signed in for a flexible campaign, I advise you to mail out your perks as they pop up. Saving them to the end is almost like wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I misread something in the Indiegogo material that made me think it was standard practice to deliver them after the campaign closed. I suppose this could make sense, since the money isn’t delivered until the campaign is over so if you have a lot of expensive perks it might put a strain on the budget.

But many of the platforms offer only fixed campaigns and waiting until the campaign closes is absolutely necessary since the fixed campaign doesn’t pay out unless the goal is achieved. You can imagine what a nightmare pre-delivered perks could be.

•    Do have fun.  Get together with friends and brainstorm ideas for perks. Make a pitch video and drive your relatives crazy while you work to get it right. Have at least one goofy perk. They draw in visitors which helps raise your campaign visibility.

•    Don’t take it too seriously. There’s a good chance that you won’t make your goal, especially if you ignore the advice about making it too high (hey, it’s okay—I ignored it too—after all one person’s high is another person’s chump change).

There’s probably more to share but I’m kind of ready to move onto other projects – like getting my books converted. The one question I’m sure to be asked is: ‘would I do it again?’

Yeah, I would, in fact I will. But not anytime soon. It’s a lot to ask of your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they jump in to support a project that only benefits you and that they might not even fully understand. I’m blessed to have a network of people who were willing to do that for me.

And, I’m determined not to test their good will. What I am determined to do is this. If you decide to do a campaign, email me and I’ll contribute. It may just be a ‘toe dipper’ amount, depending on how my books are doing, but I will. What goes around, comes around.

Week #1 Considering Crowdfunding?
Week #2 Getting Started With Indiegogo
Week #3 Pulling it Together
Week #4 Show Me the Money
Week #5 What if No One Comes
Week #6 Launch Week at Last

Week #7 Realities of Launch Week 
Week #8-9 Elbow-grease Time
Week #10  What I Took Away 


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