All posts by bethanyfarris

I've done everything from sending fish into space to herding guinea pigs in Peru. Now I teach math and science at RenaissanceSchool.org.

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Market Research

Crowdfunding is marketing. And it’s the best kind – you get paid for it, rather than vice versa!

“Marketing” can be a word that gives artists hives. But all it is is stepping way back from your project and looking at it through the eyes of your audience. What will entice them before they’ve had the chance to read your book / hear your album / see your film?

Most marketing works on the paradox of “similar but unique”. You’ll want to be well-versed in what is familiar to your audience, and after that identify the element of your work that will uniquely grab their attention. The first step is knowing your audience as precisely as possible.

blog images - market research

Think of a handful of people you know who will enjoy your work the most. Then answer these questions:

  1. What is their age?
  2. Gender?
  3. Relevant characteristics? (This could be geographic location, race, socioeconomic status, religion, shared experiences, shared passions, etc.)

This gives you a good profile of to whom you’re talking when you’re sharing your message. Many artists think they’ll sell more if they explain why really their book / album / film / project is for everybody – but it won’t. Get specific. This helps to set the right tone.

Step Two is another one that artists often dislike: classify your work. You may think your project transcends genre – and maybe it does – but that will not help sell your work. Pick the genre that is the best fit. Which (online) shelf does your work match? This helps to set the right layout for your cover or preview.

Step Three is to research bestsellers to your audience in your genre. Fortunately, online retailers like Amazon and iTunes make it easy to research bestsellers in just about any digital media. If your project does not fit these two websites, find some that do sell your craft. If all else fails, you can browse through your category on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see what kinds of messages work and don’t work for projects like yours. You’ll want to keep an eye out for things like:

  1. Color scheme
  2. Font
  3. Layout
  4. Design elements / icons
  5. Voice / word choice
  6. Price
  7. For video: soundtrack, voice over, timing, cuts, captions

Pick 3-5 examples that stand out to you as great. What are the common components they share? Borrow these in your own marketing. This helps you to meet your audience’s expectations.

Step Four is the fun part: identify the one unique element of your work that will be of special interest to your audience. Artists often want to select the sixteen elements of their work that are unique and amazing. And your audience will love them all -eventually. But you need to pick the strongest, most appealing one to sell your work first. A confused observer does not become a buyer. A strong unique element in a familiar layout will help you to surpass your audience’s expectations.

Step Five is to work with a designer, writer, videographer, or others to actually turn this research into the pitch for your project. With the above information and successful projects that have gone before you, you have what you need to be on the same page and craft a pitch your audience can’t resist.

 

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

Artists Answer: What was the most valuable service received from The Artist’s Partner?

During a recent client survey, we asked the following question: “What services received from The Artist’s Partner were most valuable to you?”

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For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

Artists Answer: Biggest surprises during your campaign?

During a recent client survey, our artists provided the following insights in response to the question: “What were the biggest surprises during your campaign?

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For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Rallying Your Backers After The Campaign

There’s a bigger benefit to crowdfunding than the money: a core group of fans. Most people are joiners, not pioneers, so this core group of fans will be tremendously valuable for attracting other people to your project once it is realized. Here are a few ideas on how to both thank your fans and boost your project.

  1. Circle back to your Influencers. The organizations and people who helped spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign may be very willing to help spread the word about your project now that it has been realized. Be sure to get them your marketing materials, press releases, offer interviews – make their job easy to help you.
  2. Invite your backers to the project premier. Whether it’s your album launch party, first book signing, or opening night – make your backers VIP guests, and tell them to bring their friends. They’ve been on this journey with you now for months or even years. They’ll bring the enthusiasm that only that kind of anticipation can generate.
  3. Invite your backers to rate and review your project. Just about any kind of project has a place where people can write their own reviews and give a project a rating. Synchronize watches to boost your project on Amazon, iTunes, Rotten Tomatoes, or the relevant platform. Offer raffles or prizes to incentivize participation early. A visited project will attract more visitors that one that looks abandoned.
  4. Invite your backers to join the conversation about your project online. Whether it’s on your blog, website, social media, or elsewhere, somewhere online there’s a conversation you should be starting about your project. Make sure your backers know that their comments, likes, photos, and other participation is welcome.

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Fulfillment

Your crowdfunding campaign is over! But the work has just begun. It’s time to get your backers all the creative perks and rewards they ordered.

Our mantra is “under-promise and over-deliver”. It’s easy to be overly optimistic on both how long it is going to take to produce your project, and then how long it will take to actually get it into your backers’ hands. Be sure to include in your timeline calculations the following considerations:

  1. You may not see your money until a month after your campaign closes. It can take up to 14 days on Kickstarter and 15 days on Indiegogo for funds to be sent. Depending on your bank, it can take up to 7 days or more for funds to clear. To be on the safe side, you should consider having money in hand by a month after your campaign closes.
  2. Budget for delays in production. Most creative projects are sequential and involve a team, so there are many points along the way where a delay on one task may mean a delay in completion. A rule of thumb for a home remodel is to expect it to go 25% over time – that’s a good expectation for your project, too.
  3. If you’re producing something physical, leave time for proofs and shipping. If you are producing something digital, leave time for beta testing. If you are producing a book, album, or other physical good, it can take a good month or more to order proofs, wait for them to arrive, review them, make tweaks (which may mean looping people like your designer back into the process), place your order, manufacture, and wait for the goods to arrive. It’s not safe to assume the proof will be perfect – it almost never is. If you are producing something digital, there are almost always bugs. Your backers make great beta testers! Be careful not to give them the impression that they’ll be receiving the polished final product at a certain date when it is more realistic that’s when you’ll be asking them to test it out.
  4. Leave time to collect your backers’ information. Before you ship, you’ll want to confirm your backers’ shipping information. This can take a few weeks of surveys, reminder emails, and some back-and-forth communications. If any of your rewards include collecting additional information – T-shirt sizes, for example – you’ll need even more time.
  5. Remember to block off days for packing and shipping. The more successful your campaign is, the bigger the undertaking of actually packing, labeling, and posting all of the items your backers have ordered.

Taken together, this usually means that a safe estimated delivery is somewhere between 6-12 months from the close of your campaign. Your backers will be happier to receive their rewards on time rather than promised up front a date that you later have to explain was overly optimistic.

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Closing Day

Sprint across your crowdfunding campaign’s finish line (even though you’ll be tired!). Campaign funding tends to be U-shaped, with the greatest amount of activity on the first and last days, as illustrated by this data from Kickstarter.

pledge pattern graph

You’ll want to maximize that final day and gather up as many of the procrastinators in your crowd as you can. Our recommendations mirror those for Launch Day:

  1. Dedicated “Last Chance!” email. This email should be short and sweet. Your network has by now heard from you many times, so this is a short, fun reminder with images and most importantly the link to your campaign, with one simple message: the campaign closes at midnight tomorrow, and this is their last chance for special pre-order opportunities. (As a reminder – email and social media are not created equal. Social media is not useless, but email prompts action. Don’t neglect your email list!)
  2. Deadline phone campaign. Especially for those people you’ve expected to get on board and have yet to show up, it’s worthwhile giving them a ring and talking to them in person. They may have questions on how to pledge, what the money is going towards, or how else they can get involved. Be upbeat and remind them that this is their last chance to get in early on your exciting new project.
  3. Influencer synchronization. Your Influencers deserve a little one-on-one time, too. Ask them to repost or resend what they’ve already sent to their networks, with the “Last Chance!” message.
  4. Deadline event. Just think of the ball dropping in Times Square – people love a count-down. Have a little party and make sure to have your laptop connected to your TV screen so that partygoers can watch the %-funded tick up live. Have samples of your rewards and invite people to pledge, auction style. Food, beverages, and music get folks in a festive mood.
  5. Social Media blasts. Update your profile picture with your key campaign image and the “Last Chance!” message. It’s a good idea to hit your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and/or other feeds multiple times during the final 24 hours.
  6. “Last Chance!” campaign update. And, don’t forget your backers! Publish a campaign update (like the blog on your campaign), thanking your faithful backers and reminding them this is their last chance to invite their friends and family before time runs out. This is a good time to hype any special rewards, stretch goals, or other last-minute news.

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Live Events

Moving your crowdfunding campaign from the intangible internet into the real world encourages backers to get on board. Even though the average person spends 23 hours a week online, there’s still no substitute for meeting up face to face. Our clients have used live events in a variety of ways to boost their campaigns’ success.

  1. VIP Launch Party. What better way to announce to everyone you know that your project is getting real than to invite them all to a party? This can be a free or paid event (with ticket sales through your campaign), a way to preview your work, and a chance to show off some of your perks/rewards.
  2. Mid-campaign doldrums event. Campaign pledges tend to be U-shaped – major activity on the first and last days, with an anxiety-inducing dead zone in the middle. As one Artist’s Partner client lamented, “The hardest part of our crowdfunding campaign was the two weeks in the middle, when donations just dried up.” Inject some life into your campaign with a concert, party, or other activity to re-energize your crowd.
  3. Rehearsal invite. People love to see the artist at work. So why not invite them to your studio, to a dress rehearsal, a sound check, private screening of a rough cut, or other venue to showcase your work? Ideally, the best salesperson for your work is the work itself. Give your crowd the chance to see it come together.
  4. Conference piggyback. This isn’t always possible, but sometimes you happen to be writing eco-fiction and running your campaign during April – when there are Earth Day events galore. It’s worth checking to see if the audience for your work already happens to be conveniently clustering and receptive to your message – and then getting involved.
  5. Countdown Party. Whether it’s a trip to the moon or dropping the ball on New Year’s Eve, people love a countdown. Have a party on the last evening of your campaign, have a meter showing pledges going up, and take advantage of auction psychology to give your campaign an 11th hour boost.

It’s also worth noting that several clients have used Skype, Google Hangout, or another video service to invite out-of-towners to the live event. They pick a designated 20 minutes or so where those far away can tune in and say hi and participate in the fun.

For a free crowdfunding analysis of your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!