How to succeed at crowdfunding: Day 1 Backers

There are three key groups of people – VIPs – who make the difference between success and failure for your crowdfunding campaign. Your VIPs are:

  1. Day 1 Backers,
  2. Influencers, and
  3. Benefactors.

Because they’re so important, Influencers and Benefactors each get their own post. This post is about the first group of your VIPs: Day 1 Backers.

Your Day 1 Backers are important, because there is a powerful psychological negative embedded in a campaign that has “$0 / 0% Funded” plastered across the top of the page. Every campaign starts at zero. And an almost unbelievable 13% of Kickstarter campaigns – over 27,000 – end at zero, too, without a single person ever backing it.

zero pct funded

How does this happen? It’s an explanation similar to the house that has had the for sale sign in its yard too long. At a certain point, the public starts thinking there’s something wrong with your campaign, just by virtue of the fact that no one has yet backed it. This inertia becomes harder and harder to overcome as each day passes.

So, have a handful of people lined up who consider it an honor to back your project on Day 1. These are the friends, family, fans, and colleagues who have known about your project since its early days. They can’t wait to have a copy of your book or album or a ticket to your show in their hands. Make sure they know months in advance that your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign is coming.

They might pledge a little; they might pledge a lot. The role of your Day 1 Backers isn’t about the money. Their role is all about early momentum – they don’t require any extra convincing to support you. They’ve already bought into your idea, and they want you to succeed. They will convince other people who don’t know you or your project jump onto the bandwagon when they give your project that all-important boost from 0% to not-0% on Day 1.

Day 1 Backers are VIPs, and we treat them like VIPs. Every campaign is different, but some of the special benefits Day 1 Backers may receive include:

  • A sneak peek at crowdfunding campaign drafts. These people are excited about your campaign – so they get a back stage pass  to tour it before it goes live to the public. Their advice is requested on video, copy, design, and rewards. Their voice is heard and reflected in the campaign.
  • An invitation to be on your team. Creating a team is a big enough topic to get its own post, but in brief, these people are excited about your project! Why not ask them to join your team?
  • A VIP soft-launch invitation. This topic gets its own post, too, but to summarize: Let’s assume we’ve been promoting October 15 as the day your campaign goes live. That’s the day we’ll broadcast publically. But what the public doesn’t know is that we’re actually going to quietly launch it on October 14. Your VIPs get an exclusive invitation to the soft launch, and first rights to special  rewards.
  • Private bonus rewards. Almost always, there will be draft copies of your project: proofs of books, rough cuts of films, play dress rehearsals. Your VIPs get first rights to these benefits. These will be the people who start that word-of-mouth spark when your project – not your crowdfunding campaign, but the actual project you’re funding – goes live.

If you’d like a free analysis of your crowdfunding plans for your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

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How to succeed at crowdfunding: Preparation Timeline

The second biggest surprise our clients face when we start working is how long it takes to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign. The biggest surprise is the gap between their project budget and the amount of money they are conceivably going to raise from their current network.

Proper preparation is one of the key reasons our clients have a 97% success rate as compared to the 38% industry average. So, how do we prepare for a crowdfunding campaign?

1. We pick a good launch date.

When selecting a launch date, we consider:

  • At least three months prep time prior to launch
  • The best times to run a campaign are mid-March to mid-May, and mid-September to mid-November
  • The best days to get and hold someone’s attention are T/W/Th
  • Federal and school holidays
  • Psychologically, it’s best to contain a 30-day campaign within a single calendar month

Ideally, we’ll begin working with a client in April (or earlier) for an October launch, or in November (or earlier) for a May launch.

2. We budget enough weekly time.

A typical time commitment starts with a few hours per week several months before the campaign, sloping upward to 10+ hours per week in the month before the campaign.

3. We follow a detailed calendar of task deadlines.

A typical workflow timeline for an October campaign looks something like this:

  • April – Network evaluation and $ target analysis.
    • Whom will you invite to your campaign, and how?
    • How is your network contact information organized so that you can engage efficiently?
    • Who will back your project on Day 1?
    • Who will be your Influencers, and help to spread the word?
    • Who will be your significant Benefactors, and pledge more than $500 to the project?
    • Based on your network, what is a reasonable target $ for the campaign?
  • May – Communication program begins.
    • How will you engage your Day 1 Backers?
    • What do your Influencers need to communicate about your campaign?
    • What will be of value to your Benefactors, and how will you engage them?
    • What is your email communication strategy?
    • What is your social media communication strategy?
  • June – Campaign content and continued communication
    • Rewards for backers – descriptions, pricing, shipping considerations.
    • Campaign copy.
    • Plan month-of-campaign event(s).
    • Keep your Day 1 Backers, Influencers, and Producers informed and engaged.
  • July – Video & Design and continued communication
    • Campaign color palette and design
    • Script, shoot, edit video.
  • August – Campaign Refinement and continued communication
    • Finalize and tie up loose ends on all elements of the campaign from rewards to copy to video and more
  • September – Communication ramps up.
    • Ensure your Day 1 Backers, Influencers, and Benefactors are engaged and ready to roll on launch day.
    • Begin social media communication plan.
    • Meet with key people in person to get their feedback on the campaign and commitment to participate.
  • October – Campaign is live!

If it seems like a lot… it is. But proper planning is a big key to crowdfunding success once you hit the launch button and your campaign is live!

If you would like our recommendation on when to launch the crowdfunding campaign for 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: Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo

The most common question we receive at The Artist’s Partner is:

“What’s the difference between Kickstarter and Indiegogo?”

The similarities outweigh the differences. They are both crowdfunding platforms, meaning they:

  • Facilitate raising money for creative projects through a webpage customized to your project where you can pre-sell your project for a set amount of time and a target dollar amount through a pitch video;
  • Tell the project story through words and images
  • Make the project and other rewards available
  • Update backers through a blog.

However, there are some key differences that lead us to recommending one over the other, depending on the particular client’s circumstances.

1. All things equal, we typically use Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is the largest platform with the best brand recognition. This is important, because for your campaign to succeed, people will need to enter their credit card information on the internet.

kickstarter vs indiegogo

2. For nonprofits, we typically use Indiegogo.

Through FirstGiving, Indiegogo makes tax-deductible pledges easy. For more information on all of the ins and outs of this program, visit the Indiegogo page dedicated to doing business with them as a non-profit.

3. For flexible funding, we go with Indiegogo.

Kickstarter is all-or-nothing: surpass your $ target – or you get zero. This may seem draconian, but it forces a higher level of organization, preparation, design, and drive that gives Kickstarter the brand edge.

However, sometimes circumstances are not ideal; we can’t launch the campaign at a good time of year, or we don’t have the full amount of time to prepare, or no-one has committed to the project as a significant financial benefactor. In these cases, we typically turn to Indiegogo because it has a flexible funding option. This means, for a higher percentage fee to Indiegogo, you can keep whatever money you raise even if it is below your monetary target.

4. For nontraditional projects, we typically use Indiegogo.

Kickstarter is a stickler for what kinds of projects they allow – and what kinds of projects they don’t allow.

 

Indiegogo is much more open-ended. They include sports, small business, animals, health, environment, and other project categories that Kickstarter simply does not allow. Generally speaking, the spirit of Indiegogo is much more open-ended. For a project that does not fit Kickstarter’s strict categories, Indiegogo is a much more comfortable choice.

If you would like our recommendation on which platform to choose for 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: Calculating Your $Target

Setting the right dollar target for a crowdfunding campaign is a key reason our clients’ success rate is 97% (compared to the industry average of 38%). So, how do we do it? We follow these four steps.

1. We collect the pertinent information.

During our first consultation with a new client, we ascertain the size of their network and any existing benefactor financial commitments.

crowdfunding target analysis - data entry

From this sample client (based on an actual Artist Questionnaire response we received in April 2015), the info we received was:

  • The size of their email list – 300
  • The number of social media friends and followers – 400
  • The amount of money already committed by financial benefactors of the project – $5,000
  • The target amount of money they are looking to raise through crowdfunding – $30,000

2. We calculate the funds they stand to raise based upon the size of their network today.

We crunch some numbers based on the information provided, as well as consider some industry stats. For example, the typical response to email communiques is 25% – roughly a quarter of those who receive an email about the crowdfunding campaign will participate. By contrast, the response to social media posts is only 1%! The median campaign pledge amount is $25; the average is $70. We use all these figures to calculate the range of funds the client could theoretically raise based on the size of their current network.

crowdfunding target analysis - question a

For this sample client, the figures fell out at approximately $7,000 – $10,000 that the artist could raise from their existing network.

Of course, every campaign is different, and we’d need to do a lot more digging into their network to find out how we may want to adjust the percentages. This isn’t a guarantee of how much money this artist will ultimately raise, but it is a perfect starting point for discussion.

3. We calculate how the client’s network needs to grow in order to reach the desired dollar target.

This sample client’s scenario is common. Based on her current network, it would be prudent to aim for a $7,000 crowdfunding target. But, she wants to raise $30,000 to produce her project. That’s a gap of $23,000.

Next, we start from the desired target and crunch the numbers backwards. We find out how the existing network would  need to grow in order for the client to hit that $30k goal.

crowdfunding target analysis - question b

In this case, for this sample client to reach a $30,000 goal, she would need to:

  • Increase her email list from 300 to 2,640
  • Increase her social media friends from 400 to 6,000
  • Increase benefactor commitments from $5k to $12k

Again, every campaign is different, and this network growth would not guarantee success. But this is a great place to continue the discussion.

4. We help clients make the key decisions regarding next steps.

This sample client has some tough decisions to make. Does she want to…

  • … reduce the project scope from $30,000 to $7,000, or
  • … increase her email list by 2,340, their social media following by 5,600, and her benefactor commitments by $7,000, or
  • … find an answer somewhere in between?

Lots of factors influence this decision, from timing, to personality type, to who is involved on the team, and much more. We facilitate that conversation so that ultimately, our clients can set a campaign monetary target that they can achieve.

If you would like this crowdfunding $ target analysis performed for your project, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within two weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!