Tag Archives: crowdfunding

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Campaign Design

Your crowdfunding campaign is a great way to kick off your project’s “brand.” One of the reasons our clients’ campaigns succeed 97% of the time, compared to the industry average of 38%, is that they have a cohesive look that can be sustained throughout the life of their creative work.

1. Iconic image. Your project will need one key image that sums it up. Sometimes our clients hope to wait until after their campaign is finished to have the funds to pay a designer, but it is difficult for a project to be memorable without a representative image. Many of our clients know some basic image software – or someone who does. A good first draft by a talented friend is infinitely better than no image at all. The example below is the “before” and “after” covers from the illustrated novel GroomsDay by Jenny Edmondson.

Sometimes, the iconic image for the project goes through multiple iterations. All three of the versions below were used at some point before, during, or after the campaign for Sonya Heller’s Americana album 17 West. We discussed the elements of the album cover at length, months ahead of the campaign launch, and then, using free photo editing software, we came up with a draft. When the campaign successfully funded, Sonya paid a professional designer to create an eye-catching album cover.

icon before after 17 west

2. Color palette. This is closely related to your iconic image – once you have one, coordinate your campaign visuals with it. This is a great example of a featured reward for eco-thriller Kingsley, using the vibrant color scheme from the book cover.

color palette kingsley

3. Profile picture. You don’t necessarily need professional head shots. You do need at least one great photo of yourself that fits your project. People respond to faces. Below is an excellent example of Shaun Farris from RED’s Custom Jewelry. This is a candid photo taken while Shaun was doing what he does – make jewelry.

custom thumbnail indiegogo

4. Short blurb. You’ve got 135 characters to describe your project. An elevator pitch is something you’ll need time and again, long after your crowdfunding campaign is over. This is an invaluable opportunity to get your message down – and practice repeating it – months before your project launches. A good example is Camila’s Lemonade Stand:

A picture book about entrepreneurship, tailored to Pre-K imaginations!

5. Project description. In theory, you can make your description of your project as long as you like. In reality, people will stop reading after a short paragraph. As with the short blurb, this is wonderful marketing training. The following is a tantalizing example from mafia sports memoir Bowling For The Mob:

Bowling For The Mob is the story of Bob “Perry” Purzycki, a skinny, scrappy Polish kid who at 12 was said to have the potential to become the greatest bowler who ever lived. But in 1970’s Paterson, New Jersey, everybody knew somebody ‘connected’. Training for championships? Fuhgeddabout it. Bob was up to his neck in wiseguys: driving for Uncle Raymond, doing jobs for Bobby Cabert with Nicky The Plumber, and hustling hundreds of g’s in after-hours action bowling for the last Don, John Gotti.

6. Layout. It’s so easy for a campaign to look boring or messy. The best way to explain an enticing layout is to have a look at one. Take a look at the great campaign for the children’s picture book Princesses Only Wear Putta Puttas by Priya Mahadevan. The sections are clear, the colors complement one another, the headers pop – and Priya immediately begins with her wonderful message.

For a free analysis of your crowdfunding 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: Picking Dates

One of the reasons our clients succeed 97% of the time – compared to the 38% industry average – is that we’re strategic about campaign dates. Timing is everything!

So, why not just hit “launch” as soon as the campaign is built, and then run it as long as possible? There are so many reasons.

  1. Lead time for VIP buy-in. We pick a launch date at least three months away so there is time to get your Day 1 Backers, Influencers, and Benefactors (follow the links for more about these VIPs) on board. Most people need to hear something 7 times to remember and understand it, so we need time to get your VIPs ready and excited for launch.
  2. Avoiding holidays. Summer, Christmas, Passover, New Year’s, and Easter are terrible times to try to hold the average person’s attention. Don’t fight it. As a general rule, May and October are the best months to run a campaign because they aren’t interrupted by major holidays.
  3. Optimum length. Kickstarter ran the numbers, and 30 days is just about right. Many people think a longer campaign will be more successful, but it won’t be. It will run out of steam. Click the image below for the full data rundown. duration_success_rate_full
  4. The magic of T/W/Th. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the days of the week that are easiest to get and hold someone’s attention. We often launch on a Tuesday and close on a Thursday to maximize the momentum on the all important first and last days.
  5. Month-end urgency. The calendar doesn’t always cooperate, but when possible, we like to contain campaigns within a calendar month. This avoids backer procrastination, putting off the task of participating until “next month.”
  6. Project launch date. A crowdfunding campaign is excellent marketing for the eventual launch of your project. The nature of the perfect timing varies, but we like to time the campaign so it’s also setting up the marketing momentum for your project.
  7. Key date tie-in. Doing an environmental-themed project? Run the campaign in April to hit Earth Day. Or is your project about Halloween? Run it in October. Anytime we can catch an awareness tailwind, it helps the campaign.

For a free analysis of your crowdfunding plans, please fill out our Artist Questionnaire. We typically respond within 2 weeks. We look forward to hearing about your project!

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Benefactors

There are three key types of supporters – VIPs – who make the difference between crowdfunding success and failure. Your VIPs are:

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

Each of your groups of VIPs is so important, they all get their own post. This post is about your Benefactors.

Benefactors are people who will pledge more than $500 to your campaign. And that $500+ is often for something intangible with low cost to produce. Sometimes, this money is truly a gift, a financial offer of encouragement for your project.

At first, when we look at the number of people likely to pledge more than $500 to your campaign, they seem like a small piece of the pie because they represent such a small percentage of the total people backing your campaign.

pledge breakdown by backer count

This breakdown is the average for our clients. Typically, there are only 1-6 Benefactors, representing less than 5% of the people who have pledged.

But they are key to your campaign’s success. Why? Because although they are your smallest group of backers, they represent the largest portion of funds raised.

pledge breakdown by money raised

This handful of people get you almost 40% of the way to your goal. VIPs indeed!

Each campaign is different, but some of the VIP benefits we often offer Benefactors include:

  • One-of-a-kind rewards. These backers are very unlikely to be strangers. These are fans, friends, and family who already know about your project, and they are excited about it. It’s worth thinking about what will be of value to each of them individually. Clients have offered special recordings of their favorite songs, a personalized DVD of a book reading, the opportunity to visit a closed film set, or admission to a private celebratory dinner. What will be of value to each of your Benefactors?
  • Producer credit. Name your Benefactors prominently in the credits of your book, film, album, or other project. Offer to promote their project, business, or organization, too!
  • Campaign draft sneak peeks. Your VIPs get to see your crowdfunding campaign while you are building it. Ask their advice, and incorporate their feedback.
  • VIP soft launch invitations. This topic gets its own post, but to summarize, let’s say we’ve been promoting October 15 as the day your campaign goes live. That’s the day we’ll broadcast it 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 your one-of-a-kind 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 free first rights to these, as well.
  • VIP launch “Red Carpet” treatment. Whether it’s your film premiere, your book launch party, or opening night of your play or concert tour, give your Benefactors the “Red Carpet” treatment. Thank them personally and publicly.

Make sure you treat your Benefactors right – they are key to the success of your crowdfunding campaign!

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!

 

How to succeed at crowdfunding: Influencers

Your campaign success hinges on three key groups of people – your VIPs:

These VIPs are so important, they each get their own post. This post is dedicated to your Influencers. Influencers are people with a platform to communicate with others about your project. They have a popular newsletter, radio show, or blog; they may have a large and engaged social media following. Your Influencers help you get the word out about your campaign. This becomes increasingly important the more money you want to raise.

If you’ve been to our homepage, you know that on average most campaigns (62%) fail. In this post, we take a closer look at how much money the 38% of campaigns that succeed raise.

funding ranges

Most successful Kickstarter campaigns raise less than $10,000. This is a reasonable goal for most artists to whom we talk (See our post on Setting Your $ Target).

To approach and get over the $10,000 hump, though, the outreach numbers start piling up quickly: an email list thousands strong, a social media following tens of thousands strong, and multiple big ticket Benefactors. This is a major hurdle. It takes time to grow an email list from 250 to 2,500 people who will be excited about your project and reasonably likely to participate in your crowdfunding campaign. This is where the Influencers come in.

An example: Let’s say you’re recording a Thrash Metal album. You have a Facebook page with 200 likes. And let’s say your uncle runs the #1 classical music radio show in the country, listened to by a million people. Let’s also say your aunt has a popular local metal blog with 2,000 subscribers, where she rates and reviews the metal shows she attends each weekend.

Your uncle may be more “influential,” measuring numbers of listeners, but your aunt is more likely to be your Influencer because she is talking to the audience that will enjoy your project. Get in touch with your aunt six months ahead of your campaign launch. Do an interview. Send her sample tracks. Ask her to do a special post the week your campaign launches. Assuming she agrees, you now have 10 times the number of people who are open to hearing your music and listening to your message.

There is no single, simple answer to the question of who the Influencers are for your campaign. But it’s worth considering now whom you know – or should get to know – who can speak directly to your target audience.

If you’d like a free analysis of your crowdfunding 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: 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!

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!