Most of our clients say they hate “asking for money”.
It’s a common refrain from our clients: “I don’t like asking for money.” We remind them that crowdfunding for an artistic project or small business start-up is not “asking for money”. Crowdfunding is the mechanism for people to buy their book, film, album – their project. This reminder rarely gets them over the hump, because…
What most of our clients actually hate is selling their project.
This is a fundamental problem. Crowdfunding is selling your project. It sets up the means for a transaction to take place: backers send you money, and in exchange, you send them what you’ve been working on. If you’re not comfortable with that – and in fact, most of our clients are not comfortable with it at all – some strategies are going to be required to get over that hump, or your campaign is unlikely to fund.
This requires identifying the source of your discomfort, and addressing it directly. Here are some common reasons our clients balk at sales, and the post-it note mantras that combat them:
- I will know which friends and family don’t support my project. The majority of people you invite to buy your project will decline. It’s not personal. You can choose whether to be insulted by the friends and family who don’t financially back your project, or let it go with grace. Post this on your bathroom mirror: I love my friends and family, and I love my project, and those are separate things.
- I am afraid that when I actually do market research, my work won’t measure up. To understand how to sell your work, you will need to know what is currently attracting your audience, and how. Comparison easily sows the seeds of discontent. Here it’s important to affirm your internal process: I am proud of doing my best work.
- I am discouraged by how low the market price for my genre of work is. We live in a mass-production world, which means the market price of a book, album, or DVD is low, and profit margins are slim. It may feel unfair, but pricing yourself out of the market is not going to help you generate sales. Remind yourself: I am pricing my work to sell it, but price and value are not the same.
- I am afraid to fail at crowdfunding because it is public. Crowdfunding ties directly into our number one fear: public speaking. We are terribly afraid of being judged and rejected, so we hide. It’s not possible to run a hidden crowdfunding campaign, though. The only real salve for the fear of external reaction is internal affirmation. Make a list of the things you do for yourself that make you your own best friend, and commit to doing at least three things on that list every day for the duration of your campaign. Tell the judge in your brain to take an extended vacation until after the campaign is over.
- I am afraid of success and what it might do to my status quo. Most of us fear the unknown, and the truth is that running a crowdfunding campaign is likely to produce changes you can’t predict. The fear of success is often actually the fear of change and potential loss. Do you trust yourself to handle whatever comes up? Remind yourself of a time you are proud of yourself for how you handled unexpected changes. Come up with a codeword for that experience and post it where you’ll see it.
- This is the first time I am publicly identifying as an artist or entrepreneur. Many of our clients are afraid of being found out as a “fraud” or not being a “real artist” or a “real entrepreneur”. But you get to decide who you are and what you do, unless you choose to relinquish that power to other people. Take that power back. Fake it til you make it. Post it on your mirror. I am an artist. or I am an entrepreneur.
- I am afraid my work is not ready to go public and I am rushing to get it over with. Sometimes, we’re just afraid of the work it will take to get something ready. We’re tired and we want to move on. If you think your discomfort at sales may be because your work is simply not ready to sell, get a second opinion. Talk to someone with experience in your field who will be honest with you. If your work is not ready to go to market, embrace the joy that comes with the discipline of work well done. Don’t overdo it, just take the time to do it right.
- I am new to sales and it is hard to practice something new in the public eye. We are afraid to fail, especially when others might see us make mistakes. Unfortunately, sales is something that we can’t really practice in the privacy of our homes. You WILL make mistakes at sales that other people see. There’s no preparation that will prevent this. Embrace it now. I tell myself, if I just get one task out of three right, that would be enough to put me in the baseball Hall of Fame. Post it on your mirror. I’ll make mistakes most of the time, and that’s ok.
- I need immediate validation on message 1 to continue through messages 2-7 of an effective marketing plan. The hardest part about marketing is that it feels like shouting into the wind until it doesn’t. The marketing principle of Effective Frequency states that an audience must hear a message 7 times to act on it. By the time you’ve shared your message 2 or 3 times, you may start to feel like a bleating idiot. It is exhausting, and it is extremely tempting to give up. Here, you just have to trust the process. There is no short cut. I will make a 7-part communication plan, and stick to it, no matter what.
- I am not good at time management and fear deadlines. Time management is a skill that can be learned. If you don’t know where to start, a good place is: I will set my timer for 30 minutes each day to tell people about my crowdfunding campaign. You don’t need to commit to an outcome – commit to a process.
- I am just doing this crowdfunding campaign because I need the money. If you don’t actually want to sell your work – if you do not want your art to also be a business enterprise – you will not succeed at making money on it. There are other ways to make money. Crowdfunding is cost-effective marketing, not a paying job.
- I am doing crowdfunding to get rich. Less than 0.1% of crowdfunding campaigns raise millions – and those that do typically need millions to produce the project (e.g., a major film or game). If you want a chance to get rich quick, try a casino. Crowdfunding is hard work, and the payoff is the satisfaction of funding the production of the project.
This is only a limited list. If you find yourself struggling with sales, you will need to set aside a decent block of time in a safe space, take a deep breath, and do some hard internal work to find why, exactly, sales and marketing makes you uncomfortable. Then you will need to develop a message to yourself that you can post on your bathroom mirror and put in your wallet that gives you power over that fear or frustration.
Crowdfunding is hard. It is hard because the path to success is almost certainly paved with a lot of rejection, disappointment, and embarrassment. There is no path to success that will prevent these feelings. Develop a plan now, not to prevent these feelings, but to rebound from them.
If you would like a personalized analysis of your crowdfunding plan, please fill out our questionnaire. A detailed report – a $125 value! – will be delivered for free in two weeks.