Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How I raised $34,676 on Kickstarter for a film about beer. (Part 1)

Desperate artist-types think of Kickstarter as the answer to all their hopes, dreams and pagan-type prayers. Many walk away from the experience sadly disappointed, blaming their problems on the rest of the world rather than analyzing what may have went wrong.

And while it is an absolute game-changer when it comes to raising funds for creative projects, it's just like anything else in this life... it requires a lot of hard work to be successful.

How Kickstarter works is you use their platform to launch a "crowd sourcing" campaign (asking a lot of people for a little bit of money rather than asking a few people for a lot of money).
You launch a project with for either 30 or 60 days with a goal to raise a pre-determined amount of money (which you set).

The "catch" with Kickstarter is that it's all or nothing.. if you don't hit your goal, you don't get a dime.
So it can be a little scary going into it, but I think we played it smart and here are 6 things that myself and my company did to to raise over $34K for my first documentary film, The Michigan Beer Film.

1. Engage an already engaged audience.
Hard to overstate the importance of this. There is a lot of noise on kickstarter and a lot of goofy projects that frankly don't stand out and won't get noticed. It helps tremendously to have a following already established on other platforms (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, etc) and spread communication that way.

2. Don't romanticize your project. Ask sober friends their opinion BEFORE launching. 
How can I say this... you may not be completely objective about your work.

3. Keep communication up.
Don't leave your backers in the dark. The more consistent and relevant with your information, the more trust you will instill.

4. Expect to spend a couple hours a day working on it.
This is NOT Ron Popeil's chicken rotisserie... there's no "setting it and forgetting it"

We even threw a party at our studio to let people know about the project and encourage people to give.

Plan to make this a part time job for the next 30 days, creating the project page, developing your rewards, asking your friends via facebook, etc.
Which leads me to my next thought...

5. Don't be too proud. 
You can't be too proud to ask for money. If you believe in the quality of your work, you won't be embarrassed to ask people to back your project. For inspiration, check out this Ted talk from Amanda Palmer, who raised an insane amount of money via Kickstarter.

5. Be patient. 
When you first launch your project, if all goes well, you'll have a nice spike right away - as people will be excited to back a project as fricking awesome as yours. After a few days though, it will likely plateau quite a bit. Don't panic, keep at it. We were sitting around 55% funded with only a few days left on our project before we had a crazy spike to push us over our goal.

We delivered on what we promised. If you ever to hope to retain the trust of the people who backed your project, you must finish what you start.
That's for free.

If you've found this helpful, good. Now go do something worth doing.
Follow me @thekevinromeo

Oh yeah.. here's the link to my Kickstarter page!

This is me speaking on a panel discussion about crowd-funding... see? I'm an expert.

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