We at Artella had the pleasure of participating in the wildly successful crowdfunding campaign that Erik and Lauren Baker ran for their animation product, Stickybones, via IndieGoGo. We asked them if they would be so kind as to share their learning and tips for others who may want to leverage crowdfunding to help bring their dreams to life. I don’t think it’s luck that they blew well past their goal. In fact, running a crowdfunding campaign starts well before you hit the “publish” button.
By: Erik and Lauren Baker
You have a fantastic idea for a short film, game, show, or product! But now you need funding in order to produce it. Crowdfunding can be a fantastic option! It gives creators a chance to produce works that, in the past, may have fallen by the wayside due to lack of funding. Not only is it great for creators, it’s great for backers, as it gives people a chance to contribute to a project they believe in. They get to take an active role in helping bring a passion project to life!
When we first decided to utilize the power of crowdfunding for our animation-art product, Stickybones, we looked at successful crowdfunding campaigns, and at first glance they seemed to have some sort of lucky, magical, overnight success. But upon diving in and taking a deeper look, we realized that pretty much all of the campaigns we admired had done many months of prepping and planning before their campaigns went live. We pulled out our magnifying glasses and begin investigating what they did to conjure such a seemingly magical launch, and we discovered a lot of commonalities across campaigns! We’ve learned a lot and would like to share a few actionable nuggets that perhaps you can use in your own future crowdfunding campaign.
Step 1: Outreach!
One of the first things we did was reach out to people who we felt would directly benefit from using Stickybones. Our outreach began with friends, family, and colleagues—we also introduced ourselves and our project to influencers who could share Stickybones with their community of people who might take a special interest. We had exactly zero budget for marketing, so we had to simply pound the virtual pavement, one individual contact at a time! You can do this too—Be proactive with your outreach!
Step 2: Study and Research Crowdfunding. Then Plan, Plan, Plan!
Crowdfunding is largely a new frontier. It’s like the Wild West–It’s still being explored and pioneered, while evolving at a breakneck pace, and there are a million ways to go about it! Try to do as much crowdfunding research as you can beforehand. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first with how much there is to learn, but don’t get discouraged, just take it bit by bit! (We really can’t stress this step enough!) We recommend creating a “feels-like” document. When you see something you like from another campaign (i.e how they incorporated infographics, tone in language, formatting, etc.) take note of it in your “feels-like” document. This document is a great jumping off point to get inspired and will also help to provide some structure to the many ideas you will have bouncing around in your head— it will also reveal “holes”, where you will need clarify ideas and information further. For us personally, we spent over half a year preparing for the Stickybones Indiegogo campaign. (This includes massive amounts of research, planning, building our landing page, (which we’ll talk about next) and growing our email list. Not to mention that you have to simultaneously be focusing on advancing your project forward. We still continue to learn new things on a daily basis–everyday brings a new challenge–it’s exciting! Be staunch yet flexible– and have inimitable tenacity–YOU CAN DO THIS!
Step 3: Make a great landing page.
There are two purposes of a great landing page. First, you want to clearly show people what your project is about in a “skimmable,”easy-to-digest way. You can do this by combining interesting visuals of your project mixed with clearly written text descriptions. Infographics are your friend here—They help people visiting your landing page to quickly digest the information you’re providing. Personally, we love using “Piktochart” for creating our infographics. The second purpose of your landing page is to let people know that you’re having an upcoming crowdfunding campaign, and interested people should sign themselves up for your mailing list! We recommend keeping your signup form “above-the-fold”(at the very top of your webpage) so it’s super easy for people to find. Gathering a mailing list of interested people is very important because…
Step 4: Before You Launch– Grab Your Calculator!
We read (while researching) that 5% of your mailing list will become backers of your crowdfunding campaign. (You might achieve a higher percentage if you have an extremely qualified email list!) Aim to hit 20-30% of your total crowdfunding goal within the first 2-3 days of your campaign. This will greatly help your chances of success by likely triggering the crowdfunding platform algorithms, helping you get featured in places such as Indiegogo’s newsletter and social media feeds. We’d recommend waiting to launch your crowdfunding campaign, and continue building your mailing list until you’re absolutely certain you can hit this first step goal.
Step 5: A Little Help From Your Friends
We had some amazing support and encouragement from our friends and family. They were an integral part of our campaign because they gave us valuable early feedback and helped us spread the word once we launched our landing page, and then again when we launched our actual crowdfunding campaign. This was a crucial step in terms of getting the word out and we are forever grateful to them for their help! If your friends and family can help you spread the word at the right time, this can absolutely help your chances of campaign success!
Step 6: Have Some Great Perks!
What cool and unique-to-your-project rewards can you give your backers in exchange for contributing to your project? For us, we were offering our product and accessories in return for various contribution levels. Essentially making it just like a pre-sale at a discounted price. If you’re launching a film or game, think about what you would be excited to get in return for your contribution. We recommend taking a close look at two campaigns that did a stellar job, offering cool and creative perks for their crowdfunding film projects—Carlos Baena’s “La Noria,” and Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s “Dragon’s Lair.”
Step 7: Have a Pre-Launch Event!
One thing we did for our Stickybones campaign was to have a 24-hour pre-launch cyber event just for people on our email list! The pre-launch event was great for two reasons. First, we gave our earliest backers the best deals of the whole campaign that were only available for 24 hours, and just for them! It’s a great way to thank people for contributing and supporting you early! The second benefit is that it can really help you get that important early momentum going!
Step 8: Big Public Launch!!
Ask your early backers to help you spread the word, too! After all, they’ve backed you, and want to see your campaign succeed, so they’ll likely want to help with this! Also, make sure to find a nice balance of communication with your backers during the campaign itself. For us, it was a bit of trial and error between too much communication and finding just the right amount. Hey, we’re all learning together! You’ll want to have Facebook and Twitter accounts set up for your project where you can post mini-updates more often, and where you can communicate with your backers or people who are just generally interested in your project.
Step 9: Your Campaign Wraps
Congratulations! Your crowdfunding campaign was successful and you have people who are eager and excited to see your final project! Now it’s time produce it–Happy creating!!
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