On Crowdfunding

When I am hired as a consultant, the first thing people are thinking about is crowdfunding. These days, it’s extremely common to see every walk of life and every level of business crowdfunding. Celebrities, multi-million dollar corporations and common people alike are all jumping on the bandwagon of crowdfunding and quite a few of them are not doing it right. Once someone has a bad campaign, they then jump on the bandwagon of how crowdfunding doesn’t work and that they’ll never do it because it’s pointless, etc etc.

I’ve been in the crowdfunding world for a long time now and I’ve had the honor of helping shape many successful campaigns on a handful of platforms in that time. I want to share that experience and information with the readers of my blog because, ultimately, I want you to succeed in your funding goals in order to make your films.

Here are the biggest pieces of advice that I give my clients:

  1. Build an Audience: No matter how big your following is on social media or local audience, you need to remember that starting a crowdfunding campaign begins 2-4 months prior to you hitting the submit button on your favorite platform. Successful crowdfunding campaigns market their idea, build their audience and “pre-sell” the concept long before they actually go live with their campaign. A lot of people, from individuals to private investors, look to your social media following as a proof of concept as their very beginning phase of due diligence. After all, who is going to want to put their money into a project that only has a handful of followers, most of which are immediate family? That does not make sense, from an investors point of view. You need to build your audience, interact and get feedback, grow and thrive BEFORE crowdfunding.
  2. Make Your Pitch Video: In 75% of the failures I’ve seen on crowdfunding, the biggest turn away has been a poor pitch video. Speaking from my own experience, if I am interested in a film to back and then I watch the video, see the quality is awful, the sound is terrible and the overall feeling of the project is amateurish and unprofessional, I will not contribute to that campaign. With the way technology is now, there is no reason in the world why your pitch video should look and sound bad. Ensuring the quality of your pitch video matches that of the final product, as close as possible, is essential to the successful sell of your concept. If you don’t have access to ANY HD production equipment (including a cell phone) and can’t buy it, borrow one.
    1. Content: The content of your pitch video is also extremely important to it’s success. Starting off a pitch of a movie or series with talking heads is simply a terrible thing to do. People are interested in your product, not you telling them how awesome it’s going to be. Start your video with a clip of the action, a teaser video or some type of creative that can entice them into watching the entire video. Only after you’ve hooked them with your quality product should you cut to the personal presentation where you ask for the contribution.
  3. Make The Ask: I’ve seen this time and time again, across a dozen platforms for many years now. People build up their pitch video, they make it great and they build an amazing audience for their project but in the end, they fail to ask for any financial contributions. The biggest annoyance I have, outside of an awful pitch video, is when they actually get through their entire speech and neglect to ask their audience for their contribution. So many people get nervous or upset when it comes to actually asking for money, but I like to remind them that the entire point of being on a crowdfunding platform is to ask for the crowd to fund the project. If you don’t make the ask, and do it in a profession and interesting way, people will enjoy what you’ve shown them and then leave your page. Remember that people, ultimately, want to be told what to do. They want simple, step by step, instructions on how to help you and what they need to do in order to get the payoff they desire. (IE see your film)
  4. Follow-Up: This is the biggest pet peeve of mine in the crowdfunding universe. Campaigns that get the money from their contributors then stop communication and disappear in the world of production. This is possibly the worst thing you can ever do in any funding situation. Whether you are working with a private investor or a crowdfunding group, communication and updates are essential to fostering your future relationship. Just because you’ve met your financial goals for this project does not mean that you can just disappear for a while and think these people will still follow you. It is extremely upsetting for a contributor to follow along for your 30 days (or however long you set your campaign) and feel like a part of your community, only to have the rug ripped out from beneath them once you got their money. I’ve seen campaigns go from very active on social media, building up the brand and building up their following to get the money, only to make their social media pages private and shut everyone out while they are filming. Ask yourself, do you really want to follow someone who shuts you and the public out, after they’ve gotten your money?

The rest of the advice I give, on building and growing the community to how to successfully launch a campaign is beyond the scope of a simple blog post. I’ve written e-books, been hired as a consultant and have worked with people all over the world to build their campaigns to be the most successful that they can be and a lot of it comes down to how I can communicate with the organizer and define their goals.

If you would like help with your crowdfunding campaign or if you feel you’re stuck somewhere between concept and launch, let me know either in the comments below or by submitting your concept to us HERE so I can help you out.

About Justin Kincaid

Justin is the host of Film Fervor and a passionate lover of independent entertainment. Indie films are where people can truly express themselves and Justin believes that there are too many limitations on "mainstream" movies to be able to tell good stories.

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