I raised $34,133 for a film that I wanted to make called Rolled. Since then, many people have asked how I did it, so I thought I’d take the time write about my experience.
My first tip is to read everything you can about launching a Kickstarter campaign. The more you know about other people’s successes, the better you can prepare yourself for your own. The first place I’d direct you to look (after reading this post) would be Kickstarter’s own resources like “Kickstarter School“. I did a Google search about successful Kickstarter campaigns, and then reached out to a few people who had completed theirs. In general – people were very willing to answer any questions I had. If you have a question, you’re more than welcome to connect with me through my blog. Additionally, I opened a Google document and kept notes with links, email addresses and my own notes so I could go back and refrence materials I had found during the research phase.
Preparing My Campaign
You should be well prepared before submitting your idea to Kickstarter. You don’t have to have all the details of the campaign spelled out to them, but you have to have enough of an understanding of what you’re doing to be able to convince them to accept your campagin. Remember, they want winning campaigns. They get a 5% cut after all. They’re on your side. So be prepared to convince them that your project is awesome.
The next step for me was working on my messaging and building my campaign. The first place I would direct anyone who is about to take on this step would be Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk “Inspire Action“. I literally watched this every morning before I got to work on my campaign; whether it was writing, filming, or editing. I took notes about my messaging, and made sure to not only repeat my message, but to continue to believe in, and thus live, my messaging.
Example? Why should anyone give me money for my project? Because it’s what I wake up in the morning thinking about. There is nothing I want to do more than this project. I’m passionate about it. And by supporting me, you will be helping me realize my dream. Say those words, but more importantly believe those words. People will help if they believe you, and they will believe you if you’re telling the truth.
After writing a script I filmed myself giving the pitch. Then I played it for a couple friends who are very intelligent, observant people. They gave me notes which helped me refine my pitch. I can’t say how important this part is. It’s like proofreading. Make sure your message plays well to the audience. You could have the best idea ever – but if your messaging falls flat, you’ll get no where. With that said, I’d recommend spending a lot of time on Kickstarter watching pitch videos. Take note of which you like, dislike, and why.
My video took time to shoot, reshoot, and finally edit. I took my video to a few talented editor friends and had them take notes. By the end we took it from seven minutes (too long) to 2:10 (much better). I played it for other friends to read reactions. Pay attention to when people start to zone out, then fix that problem.
Make Your Life Easier with Tools
There are a few tools that will help you immensely.
Google Alerts: Set up a Google alert for your Kickstarter campaign. That way if anyone writes about your campaign on a blog or website, you see it. Once you see it you post it on Facebook. That way you have more opportunities to talk about your campaign without looking like you’re talking about your campaign. Awesome idea, I know.
TextExpander: Look it up, then learn how to use it. It’s 100 times better than copy and pasting.
Reaching out by email and Facebook is probably the most efficient. Phone is the best but it’s time consuming. In all cases – you want to message people individually. Think about it; if you were going to tell many friends about your campaign by phone you wouldn’t conference call them all in and tell them, you’d tell them individually. Do the same by email and Facebook, and personalize each message. This is when TextExpander is going to help you the most.
A quick note on asking for help: remember that there are many ways people can help. Obviously the most helpful is by donating money. But remember how much spreading the word can help. I always asked people to support me any way they could – whether it be financially, or simply by passing along the campaign to friends of theirs who may be interested in it.
Responding to people who donated. People love knowing that you know that they donated. Thank them for it. In many cases they’ll help you out again along the way. I often said something like “Thanks for your support, I couldn’t do it without you. If you can think of anyone else who may enjoy the project, it’d be great if you could pass it along to them.” Usually they do.
Your Day to Day
In a lot of cases your Kickstarter campaign is your make-or-break for that project. For my project Rolled, if I didn’t raise the money, I wasn’t making the film. I woke up in the morning during the campaign and started messaging people and blogs. I did it all day every day for thrity days. By the end it paid off. It was my day job for a month.
1) Have a unique project that people want to see produced. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game, a beer cozy, or a film.
2) Give great incentives. For Rolled, a donation of $35 or more got a picture of them hanging in the background of the film – and if they donated $300 or more, we’d name-drop them in the film. Turns out people like seeing themselves and hearing their names!
(53 people donated at the $35 level and it cost me about $4 to print all of their photos. 16 people donated at $300. Name dropping them was fun, hilarious, and those people are stoked when they hear their name in the film. People who watch it now say that if I did it again, they’d donate $300 again. It cost me nothing.)
3) Get press to legitimize your project. LAWeekly, Huffington Post, and my local (LA) newspaper all did pieces on my project. Honestly, they didn’t bring many donors in, but they totally legitimized the project to hundreds of people.
As I write this post we’re nearing the completion of Rolled. To find out more, checkout the website at RolledFilm.com
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