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5 Common Traps to Avoid When Crowdfunding

posted May 21, 2013, 1:22 PM by Andrew Manzo   [ updated Jun 7, 2013, 9:40 AM ]
This is a guest post by Philip Chidel. In the past, Philip has run successful a Kickstarter project for the film ‘TIL DEATH, which raised $13K+ and has since been made and delivered. He is now running a new Kickstarter campaign, which can be found here. If you find this article to be helpful, consider pledging!

I know that feeling. That rush. The adrenaline… You've made an awesome pitch video, prepped your campaign, primed your friends, and now you've hit Launch! You're off!! And headed to crowdfunding gloryBut then: doubt hits. Anxiety. The sudden questions: Is my goal too high? What if no one likes it? Have I deceived myself and become the biggest joke ever? What if I… (ahem)… fail??

Yep, been there. But I've also been to the other side, having reached that modest pot at the end of a crowdfunding rainbow. After aiming for $10,000 for my horror short, ’Til Death, I had ultimately exceeded that goal, and have since made the film. I survived, and actually thrived. So can you — especially if you avoid these common traps in your crowdfunding journey:


   1. Don’t Make it About Money.
Obsessing about money makes all of your posts, tweets, and emails come across like a plea from a panhandler. Nothing can be more alienating. You’d be better served by viewing the campaign not as a financial goal that must be met, but rather as a daily need to attract more people to your page. Focus on spreading the word rather than raising money. Extol the project’s appeal, and the cash you need will eventually follow.


   2. Don’t Make it About You.
It’s actually about the fans. More accurately, it’s about their experience. Pre-paying for a film download or DVD is all well and good, but you can - and should - provide more to the backers than what they expect. Keep them involved. Give them extra information, insight, or incentives to capture their fancy. Don't ask for their support; rather, offer them entertainment. Then over-deliver. That will not only attract fans, but enthused ones that will more likely support your campaign further when needed.


   3. Don't Focus on Your Project.
Remember: there’s more to your project than just its end product. There are themes, emotions, causes and even lifestyles that your project taps into – All of which will likely resonate more strongly than a story they don't yet know. Find the tangential topics that your project touches upon, and work them into your daily dialog. You'll find a larger audience that way.


   4. Don't Stay in Your Circle.
For smaller projects, you can likely rely almost exclusively on friends and family to reach a modest goal. But for breakthrough success, you must open doors that will lead outside your own circle. Knowing the different discussion topics about your project will help you to find different groups, organizations, bloggers, or other media outlets that may be interested in covering your campaign. Be expansive about your idea, and proactive about spreading the word. Reach out to these like-minded external groups.


   5. Don’t Stay Focused.
This seems counter-intuitive. Yet during my campaign, I was working a day job, directing a side project, and running the campaign itself. This was strenuous, but I believe the multi-tasking actually helped. I couldn't afford the time to obsess, and I was also able to discuss my project while engaged in regular life. I don't recommend stretching too thin, but the constant distraction did allow me to remain fluid and active. I was able to change strategies as needed, without being married to my initial, and perhaps inflexibly rigid, plans.

Raising money for ‘Til Death was not without its share of adrenaline and anxiety. But shifting the attention away from myself and onto the audience, expanding the definition of my project to discuss tangential topics, and remaining proactive and flexible, all helped me reach my funding goal.

Philip is now raising money for a kid’s chapter book that he is co-writing with his 9-yr-old son. In addition to being a fun superhero fantasy, it also offers other parents the opportunity to get their own kids’ work published, as part of a collection in the back of the book when published. Check out the Kickstarter campaign and the accompanying website!