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Tips & suggestions for project creators
Offbeatr.com (Extra Lunch Money LLC) version 1.00 - 07-16-2012
Table of Contents
Tips for Crowdfunding Success ....................................................3 General Principles for Being Successful .......................................4 Brainstorming & Designing Your Project .....................................5 Project Video Tips ........................................................................8 Reward Tips ...............................................................................10 Digital Product Tips ...................................................................12 Tips on Promoting Your Project ................................................13 Appendix & Additional Resources .............................................15
Tips for Crowdfunding Success
So you know the basics of how Offbeatr operates, but ultimately that's not what will make you successful. The most important part is structuring and presenting your project in a way that makes people have no choice but to contribute to your cause. Easier said than done we know. So to help with creating your project we’ve read all we can about what makes crowdfunding successful and have distilled what we found in the pages that follow. The information that we found is by no means exhaustive and if you are serious about your project we highly recommend doing your own research as well.
Many of the tips are excerpted from an excellent e-book by Nelson de Witt called A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter (http://kickstarterguide.com/A-Kickstarters-Guide.pdf).
General Principles for Being Successful
“Great crowdfunded projects are successful because they connect and resonate with a speciﬁc audience.They use compelling storytelling combined with interesting or wacky ideas to attract backers. They are authentic while effectively communicating goals, passion, credibility and purpose.” - Nelson de Witt
Principles for Success
• • • • • • Be Real - “It’s humans asking other humans to help them.” Have a clear goal - “It’s not sponsor my life. It’s not fund me as an artist for some vague pursuit.” Offer fun rewards - “It’s about ﬁnding ways to provide value to the people who are helping you out.” Show you can execute - “So anyone can throw up a page, anyone can have idea, but before people are going to open their wallets they want to know you can execute.” Involve the audience - “The line between creators and the audience is getting blurred every day.” Spread the word - “Your idea isn’t going to mutate out there. Your going to need to push it out there and get your friends to help you spread the word.”
Things to Avoid (or why projects often fail)
• • • Either the creator is going for too much money He or she has no history or “proof of concept.” (Lacks credibility) Creators either have unrealistic expectations, or they are too commercial.
Brainstorming & Designing Your Project
Choose a descriptive and interesting title. Just like a newspaper headline this is what is used to grab people's attention. Spend time crafting a title that's so interesting that people will have no choice but to click on it to learn more.
We offer project lengths from 21 days to 90 days. Your ﬁrst thought when choosing a duration for your project is the longer the project the more time you have to reach your goal. At ﬁrst glance this would make sense, but the data says otherwise. Kickstarter looked at over 24,000 projects and found that the overall success rate for their projects was 44%, however for projects that were 90 days (their maximum time) the success rate was only 24%. This realization made them shorten the max time to 60 days. Speciﬁcally this is what they found: This doesn’t mean that those longer projects failed to reach their goal because of the longer funding period, or that choosing a 30-day (our recommendation) duration would have caused them to succeed. Rather it means that choosing a shorter duration better positions a project for success. The following graph, which represents every pledge ever made on Kickstarter in relation to when in the project’s lifecycle it occurred, explains:
Here the horizontal axis represents the project’s timeline from beginning (the far left) to end (far right) and the vertical axis represents the frequency of pledges. As the graph illustrates, funding tends to cluster around the very beginning and very end of a campaign. There’s a logic to this. When a project launches the creator’s most fervent fans rush to show their support. And as time runs out, people who have been sitting on the sidelines are motivated to ﬁnally take action. During the middle periods of a project pledging slows considerably. It’s a trough. Without the excitement of the new or the looming deadline’s call to action, projects need external stimuli (press, events, milestones) to generate activity. This is not always easy to do. What projects with longer durations are primarily doing, then, is extending the trough. A more compressed time-frame minimizes the slower weeks and places greater emphasis on the beginning and end. There’s an inherent momentum that carries a project through, and keeps backers engaged and excited. We believe shorter durations will extend that experience to more projects. - Kickstarter
The project description is the main course of your project. Aside from the rewards and products you offer this is often your one chance to convince fans, followers and potential patrons to open their wallets and contribute to your project. A good project description will include each of the elements below:
The story behind your project idea and why you are excited about doing it. A good narrative will answer these 4 questions that supporters are likely to have. • • • Who are are you? What is your project? A description of the project, why you decided to do this, and what the end result will be Why is your project important? 6
What will the money be used for?
Establishing and demonstrating credibility is extremely important. No one likes to see their money wasted. Potential supporters want to know of all the people who have ideas, maybe ideas similar to yours, why you are the most qualiﬁed to see it through. Here are some ways you can establish credibility. • • • showcase your past work, projects, or awards showcase prototypes or early versions if possible showcase other organizations, bloggers, or individuals talking about your work
Keep things simple and clearly explain what your project is and what the result is going to be. Most people already have short attention spans so if they can't ﬁgure out what you are trying to do most likely they'll move on.
Call to Action
Every pitch should have some call to action. In other words you need to ask people to either purchase your products or pledge your project. Because of the nature of crowdfunding it's a tricky balance on how you can appropriately ask for support. Here are some tips: • • Don't ask for donations - while it might be tempting to ask it's good to remember that you are offering rewards that have real value. Let people know what their support gets them - whether it be a pre-ordering a product, membership to a site, a t-shirt, etc.. let people know what their money gets them in return
Project Video Tips
While it's optional to include a project video we highly recommend making and including a video with your project. Not only does the data show that having a video increases the chance of success, but including a video adds another emotional dimension that written text can't express. Video is also crucial, and not something you should just throw together at the last minute. After all, it’s the ﬁrst media that greets readers. "We took a month to make it," Migicovsky says. It’s a vehicle not only to introduce your product but your team--an authentic look at what you’re building and why. "We ﬁlmed it ourselves because we couldn’t afford anyone to do the video," Migicovsky says - From the people behind the Pebble E-Ink Watch Kickstarter project raised over $10 Million.
Tips for Your Project Video
• • • • Make sure to have good audio Cover the same parts that are covered in the project description (ie narrative, credibility, clarity, and call to action) Be creative in expressing your project Keep it brief - most people don't have a lot of patience so don't give them an easy reason to stop watching your video (no more than 5 minutes... 3 minutes ideal)
Video Tips from Mashable
• • • • • • Tell us who you are. Tell us the story behind your project. Where’d you get the idea? What stage is it at now? How are you feeling about it? Come out and ask for people’s support, explaining why you need it and what you’ll do with their money. Talk about how awesome your rewards are, using any images you can. Explain that if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll get nothing, and everyone will be sad. Thank everyone!
Examples of Good Crowdfunding Videos
Save Blue Like Jazz
In the video to save the movie Blue Like Jazz, Zack and Jonathan do a great job of explaining all the events leading to their campaign. They answer all the important questions and rally the fans to make the movie happen.
Just one look at this video, and you can tell how much he loves his idea and how much work went into creating it. He has a prototype that he has been working on for over a year. You can see he just needs a little help to bring it to life. You can’t help but cheer for him as he has clearly spent a long time on this project.
The video for The Manual, a magazine about design, is a perfect example of a clear pitch. It is short and to the point. You understand what the project is and what the end result will be.
The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons
This simple webcam pitch NAILS it. I was blown away by this guy’s pitch and ended up backing him. He shows passion and excitement for his project. My favorite part? The Ask: “I’m asking for your patronage to help me make this book.” He didn’t ask for donations or support. He asked for your patronage, perfect! Just look at how much money he raised.
Kickstarter’s advice on Creating Rewards
• • • • Copies of the thing: the album, the DVD, a print from the show. These items should be priced what they would cost in a retail environment. Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a hero in the comic, everyone gets painted into the mural, two backers do the handclaps for track 3. Creative experiences: a visit to the set, a phone call from the author, dinner with the cast, a concert in your backyard. Creative mementos: Polaroids sent from location, thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.
Pricing is sometimes deﬁnitely more art than science, but again we can turn to Kickstarter for their data and see what has worked in the past for their project creators. To date the most popular pledge amount is $25 and the average pledge is around $70. Small amounts are where it’s at: projects without a reward less than $20 succeed 35% of the time, while projects with a reward less than $20 succeed 54% of the time. So what works? Offering something of value. Actual value considers more than just sticker price. If it’s a limited edition or a one-of-a-kind experience, there’s a lot of ﬂexibility based on your audience. But if it’s a manufactured good, then it’s a good idea to stay reasonably close to its real-world cost. - Kickstarter
Another Kickstarter successful project creator, Craig Mod, looked at the top grossing 20 to the 30 projects to see what amount was pledged the most. Below is what he found. The $50 tier dominates, bringing in almost 25% of all earning. Surprisingly, $100 is a not too distant second at 16%. $25 brings in a healthy chunk too, but the
overwhelming conclusion from this data is that people don't mind paying $50 or more for a project they love. It's also worth contemplating going well beyond $100 into the $250 and $500 tiers: they scored relatively high pledging rates compared to other expensive tiers. Having too many tiers is very likely to put off supporters. I’ve seen projects with dozens of tiers. Please don't do this. People want to give you money. Don't place them in a paradox of choice scenario! Keep it simple. I’d say that anything more than ﬁve realistic tiers is too many. - Craig Mod
Ideas for Rewards
• • • • • • • • • • • • • t-shirts,hats, and other swag posters signed dvd's chat with the stars content from the project behind the scenes content props from a shoot creative involvement (ie name a character, choose a prop, etc...) product advertising placement advertising opportunities copies of the product free membership to a site custom content as thank you
• • Include as many high quality photos and images to accompany each reward Write clear descriptions of what’s being offered and when it can be delivered
Digital Product Tips
The selling of digital products is something unique to Offbeatr and not something offered by many (or any) other crowdfunding sites. Offering digital products gives potential supporters an additional way to support your project and get exposed to the type of content you make. If they like what they see they could also decide to pledge. Offering digital products is optional and probably only makes sense from project creators who already have content they can offer or can make new content. Remember that you can only sell products which you own the rights to. The advantage of offering digital products in addition to rewards is you get to keep any sales made from digital product regardless if your project is successful. In addition all sales from products contribute to your funding goal.
Ideas for Products
• • • • Never used or seen photos or video footage (auditions, bloopers, rehearsals, etc...) Newly created content (photos or videos) Clips or movies you own Ebooks you've written
• • Include as many sample photos and images of the product that supporters would be buying Write clear descriptions of what exactly they are getting (ie if the product is a video how long the video is, quality, what’s featured in the video, etc...)
Tips on Promoting Your Project
While we at Offbeatr promise to do all we can to drive potential supporters to the site and view your projects we can't guarantee that your project will be successful. Rather than just relying on us to make your project successful you can increase your chances by using the resources you have at your disposal.
Places to Promote
• • • • • • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc... Youtube Email Mailing Lists Personal Contacts Related and relevant blogs and media Related and relevant forums
• • • • Consistent and informative posts to Twitter & Facebook Emailing lists and contacts at start and near end of project period Reaching out to blogs and media during the entire project period Writing project updates through Offbeatr (to keep supporters up-to-date on progress and to gently ask for help)
How to Pitch Media/Blogs by Email by The Black and Blue
In the email you should include:
1. Introduction and brief description of why you're writing 2. Add a link early on 3. Further description of why you're writing 4. Explain how you want the blogger / author to help 5. Provide a little more info on the project
6. End strong with a ﬁnal link and generous thanks
• • • Shorter = better If you don't hear an initial response send a follow up Focus on connecting with blogs media that make sense for your project (quality vs quantity)
Appendix & Additional Resources
A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter E-Book
Kickstartup: Successful fundraising with Kickstarter
How to Pitch Your Film’s Crowdfunding Campaign to Bloggers the Right Way
How I Raised $125,000 on Kickstarter
Kickstarter Advice From The Guy Whose E-Paper Watch Raised $7.1M
9 Essential Steps for a Killer Kickstarter Campaign
15 Steps for a Successful Kickstarter Project
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