In this fourth of a five part series, Justina Grayman looks back on her successes (and failures) running a successful crowdfunding campaign, and outlines what others considering embarking on a similar journey should keep in mind.
This series was originally published at Justina’s justinagrayman.com. Justina Kamiel Grayman, phd is a NYC-based dancer, dance filmmaker, and “failed amateur comedian who creates revolutionary messages and spaces to live.”
This is a reflection on my successes & failures to make money doing what I actually love. I want to share it with you cuz… I bet you’re on this journey too. Please first read the introduction and Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3.
OK. Whereas most people would register for their crowdfunding platform (Kickstarter, GoFundMe or whatever) as their first step, I prefer to come in with all of the critical elements so you don’t get overwhelmed by all the crap you have to decide. You’ve done the hardest work, which is coming up with the vision and the story you will use to communicate with your community about that vision. Now it’s time to get into those logistics.
1. Decide what platform to use and register your account
Some options: Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Hatchfund, etc. I personally used Kickstarter and you can read why I chose it over other platforms here if you’d like (I get zero money for saying I like Kickstarter; I just say it cuz it’s true!).
2. Decide on these key logistical things
Choose your title.
The original title for our Kickstarter campaign was “Spread Power, Not Fear, for Black Men in America.” The new title was “We are the solution. Create power for Black men nationwide.” For both of the titles, the emphasis was on what we were abstractly creating. Yes, people were supporting a film and community project, but what emotionally matters to the audience is what intangible emotion or idea is being created: for our project it was power. So step 1, specify the intangible emotion or idea being created in your project. Step 2, we made sure we mentioned Black men in the title because Black men are the subject of the film and we needed to immediately get the attention of Black men and people who want to support Black men. So try out a title that mentions the community your project will benefit. Step 3, for our first title we chose to specify how our project differed from common efforts by saying “spread power not fear”. We also did this in the second title in the first sentence “we are the solution” which is not a common way of thinking about problems in the Black community. For your title, try out indicating how your project’s approach differs from the usual. Step 4, try out emphasizing the impact your project will make. For our second title, we added “create power for Black men nationwide” to emphasize the impact of our project, which is critical to get people legit excited about your project.
Create a budget
I’m not going to go into details about creating budgets cuz like i’m not an accountant or anything (I would take my life if I were) but what I will do is list some sample items (that may be completely irrelevant if you’re not in dance or film): cast & crew payment – director of photography, editor, colorist, music composer, community classes, rehearsal and film studio/location rentals, costumes, props, miscellaneous costs, rewards, food for film shoot. Click here to get our initial budget for Black Man in America, along with all of my other crowdfunding materials! But who knows how helpful that will be. The only sage advice I’ll say is to do your research and send your budget to several people who have done similar projects so they can warn you about all the things you are overlooking. You can also google budgets in your area. Add a row for miscellaneous costs because all projects almost inevitably have unexpected expenses.
Specify your goal
Your goal is just whatever your budget says. All the blogs I read before doing crowdfunding basically said, make your budget/goal the minimum you need to complete your project. Why? Because if you’re using an all-or-nothing platform and you go all crazy with your budget and miss your goal, you get nothing. My advice is to make your goal the minimum you need to fulfill on that community-oriented vision. Don’t make it so low that you are settling for a below-par project but also don’t choose the fanciest version of everything in your budget for no reason. Choose a goal that is just enough to fulfill that community vision. And be sure about it. If you’re using Kickstarter, you CANNOT change your goal or deadline after you launch so be 100% sure about your goal/deadline.
Create a timeline
People like to know that you’re gonna actually do your project. The least they could ask for, right? So make a timeline from crowdfunding to project completion and share it with them. No need for too much detail but 5-10 key events with dates is helpful for people.
3. Now that you have all of those details, create your project
I’m assuming you are relatively young and can easily navigate through the steps to complete the profile/account with Kickstarter or other platform. If you do need guidance on setting up your account and project, there’s a million guides on technical details you can find online.
4. Create visuals to easily communicate the boring logistical junk you just decided (optional)
Create a visual representation of your timeline, budget, and rewards. I read that projects that look more organized, professional, and aesthetically pleasing tend to do better on Kickstarter and you can attract (*gasp) people who don’t know you by putting effort into your project’s appearance! So put in a little extra time to make it look good!Click here to download editable templates of visual representations of our budget, timeline, and rewards, along with all of my other crowdfunding materials! I simply designed these in Powerpoint, which requires zero designing skills, just an ability to move around shapes and change fonts. You can just open my templates up and edit them by inserting your own images/text. You’re welcome
5. Get feedback on your page
Get a friend, family member, and a couple community members to skim/view your project page and give their impressions. The most important questions to ask them: What did you think of the project? Were you moved by the video/story? What could I add, take away, or remove to make a stronger video/story. Here’s a little video showing how we put together our page, in terms of combining photos, visuals, story, etc.
Originally published at justinagrayman.com. Justina Kamiel Grayman, phd is a NYC-based dancer, dance filmmaker, and failed amateur comedian who creates revolutionary messages and spaces to live. As she pursues her childish & reckless dreams and makes money from them, she invites you to follow the lessons she learns about making money as a full time artist / eternal creator. She hopes to make lots of money now and then burn the planet’s money supply in the future. Read her money journal weekly + be her friend (she needs some).