As you all know I am a Chuck Barris-style spy (I mean with a name like Melinda LaRose, how could I not be) so I am occasionally unable to attend all the wonderful CMA events which is why I rely on the talents of Laurie-Anne Vazquez, guest blogger extraordinaire and talented aspiring kids’ writer. Uh oh my handlers just informed me that no one is supposed to know about my spy status. Enjoy the blog while I go straighten this out, I mean, while I bake cookies. Yeah. Heh heh. Over to you, Laurie!
Crowdfunding seems like the quickest, easiest way to get cash for projects these days. While it helps content creators maintain control over their work, and is a much more direct route to an audience than traditional production cycles, there’s an art to getting strangers to give you money – and it’s not nearly as easy as Amanda Palmer makes it seem. You can’t just throw a video up on Indiegogo and wait for the dough to roll in: you’ve got to strategize. Mobilize. Research… ize.
As usual, Children’s Media Association gave its members the inside scoop on just how to do that.
Meeting in the super impressive WNET offices on Monday, September 23, an enormous conference table full of CMA folks gathered to listen to two amazing ladies who’d had great success with their Indiegogo campaigns.
See? Look at how many of us there are!
Amelia Robinson is an artist – a singer, songwriter and performer who’s done everything from play Carnegie Hall and compose pieces with Michael Nyman, to playing ukulele around the world and singing track 16 of Michelle Obama’s Songs for a Healthier America album. When neighborhood gigs in her native Park Slope started building traction, she decided to put out an album so her fans could keep her music – and she turned to Indiegogo to do it.
She decided to use Indiegogo for three reasons: it offered more flexible financing options than Kickstarter, the donations were tax deductible due to a partnership with Fractured Atlas, and she could use the money right away — and update all of her social media followers immediately as to how she was using it (i.e., “I just finished two tracks in the studio!”). It took her 6 months from planning to launch, and here are her biggest takeaways:
- Make your video and copy as clear as possible
- Learn how your audience reads online. Make paragraphs no bigger than 3 sentences – anything longer and people stop reading
- Talk to LOTS of people as research
Look at her on the right, explaining how she did that!
She also managed to get coverage on quilt blogs because of a quilting tie-in she was offering as a donor reward, which was a great reminder for all of us to find a unique angle to our project (and promote the heck out of it).
Lissa Moses Johnson took a slightly different tack. As a Harlem science teacher and Discovery Channel/Siemen’s STEM Institute Fellow, Lissa realized that there were very few resources that spoke directly to her students – and that made her mad enough to make some. The result is Mosa Mack: Science Detective, and here’s why she turned to Indiegogo to get it done.
Concept art for Mosa Mack
The big goal for Mosa Mack was to get it made, so every single decision Lissa made was about getting money to make it. She also chose Indiegogo for its immediate access to cash – and aligned herself with Fractured Atlas because it offered her a combined entry fee. Her presentation was all impressive practicality and charts, and her pointers were really helpful, too:
- Identify the tasks that take an unreasonable amount of time and hire other people to do them
- Personalize your campaign emails wherever possible – and number them in the subject line so people know what to expect
- Know what you’re going to ask for. If you don’t know, ACT like you do
Lissa started out with a 45-day campaign but extended it to 60, accidentally creating two deadlines, with two spikes in submissions. She hasn’t figured out a way to use that intentionally without seeming duplicitous… but she will.
Look at her on the left, figuring it out!
Here are some additional tips Amelia and Lissa gave us:
- Fundraising is the time to call in all of your favors. Exhaust ALL of your resources!
- Social media is key to not only getting the word out on your campaign, but casting your net wide enough to meet your goal (also, high-profile retweets make you feel awesome when you get tired of begging people for money)
- Pre-campaign perks are a great way to supplement a 30-day campaign – rather than drag out the slow middle period of a 45-day campaign
- Putting some funds toward educator and student research (if you’re doing an educational product like Mosa Mack) is a great way to refine the idea as you go
- You don’t have to know what kind of corporate structure you’ll have before starting. You can figure it out as you go, and pitch those ideas to investors
And now you know all of the tricks that we know. Go out there and give your dream campaign a shot – and don’t forget to live tweet!
(Event photos courtesy of Corey Nascenzi, CMA Director of Events…because I forgot. D’oh! Thanks, Corey!)