DIY Crowd Funding for Indie Projects | Emily Lindin | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Intro: DIY Crowd Funding for Indie Projects


    • 2.

      Before You Launch


    • 3.

      The Pitch


    • 4.

      The Launch


    • 5.

      The Inevitable Slump


    • 6.

      You Did It! ...Now What?


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About This Class

Whether you’re a first-time filmmaker looking to fund a documentary, an author self-publishing a book, an artist funding a new installation, or any other creative type with a project in mind, crowd funding is a great tool for raising the money you need while building a following. Whether you’re raising $5,000 or $50,000, the process can be daunting at every stage, especially if you don’t have a team of marketers to back you up. Learn how to build an audience of potential backers, create buzz about your project, and get over the stress of asking for money from friends and colleagues. The world needs your project, so let’s get it funded!

Meet Your Teacher

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Emily Lindin

Founder and President of The UnSlut Project


Emily Lindin is the founder of The UnSlut Project, an online community where survivors of sexual bullying and "slut" shaming can share their stories, and where girls who are currently suffering can find support and solidarity. A Harvard graduate pursuing her PhD in California, Emily started The UnSlut Project by blogging her own diaries from when she was labeled a "slut" in middle school. Over the past two years, she used crowd-funding to raise over $50,000 for the upcoming "Slut: A Documentary Film," and her book, "UnSlut: A Diary and A Memoir," will be published in December, 2015. Emily has been featured sharing her story and speaking out against slut shaming on ABC with Katie Couric, CNN with Brooke Baldwin, Al Jazeera America, The Doctors, HLN, DNTO radio with Sook-Yin Lee, NPR with... See full profile

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1. Intro: DIY Crowd Funding for Indie Projects: The thing I love most about Crowdfunding is that it means whatever your project is, whether it's a film for an exhibition or an event or blawg. If enough people want it to happen, it will happen. Crowdfunding means you don't have to wait to get permission. It gives the power to us. So let's use that power. Welcome to do it yourself crowdfunding for indie projects. This course is for small organisations or individuals who are crowdfunding either an entire project or were using. CROWDFUNDING is a supplement for other sources of funding. No matter what stage of currently, and whether you're just beginning to plan your campaign or whether you've already launched it, this course is for you. Big corporations and film studios often use Crowdfunding as a marketing tool when they were about to launch a big product or a new film. This glasses. For those of us who don't have access to an entire marketing or development team, Crowdfunding is perfect for us When it's done right, it's an awesome opportunity not only to raise the funds that we need but also to build an audience of supporters who are invested in the project, even if It's just with a $5 donation. I'm so excited to be able to share what I know about crowdfunding with you. I'm the founder and president of the Unset Project, which works against sexual bullying. I used a 30 day Kickstarter campaign to raise nearly $20,000 for production of Slut, a documentary film. For the next year and 1/2 my co director and I traveled around North America to interview women about their experiences with sexual shaped. By the beginning of 2015 we had a ton of amazing footage, but we were out of money, so I used a platform called Seed and Spark to raise another $30,000 for post production of the film. Both campaigns were successful in both times. I was on my own. It was terrifying, so I understand how daunting the process of crowdfunding can be. This course is divided into five units before you launch the pitch, The launch, the inevitable slum and you did it. Now what? The final project for this course will be a 123 minute pitch video for your crowdfunding project. Posting your final project is a great way to spread the word to the skill share community, and it's so important to reach as many people as possible 2. Before You Launch: that's thin. This unit. We're going to talk about building an identity on social media, making a timeline and seeking out potential backers. We're also going to talk about setting backer levels and rewards. First, let's talk about social media, the two most important platforms when it comes to crowdfunding or Facebook and Twitter, depending on the nature of your project. But for instance, if it involves visual art or something else that lends itself to photographs like fashion design, for instance, instagram will be really useful to you as well. You probably already have personal accounts on these social media platforms, but it's really important to make special accounts just for your project. That way you composed updates pretty and constantly without feeling like you're spanning everyone in your personal life. Then start posting shareable. Content like photos or short videos are the best. You want to make it really easy for people who follow you to spread the word, so make your content eye catching. Hashtags are your friends. Use common popular hashtags to draw a large audience to your project, identify which hashtags will be useful to your project and then use them in all your posts . some hash tags Air created special for specific events or programming on TV. You can jump on board with those hashtags if they're relevant to your project and join ongoing conversations. Once your campaign is live, you'll start linking back to your campaign page on all your social media posts, no matter what the content. But until that point, your goal is to gather as many followers as possible on social media, because later you can turn them into potential backers. Next, let's talk about making a timeline. Once your campaign gets up and running things, they're going to be really hectic. So it's important to have a detailed timeline that you can refer back to to make sure you're staying on track. Ideally, you'll begin planning your campaign at least a few months out. Here's a sample timeline. Don't worry. If not all the steps make sense to you yet we'll get to them later in the course as soon as possible. Seek out potential backers more on them later. One month toe watch. Choose your platform. You could use seed and spark if you're making a film. Kickstarter Indiegogo, Go fund me or some of the big ones But there are a lot of different crowdfunding platforms , and each one has their own guidelines that you'll have to follow. Also, a lot of them have an approval process that takes time, and I might even involve interacting with the staff member who will give you feedback as you design your page. So get started as soon as possible, but at least one month out, three weeks. Tow launch. Start working on your pitch video. We'll talk more about this than a later lesson at three weeks to launch, you should solidify your budget as well as all your rewards for your backers. When you're setting back or levels, you want to make sure that you have accessible levels for everyone. Not everyone has $100 or $1000 to contribute to every crowdfunding project, but a lot of people want to be involved and feel that they've invested what they can afford . Have a tear that's $10. Have another tear at 25 another one at 50 and another one at $100. Beyond that, you can start having tears at larger and larger increments, so $250 then a tear. It 500 perhaps, or jump right to 1000. Each of these tears for most crowdfunding campaigns comes with a reward for the backer. You want that reward to be about equal in value to the amount of money that you're asking people to contribute for it. So, for instance, if you're asking people to give at the $250 tear, you don't want that reward to be a T shirt or a DVD. Because a T shirt or a DVD is worth 25 maybe $50 to someone who's investing in your project , but certainly not $250 as one of the Rewards for Slut, a documentary film. I offered defined sled T shirts every time a backer wears it. They start conversations so they work for me. And they also work for the backer because they're a great T shirt. The thing is, making each of those T shirts costs money, making enough T shirts for all of the backers who want one. To get one costs a lot of money, often thousands of dollars, then factor on top of that. All the shipping costs for each tangible reward that you're giving, and it really adds up. So you have to make sure that your budgeting to provide the rewards to people once you meet your goal two weeks to launch, send an announcement email toe everyone on your contact list. This way, your project is on their radar, and they'll be on the lookout when you actually launched the campaign one week to launch. Get your core tier of supporters ready. Make sure they mark the launch time and date in their calendar so they're ready of their computers to give immediately. That way, you start building momentum right from the start, and when strangers stumble upon your campaign, it looks like it's already really popular. Now let's talk about one of the ongoing steps on your timeline and that is seeking out potential backers. Make a tiered contact list. You're going to have four tiers each. Contact should have a name and email address a phone number if you have it, how you know them in a little bit about the organization. If that's relevant and the last time you communicated with them or saw them in person, this is to jog your memory and to help you out when you're writing them pitch emails or reaching out to them to try to turn them into backers, the core is your inner circle, immediate family and best friends you can count on no matter what their job is to be ready at their computers the moment your campaign goes live so they can contribute immediately. The second tier is made up of people who have expressed interest in your project or your ongoing work. You're pretty sure these people will contribute, and they might even spread the word to their friends and colleagues. The third tier is everyone else in your contact list. You know these people, but maybe not on a really personal level. The fourth tier is aspirational. These air people who you don't know who haven't heard about your project or your ongoing work, but who will hear about it and who will hopefully contribute their careers should overlap with yours in some way. Or you think that you would be particularly interested in your project for some other reason. If your product is an art exhibition, for example, your fourth tier might include curator Zach museums all across the country. If your product is a Travel Blog's Your Fourth Tier will include editors of travel magazines, established travel bloggers and even owners of the establishments in cities that you're going to be traveling to and blogging about. My product was a documentary about female sexuality, So my fourth tier included media figures who had spoken out about that topic. Sex ologists, professors of human sexuality, women and gender studies and feminist activists. These are the people you're going to be cold calling or emailing out of the blue, and many of them probably won't even respond because they don't know you. But the chances are good that you will reach out to the right person who will not only contribute whatever they're able to give, but will pass on the word enthusiastically to their network. But how do you find these people? Well, most people have at least an email address posted somewhere online. Do a quick online search of staff lists, faculty directories and organizations in your area that are relevant to your project. Once you start identifying fourth tier contacts at their name, email address and all relevant information to your contact list, which will be constantly growing 3. The Pitch: that's Theo pitch is probably the most important part of any crowd funding campaign in this lesson will be talking about the pitch video, but we'll also be talking about email pitches, which will be ongoing in the build up to your launch and throughout your entire campaign. In addition to people who you hope will become backers, you'll also need to be pitching to people in the media who could write about your project or even interview you on their podcast or radio show. The pitch video is crucial. For this course. You'll be making a pitch. Video is your final project. Sharing it on this class page with the skill share community will be a great way free to reach potential backers. You want to demonstrate to backers that you are enthusiastic and excited about your project , but you also need to demonstrate that you can get the project done. Did you have a solid plan that you have ongoing work toward completing this project and that when they contribute whatever they can afford to help you finish the project, they'll see some reward on the other end. Three weeks is about the minimum time you want to leave to perfect your pitch video, and that's because you're going to want to show it to friends and people you trust to get some feedback, ask them whether your pitch video would entice them to give to your project. If they didn't know you. You don't need a lot of fancy camera equipment. Most pitch videos can be made with your smartphone. Here are some tips to keep in mind Plan out your script for your pitch video. You can even memorize sections of it if you're comfortable with that. That way you'll have a sense of how long it's going to be on the structure of it from beginning to end before you even start recording audio matters. Even the home from a refrigerator can be really distracting to someone who's watching your pitch video, so make sure you keep it neat and clean and audible. Music really adds a lot to a pitch video. If you're going to use music, make sure it matches the mood of your project. Here are a couple websites where you can get music that doesn't need to be licensed. Put your camera on something stable. You don't want to make people sick with jerky hand motions as you're holding your smartphone or camera, so make sure that your visual is steady and focused. Be direct and concise. You want to get a message across, and at the same time you want to express just how passionate you are about your project. But do this in 1 to 3 minutes too much longer, and people lose interest before you even get to the part where you ask them for money. If it's much shorter, you don't have enough time to provide all the information that people are gonna want before they decide to contribute. Your pitch video should have three main sections. The introduction where you introduce yourself and your work and your project generally a summary of your projects that you're crowdfunding specifically. And finally, the ask. Explain why you're asking for money and how you'll use that money. And, most importantly, how grateful you are that whoever is watching that pitch video has decided to contribute to your project. Keep in mind, people don't need to get your not entitled to strangers contributions. You're not even entitled to contributions from your family and friends. This is something that people are going to do because they believe in you. So your pitch video needs to pull them in and convince them that not only are you a trustworthy, passionate, devoted and reliable person, but that your project is worth investing in and it's something they want to be on board with. Beyond the Pitch video, you will be pitching your project by email and in person, from the moment you decide to do a crowdfunding campaign until you reach your goal and the campaign closes every time you email someone about your project, think of it as a pitch. These emails don't have to be long. First, introduce yourself. And if this is someone in your third or fourth tier, mentioned how you know each other, or if you've never met the interests that you have in common, basically why you think they're going to be interested in what comes next? Next, describe your project. Make sure to include a link to your crowdfunding page in this section. It really only have to be a few sentences, especially if you're going toe. Link them to your crowdfunding page, where you'll have a pitch video and much more information. Finally, you want to give them some way. Teoh easily spread the word. It's a lot to ask of someone to craft their own email or even do their own social media posts on behalf of your project, so provide some sample tweets. Include whatever hashtags you've decided or relevant, as well as a link to your project. Make sure it's no more than 100 and 40 characters. If this is a sample tweet and you can also include sample Facebook posts. These potential tweets and Facebook posts should be in generic language that you think most of the people you're emailing would be comfortable posting. In any case, be sure to include at least an email alert that they can copy and paste when they're trying to spread the word to their colleagues and friends who they think might be interested. Here's an example of an email pitch I wrote to someone I had met once at a feminist event a few weeks earlier. She had mentioned to me that she was looking for work, and so I left her a bit of an out. When it came to contributing herself. I knew she was well connected to other feminist activists and mostly I was hoping that she would spread the word to her network. Hi, Kate. I hope you're doing well. We met at the F word event a short bit ago and sat in the front row together. I wanted to let you know that I just launched the final crowdfunding campaign for Slept, a documentary film I am using Seed and Spark to raise $30,000 for post production. There are lots of awesome rewards, including our famous defined flat shirts. I'd love for you to help us spread the word far and wide to your network and people who might be interested in supporting the project and contribute yourself if you feel inclined . No worries. If that's not feasible. If we don't raise at least 80% of our goal, we don't get any of the funds. See, Your help is much appreciated. Here's a link. Here is a bit more about the film, and here are some suggested tweets slash Facebook posts for spreading the word. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you so much. Emily. Having your project featured in a news outlet during the campaign is one of the best ways to reach a large audience of potential backers. Find news outlets that cover projects like yours. You might contact editors for large publications, but you can also contact individual writers. Make sure to include these contacts in your aspirational tear, your fourth tier of your master contact list. 4. The Launch: That's congratulations. You're ready to launch your crowdfunding campaign once you launch the campaign will be your full time job for the next 15 or 30 or 60 days. In this lesson will be talking about the day of the launch. How to turn your backers into a network in creating and maintaining momentum. Make sure your core group of backers is ready to contribute whatever they can. The moment your campaign goes live, then send a pitch email to all the tears on your contact list. Get people excited. You just launched your campaign, and they're the very first people you're telling about it. In addition to your email pitches, you'll be using social media today like crazy sending tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts anything toe link people back to your campaign page on the very first day. Even if they don't contribute today, it will be on their radar. And over the course of the campaign, as they get more updates from you on social media, you'll keep reminding them that you'd love to have them on board with a contribution. You can also use social media platforms to send your followers direct private messages. Facebook monitors direct messages for spam, so you won't be able to just copy and paste huge chunks of text from one message to the next without being notified and asked to stop. You have to personalize your pitch is a little bit if you're using private messaging on face book. Twitter, on the other hand, allows you to copy and paste direct messages as many times as you want with a link back to your campaign page. In fact, for a small fee, sites like Crowd Fire allow you to do this automatically. Every time you get a new follower, you can send them a private message explaining what your project is and asking them to contribute what they can. You don't want to scare your new followers away. You just want to introduce them to the campaign because you think they'd be interested in your project. Next, let's talk about turning your backers into a network. Most crowdfunding sites will automatically offer every back or the opportunity to share with their followers and friends on social media sites. They'll be able to easily tweet or post on Facebook that they contributed to your campaign and that they hope their followers will a swell. Make sure you re tweet and re share and even, replied Teoh, each one of these posts. Another really important way to turn your backers into a network is to send thank you messages each and every time someone contributes. It's a good idea to have a thank you note as one of your rewards for a lower level contribution rather than mailing them a private thank you and having to pay for postage. Make that thank you public on social media. Backers love this because it gives them public recognition and credit for being a part of your campaign. And it's great for you to your expressing gratitude while at the same time using the opportunity to direct their followers back to your campaign page. When I was crowdfunding for slut, a documentary film, I gave a shout out on Twitter and Facebook toe every backer who contributed $10 or more. That was the lowest reward level I had, so every backer got at least a public shout out on social media if they gave $25 or more. I wrote them a personalized thank you note in cursive, and I took a selfie with it smiling hugely just so they would know how grateful I was to have them on board with the project. And again, every time I posted these thank you messages and shout outs, I could link back to the campaign page. Now that you've created initial momentum from the moment of your launch, let's talk about maintaining that momentum. One of the best ways to maintain momentum is to send frequent updates to everyone who's already a backer. Invite them to spread the word to their networks and to continue to direct people back to your campaign page. You can do this every time you reach a milestone in the campaign. So if you raise your 1st 10% of your goal or if you're halfway there, record a special video thanking everyone who's contributed and helped you get to this point and encouraging people to continue to spread the words that you can reach your goal. Another great way to maintain momentum is to set a Google alert for keywords that are relevant to your project. So when I was raising funds for Slut, a documentary film, I had Google alerts for broad words like women and schools and bullying, and I also had more specific keywords. So any time there was an article written nor even a block post related to my work, I could know about it. I would be alerted, and I could share it on social media. Sharing articles and bloggers that are related to your work or where your project gets a specific shout out is a great way to mix up your social media posts. You don't want every tweet you send to be asking your followers to contribute to your campaign, no matter what the content. Even if you're sharing another news story, you can always link back to your campaign page in every social media post. 5. The Inevitable Slump: that's it could be so easy to get wrapped up in the deadline in the day to day of maintaining the campaign, especially during a slump, especially when we're not seeing as many contributions come in as we would like. But don't let it overwhelm you during this inevitable slum. Make sure you schedule time in your busy day of crowdfunding to spend time with your family or good friend or someone who relaxes you and can take your mind off of your crowdfunding campaign because it can really be all consuming. During my crowdfunding campaign, I felt all this constant stress because of the ongoing campaign, and at times I really neglected to take care of those personal relationships that means so much to me. In addition to getting enough sleep, take some time, schedule a massage, keeping a journal or calling a friend. You know you can always meant to when you're stressed out and just remembering that it's normal to be so overwhelmed during a crowdfunding campaign, you're running completely by yourself. Once you reach your goal, it will all be worth it. Now let's talk about getting out of the slump as the deadline of your campaign gets closer , some momentum will begin to build on its own just because people are realizing it's now or never, and it's time to get on board. But there are ways that you can work to get out of the slump in the middle of your campaign and hopefully build some of that momentum up again sooner rather than later. The best way to do that is to up the ante. Make contributing more attractive than it already is to your backers announced on social media that you're going to have a raffle. Maybe one of your rewards for higher level contributions can be raffled off 23 or five people who contribute at a lower level. During my Crowdfunding Campaign for Slut, a documentary film, I announced that for one week everyone who contributed at least $10 would be automatically entered for a raffle to win one of three defiance. Let T shirts. These T shirts were normally a reward at the $50 donation level, so that just made it a little bit more attractive for people who were planning to contribute $10 to do so. During that week, when I was in the slump rather than waiting toward the end of the campaign. All of those smaller donations from people who want to enter your raffle not only add up and get you closer to your goal, you'll be sending thank you messages for each of them. And each of those people will be tweeting and posting on Facebook to their networks. They've contributed $10 now they're entered in your raffle. So you're continuing to spread the word, and this is a great way to build momentum and get out of that slump giveaways or another great way to build momentum and get people excited. Maybe an organization or a company that makes a product that's relevant to your specific project can donate that. Then you can announce that everyone who has contributed to your campaign will be entered for this giveaway of a special product or prize. You can also increase backer rewards, so they're a little bit cooler. For instance, during my last crowdfunding campaign, one of the backer rewards for people who gave $25 or more was a handwritten thank you note that I took a selfie with during the slump. I decided to up the ante a little bit, and I added a reward at the $50 level, which was a vine video. So instead of just a thank you selfie, they got a personalized thank you video. Emily, Lyndon and I want to thank Danielle Noble. So much for helping us finish slept. Documentary. When you post short videos divine, you can also have them automatically post to Facebook and Twitter. That saves you a little bit of time, and it blasts out that thank you message with a link back to your campaign page toe all of your followers across all social media networks. Obviously, this took a lot of time. I was recording vine videos pretty constantly, but each time it was in response to someone contributing at least $50. So I was truly excited to thank them because those contributions, or what pulled the campaign out of the inevitable slump. 6. You Did It! ...Now What?: That's congratulations. This is a huge accomplishment. You will probably feel a wonderful sense of relief, and you should definitely go celebrate. And then it's time to get to work, actually making your project happen in this video, we're going to talk about delivering rewards to your backers and maintaining your backers as a network. As you move forward. The first thing to think about once your campaign closes is how you're going to deliver all those rewards to the backers who contribute it. You've already budgeted for this. Ah, lot of your budget will go toward postage if you have tangible rewards that your mailing to people and in order to mail your rewards out, you need people's mailing addresses. If you have a T shirt or something else with a size, you'll need to get that information from your backers as well. Some campaign platforms, like Kickstarter, will have a built in Option two message on Lee, a specific tier of your backers. So if $50 level backers get T shirts, you don't have to message people who only gave 10 or $25 for that information. Every crowdfunding campaign platform will have an option toe export all the contact information for all of your backers into an Excel document. Do this as soon as your campaign closes, so you can easily keep track of who's gotten their rewards and whose rewards you still need to send out one of the back of rewards for my campaign for Sled, a documentary film was a defined slut T shirt. I needed to collect sizes and also needed to know if they wanted a V neck or a unisex crew . Neck. Companies like Custom Inc will allow you to design the T shirt that you promised your backers, as well as order in bulk. Often you can get a discount if you order a lot at one time. So make sure you collect all the sizing and mailing information from your backers in one go , rather than making separate orders of the apparel or tote bag or whatever your tangible reward is because it will save you money and time. You've gathered all these people around you who not only believe in your project but believe in it enough to put money toward helping you make it a reality. You want to keep those people on board one of the best ways to do that is to deliver their rewards in a timely way. Now let's talk about maintaining your backers at the network. You'll have to add all those backers to your master contact list. Once you've met your goal, your backers will automatically be notified through whatever crowdfunding platform you're using. But be sure to send them a personal thank you messages. Well, you really couldn't have done this unless all of those backers helped you do it. So be sure to express that gratitude to them, just as you did throughout your campaign continued to send frequent updates about the status of your project. Just because you're not fundraising anymore doesn't mean you don't want that mo mentum to keep going. If your project is a film, your backers can become your audience once you release the film. If your project is an art exhibition or some other event, your backers will want to know about it in the tent. This is one of the best things about crowdfunding because not only now do you have the funds that you need. You have the crowd, you have an ongoing network, and you should really take advantage of that. As you work to complete your project, you should be so proud of yourself for getting through the crowdfunding process even if you weren't successful this time in meeting your goal, Think of everything you've accomplished. You have a tiered contact list. You have a time line for the next time you decide to crowd fund. If that's something you want to dio and you have all the pitch materials and video materials that you can use to do that and to continue to promote your work. I hope this course has been helpful to you. And I'm really looking forward to seeing your pitch videos.