This Love Bomb Report is serving as a thank you to all who stepped in to become a part of our successful Indiegogo Campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/lovebomb). On January 11th, 2013 we closed our just over 60 day campaign raising $26,000 of our $25,000 goal for the production to a first cut of Love Bomb. The energy of the project, centered primarily through activities on Facebook and our campaign page, was an exciting thing to feel and participate in as we all felt this group support towards achieving the goal that truly became a strong “WE” by the close.
We did it, and, because of all of the amazing support that landed us in our fully funded position- we are already deep into the production process. Our goal is to be at a first cut by this May- and your funding is allowing us to do the work it takes to get there! And, as we go so full steam ahead into production, I decided to take a few moments time to pause and focus on both acknowledging all of you who become a part of “WE” at Love Bomb, as well as to write down some of the things I know we did right to land us at this point.
How did “WE” emerge and get here? That is what the rest of this post is about.
The intention is to declare some of what went in to this successful campaign in the hope that it can help and encourage those who come after me (and maybe even me again!) in creating a campaign that can successfully drive the creation of dreams into reality, and hopefully, dreams that contribute to the benefit of humanity.
First I will share that I love the creation and now popularization of crowdfunding. It has created an avenue where you can go online, put yourself out there, and receive massive support to create things that otherwise might not have happened in traditional fundraising routes. It also is an awesome way to demonstrate how hundreds of people coming together around one thing they believe in can make it happen, with relatively small efforts and contributions. This is one of the things that Love Bomb is all about! (For more ideas about crowdfunding & crowdsourcing I recommend heading over to the blog of The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and digging into the archives by searching those two terms.http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/)
It is also easy to think that it is, well, easy. You put your awesome idea online and, BAM, it goes viral right? Wrong. It requires consistent effort, honest communication, a strategy, and did I mention, consistent effort? If you go in knowing that you are going to be doing this, almost as a full time job, during the entire duration of the campaign (yes, that means, if like me you are doing “thank you photographs” to all donors you will be doing those late at night sometimes and posting them online when you are already finished from a potentially long day, or on a weekend, or even maybe, while on vacation and on the very same day you are also enjoying your engagement.) then you are ready to go for it!
Here is my top 10 list of why I feel we led a successful fundraising campaign online. It is comprehensively incomplete, chock full of ideas yet by no means a full directive. As people read and comment I will reply, and perhaps, together we can build something even more comprehensive that assists a maximum amount of dreamers to build awesome projects! For a quick read- see the bolded sections and dig deeper from there as it suits you.
1. Commitment to Transparency through Authenticity:
My goal at all times was, and is, to represent myself, my team, and the project exactly as is. I did this through careful study into what the theme of the project is (accurate branding) and what I hope to accomplish with it without over-promising to any one group. I even made a firm commitment to myself to be vulnerable, to be willing to be seen. For anyone stepping out to become very public about a passion project know that this requires effort and a willingness to feel the pain of growth, exposure, and vulnerability.
A book that I studied through this process like a little companion is called “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Her words became like an encouraging coach along the way saying, hay, you aren’t going to be perfect, nobody is, but you are trying so keep trying. Even using the word “I” by writing this is a conscious act of vulnerability on my part. Someone already noted that I used “we” most of the time, and it is because I felt that way, still feel that way, that it is a “WE” experience- yet to acknowledge the “I” part, well, that is part of it too, and I believe, a vulnerable part of the success.
Another aspect to the authenticity was a study of previous campaigns and tutorials around how to really represent and be yourself through the whole process so that people really relate to who you are, not who you think you should be for something or someone else. This is everywhere from how the perks are named (I decided to have some fun with that) and how the project is described through written and visual media.
Another note on this is this: midway through the campaign I had a family crisis. Because I had so authentically represented myself and the project during the campaign process this did not throw me in my relationship to the donors I was building nor to the campaign itself. This is an amazing place to be I feel- because life will always be full- and its best to build up any type of crowd support by being as honest and representative of who you really are at all times. I believe this makes for a more sustainable relationship with the people you are building relationships with during the duration of your project.
The take home: Represent yourself accurately, by being yourself.
2. We applied for 501(c)3 Sponsorship before implementing the campaign.
This goes into planning: the campaign was planned for roughly 3 months before execution. It included the timeline to apply for sponsorship with Fractured Atlas. I chose them because I heard and read about their reliability in donor relations (sending out tax receipts on time, being regular and steady and professional with all interactions, etc.). They also have an incredible rate- research this for yourself since these things change. They made it so that our “risk” was lower whether we reached fully funded or not- that is amazing. If you are truly an arts project that is 501(c)3 eligible- this is a great option.
Being 501(c)3 sponsored I believe also gives people comfort in knowing that their donations can be tax-deductible and ALSO, that someone is out there making sure YOU are accountable with your money. With a sponsor like this they are the ones who keep the money and you use it as you give them real invoices showing what it is going towards and proving it is indeed for the project. I like this extra level of accountability.
3. Follow The Formulas:
There is some formula and it helps to follow it. I read and watched as many tutorials on this as I could. Here is the online class I took from my arts organization sponsor: http://courses.fracturedatlas.org/courses/35.
Studying campaigns similar to your’s are also great ways to get ideas to replicate.
A few keys I took to heart:
Break your fundraising into chewable parts (for a film means first cut, final cut, etc.)- people are more likely to support something they think will succeed, as well as something they feel is worthy and does not cost as much as their house. This will also probably depend on who your “tribe” is!
That being said, I’ll say it again, be honest and,….be frugal! That includes budgeting- a budget that screams inflated is less likely to garner grassroots connection and support than one that clearly says: we are doing this because we believe in it and we feel it will bring depth to your life and the lives of others, not because we want to live off of your money for the next few years nor spend your $10 dollar donation lavishly. (This goes back to building, and deeply caring about, those relationships).
It also has to be reasonable– so that people believe you know what you are talking about and can honestly accomplish it- too low might make people think you don’t know your stuff. I believe that was in the tutorial I am recommending here- fractured U.
I should also mention here- I personally felt okay asking for money (help) to make the film because I was working my little tooshy off to spend as much as possible on it myself. Knowing I remain the largest “donor” on the project makes me feel good about saying- I need help- because I know I am doing as much as I possibly can and it is going to require more! Also- in my experience from the service trips I have run and done with both a pay for it myself version and a fundraise version I realize that this truly does give people excitement, to be a part of something they would not actually be doing on their own. So I love the “crowdfund” feeling of all of this awesome energy coming together! (It also says: yes, your idea is good, and people relate to it,….so keep going!!)
Follow the categories recommended for a campaign and then name them what you relate to. Let it all reflect your personality– from the way you address the camera in your pitch video (and campaigns with pitch videos have a higher rate of success) to the way you name your perks. Get ideas about what you like by studying the successful/fully funded campaigns on the various crowdfunding sites and take what works for you.
A note on perks: I chose to keep my perks mainly things that did not cost money- this is because the production is sponsored by a 501(c)3 and so any “item” would be deducted from their possible tax-exempt amount. I wanted to keep the tax-exempt portion the highest I could for all of them. This is all unique and I think a really fun part of the campaigns- mine were all named fun things like Love Angel and Love Ninja. It should relate to the content and mission of your campaign.
Choose your platform– I chose Indiegogo because they partner with 501(c)3’s and I got the best rate, and, left out the risk of not getting your funding if you do not reach your goal (Kickstarter). There are great blogs on how to make this choice based on your project, who your tribe is going to be, and what they think about these platforms.
4. You are Creative, that is why you are Crowfunding, but you do not have to reinvent the wheel unless you have to reinvent the wheel!
Balancing the creative with the formulaic is quite the act for an artist or creator. Knowing when to copy formulas rather than reinventing them is a great skill- and certainly a great area of growth for me :). I did this by modeling after successful campaigns, learning from people whose work I trusted, and asking specialist friends for help- and then implementing it.
My friends include successful filmmakers, PR people, social media marketing wizards, branders, arts organization leaders, etc. You get the picture. I went to these people and asked them for advice, and then, I respected their time and pro bono advice by implementing what they recommended, even when it was a potential hit to my ego.
When they said the brilliant things like “yeah but why would someone care about that?!” I gulped, and listened. Now, even as I write this, I can hear a particular friend’s voice saying “yeah but why does someone care about that?” and it actually helps me to remember that my content is not for me- its for you! (Duh, but amazing learning curve on that one for the indulgent expressive that I can be). I took it as a blessing to say, thank you for being that person, let me figure that out.
Or when they looked at the teaser and said “oh, you might want to change that” I said, gulp, okay, I will trust you because I believe that will make it more powerful (which translates as: okay I will take the time and money that will require and will trust you and go for it).
If you don’t have these “friends” I would say- follow advice I got from a chapter in The Four Hour Workweek about creating avenues of accessibility to people who are experts in these areas. Most people love to talk about why they are successful! Many often have blogs too with spelled out advice.
The final thought here is this: know when to be intuitive and creative about something, and know when to follow another easy route: guides, how to’s, and advice from those who have already pounded the pavement of trial and error.
I had our beautiful branding printed onto inexpensive postcards (designed by Folia Design of Napa). People were able to share the postcards and help with creating that repetitive exposure that helps people to learn about it and connect to it before they decide they want to be a part of it. The great thing is they also doubled as my personal thank you cards- which were sent to every single donor regardless of donation amount. (It goes back to authentically building relationships, which includes, acknowledging people.)
6. Thank You Pictures– One of my “perks” was a photograph of me holding a sign with a personal thank you to my donors. I took nearly 200 of these and am still at it as we continue with our rolling donations through our website/our 501(c)3 sponsor. This was a fun way to personally connect with people and I heard from quite a few they were truly excited to get their “picture” when it was posted onto our Facebook page. It also becomes a great way to keep interacting on social media without having to blast people over and over with the same content! That brings me to the next point:
6. Updates to the Campaign & Daily Social Media Interaction-
We had a website (that I built easily using wix.com- http://www.lovebombthemovie.com), our campaign on Indiegogo (http://www.indiegogo.com/lovebomb), our Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/LoveBombTheMovie), and our own Facebook profiles to use. I also developed pinterest and twitter identities but did not end up building them out much.
The goal with our social media interaction was to build the relationships, let people in on the process of the film as it is in production so they truly feel how they are a part of it (because in my view- when they are supporting you at any level, they are, and they become like clients of your “product”), and also to let them feel a part of the campaign itself. To start on this we created and still maintain a very active Facebook Page (Love Bomb The Movie). This meant a mix of content from regular updates about how the campaign was doing, to excerpts from the interviews that we were collecting during the process (I was paying every cent I could to be in “production” during the campaign so that when we went into full time production we could be as efficient as possible- that goes back to the frugal budget!). The thank you pictures gave me some social media breathing room on days I felt less content creative. Its nice having a plan to put into motion to go along with regular life rhythm.
I continued to break up the campaign into chewable chunks on social media. I put out various goals the entire way like “we are almost to 100 donors” or, “we are almost to 30% funded” etc. This gave multiple opportunities for people to connect to the fact that they made a difference even if it was a small donation. Because they do! Sometimes manageable goals for people to relate to helps this- since $25,000 seems too large sometimes to relate to. It actually followed whatever mini-goal felt good to me at the time- and it became fun- it created multiple opportunitities to celebrate success along the way.
I also stayed pretty moderate with my posting intensity until the last week and a half where I let myself get, well, obnoxious. I figured, they will tire of this but then we’ll all take a breather. I did the classic tag as many people as you can in your photo updates, and I photo updated every day with something unique that said where we were, how many days left, etc. It builds a natural intensity that people respond to and does inspire action. Also- we really needed that deadline- without the guaranteed funds there was going to be no guaranteed production starting!
For updates to the campaign on Indiegogo itself I kept this to a minimum while also making sure to give as much real content as I could to keep people in the loop on the campaign progress as well as the progress of the film itself. I also tried to keep “upping” the rating that Indiegogo uses to determine if your campaign is gaining momentum and therefore they will promote it- to my knowledge we actually never got there. They call this their “gogo” factor. I didn’t master that, but we did get fully funded, so don’t let that deter you from thinking you are still succeeding. Do let it motivate you to say: where could I be connecting more with people about what I am doing?
7. Every connection is a relationship, and be willing to take it “offline”:
I made another commitment which was a willingness to see every interaction as a relationship building versus the temptation on social media to use it as a way to distance from being really personal with people. I made phone calls and talked to people directly. I answered questions with transparency about my intentions in every way (and I was asked very in depth questions from how money was being used to where I intended the film to go to who was in it etc.). I reached out to people with the magic words: I need help, can we talk?
These conversations led to a combination of ideas of who I could reach out to share my project with as well as really wonderful loving support! I also made an effort when connecting with people, to say who I am and what the project is, without a desire to please or make it what I thought someone wanted it to be. For me at the end of the day I want to succeed in being funded by people who will truly LOVE the final product and feel great about being a part of it. (And this is an ongoing process since I still have $25,000 to go for my May 1, 2013 deadline on our current “campaign” which is on our website at http://www.lovebombthemovie.com and has a much lower intensity level at the moment than an Indiegogo style campaign. To misquote that famous scene in The Notebook when it comes to funding a project like this: “It’s not over, it was never over.” It’s just doable chunks that allow us to, well, do it!)
8. Finding our tribe- aligning with those who already have a feeling that they connect to the ideas of Love Bomb. No selling, no convincing- simply connecting. Once I knew what my idea was I began to narrow down who my “tribe” was that would love the film and want to support it. (This is ongoing). I then went about the steps of authenticity & connection to build relationships with those who are leaders of the various tribes that include mine. The recommendation I received was to find bloggers or media that will represent you.
My Campaign successes for this involved being on a radio show, an interview/conference call that was then sent out to someone’s mailing list, and there were also quite a few people who “blasted” about us on their twitter feeds & newsletter lists. I also accepted invitations to present the teaser and myself at various “tribe” gatherings- workshops, study groups, seminars, etc.
It requires people A LOT of exposure these days to take action on something- so the more I could expose people to the idea the more they could recognize it, feel it, think about it, (nerd moment: i.e. build neurological patterns of memory and association to actually literally connect to it over time) and then act on it the better.
Also, just like any other thing- you will have early adopters, and then you will have the late adopters. I looked at it as roughly 30% funded is your early adopters and from there you will grow faster. I saw the fastest growth once we were at 70% funded. Roughly speaking the 30% will statistically be your inner circle of friends and family and then it will grow from there. From the start for me it was a lot of people I had never met but that deeply related to the project right away. This blew me away and continues too! It goes back to being totally open to allowing this to build new and real relationships with people who are going to see your project and say “WOW, I wish that was mine, but since it’s not, I am going to support you!” (That was a real conversation). It is also my hope that all of these offline relationships are going to help us to achieve our next fundraising goal without doing another Indiegogo Campaign, since we are set up to receive rolling donations through our website and our continued relationship with the 501(c)3 sponsor.
9. Meditation/Faith that is is happening perfectly as it should be. I did regular meditation to relax myself along the way and to be in the field of Love and Faith instead of Fear and Worry. I have tools for this that I will share with you at the end of this paragraph. I also continued to visualize the “Fully Funded” mark on our campaign and I trained myself to daily FEEL what success would feel like. I spent time imagining it over the fully funded mark because a tip I received from a teacher on this awhile back is to always imaging a little more than what your real goal is,…somehow it keeps momentum going for growth. It worked for us! My own guides are available as free tutorials over here: http://www.breathelovebelove.com.
10. Trust in the overall picture of the project– I continue to be with this final recommendation. There is a trust in the overall project and that it is all unfolding perfectly as it should, and that nothing should ever be forced because it is about aligning with what needs to come forward, and this alignment includes every step of the way. I see myself, and my team, and now all of the donors involved on it, as playing our right roles in the production of this beautiful project that will change lives. Ease is the name of the game along the way. I read a beautiful book during the campaigned called “A Return To Love” that helped me to stay in this trust, as did my own meditation CD’s “Breathe Love.” Since we are magnets radiating our vibration at all times- the combination of me meditating on being here, along with my DP/Editor Gregg Marks being in faith at all times, and then those who joined in our field as they came forward as donors and major supporters,…the field of Faith continues to grow and this creates a magnetism to life itself saying: YES, LETS DO THIS. LETS MAKE A LOVE BOMB!
I hope that these help you to take the steps to creating a successful campaign to manifest your dreams,…and that these dreams are aligned with the benefit of humanity and life itself.
This list is long, but not complete, which means,…I might have forgotten a few things and I sincerely recommend you dig, dig, dig to put together the perfect plan for your unique you! Also- if you have any more thoughts or questions on anything here please write it in the comments field for all to learn from and benefit from. I will respond with my best answer, question, or referral recommendation. Lets learn and succeed together!
If you’d like to learn more about our awesome project Love Bomb which is in Production (unless you are reading this in 2014 in which case most likely we are out there! whoop!) please take a look at our website:
You might even gain some tips there as the ideas are still in go mode for success in gathering our tribe and making this impactful film! You can still be a part of our success there too- $25,000 by May 1, 2013 keeps us in production to a final cut!