I recently attended in Dublin a DubWeb Festival founded by Mikael Thiery and co-directed by Erol Mustafov geared mostly towards filmmakers, theatre producers and music makers. There were several talks and the one about ‘how to crowdfund for web series‘ caught my attention.
It was a discussion with industry experts and award-winning series makers (see picture below) .Their pieces of advice were valuable for any start-ups looking to fund their businesses or their products and services’ launch.
Crowdfunding is mainly used to fundraise for specific activities, campaigns or launches, and the talks were talking about this aspect. Consequently, this post will discuss the different platforms and ways to get your audience engaged and willing to support you financially. Nonetheless, please note that you can crowdfund to validate your ideas.
But first thing first, if you want to crowdfund and make a success out of the campaign, you will need to make sure your audience is online and your product or service is suitable for that target market (language, culture).
Then you will have to work hard to create a buzz around it.
To do this, please follow these steps:
- Create convincing and creative video and content pitches.
- Select the most appropriate crowdfunding platform for your audience. If you want to target niche audiences for film production, consider one of these: VRV for Fantasy films, Shutter, Patreon. Otherwise, the main platforms are Indigogo and Kickstarter.
- Understand how the chosen crowdfunding platform works. For eg, Indigogo is available worldwide. With it, you can either get the money only if you reach your fundraising goal or get whatever money you crowdfunded even if you haven’t hit your goal. If you use Kickstarter, remember it’s available in only 34 countries and you can only cash in the fundraised monies if you have reached your goal.
- Keep in mind the charged fees by the crowdfunding platform as well as the taxes you will have to claim as income (tax). Generally speaking, there is a 3-5 % processing fee + a 5 % fee once the fundraising campaign ends.
- Set a fundraising goal that will cover all your costs.
- Entice your audience to donate and become your fans by offering rewards. Some rewards may be posted (merchandising such as DVDs, T-shirts…), so keep in mind that these incur extra costs. If you want to keep these costs down, you may offer your donors free release of some of your web series’ episodes, for instance.
- Leverage your superfans by offering them VIP rewards to post out.
- Create a sense of emergency by offering special rewards released as the crowdfunding campaign goes.
- Get in touch with your existing network.
- Feed information on social media by sharing snippets of your story.
- Build awareness of your campaign by organising your own offline or online events. You could start by creating a big live event: live show, music video, tours/trip, podcast, free food/drinks night, special invites to parties. Any possible hooks to gather more fans will be valuable.
- Get in touch with PR companies for press releases.
- Think about sponsorship for further brand exposure. However, remember that these will not provide you with financial support (instead, you will receive gifts-in-kind and discounts) and may not care too deeply about your brand, while your fans from crowdfunding will.
- Network to find potential angel investors at conferences and conventions related to your type of business. For eg, for filmmakers, they could attend Comecon.
- Get your friends and fans to share your campaign.