A Journey To and Through a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign: Part II

Crowdfunding was the right move for me. It enabled me to pursue a new record full-force without sacrificing any of it for lack of funding. In fact crowdfunding brought a unique creative fuel. These 190 pledgers and whomever they choose to share this music with – I have to make them proud! That had me fired up going into tracking, and it has me just as pumped right now as I’m in the mix stage and presentation stage. I don’t know if crowdfunding is the right thing for everyone. But, for anyone who is considering it, I would like to present 7 things that worked well for me to in a time when crowdfunding is not a new thing, though it might be new to you. 

Here are 7 things to consider when doing a crowdfunding campaign in a time when crowdfunding campaigns are familiar (to almost everyone).

Google is your friend. For the first few days I set aside to plan out this campaign, I just opened Google and searched every combination of Kickstarter success or crowdfunding for music, etc etc. It brings you to a lot of helpful blogs. One I found particularly valuable was a Hypebot article (http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/11/100-music-kickstarter-campaigns-other-resources-for-music-crowdfunding-success.html) that pointed me to Launch and Release. Launch and Release is a crash course in crowdfunding based on research of over 100 kickstarter campaigns. There is a 6-step process that goes through the steps of all the successful ones they studied, as well as all of the unsuccessful campaigns and why they didn’t hit their mark. I’m a student by nature – I love to consume information and be as informed as possible before taking something on. This was perfect for me. They also quickly answered my e-mail questions with thoughtful responses as my campaign got started. I’m a big fan of these folks – it was well worth the small fee, in my opinion. I think it made the difference for me between hitting 100% of my goal and 150% of my goal.

People are going to have a lot to say about it. People will be paying attention. I’d see people out at open mics or shows or family get togethers, and they would have things to say. Advice, questions, observations. I didn’t encounter any negative comments, but I learned that crowdfunding as a way to fund records elicits strong emotions from musicians one way or another. I was complimented that people were interested and tried not to worry about whether they thought it was a respectable way to create music. In the end, we’re all running our own race, and this method was going to get me to the next leg of mine.

Be ready to adjust your attitude. Just like with anything, it’s all about perspective. I made a promise to myself that I was not going to take offense to anyone who chose not to contribute. These 30 days worked best in my schedule to do this, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else’s life is conducive to helping a friend make a new record at that time. People have their own stuff going on, and it’s not their responsibility to help you make things happen. On the other side of that, having no expectations led to 190 pleasant surprises. Every time someone pledged I wanted to cry with gratitude and humility that they would take the time out of their busy schedule to support me in my creative pursuit. There were also instances where people reached out and said, “I can’t support this financially, but I will share it and think it’s awesome.” That meant just as much. At the end of the day, pledges are not something to expect, but it is something to appreciate when your people show up to support you, in whatever way they can.

Be ready to get all the feels. Oof. That month had such a concentrated amount of emotions. I had a mini tears-of-joy session every time I got a little notification on my kickstarter app. It is a very overwhelming sense of gratitude, or at least it was for me. One story that I must share is from the final hours of the campaign. I was $867 away from my second stretch goal, which enabled me to add one more song to the album. I was having an internal battle, because I was ready to get out of kickstarter land and into record land. I was in the studio for a very limited time, and I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of being there because I was sending follow up emails. At the same time, I didn’t want to look back and wonder if there were people I neglected to follow up with, so I was trying to be in both places at once (record land and kickstarter land, I mean. See what I did there?) So an hour before the campaign ended, I surrendered. The Facebook ads are up. The e-mails have been sent. It ends where it ends, and I will find a way to make up for the remainder of the last song if I need to. Not to mention, I was so grateful for the amount of support I had received already. So I get a text from one of my long time best friends, who I actually was in my first band with back in my teenager days. She had just gotten engaged to a wonderful fellow, and she texts me and says, “How much would it cost for you to play at our wedding? Say, $867?” (She’s the kind of friend whose wedding I would have sang at for $0. Just to paint the picture.) I almost fell down on the ground when I got the Kickstarter notification on my phone. I’m tearing up as I write this now. I called her in disbelief at her pledge, and she said, “We were going to ask you anyway, and now you can make more music!” The people in your life are going to overwhelm you in the best way with their generosity. Get ready for all the feels.

Stay committed to communicating from start to finish. Social media is good. It tells people you are doing something, but it’s not really how most of the pledges came, in my experience. Most of the pledges came from me e-mailing my network and then following up a few times. And just when I thought I was bothering people with my follow ups, I would get a reponse like “THANK YOU SO MUCH I WOULD HAVE FORGOTTEN.” People are busy. They appreciate the follow up. The follow up is your friend.

There will be a little let down. It’s such an emotional, personal, stressful period of time. I was in the middle of recording the album when I finished the kickstarter campaign, so I feel like my adrenaline kicked in at that point. But once I was on my way home from recording in Nashville, I felt like I needed to stay off the computer for like a week and give my mailing list’s inbox a rest. 

Decide you are going to meet your goal. I think one of the reasons my campaign met the goal so quickly was because there was just no way I was going to let this not succeed. Making $10,000 in a month is not an easy thing if you are working a full-time job to earn it. That’s a paycheck from a pretty high-paying job, the kind of job that would probably be stressful and demanding of your time and brain space. I think it’s good to look at a crowdfunding campaign like that. It’s not going to be easy. You’re not going to post one or two facebook links and hit your goal. So I looked at it as a job, one I wanted to excel at, and with the help of the generous members of #TeamCaitlin, I was able to end the campaign at 150% of my goal. 

Be ready for technical diffs and do your best to laugh about them. My buddies Matt Afflitto and Jessie Tseng helped me put the video together. Matt and I worked tirelessly on the editing of it for a week and a half, and I was dying to get this thing up and running. Every day that went by that I didn’t pull the trigger was another day into my scheduled recording in Nashville that the campaign would overlap and that gave me a lot of anxiety. So the day Matt sent me the video, I was raring to go. I went to upload it before going to an open mic, and no luck. Some combination of my old computer and the video file would not allow for an upload and we couldn’t figure out a solution. This led to Jessie (my tech-savvy pal who designed this sweet website) meeting Matt at his place without me even being there to trouble shoot the video issue. True friendship, right there. They both got batches of caramel brownies, obvs. A similar thing happened with 2 days left in the campaign where the Facebook ads glitched. They straight up would not go through the approval stage. You know what didn’t glitch? My e-mail list and follow ups on g-mail and text message. Did I mention the follow up is your friend?

Next week, in part III of this crowdfunding reflection, I will go into my plans for this record and some details about the recording experience itself and how it came to be! I am so excited to share it. And if you missed it, check out the Kickstarter campaign here.Thanks for reading!