Squatch Kick - Tips & Articles for Crowdfunding

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Take a good, long, and hard look at the flowers in the image that accompanies this posting. They're either dead or dying, and this is as good of a way, as any, of visualizing what your Kickstarter may end up looking like, if you fail to grasp a core fundamental that Rose Spinelli of The CrowdFundamentals drives home in her succinctly titled advice article, "Make Sure Backers Know You Give A S#*&," over on the Crowdsourcing.Org website.

People often create crowdfunding projects, and launch their respective project pages, only to then fall into a deep well of silence. They hit the launch button, and then they head off to parts unknown, and their crowdfunding campaigns turn out to be campaigns in name only.

With little in the way of time, effort, or energy invested into the crafting of their project page, it's actually pretty easy, I think, to grasp why projects that fall into this category ultimately fail. By and large, crowdfunding projects are not self-executing. In other words, they don't tend to get the job done all by themselves. Something - or more specifically, someone - is needed, in order to breathe life into a crowdfunding campaign.

The title of Rose Spinelli's article that I link to, here, is tactfully stated. I will dispense with such formalities here, in the hope of better driving home the point - a point that is well worth repeating, both loudly and often.

People not giving a shit about their own crowdfunding project is a scenario that plays out all too frequently. It's not a problem that is unique to Kickstarter, but Kickstarter certainly has its fair share of such projects in a spiral of self-inflicted doom. I run into them all of the time, while browsing Kickstarter projects.

Of course, who am I to talk, right? Take this blog, for example. It is a site that purports to try and give advice to crowdfunding project creators, and yet, how very few pages populate its pages. Touché!

Then again, I do this as a hobby, of sorts, whereas crowdfunding projects are launched under the auspices of trying to raise funding for something that project creators are interested in and care about. Yet, in many instances, such interests are fleeting, and some of the crowdfunding projects that I encounter along the way, I can't help but to think, "Why even bother?"

The heavy hitting of crowdfunding advice, I am quite content to leave to the likes of the Salvador Briggmans and Rose Spinellis of the world. Suffice it to say that my own crowdfunding ambitions, if you even want to call it that, are considerably less bold and less grand. I mainly try to help some sole individual, here or there, that I encounter along the way down this yellow brick road of crowdfunding confusion.

Which brings me to a comparison that I had not intended to make, when I sat down this morning to begin writing this article. Running a crowdfunding campaign reminds me of The Wizard of Oz. It helps if you have three things: a brain, a heart, and some courage.

Crowdfunding campaigns run the gamut of human interest. Some fall well beyond the pale of zany. Where crowdfunding projects are concerned, many are they which are a horse of a different color.

A lot about crowdfunding requires the use of your brain. The vast bulk of it is plain old common sense, if you get right down to it. But, if you fail to use the brain that God gave you, then the odds are pretty darned good that when your project's campaign cycle ends, your project won't make it to the Emerald City of Funding Success.

I was up well into the wee early morning hours, last night, nosing my way around Salvador Briggman's Crowd Crux website, which is about the closest thing to a Fort Knox of Crowdfunding Advice that you are likely to ever encounter. It was while watching a podcast, there, Crowdfunding Consultant Rose Spinelli Shares Best Practices, that I gained my introduction to this Rose Spinelli person.

As Sal and Rose discussed things in that podcast, they touched upon the importance of humanizing your crowdfunding campaign. In other words, it helps to have a heart. After all, how will you be able to pour your heart into your crowdfunding project, if you don't have a heart? The Tin Man had a heart - he had one all along. He just didn't understand what a real heart actually was.

If you don't pour your heart into your project and its campaign, then how can you expect potential backer passers-by to get swept away by - and caught up in - your passion for your crowdfunding story? You do have passion, don't you? If not, then you are the Tin Man in your own story - the one that is just standing there, rusting away.

Rose and Salvador are what most people would likely call "experts" on crowdfunding. I can hear Sal Briggman groaning now, because anyone can call them self an expert, and anyone can be labeled an expert, at any time and for any reason - or for no reason, at all.

When it comes to crowdfunding, there is no one, single way to success. Did you hear me when I said that? Success can be had many different ways, but if you choose to ignore (or to remain willfully oblivious to) certain fundamental truths about human behavior, then rest assured, you place your crowdfunding campaign on a trajectory of failure.

Projects like the by-now-infamous Potato Salad Kickstarter, and others like it that enjoy a degree of success that properly qualifies as being nothing short of stupendous, shine likes stars in the crowdfunding firmament. Average, ordinary people like you or I look at projects like those, and we can't help but to scratch our heads at how they go viral, in the first instance, or how they raise funds in tsunami like style, in the second instance?

Sometimes in life, it can be helpful to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground of everyday reality. The fact is, most crowdfunding campaigns are never going to go viral. Most of them will never rake in millions of dollars in cash. If they make it, at all, most crowdfunding projects will be fortunate to beat their funding goals by just a little bit. But, if you stop and think about it, the goal is the goal. More is always better, when it comes to pledges received, but as long as you meet the funding goal that you, yourself, have set, then life on Kickstarter Lane is good, is it not?

Granted, there can always be complications, such as miscalculating on rewards offered, and problems can be encountered after the fact (life as a human being is fraught with unforeseen complications), but as long as your project reaches its funding goal, then your project will manage to achieve a degree of real success.

A lot of people starting out as first-time crowdfunding project creators suffer from either a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience, or a lack of courage. This is where the lion in you comes in at.

In the forest of your own life, it falls to you to play the role of the lion. Life can be a jungle, at times, but the lion didn't earn the title of King of the Jungle for no reason, at all, you know.

Life is an excellent adventure through adversity. By the time that most people get around to launching their first Kickstarter, then they should already be well acquainted with the fact that life, like crowdfunding campaigns, can throw you a curve.

Adversity can be approached one of two ways - with courage or without it. The choice, as always, remains with you.

In The Wizard of Oz, the cowardly lion stands out like a thumb in the eye. An actual lion, of course, is anything but cowardly. Thus, to be the lion of your own crowdfunding project, you must not allow yourself to become the prey to your own misgivings. You set the funding goal. You set the tone. You know better than anyone else - better than even Salvador Briggman and Rose Spinelli - why your crowdfunding project matters.

There are so many crowdfunding projects going at any given moment that Sal and Rose would run themselves ragged, trying to lead each and every last one of those project creators, individually, by the hand and out of the woods of danger.

Make no mistake about it, to launch a crowdfunding campaign is to risk an encounter with many different dangers. Once you hit that launch button on your project, the clock is ticking.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

But, far more dangerous to a crowdfunding project than that eternal foe - time, itself - is a project creator who is too scared or too sheepish to stand up for their own project. It's your idea. It's your concept. It's your baby.

The cowardly lion of Oz fame actually did possess courage. He just had to find it, that's all. Honestly, he had it all along. He just didn't know it. He allowed himself to become distracted by - and obsessed with - things that were never really a threat to him, at all. He allowed his fears to run rampant. He became - and remains - synonymous with cowardice.

But, lest I remind you, at some point along the way, he found himself - and in the process, he saved the day. I know, I know. He didn't save the day, alone - but then again, that's why you're trying to build a crowd in the first place, isn't it?

Doubt is something that many crowdfunding project creators allow to become dominant in their perspective towards their own project. Doubt, itself, becomes fear, incarnate.

Yet, even doubt, itself, is a gift from God. When people's lives are filled with doubt, it is then that they often turn to God for advice, for guidance, for hope, and for delivering them out of their place of dire straits.

If your crowdfunding project only had a Salvador Briggman or a Rose Spinelli to aid it, then sure, it would prevail, right? To ordinary people who seek to launch crowdfunding campaigns, Sal and Rose take on the appearance of crowdfunding immortals. They possess a pantheonic degree of knowledge about crowdfunding. They are intimately well versed in the subject. To the common man or woman on the street who plunges head first into launching a crowdfunding project for the very first time, individuals like these two keep company at a crowdfunding level that you or I have trouble conceiving.

Even still, even they started somewhere. Both Sal and Rose started somewhere, and what they learned along the way was, in many instance, knowledge acquired after much trial and effort. Neither, to my knowledge, claim to have become so knowledgeable about crowdfunding by way of conversing with a burning bush. Some of what they know was given to them by others, but it is no less equally true that a lot of what they both know, they have shared with others that they have encountered along the way.

Where your crowdfunding project is concerned, though, it is you who should roar the loudest about your own campaign. It is you who should be the lion of your own project. It is you who has to overcome your fears and your doubts and your misgivings.

When my wife and I named our son, after he was born, one of the names that I considered naming him was Oz. That way, when he started school, later in life, and as the kids in his class took turns introducing themselves, after all of the, "Hi, I'm Tommy," and "Hello, I'm Lisa," and "My name is Steve" subsided and it got to his turn, he would have been able to say, "I am Oz, the great and powerful!"

Of course, things didn't turn out quite that way. We ended up naming him Titan, instead.

The titans of mythology fought with the gods, themselves. In other words, they contended with the powers that be. As my son ages and goes through life, he faces adversity. Though I love him enormously and without end, it ultimately falls to him to face - and to overcome - whatever adversity that life throws at him.

Crowdfunding projects, much like life, itself, tend to be exercises in trial and error. Mistakes are made, and corrections need to ensue in the aftermath, thereof. When your crowdfunding project has no backers, no funding, and basks in a dark veil of silence on the part of the rest of the world, one's confidence can be tested.

Even still, it remains possible to summon one's courage, and to face up to the reality of the crowdfunding situation, no matter how harsh that reality might be. When I give advice or feedback to others about their respective crowdfunding campaigns, my words might very well fall harsh upon ears, and especially if they are ears of a crowdfunding project creator whose ears have already adjusted to the silence of a world that seems all too disinterested in what they have to say.

When your crowdfunding project is seemingly lost in a world of silence, all the more important it becomes, then, for you to roar like a lion - that somebody, somewhere might hear you. If you're trying to raise money from potential backers, it helps if they can hear you and if they know that you're there.

Don't you dare let the world forget you, but even more importantly, don't you dare let the world not know that you - and by extension, your crowdfunding project - exist in the here and now.

If you want people to care about your crowdfunding project, enough to share it with others, then you would be well served to care about it, first and foremost, yourself. The less that you care, the less that they will want to share. If it isn't obvious to others  that you care about your own project, then how on Earth or in the Land of Oz do you plan on succeeding?


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