"People connect with stories, so tell the best one you possibly can."
Many of you have probably never heard of the small town of Nelson in the province of British Columbia, Canada, but resident Ryan Oakley wants you to hear about Nelson and the wonderful stories that surround it through the "Nelson Walking Audio Tour."
Ryan tells us about his IndieGoGo experience and shares what he's learned while running his crowdfunding campaign. If you're a campaign owner, get your pen and paper ready – you'll learn a lot from him!
Q1. Tell us about your project… your inspiration and goals!
I am raising money so I can work with smart, local people to create a walking audio tour of my small town in British Columbia. I have a pretty clear vision of what an awesome audio tour would look and sound like when it's done — but I figure I need about $7,000 to hire the best local talent I can find to make it a reality.
Q2. What's your funding campaign all about? Who should care and why?
I'm focusing my funding campaign on all people who either love Nelson BC, love audio tours, or love me and want to see this dream happen for me and this town.
Q3. How are you reaching, engaging and involving others? Your DIWO tactics, please!
As much as I was itching to start this fundraising campaign, I kept my IndieGoGo project page in "draft" mode for as long as possible. After reading the IndieGoGo blogs and lurking around the successful (and not so successful) IndieGoGo projects, I spent a lot of time and energy on my pitch – mostly the text portion, but also the video. Some people might think my text pitch is way too long – but I wanted it to answer all the questions someone would have about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, why I need their help, and what's in it for them. The video pitch is really designed to get people to read the text pitch, which is where the "sell" happens.
I also spent a lot of time coming up with good perks. It was probably the toughest part. I didn't (couldn't) break the bank on the perks, but I wanted to give people something of real value. By teaming up with a great local photographer (and friend), I was able to revolve my perks around these wonderful photos of Nelson.
And as I was building the IndieGoGo project page, I created my Facebook Page and tried to get some "buzz" happening. I don't really "get" Twitter, so I haven't done anything with that medium. I admit that this whole thing would be much easier if I had 10,000 twitter followers – and they were all residents of Nelson.
Then I hit the "live" button but only sent the site URL to a few close friends and family, mostly to do some quality control on my writing. Once a few mistakes were fixed, I spread the word on facebook and sent out a mass email.
I had also lined up an interview with a local newspaper who gave me some great coverage. So I sent that story out too — it's nice when it looks like you're not tooting your own horn…
Once the newspaper ran the story, some great things started to happen. Emails came in offering support – financial, musical talent, stories for the tour, and a radio interview. And it's been going great ever since.
Q4. You're rocking the fundraising on IndieGoGo! Congrats! What's working? What's not working?
I won't lie to you. It was almost 2 days before I got my first contribution. And even then, it was my own family who gave those first dollars to help me get some momentum. I've had lots of support from my friends and family. I believe them when they say that they love the idea — but I know that most of them are just supporting me and my dream. For that, I am so very thankful.
What's not working? I'm finding it difficult to encourage other people to spread the word. I think it's very tough to "make" something like this go viral. People understand that they can help by giving money. But most stop there. They don't want to forward emails. Many don't hit the "like" and "share" buttons on facebook which could really help me broaden my reach.
Q5. Any surprises or especially fun moments during your campaign that you'd like to share?
It's hard not to check my email every 5 minutes – because it seems that every day I'm getting messages from complete strangers who came across the project somehow and want to offer their support. That's been the best part. The serendipity of all these people who want to be connected to the project – either through a story or offering a service or just giving me encouraging words of support. It's been amazing.
Q6. Any tips / advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, creators and project leaders like yourself?
I'm no expert. This is the first time I've done anything like this. But I'll offer what I can.
Number 1 – Plan
Yes, action is good. But take time to plan your strategy. Especially your indiegogo pitch. Put yourself in your potential contributors shoes. What info do they need to know. Tell them why they should help you. Try to make it about them – not you. People connect with stories, so tell the best one you possibly can.
Number 2 – Be a respectful salesman
Yes, you need to spread the word. But no one likes spam. No one likes a hard sales-job. People want to see a well thought out, interesting, "what's in it for them" pitch. Tell your story, ask for help — then let go and let people decide if and how they want to help.
Number 3 – Push yourself
Never written a press release? Never done a live radio interview? Never created a video pitch? Don't use facebook much? Well, now's the time to learn. This can be hard work. But if you really believe in your dream – this is a wonderful opportunity. Don't hesitate. Figure it out. And just go for it.
Number 4 – Get support
I have about 3 people that I talk to almost daily about my project. They are my "voices of reason." It's not easy going alone. So don't. Ask for help. And say thank you over and over and over again.
Number 5 – Have fun
Enjoy the spotlight. Enjoy the podium. Enjoy the words of praise and support. Enjoy the connections. Then create and give everything you've got to your project and let it change the world.