Q1. Tell us about your campaign…. your inspiration, goals, why it’s important to you.
A friend suggested I give crowdfunding a try, and I’m really grateful I did. It takes a lot of money to make a good album! My biggest goal for the fundraiser was to get a lot of $50 and under donations and to be as transparent as possible with where the money was going. I have a small but loyal network of people who are rooting for me, so it was important for me to do this campaign well if I was going to ask them for help. I did a lot of research beforehand looking through successful crowd funding pitches on many different sites. My roommate and I spent almost 11 hours making the pitch video you see!
I wanted to get my album out! Thankfully the most expensive part of the album process had already been paid for out of pocket, so once the fund raising money came in, I knew I’d be able to present the album to everyone before they forgot about it. Jazz labels are in severe decline and hardly exist anymore. So, I made my own label and publishing company and just did it myself. One of the coolest benefits that I did not foresee was that through joining indiegogo I strengthened my fan community and drummed up a lot of publicity. Contributors felt invested in my success and all the people who watched and didn’t participate saw that I was hustling for what I wanted. There is respect in that!
I have a great support group of friends who regularly shared the campaign on their Facebook newsfeed. I looked at the IndieGoGo stats and figured out which friends had the most “pull” on facebook (how many referrals they made by liking my page), and personally asked them to write something up about the campaign and send it out to friends. I joined Twitter solely for this campaign and I still don’t know how to use it, but tagging IndieGoGo seemed to get me some page views and followers, so it helped! Lastly, I asked friends who couldn’t make a contribution to “Like” the page instead. A lot of people did this, and it gave the campaign a presence it may not have normally had. Always tag people in your Facebook/Twitter posts! It’s showing up on their newsfeed and giving you exposure to thousands of people.
Probably the biggest breaks I got were from friends/family who sent out emails on my behalf to their friends. Through that, I had a PR person take interest in what I was doing. She ended up writing two different articles on me in my hometown newspaper. The buzz around that was great for me professionally, too. If you’re a small town person (presently or formerly), do not be afraid to reach out to folks the old fashioned way—newsprint, flyering, press releases, etc. Everyone loves a story of a small town girl/guy following their dreams. Find someone to help you write a press release to send to your local paper.
Asking people to “Like” your campaign instead of giving a contribution worked well and engaged people who might otherwise have ignored it. A lot of people just don’t feel like they can give $10, and that’s okay. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the people who will support you, whether there's money involved or not. Work through the plateaus by always keeping the campaign presence up, even if there is no immediate financial return. I did this campaign myself and it turned into my job for the last month. Take IndieGoGo’s advice and get a team going to do this.
The free PR was awesome! I had a gig in my hometown when I was home on vacation and was able to pack the place because of the newspaper article by Nancy McGinnis. I passed out little IndieGoGo flyers (that my mom and sister made!), and when the tip jar went around, so did the flyers. It’s so much better to do this stuff in person!
This is a humbling experience and if you’re like me with a small fan base, you’ll hit many plateaus during the process. Right away, scout out your allies- which Facebook friends have more than 300 friends? Ask them share your link. Be open to new ideas like bartering. A lot of time people can’t contribute money, but they have other skills that can help you that are probably worth much more (my sisters, for instance, donated their products as perks). When you think about it, that's what this is all about, anyway–engaging your community to make things happen. It shouldn't all happen in the form of money.