Launching a crowdfunding campaign is a beautiful thing for anyone with an idea. The process transforms you from someone with an idea to someone with a couple hundred promises to keep: promises you’ve made to your funders to deliver on that idea. It’s a beautiful thing, this transition. It turns your dreams into “To Dos,” and opens the door to conversations, feedback, problems, and solutions that you would have never encountered before.

phi barBut where to begin? So often, that’s the question I hear from those flirting with this online fundraising frenzy. Where will I get the money for a video? Who can design the graphics? How will I get the word out once it’s up? Sometimes, it feels like you need to run a crowdfunding campaign just to raise enough money to launch a crowdfunding campaign (Still working out what the title of that project would look like: “Help us raise funds so that we can accurately communicate our real vision to you and… raise more funds!” Not quite? I’ll keep brainstorming that one…). For example, this would have been the quality of our Phi Video if we hadn’t been inspired by a fellow Indiegogo campaign owner to hunt down a real videographer and get them to do it pro bono (which we eventually did). Yes, it’s shot on an iPhone propped up against a tissue box, and no, we haven’t shown it to anyone yet, so please don’t laugh:

The video itself almost made us close our laptops and walk away. But there is something our team did before our campaign that
psyched us up—our pre-game pep talk, if you will. And that was attending an Indiegogo Lab. The lab was a gem for several reasons: it offered a much-needed glass of wine after a long day of beating my head against a wall over what to include in our “stretch” section, refuge from a rare rainy San Francisco night, and free pens and notebooks. If you’re not already signing up for the next one, what gives?! Okay, you still need more convincing about how it’s actually going to improve your campaign:

  • Inspiration: Seeing a picture of a Rothko online is very different than standing beside one at the Guggenheim, and I’m pretty sure we’ll agree on which one inspires you to paint larger than life, spectacular art. Meeting the other campaign owners and/or hopefuls was a little bit like this. Being in a room full of artists, as I’ve come to label them in my own mind, is energizing, inspiring, and motivating.
  • Humanization: Before launching, I’d thought of successful crowdfunding campaign owners as mystical creatures, perhaps with unicorn horns that helped dust their projects with magic and magnetic powers that attracted the ever-elusive internet click. Showing up and talking to other project leads really brought the seemingly super-human campaign owners down to earth. It reminded me of my own capacity to create something seemingly magical, and made me more excited to be part of the fabric of the crowdfunding world.
  • Idea exchange: Listening to others’ questions and hearing how they’ve solved problems is all incredibly helpful stuff. As I mentioned earlier, we’d ruled out working with a professional to do our video because it seemed prohibitively expensive, but knowing that someone else was able to get that done for free emboldened us to ask on our own.
  • Free stuff!: No, I’m not talking about the snacks and drinks again. To swap stories with other campaign owners is to share problems and hear solutions that you might not have thought of on your own. Not sure how to get a reporter to bite? You might be talking to someone who has a phone full of press contacts and is more than happy to connect you, especially because you just offered to share one of your latest recordings, royalty-free, for his or her video. The lab is like a market, each artisan has something to barter with, and you can end up helping and being helped by anyone in attendance.

I hope you’ll reach out to us or anyone else in the Indiegogo community (cough, at the next Indiegogo lab in a city near you) at any stage in your project.

Register for the Indiegogo Lab on May 28, 2015 here and get your campaign started.

Visit Astrid’s campaign here.