How to Get $350,000 [or 1 Million] In 24h For Your Project?
Tim Schafer, who happens to have a well documented Wikipedia page and is a game-designer, launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter asking for $400,000 in 34 days.
Yes, you read well, $400,000.
Although it is not for a film but for designing a game, which means budgets sky-rocket and that it is still an indie project in its own field, $400, 000 is a lot of money.
That didn’t prove to be a problem for Tim (after watching his video I feel we are buddies and I can call him Tim) who already got $350,000 in 24h.
I don’t know s*** about games, and I used not to care that much about it because you can’t possibly be obsessed by everything, otherwise you die.
But I would be an idiot if I was ignoring this fast and growing sector and like many outsiders, I realized that something big was happening there when I heard Jane McGonigal famous talk on TED (I know this will annoy many gamers, sorry) and then read that gamers solved an aids puzzle in three weeks vs 10 years of research. (humbling)
So this is one of the reason I am mentioning this campaign.
The other reason is because there is so much to learn from it, it would be a pity not to share it with you, especially since I know you will spend a good time watching the video.
Crowd-funding campaigns have been under the radar this year, and it seems now like a must-do step in any indie project, for good reasons.
That said, despite the massive amount of data talking about how-to-do-a-crowd-funding-campaign via videos, interviews, testimonies, articles, workshops etc., I still see an incredible amount of campaigns that scream tourist and/or lazy, which irritates me and actually make me mad.
Of course, my knowledge mostly gravitates around campaigns to fund ‘video projects’ (narrative features, documentaries, web series, short films) or equipment, so don’t throw me examples of campaigns to fund a fashion show or a the biggest hand-made cassoulet, unless it is relevant somehow.
So, what in this campaign made it work for me, and probably for the backers who are not natural gamers:
1-A Good Thumbnail Choice:
When you open the Kickstarter page for Double Fine Adventure, you see that:
and that’s a pleasant view.
It looks clean, and pro, it gives out the name of the ‘product’ and without giving out the genre per se (it could be for a narrative animation after all) it does show it won’t be about making sustainable tires. I have seen too many videos showing a random frame of the video and sometimes an ugly one.
Seems easy enough to think about that point but easy is not always obvious.
2- A Kick-Ass Video:
Watch the video below and tell me you don’t want to be friend with Tim?
The video is four-minute long, which is longer than what is usually recommended (around three) but I would have keep watching it even if it was 10 minutes. Schafer thought about his video as if it was a narrative (because it is), with a grabbing opening scene that gets the audience attention, and using humor.
Yes, it is true, humor can’t be used everywhere and all the time, and if you are funding a documentary about a dramatic subject, it can’t help you.
But making your video personal, and engaging the viewer can be used in every genre.
And if you can use humor, just go for it. I have seen people using humor for a video about funding a follow-focus (they were asking for $10,000, and already have $100,000 with 10 days left).
Why does humor help?
Because even if you are selling a great product, I would feel more comfortable to ask my friends and peers to spend some of their precious time to look at your project if I know they will also have a good time. (Just like now, really.)
9 times out of 10 I was more inclined to give money to a campaign where I could relate with the creator of the project and I smiled. Because smiling is life. Ha.
3-Well thought perks and amounts
Another absurdity I found in many projects is the way perks and their related amounts are defined.
In the same fashion that if I ‘like’ you, I will be open to the idea to participate, if I don’t like the perks or find the amounts unbalanced, I will back off.
I am not rich, and I am guessing many of you aren’t either, and If I like the idea of participating in a project I find exciting, I like it even better when there is an attractive perk attached to it.
Schafer’s project starts at $15, which is a higher amount than an average project, but look at the perk:
For $15, not only do you get the final product, but it comes with a load of bonuses. Double that amount and you get:
HD Download of the documentary series? Amazing.
To be honest, I don’t even know how they can afford to offer all that all the while making a profit out of the pledge, and that something you absolutely have to keep in mind before getting too excited and offering to ship an encyclopedia for a $5 pledge. We all agree on that.
But it is up to you to be creative and ambitious for your project and your campaign, so people will feel excited to see it working out and follow your progress.
Once again, I have seen many campaigns where the perks are outrageous and sometimes disrespectful. (yes, I wrote that too) (I am not giving links because I don’t want to ruin people’s effort, even when I think they should have worked harder on their campaign project.)
Of course, there is a but:
But Schafer is a pro, look at the team of people he has with him.
It’s true, the most successful ambitious campaigns I have seen on Kickstarter have been conducted by connected people, either because of their personal life, and/or because of years of anticipated work, and just throwing a project in the air won’t make money grow on trees, you need to know people and be active and reactive on social networks.
BUT you also need to work your butts off, because knowing people is key but not enough.
If you look closely at both these aforementioned campaigns, they put an enormous amount of work in developing them, the video being a central point in raising awareness.
Schafer is a bit of an exception, because he spotted a latent demand in gamers: having a new adventure game to have fun with, and like actual products versus films, it is slightly easier to convince people to spend money on something that will be useful or occupy you for many many many hours than on a 15min or 2h movie that might be boring as hell.
And ‘but again‘, I have no doubt he is fighting against big odds by tackling such an ambitious project with that amount of money. (Keep in mind Kickstarter takes 5% if the campaign is successful, that the perks require a budget too, and that I am pretty sure the group of smiling people above is not working for free.)
Kudos to Double-Life Adventure, as I reach the end of this article, the campaign already hit its goal, and I haven’t even pledge it yet. (my money weighs more than yours)
This is how it is done:
UPDATE: if you haven’t followed today’s craziness, they actually hit a million. Yep.