The 9 Commitments Required to Succeed in Crowdfunding

There is no safe path in crowfunding. Be ready, flexible and willing to do whatever is required.

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To be successful in crowdfunding requires certain commitments. We must accept that not all things are going to go our way. When we experience a challenge or any sort of delay along our path, it is easy to become consumed with frustrations and to entertain thoughts of defeat. When we are experiencing hardship, we are unable to make any real sense of our emotions. We’re not capable of making the best decisions, and we’re unable to see how things are going to turn around. Although you may not be in control of the events you’re stuck in right now, you must keep your commitments to success, and you will eventually get there.

1. Stay true to yourself.

Just because the path you’re on was once clear and now is not, it doesn’t mean that you abandon your mission. Commit to keeping your eye on the ball. If the way things have been done are no longer working, dare to things a bit differently; even if it means going against status quo. Do what you have to do, but do it ethically and without badmouthing or stepping on others to get your way.  You do you. Stay true to your values, your convictions, your work ethic, and do it with your own unique flavor. You are not a repeatable experience, so keep pressing forward in the way that only you can.

Related: Entrepreneurs Can Keep The Passion Alive in Their Relationships

2. Reclaim your agenda.

Nothing burns more ruthlessly inside us than the frustration of pursuing our dream without making progress. When you are in times of uncertainty, commit to reclaiming your direction. Get back to your heart, and the passion of your original vision. When you get back in touch with the ‘why’ of what you’re doing, it resets your agenda. It also ignites the motivation you need to keep moving forward. The more you map your direction, the more you can adjust your sails. Things become clear when you write them down; therefore, never minimize the effectiveness of this simple but powerful task. You are much more likely to achieve the things you write down then the things you don’t.

3. Create long term goals.

Uncertainty isn’t your destination. Part of resetting your agenda is to revamp, or even create new long term goals. Commit to creating goals that will upgrade your current level of success. Goals provide you with vision and direction and give you a direct way to measure your progress. Striving to meet your longer-term goals gives you the insight into what smaller goals need to be achieved to create the path to those bigger picture goals. Your long-term goals are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are the benchmarks you need, out in front of you, to keep you directed and motivated. Your longer-term goals drive hope and put you into action. The closer you get them, the happier your life becomes.

Related: Challenges/Rewards

 

4. Turn terrors to triumph.

When you suffer, you learn, you grow and you move forward. Commit to the mindset that things change so they can get better. When in times of uncertainty, you must be unbending, focused and diligent in advancing your career, changing your directions, and getting where you want to go with renewed hope and inspiration. Uncertain times are not the times to slow down and be defeated. It’s healthy to ask if you’re on the right path. You should do this often, as asking questions ignites innovative thought. When you can answer these types of questions, you are less likely to get sidetracked. Questions help you reorient yourself, to lift your head, and to turn uncertainty to clarity.

5. Be what you envision.

What is your vision of how a more successful person than yourself would handle uncertain and lost times in their career? Grab onto what you envision and live that idea out in your own life. Commit to being composed. Cultivate the maturity you need to handle yourself thoughtfully. Rushing and avoiding both signify fear, impulsivity, and reactivity. Commit your movement forward to be step-by-step; focused only on hitting the ball that is in front of you. If you’re going to move on to the next step, you want to do this mindfully and with a sense of completion to the step, you were just in. Working in this way, steps are not skipped and you come to see where you must champion for your own rights, and succeed against adversity.

6. Take care of yourself.

In any meaningful endeavor, you must commit to building yourself up from the floor, time and time again. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, pamper yourself and to be your number one priority; especially if you’ve been in a background position for a while. When the world outside of you feels exhausting, pull back and rest. All great warriors need rest. Rest does not mean stop, or quit; it means refuel. The level of respect and passion you have for yourself, as an individual, is what will be mirrored back to you from the outside world.

7. Take the long road.

There is no quick path to success. Do not take short cuts, lie, cheat or steal to get yourself to the top. Commit to succeeding honestly and with a sense of integrity and patience. The harder you work, the greater the benefits you will reap; especially when it comes to reputation. The thing about cheaters, liars or drama-creators is the truth is like cream in coffee, it will eventually rise to the surface and expose all the short cuts, drama, gossip and undermined deception that got them to the top. These types may rise quickly, but their fall will be deadly. Don’t compare yourself to others. You do you. Believe in what you do so deeply that you commit to your own success with an unwavering faith in your purpose, and you will succeed.

8. Keep perspective.

Commit to not allowing a bad time period in your life become your permanent state of mind. Of course, the journey to success lasts much longer than a day; however, in the course of a lifetime, the uncertain times are truly just a blip in time as you travel the path to realize your dreams. Success, like anything else in life, waxes, and wanes. Don’t let a temporary trip through a hard time influence your personality and perspective from that point forward to be pessimistic. Down times are there to raise your basic level of training. Make it your commitment to getting better, not bitter.

9. The time is now.

You cannot want for success and wait for it to come your way. You have to go out and grab it. Whether you’re just starting your journey, you’re trying to make your numbers to make Club, or you’re on the executive track and want to move up; commit to making yourself seen. Your hard work, the quality of that work, and the way you treat people is what needs to happen right now to get you to the next level.

If you are not happy with where you are, you have three choices to make; First, you can continue doing you what don’t like to do, or second, you can work to change your perception on what you’re doing and find ways to enjoy it; or third, you can be bold and change your direction and approach completely. Choice three means you commit to risking the familiar to create the unfamiliar. We must make the commitment over and over again to risk. There can be no real success without great risk. Be ready, be flexible and most importantly, be willing.

You've Funded But CAN'T Deliver

Hey Kickstarter backers,

It has been a while since we have posted an official update. It just seemed pointless to post an official update simply to say that we were still waiting on the customs issues to be worked out. However, since it has now taken over 3 months and there still is no resolution we decided we should definitely get an update out. So here it goes.

On December 14th we were supposed to receive a shipment of 1,849 Black ELWN Fit earbuds. However, we made the fatal mistake of mailing them to me personally and not addressing them to ELWN LLC. This raised red flags with US Customs and they decided to investigate the shipment. This process took over a month and they decided to officially Seize our Goods on January 19th. During which time they never once reached out to our company or me personally. They simply just kept telling us that they were investigating. They did not send us an official seizure notice until February 7th (as you can see in the letter attached) and gave us a list of options on how to proceed. We then had to file an official petition to prove that we do have the Bluetooth certification needed to be able to sell these earbuds throughout the US. We did so on February 9th. They did not 'receive' this petition until March 1st. They have now informed us that they can take up to 60 days to make a decision and that we will be notified by mail with their decision. I have attached a screenshot of their seizure notice for you look at if you would like. I have also attached a copy of our Bluetooth Certification just so you know that we do have the right to sell Bluetooth branded earbuds. 

 

The problem with the shipment was not that ELWN does not have the right to sell Bluetooth branded earbuds, it was that I, Shaun Alexander, do not have the right and the shipment was addressed to me. We did not see this as an issue as most of our previous shipments were addressed to me since I am the one who manages the warehouse here in Phoenix.

So, the biggest problem we have is that they are currently withholding over $200,000 worth of product. As a startup company we do not have the funds to simply place another six figure order. So we fulfilled every order we could. However, there are still over 800 people who have backed us on Kickstarter and have not received their earbuds. Unfortunately we cannot fulfill those order until we receive the shipment that is stuck in customs. We sincerely apologize for the delays. It obviously was never our intention.

We have been trying to reply to comments and emails, but as you can imagine it has gotten a bit overwhelming with all the delays. I have personally responded to over 2,100 emails in the last 6 months alone in regards to this campaign. We have done our best to keep the customer service part of the business in house. And as many of you who have spoken to me personally on the phone can attest, I am genuinely a caring guy who is trying to do right by all of you. I have personally taken over 200 phone calls and have spoken to many of you for well over an hour at a time. I have no problems whatsoever with being open an honest with each of you. If you ever want to talk to me, just send an email to me on here and I will be happy to call you and you can ask anything you want or even just yell at me like many have done. Either way, I am always happy to listen and to try and help.

I do want to say thank you for the support. I am sorry this campaign has not been going smoothly to say the least. My partners and I are actively working our butts off to get everything squared away. Just hang in there with us and we'll get you the earbuds you pledged for.

By the way, replacement infinity bands and extra infinity bands are scheduled to arrive here the end of this month or beginning of next month assuming we do not have any shipping delays. We will get those sent out soon after arrival.

Shaun

Listen To Episode 13 - Perfect Fitting Wireless Headphones

Challenges/Rewards

CHALLENGE 

 

Getting attention. 

 

REWARD 

 

Barrier to entry nonexistent. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Getting publicity. 

 

REWARD 

 

Publicity is nearly irrelevant and the means of spreading the word are at your fingertips. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Making money. 

 

REWARD 

 

Successful project creators are making more money on Kickstarter than they ever were, just not as much as bankers or techies. Furthermore, there are many avenues of revenue. Endorsements, merch, privates...and teaching others pays better than ever before. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Only huge ad budgets can make you go nuclear. 

 

REWARD 

 

We're disruption ready. Big box retail will embrace the left field, the public wants it, if you can do something different well, you can break through. But you must be persistent. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Takes forever to build a crowd from scratch

 

REWARD 

 

You can continue target and find almost anyone on this earth. You just have to open and willing to explore all avenues. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

You're competing against the history of all the greatest ideas on this earth. 

 

REWARD 

 

Separates the men from they boys (and the women from the girls!) If you're not good enough, drop out. And ignore those not good enough. Today you have to have a great project and great ideas. The bar is ever higher, but if you can reach it... 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Fake news. 

 

REWARD 

 

Great campaigns are about truth, ignore the hype. Don't feel bad when someone else gets a review in the "Times" and you don't, it doesn't matter! 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

You can't get big attention. 

 

REWARD 

 

That’s fine. Focus on getting 50-100 insiders who truly believe in your idea.

 

CHALLENGE 

 

China rips you off. 

 

REWARD 

 

Not for long, new systems employed by millennials are coming online. They believe in transparency. A boomer cries peace and love and stabs you in the back a millennial will pay you your cash as long as they make some. 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Getting in traditional press. 

 

REWARD 

 

The old media is meaningless. But YouTube is your tool, and it's FREE! 

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Being heard. 

 

REWARD 

 

Go back to the basics, the Beatles could sing, write songs with changes and looked good to boot. Adele sells ten times what everybody else does, because she focuses on songs and melody and she can sing! How does this thought relate to what you are working on right now?

 

CHALLENGE 

 

Me-too business. 

 

REWARD 

 

Don't work with the usual suspects, do it your own way, the means of production are at your fingertips, experiment, failure is forgotten, keep striving for the stars, see what resonates. 

Why Most People Fail At Facebook Advertising

It's usually a combination of more than one reason why people fail. Here are the most common mistakes I'm seeing every day:

1. They don't target the right interests with their ads

I'm seeing people literally just throw interests into an ad campaign and hope for the best. Yes, people who like Tiger Woods might also like golf. We get it…but there's also millions of people who like Tiger Woods who DON'T care about golf. 

Sometimes I see people do this and get lots of traffic, but they don't get sales. (It's because they don't understand regular interests from BUYER interests).

Sometimes I'll even see people targeting GREAT interests, but they still aren't getting sales (likely because their message didn't align with the interests they were targeting).

 

2. They mess up their websites/landing pages. 

What makes a good website/landing page has changed over the years. 

Consumers are smarter these days…

Not only that, if you haven't kept up with Facebook rules, you might find yourself BANNED with the wrong type of page. 

But even if someone has a great looking website or landing page, many times the headline will be AWFUL (not congruent with the initial ad).

Sometimes their content isn't appealing enough (not following the WIIFM formula).

Sometimes they just have glaring holes that could be fixed with a few tweaks (a trained eye could spot these quickly.)

All these issues hold them back, no matter how many ads they throw up or how good their targeting is. 

 

3. They set up ads like a drunk person

Most people have no structure when they set campaigns up. 

And then they wonder why they can't figure out what's working, what isn't, and what steps they should take to fix it. 

You NEED a strategy, a process, a right way to set your campaigns, ad sets, and ads up so that you can find out what's working, what isn't, and then make changes to turn yourself profitable. 

 

4. They give up after like 5 minutes

I see people who will set up a campaign and literally give up in like 2 hours (they don't understand that Facebook takes time to optimize).

Most people vastly underestimate the time needed and amount of clicks needed to properly assess the success of a campaign. 

 

5. They don't understand the most important metric…

People don't know how to tell if a campaign is working or not. 

They don't understand that the only thing that truly matters is the amount of money you put in, and the amount of money you take out. 

I get it…everyone wants IMMEDIATE return on investment.  

But smart marketers realize that ROI will come over time, and these people are willing to be patient (these are the people that succeed). 

They understand they are building an asset that will produce for months and years to come.

Now you know the biggest reasons why most people fail at Facebook advertising.

P.S. If any of these sound familiar - I would suggest booking a free meeting with me here and I can help you diagnose what's going wrong and give you a clear path to follow.

Don't forget to take our crowdfunding expert quiz Today!

Should I Hire An Agency?

The most common question from people who have just launched their crowdfunding campaign is: 
I’ve been getting all of these offers to have my campaign promoted. Should I do any of them? Are any of them legit? 
Let me tell you… spending your money to have you campaign promoted is pure nuts. It’s a complete waste. 
Not only will that advice fail… your campaign will be a complete failure if you depend on other people to market you. 
And that got me thinking. 
There’s a lot of ways people try to get new fans and more eyeballs on their campaign that has no hope of working. 


For example: 
Building a campaign that’s all hype hoping you’ll “get featured” Hiring a PR firm to get your campaign “more exposure” Expecting that peoples’ social media shares will help you “go viral”
Maybe you’ve tried one of those at some point. 
I have too. 
But take it from a genius: 

Einstein said “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 


So, “Step 1”:  
STOP. 
Stop doing the stuff that looks all flashy and puts stars in your eyes that you’ve tried before and doesn’t work. 
If it didn’t work the last time you tried, it’s not going to suddenly work this time. 


“Step 2”: 
Do something NEW
The good news for you is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 


I’ve put what I’ve learned in the Crowdfunding Success Roadmap. 
You get the sum total of my years of crowdfunding experience… testing out every idea I could find or dream up. 
Most of it is a dead end… but after I tried everything… I learned what DID work.  I wrestled with sharing what I learned or keeping it to myself. 
But there’s too much garbage being spewed online that is being passed off as “advice”. 
People are getting hurt. 
Some are giving up with broken dreams and drained bank accounts. 
It’s a wasteland of misinformation with no one pointing out what actually WORKS. 
And that’s when I knew I had to share this with anyone that wants to stop slamming their head against a brick wall trying crazy methods that never work or don’t last. 

Now, at this point, you might be thinking why is Woodshed Agency different than all of the other companies. Let's look at 5 reasons why you still should consider hiring an agency to help your project get funded. 

You need a real strategy

A good consultant will demand that you spend time building a firm foundation based on strategy before proposing a series of tactics aimed at lifting traffic. Until you find a way to change the context of how your ideal customer views what you do and in effect render the competition irrelevant, you’ll find that your marketing efforts never seem to build momentum.

You need fewer objectives

A good consultant will help you determine your highest payoff work and your most pressing objectives based on where you want to be in a year, in three years, in five years – not next week. And, a good consultant will make sure that the number of priority objectives at any given time stays very, very small.

You have resource gaps

Sometimes in the “do it all yourself” world of small business it’s difficult to spot the areas that require outside help. You may be able to set up your newsletter, add plugins to WordPress and clumsily create header graphics for your social media profiles but is this work actually robbing you from focus on higher payoff work.

Sure, those things above might need to be attended to, but a good consultant will help you stop doing the things that are better handled by others. In fact, they might just help you become the CEO again!

You need to fix your conversion

This might be my favorite. Too many business owners, and sadly some consultants, focus on traffic and likes when the highest priority should be conversion. When you can figure out how to get visitors to your website and prospects that respond to your sales presentation to buy you can build a significant business.

Once you have conversion trending upwards you can buy traffic confident in the fact that you can bank on conversions.

You can’t stay focused

One of the dirty little secrets of consulting is that a part of you simply needs someone to hold you accountable – someone to help you document your goals and objectives and then whack you with some sort of a stick when you wander off into new ideas and social networks, because staying focused seems way too boring.

A part of this is accomplished through nagging and set appointments, but the greatest gains are achieved when your focus starts to produce results. A good consultant will demand metrics tied to objectives and help you process and understand to overarching value you’ll derive by hitting your goals.

Okay, now you can go and check email and play around on Facebook for a bit, but tomorrow it’s back to rocking your marketing plan.

10 Chrome Extensions You Need for Crowdfunding

On its own, Chrome is a pretty fantastic browser, but extensions increase its potential exponentially.

So, what are extensions, exactly? Essentially, they're small programs that add extra functionality to your web browser. For Chrome, there are thousands of available extensions which perform a huge variety of functions — everything from extensions that automatically find shopping coupons, to extensions that make your computer run faster. A visit to the Chrome Web Store Extensions page can be overwhelming, so we're going to simplify things for you.

For Chrome newbies, consider this your extensions starter pack. If you're a Chrome power user, you'll no doubt be familiar with some of these, but you might learn about some you've never heard of before. Once you try any one of these extensions, you won't know how you lived without them.

1. Feedly

With the death of Google Reader in 2013, Feedly quickly rose to take up Reader's mantle. For news junkies and those who need to keep up with a particular subject area, Feedly is essential. It compiles all your favorite sources into categorized feeds and a small icon at the bottom right of each page lets you add a feed to Feedly. It's RSS, but better. We use Feedly for Woodshed's curated content strategies.

2. Grammarly

Grammarly is spell check, but better. It offers contextual spell check and grammar advice, so if you're the sort to get your "its" and "it's" mixed up (definitely not this reporter nope no way), this extension will save you scores of embarrassment. If you're willing to shell out for a premium Grammarly membership, the extension will even suggest better vocab and check for plagiarism.

3. Giphy

Like emoji, GIFs have become an essential part of the Internet zeitgeist, but it can be a pain to find the exact one to impress all your friends with your vast internet skills. Giphy makes that a lot simpler by integrating a simple Gif search tool right in your browser. GIF's make backer updates and social media post lots more interactive and enjoyable.

4. Snip.ly

Sniply lets you add a custom call-to-action to any page on the web, allowing you to engage your followers through every link you share. For example, you can attach a button to the page that links to your own website, so that people can discover you while they read. This a great technique to use the months leading up to your campaign.

5. LastPass

The problem with passwords is that you have too many of them. For that reason, you probably make them all the same or similar, which is easier to remember, but less secure. LastPass solves both of these problems. It generates and remembers nearly impossible-to-crack passwords for each site that requires a login, all managed through one master password you choose.

6. Hunter

Hunter is the easiest way to find email addresses from anywhere on the web, with just one click. Use Hunter to locate the emails of influencers you need to connect with for your campaign.

7. Buffer

Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day so that your followers and fans see your updates more often. Get the most out of each post. Add the automation of Buffer to your social media to free up time for other tasks. 

8. News Feed Eradicator

Find yourself spending too much time on Facebook? Eradicate distractions by replacing your entire news feed with an inspiring quote. Running a crowdfunding campaign takes lots of time and effort so don't get lost in the Facebook trough of garbage.

9. Save to Pocket

This is one of many "save for later" services, but Pocket is one of the most popular and highly recommended of them all. If you see a great article you won't have time to read when you find it, a click on the Pocket icon saves it for later. It's cross-platform, and you can even tag things you save, which is excellent for the hyper-organized.

10. BuiltWith

Need to know how a website is built, or what tool a site is using? Use BuiltWith to discover what's under the hood of the websites that you love to visit. This tool is great to see what a competitor is doing with their website.

Attention:

Is the number one commodity in today's world. Unless you can get it, you cannot proceed. 

1. You don't get multiple bites at the apple. 

Since attention is scarce and stretched if someone checks you or your product out and is not closed, chances are they will never check it out again. Which is why you should not launch before you are ready and when it comes to a product many companies release first iterations as betas, signaling the customer should expect rough edges. If the concept is good, if the utility is reasonable, people will put up with bugs in betas. 

2. You can't spread the word, your users must. 

Advertising is crippled. As is press. They can cause a limited amount of awareness but people today are turned off to ads, never mind DVR'ing TV shows and watching HBO and Netflix, they employ ad-blockers on their web browsers and if you're paying for advertising you'd better have a monster launch with a ton invested otherwise it's a no-go, and it still may be a no-go if you spam everybody. Because you can't reach everybody and people are wary of advertising, they don't believe it, they need to hear it from their friends. We all need to hear it from our friends. Who we might know in person or might just know online. It's about trusted filters. And those filters guard their credibility wisely. Credibility is everything in the attention economy. If you can't be trusted, then you're probably going to be ignored. You're building your reputation every day online, and all the bread crumbs are there for everybody to see. We don't take a look until our friends/trusted filters tell us to. And oftentimes, we have to hear from multiple friends/trusted filters that something is worth checking out. 

3. Overnight success is history. 

MTV blasted acts to the moon and they fell to Earth just about as fast. If you can gain major attention in today's world right away chances are you're going to immediately fail thereafter. Because few things live up to the hype and the hype causes backlash and in today's world it's not about stagnation but evolution, what does version 2.0 look like, how good is the follow-up song. When the bar is set so high to begin with chances are you cannot jump over it the second time around and people will stop paying attention. Better to grow slowly. 

4. Don't hammer the audience. 

If you spam us every day looking for attention we ignore you. Launch and then follow up. New songs/more product is much more important that more publicity. Satiate the core, which wants more. It's the core who will spread the word. But if you drop an album and promote it for two years you're missing the point. You're going after the looky-loos, the least committed people, your core is burned out on your new work and abandons you. You need to keep the attention of the core. And the more you say "Look at me!" the more you are ignored, or made fun of. Sure, there's train-wreck attention, where someone blows themselves up and we all know about it, but it lasts for about a day. 

5. Respect your audience. 

You've got no time and they don't either. Even babies are scheduled, we're all overwhelmed. It's a privilege to get someone's attention, you're not entitled to it. Ask for it nicely and thank people for giving it and don't ask for too much. Ask people to listen to one song, not an album, if they like the one they'll ask for more. If you send ten, they probably won't listen at all. You don't want to overload people. 

6. Pull economy. 

You cannot push, that's positively last century. Sure, you can grease the skids, pour some oil to get something started, but it's only working if people are demanding more. And if they are not, you don't have a marketing problem, you have a product problem. Marketing has never meant less. It's seen as phony and manipulative. You lead with your product. And it's either growing or failing. Either every day more and more people are watching your YouTube video or you need to make another one, that's different. 

7. You rarely feel like you're winning. 

With everybody clamoring for attention and traditional news outlets challenged you oftentimes don't know whether you're winning or losing. Which is why today it's about stamina and follow-through. So you've got to polish your product and create new ones and stay in the game, constantly tweaking what you've got and trying new things, and if you're getting more attention you know you're on the right track, if not, back to the drawing board. 

8. Evolution 

This is where we are today. Tomorrow will be different. Virality is a thing of the past. As in faking it to get everybody to pay attention, it rarely works anymore, we've seen the trick and if you're trying to goose the process for instant success you're on the wrong track. Today it's about an overwhelming number of messages, tomorrow it's about the winnowing down of those messages. What will this look like? Will there be new gatekeepers? Will so many outlets fail that the ones remaining have more power? If you're not reevaluating and pivoting on a regular basis you're being left behind. Now, more than ever, what worked yesterday won't work tomorrow. So you have to keep experimenting. But success remains tied to attention. Your goal is to get people interested, dedicating their time, giving you their money. And the more sunlight there is online, the less fakery there is too. So, instead of promoting, you should be practicing. The truth is we're all looking for great stuff 24/7 and if we find it we tell everybody we know. Let it be you we are telling everybody about. 

7 Ways Flex-Funding Will Hurt Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Do you know how much your crowdfunding campaign can raise?

If not, welcome to the club!

Knowing how much you can raise is the biggest unknown in the whole equation.

If you decide to use an all-or-nothing platform like Kickstarter, you may walk away without a dime.

To eliminate this possibility, some people decide to do a Flexible Funding campaign on platforms like Indiegogo or Rockethub where you keep what you raise regardless of whether you hit your goal amount.

It seems like a good idea because you don’t risk walking away empty handed.

But is flexible funding a good idea in artistic crowdfunding genres like music, film, writing, art, food, crafts, etc.?

Well, nothing comes for free…

The cost of minimizing your downside (walking away with nothing) may unknowingly be that you decrease your upside potential (how much you raise if you do everything right).

Consider this comparison of Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo which found that under 10% of Indiegogo campaigns raise 100% of their goal or higher. And potentially worse, only 20% of campaigns reach even 25% of their goal.

That’s pretty grim.

But before I give you 7 Ways Flexible Funding Lowers How Much Your Crowdfunding Campaign Can Raise, let’s take a look at a real-world flexible funding project that admits their flex-funding approach hurt them.

Flexible Funding Screwed The Duhks

The Duhks are a country/roots/folk/Americana’ish band that has had decent national success in the US and Canada over the last decade. They tour all over both countries, get some radio play and have been nominated for multiple Juno’s (Canada) and even a Grammy in 2007.

The goal for their Flexible Funding Indiegogo campaign was $70,000.

Turns out they only hit just north of $18,000.

Airmail 2.png

Based on what the Duhks’ say in their campaign description, they view this as a success.

Even though we haven’t reached our goal of $70,000, we are doing GREAT. We are finding alternative ways of making things happen, and everything is falling into place beautifully.

Based on what Indiegogo says, they would also call this a success.

We don’t quantify the percentage of campaigns that are successfully funded because even if a campaign doesn’t reach its funding goal, it can still be considered a success.

The Duhks are happy with their results but I would say it was not a success. IMHO, The Duhks left money on the table.

They even allude to this in their campaign description:

I am a musician and a performer. I’m pretty good at graphic art and merch design. I am not a professional crowd-funder. In fact, I’ve never done anything like this before. If I could go back in time, I would have set our goal at $10,000, never mind what we actually need to get this off the ground, because PERCEPTUALLY, it looks like we haven’t raised that much money.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they could’ve hit forty or fifty grand had the campaign unfolded differently.

But instead, it appears they did what many do: set the campaign goal equal to the recording/production budget, choose flexible funding, and proceed without a thought…

That’s a problem and I’m going to tell you why.

7 Ways Flex-Funding Will Hurt Your Crowdfunding Campaign

There are several ways that Flex-Funding can sabotage your campaign. Most of them have to do with the psychology of your audience and how they’ll perceive your campaign. But, perhaps surprisingly, the first few reasons actually start with you!

1) Positivity vs Negativity

Joyce Marter wrote a great article for the Huffington Post a few months back called “The Psychology of Success”.

Here are the most important points:

Open yourself up to prosperity. Cognitive psychology suggests that our thoughts precede our feelings and behaviors. Be mindful not to constrain yourself with self-limiting beliefs. As Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

Discover the power of intention. Wayne Dyer says, “Our intentions create our reality.” Identify the primary intentions of your life, write them out, and live by them.

Practice positive thinking. Understand that positivity attracts positivity through the laws of attraction.

Flexible Funding is implicitly the opposite because it implies an expectation of not being successful.

Even though doubt, fear and negativity may not overtly come through in your campaign, they will compromise it by affecting you, by creeping into your campaign language and by subtly influencing your audience.

2) The Campaign is Sabotaged By Your Own Doubt, Fear and Negativity

Flexible funding is another way of saying, “I’ll take what I can get.”

That is drastically different from saying, “I’ll do whatever it takes to reach my goal.”

If you choose flex-funding, you are basically conceding and throwing in the towel before you even start. Think this won’t apply to you? Consider an example:

Let’s say you have a $6,000 campaign goal and that you’ve raised $3,000 three weeks into the 4 week campaign.

If you have an all-or-nothing goal, you are damn sure gonna find a way to raise that last half of your goal. (I have seen many, many campaigns do precisely that, doing half or more of their fundraising in the last 3-7 days of their campaign.)

Now what are you going to do if you face the same situation with a flex-funding campaign? Do you really think you’ll work as hard?

Think about the economics of the situation.

In the flex-funding campaign, your incentive is basically 1-1. Each additional dollar you raise gains you a dollar.

But in the all-or-nothing campaign, your incentive is 2-1. To raise $3,000 additional, you’ll really gain $6,000 because if you don’t get the last half, you don’t get the first half!

When you hit $4,000, your incentive is 3-1 and it just gets bigger until you hit your goal!

All-or-nothing clearly sets up a stronger incentive for you to work hard and reach your goal.

The incentive to work and achieve your goal matters both to you and your audience because, as the Duhks imply, perception matters. The remainder of this list will demonstrate why.

3) Flex-Funding Campaigns Appear Desperate

It may not be intuitive but flexible funding appears more desperate by conveying that you are focussed on getting any money you can from whoever will give it.

This is different than all-or-nothing which forces you to be focussed on the outcome of the campaign from the very beginning. In other words, being focused about the outcome of your campaign is different than being desperate to get any money you can.

4) Flex-Funding is a Momentum Nonstarter

One thing that flexible funding clearly does is take away any sense of urgency that your campaign may have.

It’s not as important for your campaign to hit significant benchmarks like 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% funded because you are going to keep the money you raise no matter what.

It changes the dynamic of people pitching into the cause or jumping on the bandwagon. They don’t get the chance to celebrate the little victories with you because the importance of hitting the benchmarks has been diminished.

So in the early and late stages of your campaign, when you’re likely to get most of your pledges, your audience won’t be as affected by the momentum that you build toward your benchmarks, goal or stretch goals.

Closely related to this lack of urgency and momentum is the next reason:

5) Flex-Funding Misses Out on Scarcity

Dr. Robert Cialdini discusses the principle of Scarcity in his widely read book, The Psychology of Persuasion, written about six psychological phenomena that influence people’s decision making.

The Scarcity Principle states “that opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited.”

It is a core tenet of modern-day marketing. Ever heard something like “Don’t wait, this offer won’t last. Buy Now! Only the first 11 viewers will be able to buy this recycled car headlight solar yard lamp!”

All-or-nothing invokes scarcity because if the goal isn’t met, the project doesn’t happen. (At least in theory.)

In contrast, flexible funding signals that the project will happen with or without the audience’s involvement.

6) Flexible Funding Weakens Social Proof

Flexible funding would be fine if each individual made their decision to pledge solely based on their individual perception of the campaign’s value and merit.

But people don’t work that way.

When making a choice, an individual takes into account all of the information that is available.

This includes what other people have done.

In The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Cialdini also discusses the principle of Social Proof which states that:

…one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct… We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.

In other words, we are more likely to do something we see other people doing. The more people we see making a certain choice, the more likely we are to mimic that choice.

Now, let me ask you this, which crowdfunding campaign do you think has more social proof: the campaign that hit 25% of its goal or the campaign that hit 180% of its goal?

I’m not trying to trick you.

I would say the campaign that hit 180% of its goal demonstrates greater social proof.

Now, which of these progress bars do you think demonstrates more social proof?

I would say the bottom one.

And it doesn’t matter if the “progress” is even comparable by being based on the same goal amount. When people look at the campaign, they’ll quickly and maybe even subconsciously take in the campaign’s progress without accounting for the number of backers or dollar amount.

The scientific literature shows again and again that people are more likely to make a choice supported by greater social proof.

Another way of saying this is “the better your campaign appears to be doing, the better it will do”.

7) Flexible Funding Decreases Social Currency

Individuals want to associate themselves with things that are cool, smart, prestigious and successful. They think it reflects on them and makes them look cool, knowledgeable, prestigious and even successful in the eyes of others!

Wharton School Professor of Marketing Jonah Berger calls this Social Currency. His book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” explains how social currency helps things go viral and supports this idea with plenty of peer-reviewed, scientific evidence.

Greater crowdfunding success for you = Greater social currency for your backers

You may argue the details of this but the relationship between success and social currency will hold in general.

Ask the Duhks, is it better to hit $15,000 in pledges when your goal is $10,000 or $70,000?

Hitting Your Goal Is Success. Hitting 20% of Your Goal Is Not.

Your campaign will be affected by this in two ways.

First, a portion of your audience will have their decision influenced in some small way by whether you’ve hit your goal or not. Obviously, you won’t be able to tell how it affects individuals but you will lose some backers in the aggregate. This is reflected in the research cited by Jonah Burger in “Contagious.”

Second, as you get deeper into your campaign, you’ll want your supporters to share your campaign.

If Fred shares your campaign on Day 10 when you’ve hit 30% of your goal and again on Day 20 when you’ve hit 33% of your goal, do you think he’ll bother to share on Day 30 so you can try to break 36% of your goal before your campaign ends?

Unless he is sleeping with you or seriously devoted to you for some other reason, he’s not going to share again.

It won’t make sense to him and it may even harm his social currency by appearing to align him with a campaign that doesn’t have much going on.

Ouch, I know, but oh so true.

How To Avoid These Problems Without the Risk of Leaving Empty Handed

Creative crowdfunding genres have a huuuuuuge advantage over crowdfunding genres like tech, design and gaming: artists can typically produce their creative works on almost any budget!

So while you may prefer to record your CD in Nashville or LA, you could fall back on using a quality recording studio in your area that is less expensive.

Or you may prefer to use a totally pro light set up that costs a couple grand, you may have equipment that will get the job done already sitting in your studio.

Or you may prefer to hire that manuscript marketing firm for $10,000 but if it comes to brass tacks you may be willing to do the work yourself or use a cheaper alternative.

In each of these scenarios, your best bet is to:

1) decrease risk by setting your Official goal amount at the cheapest budget you are still okay with doing, and

2) preserve your upside potential by clearly communicating your Unofficial goal: the amount needed to accomplish your true objective, for example recording in Nashville, ordering the pro lighting package or springing for the higher cost (and hopefully more effective) marketing firm.

Once you launch, there are a few different ways to pull this off.

But, regardless of the specifics, you will have some extra help on your side such as positivity, confidence, momentum and the psychological influence of scarcity.

After you hit your Official Goal, double down on efforts to hit your Unofficial goal and you will have even more going for yousocial proof and social currency!

The extra benefit is that you’ll feel empowered by your previous success, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities to ask for help and you’ll be excited about the prospects of your upcoming project!

Let It Go, Let It Go

If you’ve have been keeping stuff in storage “just in case you need it” it’s time to face facts: You probably don’t

Tax Returns: The statute of limitations for how long Uncle Sam can audit you is 3 years. Keeping tax returns any longer just means more paper cuts

 

Cooking Spices: Herbs and spices also last a max of three years, assuming you keep them in a cool, dark place. If they don’t smell aromatic or taste good, toss it.

 

Box o’ Memories: According to the Journal of Positive Psychology, it takes 11 weeks to get over someone. So burn all of those love notes and mix tapes and get back out there.

 

Old Clothes: It might be time to take that vintage leisure suit with the 28-inch waist to Goodwill. Only 1 in 20 people can both lose-and keep off-their love handles for longer than three years.

 

Computers: Moore’s Law states that computing power doubles every 18 months. Trading up might be expensive, but when it comes to tech, you can’t afford not to be cutting edge.

Did Being Featured By Kickstarter Help?

Can I get strangers to pledge to my crowdfunding campaign?

The simple answer is yes, there is a remote chance when you look across all campaigns. When you look at artistic genres only (art, food, music, etc… basically anything other than tech, design and games), chances of being featured become incredibly slim.

We’ll talk more about this possibility below as we discuss “How to Get Featured” versus “How to Get Funded” (the two ideas are not necessarily complementary).

But since many people are curious about the effects of being featured, let’s see what we can find. It is simple enough to observe what happens with campaigns that are featured in Kickstarter HQ’s “This Week On Kickstarter” emails to see if there is a funding bump for the 3 featured campaigns.

The results? An obvious pattern emerges.

Getting Featured By Kickstarter HQ’s Weekly Email: A Gift From Above

As you can see from the photo of the Marimba Nutcracker Suite’s (now defunct) CanHeKickIt, there can be a huge funding bump after being featured by Kickstarter in their weekly email.

Can you guess which day the email was sent!

Take a look at what happened to the Mine Kafon campaign.

It is rather obvious when Kickstarter HQ sent their email.

I have looked at several other examples from January 2013 emails. Not all campaigns benefited greatly from the exposure but most did.

Waverton Writes may very well not have funded had it not been featured! (Goal is the dotted pink line.)

All in all, I looked at about 20 campaigns and found that the average funding bump (the amount raised in the day after being featured) measured as a percent of the campaign goal was 150%!

In other words, the average project garnered funding equal to 150% of its goal in the single day after being featured by Kickstarter HQ. This is impressive!

Take a look at the Puppet Shakespeare campaign which received almost HALF of its funding the day after it was featured.

Not surprisingly, we see that Kickstarter’s mailing list is a highly targeted list of  “patrons” who are interested in funding worthy campaigns even though they have no prior connection to the campaign.

How Much Is It Worth?

Of course it is always difficult to say what would have happened had Kickstarter NOT featured the campaign…

But one thing is for sure, the average total funding for these campaigns compared to their goal is MUCH HIGHER than for an earlier sample of campaigns.

On average, the campaigns featured in a Kickstarter email raised 428% of their goal. In other words, they raised over FOUR TIMES as much as their goal amount.

The United Steaks Poster campaign funded FIFTEEN TIMES HIGHER than its goal amount!

Non-featured Kickstarter campaigns raised an average of 133% of their goal which is just a bit more than they set out to raise.

How To Get Your Campaign Featured

It really won’t be that hard. A tastefully named Kickstarter employee actually told me how!

At Kickstarter HQ, we spend a big part of our day keeping up with projects. Every morning our editorial team opens hundreds of tabs in their browsers and watches all of the project videos that launched in the last 24 hours. They also look over every project live on the site and follow the progress that creators make. When something sticks out as particularly compelling, whether it’s a really fun video, creative rewards, a great story, or an exciting idea (hopefully all of the above!), we feature it. ~ Ian from Kickstarter

So, all you have to do is be so ridiculously awesome that your campaign stands out from the hundreds of other campaigns that day (and thousands that week) and then you will get featured. Go to town!

Okay, so I’m being a smart @$$.

Getting featured is not only difficult and improbable, there isn’t much criteria to guide you in the process.

The right campaign may succeed in getting strangers to become backers but it isn’t easy or guaranteed. Matter of fact, it is incredibly difficult and is a highly risky strategy to depend on when it comes to funding your campaign.

The risk lies in how you handle yourself and your campaign. When people actively try to get their campaign featured, they drift away from their real purpose towards relying on hype, which often comes across as BS-hype. Not only is this completely inelegant, it will directly cost a campaign backers and funding, period.

Then there are the numbers to consider. How many campaigns are ever actually featured? For Kickstarter, the answer is about three per week out of approximately 4,000+ live campaigns. If you like keeping score, that means that your chances of getting featured are 0.075%, less than one-tenth of one percent.

Bottom line, you should never count on being featured as part of your strategy.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Instead, Get Your Campaign Funded

The key to getting your campaign funded (which is the real key here, isn’t it?) is to create an authentic, purpose-driven campaign that is based on your unique situation.

It is important that your campaign conveys your unique purpose. You must lead with this and talk about it incessantly. If you truly understand your purpose, you won’t be able to stop talking about it. You’ll be speaking from the heart instead of leading with hype.

WARNING: most campaign creators *assume* they understand their purpose but when they start talking about it, it becomes apparent that they really do not. A sure sign that you don’t completely understand your purpose is when you cover it in a sentence or two and then quickly segue back into what you are trying to create and how awesome it is going to be.

Being honest about your unique situation will also play a huge role in your campaign’s success. Your campaign budgets and goals must be based on your ability to raise funds. How much you can raise is a function of how many people you know both (personally and professionally) and how good of a job you do in contacting them and conveying your story.

If you either A) base your goals on some fairy tale fantasy of what you want without accounting for what you can actually do (i.e., set your goal amount unrealistically high), or B) do a poor job of reaching out to people with your campaign, then you will have a difficult if not impossible time raising the funds you need.

Account for your unique situation, lead with purpose and forget about being featured (bonus if it happens) and your campaign will be poised for success without relying on factors well outside of your control!