It was News Year’s Eve, and I couldn’t handle the thought of facing another year without finishing my book. So I didn’t make any resolutions that year. Instead, I put everything I owned into storage, and packed one suitcase with books and another with clothes, grabbed my computer and headed to Hawaii. I realize that sounds extreme. You’re right; I brought too many clothes. But I knew what this book required, and it needed silence, and a world free of distractions.
I was having a fine time working part time and making just enough to pay my bills, pay my editors, and write my book. And then…my consulting job came to an unexpected end and I had a choice to make: fly back to CA and get a new job, or find another way to raise the capital I needed to keep afloat.
And so … a crowdfunding campaign was born.
One thing people don’t always understand about creatives…is that the inspiration we experience when we are creating…is personal. There is a seduction of the senses. The danger of working on a project for an extended amount of time is that you fall in love with it. It becomes a place you go to take refuge from the world. When it’s going well, it’s as thrilling and invigorating as falling in love for the first time.
Some people create to escape the world, others create to make sense of the world, and if I continue down this path I’ll over unnecessarily over simplify what drives us to create, while my point is that our planet is filled with talented artists. The difference between the ones you hear about and the one you don’t… is that some have the ambition to share their creations with the world, while others create only for themselves.
For those who want to share with the world, we are lucky to be alive during the age of crowdfunding platform. But the moment you enter into the public domain…you must share what was once very personal — your inspiration — with the world.
You must be willing to take this thing that has been living in a state of perfection, and be willing to look at it through the eyes of others.
By creating a crowdfunding campaign, you are not only forced to expose your desire to put what you created into the world…you become forced to expose how much you actually believe in what you are creating offers value to someone other than yourself. And that alone…is priceless.
But first, you must put aside what you have been creating, and design and build a campaign. It involves strategy, writing a script, filming yourself, editing the video, articulating your vision, marketing, community organizing, and spreadsheets. It’s a nonlinear thinker’s worst nightmare.
But just because you build your campaign, doesn’t mean anyone will come.
You need to be relentless about your passion.
Over and over again relentless about your passion.
But here’s the thing most people won’t tell you; as someone who has spent a lot of time fundraising, it’s not about asking for money.
It’s about falling in love.
I know. That sounds crazy. What does being a creative and crowdfunding have to do with falling in love? That’s just it: everything.
You have to love the idea of people getting as much pleasure out of what you created, as you experienced while creating it. And when you come from that place…now you have the core ingredient of every great crowdfunding campaign: belief in that people will want what you have to give.
The love you feel for what you are creating has to flow so freely through you and every part of your campaign that when people hear you asking for money, they hear you tapping into what they love too — whether that be what you are creating — or just the very act that you are creating. If you are into this concept of fundraising…by all means treat yourself to book, The Soul of Money, by Lynn Twist.
When I advise people on how to develop a unique engagement strategy for their crowdfunding campaign we discuss finding the essence of their project, and then weaving that through every element of their campaign. I know you want to know what that looks like in a tangible format so try this on for size: When I examined the essence of my book, I realized it was more than just a girl who fell in love with the whales, more than addressing extinction issues, more than a wild adventure into the oceanic world, at the core, the essence of my book was about shifting the narrative about the power of one to the power of the collective. And so in doing so, I started celebrating all of the people who donated to my campaign on Facebook by posting photos of them and bragging about how brilliant and talented they were — because I wanted to build a larger story about a community that was bringing my book to life. Now they were part of something bigger, and were connected and had access to a collective of people who were giving their gifts, talents and skills to the world. So working the essence of your project through the campaign can come through in nonlinear ways…and before you know it… you are applying your skills as a creative to design an out of the box totally unique to you crowdfunding campaign. People still talk to me about how tickled they were to see me celebrating donors on Facebook. Who would have known that would have played a part in fundraising?
But I got ahead of myself, after you design your totally unique to you and your project campaign, and after you have thought of every single skill and talent you can offer as rewards…then you get to go through the process of seeing if what you created is desired.
And this is a rubber meets the road moment. It’s a vulnerable act and it takes courage. And it’s an important one if you are a creator making something for others to consume. And desire is tricky, it doesn’t play by the rules of fair. As I was writing this article my housemate announced to me that she had just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a video game she created. We shared an awkward moment after we showed each other our campaign videos. Her video showed off the video game her team had created. But their campaign had stalled at only raising half their goal. My campaign video just showed me talking with a lot of enthusiasm about the concept of a book I was writing. “So my finished product isn’t getting any money but your concept raised over 7K?” she asked.
“Yup,” I answered. “People give to people, not to things. And while you showed them a finished product, no one understood the difference between buying a product, and supporting the visionary behind it, so they gave the value of the product.”
I digressed, we were just about to chat about actually launching a crowdfunding campaign: you made the video, you wrote the copy, you announce to your community, you determined if a press release is in your future (and you implemented a lot of strategy in-between). Then…you click the launch button. And here’s what happens: you get an email. Someone donated $15. You knew them 10 years ago. That gives you hope.
There are people who believe in you, who couldn’t care less about what you are doing, that give.
There are people who believe in what you are doing, but are wary of you, and don’t give.
There are people who will give generously to you because you are going after your dream while they feel stuck doing something they aren’t passionate about that give.
There are people who believe in you, but don’t have much money that give.
There are people who don’t know you, who give very generously.
There are people that are offended that you are asking for money to follow a dream that don’t give.
There are people who are very close to you that don’t give.
The people who you never thought in a million years would give, shock you when they do.
There are people who believe in you, and they will give a generous donation. And you freak out, because now you are no longer creating just for yourself. Now you are creating from a supported place because there are people out there who believe in you. And now…you are creating for them. And that might be the game changer moment and why every creative should launch a crowdfunding campaign…. for the pure thrill of being connected to their audience in this way.
And then your job becomes about how to receive. How do you take in all of the generosity of your friends, strangers, and future community of your creation?
Is running a crowdfunding campaign fun? Nope. Most of the time it isn’t. Especially if all you want to do is turn down the noise of the world and create. It really sucks if you are afraid of rejection. It’s absolutely impossible if you don’t actually believe that what you have created is a true offering to the world. And that is art of this work.
But there is potential for great magic to happen. If you can muster up enough courage to jump over the first hurdle, there will be people on the other side who will give you more courage to jump over the next hurdle. And their support — which comes through likes, shares, and comments on facebook, RT’s on twitter, sharing with their friends and communities, hosting launch parties, and the cash they use to back your project — is more than the sum of the parts. It will give you the energy and the hutzpah to ask more people to help bring this creation into the world because all of a sudden what has been locked away in your imagination no longer belongs just to you. It now belongs to the people who through their love and support have created the time and space and funds for you to finish your creation. And now you’re all in it together.