02 November 2010

Is the well dry?

Over at Microfilmmaker Magazine, Mike Flanagan has an overview of his recent, very successful Kickstarter campaign.

As you can see, he went way over his goal (congrats!) and has some good advice on how to get there. You should read the article, especially if you're thinking of starting your first campaign.

There is one thing I want to talk about, though. Near the end, Mike has this to say:

A few people got in touch for advice based on our campaign, which they viewed as very successful. Someone else wondered if we would put up another project, and the answer was a definitive "no." The thing about these campaigns, because they target your social network, is that you really only get one shot at them. Choose your project wisely, because once that pool is exhausted, that's that. People will resent you coming to them again for money. Choose your project and timing as carefully as possible, because there's really only one bullet in the crowd-funding chamber, and once you pull that trigger you don't get another shot.

As we moved into post-production, a producer (who had joined the project after the days of the Five Drive) suggested putting it up on Indie Go-Go to try to raise finishing funds. The core group of us were unanimously against this idea, as we'd already exhausted our social networks and felt that attempting to double dip in this way was not only rude, it was doomed.

He couldn't be dissuaded, and we allowed him to post the project with the understanding that not one of the people involved in The Five Drive would ever use their social networks to support it. He put $125 of his own dollars into the Indie Go-Go project to get the ball moving. As I write this, months later, $125 is all the project ever received, proving my feelings that it isn't the website themselves that attract funding, but how you engage your own social network. We did not engage it one bit for Indie Go-Go, and we did not raise one single dollar.
Couple of things. Obviously, you don't want to go right back to the same people with the same pitch, looking for more money. It basically just sounds like you didn't do your homework the first time around. But, is there only one bullet in the crowdfunding gun?

I don't think so. Granted, you don't want to bleed it dry, but Gregory Bayne has found success going back to Kickstarter for his Person of Interest campaign, and I imagine there will be others.

I think where I disagree with Mike is in focus. He talks of the campaign as one that targets an existing social network, as opposed to expanding your social network. There's no finite amount of fans. You just have to find different ways to reach them.

Over the last couple of weeks I've spoken to a number of the Up Country backers about their experience with the process thus far, trying to gauge exactly whether or not the well was now dry. Without exception they've said that they would be more willing to back the next project, since they now see how it all works (a.k.a. there's none of the previous "what the hell is this?" trepidation), provided the focus was different (or the project was different). Now granted, these are people who I know personally and I'd consider them all pretty good friends, but I think the insight is valid.

You can probably go back again, provided you've spent your time building more bridges and not burning your existing ones down.

It'd be interesting to get more range, though. If you've given once, is that it? What would bring you back for another go-round?