01 April 2019

Crowdfunding 201: Best Friends Forever

A long time ago, I wrote a column for Turnstyle News (a project of yr.media) called "Crowdfunding 201" that aimed to dig deeper into what did and did not work in crowdfunding. Turnstyle News is no longer a thing, so I'm re-posting the articles here, mostly so they aren't lost.

Like almost everything else in my life over the last couple of years, this is an article that starts on Twitter.

Some backstory: more or less accidentally, I’ve gotten a reputation of someone who knows a lot about crowdfunding. It wasn’t planned, but when you spend enough time in the space and run a couple of successful campaigns, suddenly people start asking you for advice. And now, to pay the rent, I’ve started consulting on crowdfunding campaigns, mostly because people started offering to pay me for my advice.

It doesn’t make any sense to me either.

I say that partially as an introduction and partially as a disclaimer. If I’m writing about a project I’m working on, I’ll let you know.

But back to that tweet. One of the things I say to people over and over again is that one of the most important things about your perks is that you have to give people the impression that you’ve put some thought into them, and one of the best ways to do that is to come up with a creative perk that could only really apply to your campaign. Doing a documentary about coffee? Send people personalized bags of coffee. Making a film in a small town? Put your backers in that town. Stuff like that. But it’s not just perks. It’s gimmicks. It’s pitch videos. It’s updates. Nothing turns people off faster than a crowdfunding campaign that’s so obviously by the numbers. Part of your goal is to get people to connect with your project. What’s special about it? Why should people give you money over the dozens of other campaigns running at the same time?

That’s the genesis of this column. We’re going to take a look at some specific things that current campaigns are doing and how that both relates to their campaign and moves the interaction with their audience forward. Hopefully we’ll shed some light on some deserving artists in the process.


Disclosure time: I worked on this film. As in, the actual production of the film. I was the Best Boy Electric.

First up is a project with a big hurdle to climb. Brea Grant (Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Dexter, etc.) is funding the post-production of her directorial debut Best Friends Forever, an apocalyptic road trip movie that filmed this past fall way out in West Texas. The film is female-centric all around, with women serving as lead actors, director, writers, producers, director of photography, and a litany of roles down the chain. It was also shot in Super 16mm, making it one of the more unique indie film productions around (see the $500 perk level). There’s girl power all over the campaign, but I want to focus on something else.

There’s two videos in this campaign that are kind of perfect examples of what people can do to get people behind their cause. First, the emotional one, from producer Stacey Storey:

Kickstarter for Best Friends Forever from Stacey Storey on Vimeo.

You’ll notice a couple of things, but the chief two are the emotion that’s clearly involved here, but also the fact that the video was shot on the last day of production, when it was all fresh and before everyone scattered to the wind. It’s a real moment, the kind of thing that people sometimes try and keep hidden, but plays well in this environment.

And then there’s this one, which is just fun:

1-2-3--go! from Stacey Storey on Vimeo.

This is their goal video for $15,000. It does a couple of things for the campaign. First, it’s fun. It’s something shareable, which is especially helpful when you’ve got a public figure as the face of your campaign (see also: Brea’s Reddit Q&A). It makes you as an audience member want to be part of the group that’s flash-mobbing a library. You want to join the team. There’s a built-in fan base here that should theoretically respond very well. But it’s also applicable to the project. Brea’s character in the film is a librarian (hence the library), and the song is a song from the movie. Not some dance track they found, but something that ties in to the actual project. And I know that sounds simple, but you’d be surprised just how many videos for campaigns fail to do something as simple as using music they have permission to use.

It’s kind of a perfect video for this campaign. But it’s made even better when played in contrast with the first one. It’s a ying/yang approach.

And it’s not just those two videos. As of right now (around 4p.m. EDT on Wednesday), they’ve posted 39 updates, most of them with video. That’s a lot. They’re reaching out and putting in the work, but they’re still roughly $20,000 from their goal with five days to go (as of right now).

You missed your window to flash-mob a library, but you can still join the team. They’re doing karaoke for the $50,000 goal. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned for the end.

19 September 2016

Second Verse, Same as the First

I'm bringing this back from the dead, but don't get too excited.

I was using Squarespace for a bit, but I kind of hated it. I'm mostly using this as a placeholder. Also, there's a lot of blog posts I'd like to see not vanish into oblivion.

Anyway...now if I have anything to say that doesn't fit in a Tweet, it'll probably go here. Until I come up with something better.

01 September 2014

Fun with Numbers

I'm working on a Kickstarter campaign that recently broke the record for the highest-funded campaign in the state of Maine. Naturally, being a stat nerd, that got me searching for the most-funded campaign in other states (looking at you, New Hampshire), and then, well, I went looking for more numbers. So let's look at them by state. Only one of the campaigns is still active, so that number will naturally change. Here's the widget, for easy reference of the new number.

Oregon, with the new all-time leader, is obviously going to do well here, but here's a full map. Fun fact: 17 states have had a campaign reach $1M.

Most-funded Kickstarter campaign, by state

This was interactive until Google Docs decided not to work.

But, obviously some states are going to do better than others. California is going to do well. North Dakota, not so much. There's a lot of ways to get some perspective on this, and I'd love to see someone do it better, but I'll opt for the quick and dirty method of comparing the most-funded campaign to that state's GDP for 2013. That should level the playing field a bit, even if we include the caveat that state borders are pretty arbitrary and the whole point of the Internet is to break those down. A better approach might be to break this down into Greater Metropolitan Areas, but that's way more complicated, and I'm not entirely sure Kickstarter's search function can handle that. Anyway, this gives us a rough idea of how much money is generally in a state, and if we assume that all campaigns are equally able to reach outside their own borders, it works.

When you add in the GDP, and run a simple math of the most-funded campaign total divided by the GDP (in millions of dollars), you get a ratio of KS/GDP. And that map looks like this:

Most-funded, by GDP

Good news for states like Maine, Vermont, and Delaware, which get obvious bumps from being near big, tech-savvy area, and not-so-good news for North Dakota. California, Texas, and New York drop pretty far, simply by virtue of being so big.

Here's the raw data (again, Google Docs)

StateMost-FundedRNKGDP (in $M)RNKKS/GDPRNKCampaign
Oregon$13,285,2261$211,24125$62.891COOLEST COOLER: 21st Century Cooler that's Actually Cooler
California$10,266,8452$2,050,6931$5.0114Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android
Texas$3,429,2353$1,387,5982$2.4729Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures
Maryland$3,401,3614$322,23415$10.565The Micro: The First Truly Consumer 3D Printer
Massachusetts$2,945,8855$420,74812$7.008FORM 1: An affordable, professional 3D printer
Georgia$2,849,0646$424,60611$6.719Zombicide: Season 3
Florida$2,485,5067$750,5114$3.3121Homestuck Adventure Game
Virginia$2,232,9338$426,42310$5.2413Camelot Unchained
Washington$2,229,3449$381,01714$5.8511Planetary Annihilation - A Next Generation RTS
Illinois$2,140,85110$671,4075$3.1922Dwarven Forge's Caverns-Dwarvenite Game Tiles Terrain
New York$2,049,72111$1,226,6193$1.6737Kingdom Death : Monster
Michigan$1,509,50612$408,21813$3.7018Glyph: A Mobile Personal Theater With Built In Premium Audio
Pennsylvania$1,254,12013$603,8726$2.0833The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive
Delaware$1,229,07414$58,02842$21.182Lima: the brain of your devices
Minnesota$1,209,42315$289,12517$4.1816SmartThings: Make Your World Smarter
Colorado$1,151,88916$273,72118$4.2115Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King
Utah$1,092,09817$131,01732$8.346RigidBot 3D Printer
Nevada$819,53519$123,90333$6.6110Pegasus Touch Laser SLA 3D Printer: Low cost, High Quality
Missouri$648,53520$258,13522$2.5128SYNEK - Any beer tapped fresh on your counter
Arizona$640,69821$261,92421$2.4530OBDLink MX WiFi: A Wireless Gateway to Vehicle OBD Networks
Washington, DC$594,60222$105,46535$5.6412The Bradley: A Timepiece Designed to Touch and See
Tennessee$538,10323$269,60219$2.0034New Carman Album and Music Video
South Dakota$513,42224$41,14248$12.483B9Creator - A High Resolution 3D Printer
North Carolina$502,18825$439,6729$1.1442Blue Laser Lamp- with passive cooling technology
Montana$462,40526$39,84649$11.604The Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD...and More!
Ohio$447,90027$526,1967$0.8545Moment Smartwatch: world's first wrap around smart watch
South Carolina$436,59428$172,17627$2.5427HEATWORKS MODEL 1: Your next water heater!
Arkansas$413,53029$115,74534$3.5719QU-BD One Up - Open Source Production Ready 3D Printer
Conneticut$347,44530$233,99623$1.4839Zim, the true Consumer-oriented 3D printer
New Jersey$303,66631$509,0678$0.6050Gothitropolis Raven Action Figure by Four Horsemen Studios
Kentucky$299,91432$170,66728$1.7635Larry Elmore: The Complete Elmore Artbook (Hardback)
Hawaii$275,62133$70,11039$3.9317JUICIES+ for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phones
New Mexico$250,28434$84,31038$2.9725BattleCON: War Remastered
Louisiana$239,95535$222,00824$1.0843Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade
Iowa$231,37036$150,51230$1.5438Pier Solar HD an RPG for XBOX360, PC, Mac, Linux & Dreamcast
Vermont$209,10037$27,72351$7.547iControlPad 2 - The open source controller
Wisconsin$193,23038$264,12620$0.7348Folding USB Solar Cell
Alabama$185,32239$180,72726$1.0344Elysian Shadows Next-Gen 2D RPG for Dreamcast & Steam & OUYA
Maine$180,20540$51,16345$3.5220ORION4Sight: Sunglasses on Steroids
Mississippi$167,22641$96,97937$1.7236Nubé the Perfected Hammock Shelter by Sierra Madre Research
Alaska$156,50142$51,54244$3.0424Winter Project | An Alaskan Backcountry Documentary
Oklahoma$135,85643$164,30329$0.8346Tornado Chasers
Idaho$125,22744$57,02943$2.2032Eastwood Slider Belts: Maximum Comfort and Style
Rhode Island$120,85645$49,96246$2.4231The Linkmount System Smartphone Enhancement
Wyoming$113,53446$39,53850$2.8726Pretty Faces | All Female Ski & Adventure Sports Film
Kansas$102,15347$132,15331$0.7747My N3RD: Connect and Control Anything from Anywhere
New Hampshire$92,02248$64,11841$1.4440SQueo: Advanced Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
West Virginia$84,70749$68,54140$1.2441WindPax: Portable Wind Turbines
Nebraska$66,79950$98,25036$0.6849It Snows All the Time
North Dakota$23,60251$49,77247$0.4751Cable Keeper