As Monday morning starts, typing this at 9:35am EST on Day 6, it’s time to reflect on the success, or lack thereof, that accompanied the first weekend of crowdfunding with IndieGoGo and Kickstarter

Simply, the weekend was horrible for fundraising. While the tweets and shares were plentiful on this end, the reaction overall wasn’t. Save for late-day donations on Saturday and on Sunday (raising another $252 on Kickstarter), the weekend was looking like a fundraising zero. So what do I think contributed to the fall-off?

  1. Early Saturation of Social Media Community:
    Since launching the campaigns, most of my word-spreading has been via Twitter, Facebook and the different stories on this site. Simple, the folks who were going to act early on in the campaign, have. Now it’s time to seek more people from outside of the community I’m already in.
  2. People Want to Help, But Don’t Want to Help Now:
    This actually doesn’t surprise me, because I’ve seen it in almost every crowdfunding campaign I’m followed, and is actually something I practice too when deciding when to feature a campaign. Since the last two weeks are the most productive from a fundraising standpoint, for various reasons I hope to try and decipher as this blog goes on, the early going is a bit of a trudge. Starts strong, because the idea is exciting… and then the length of the campaign becomes apparent and people poised to fund the campaign stop and go, “waitaminute, I have many other things I need this money for right now, and besides, this campaign has 30+ days left so… I’ll check back in a month.” Kickstarter even has a graph illustrating this point (see below).
  3. The Larger Film Community Hasn’t Mentioned Anything:
    Beyond a few good friends and other sites, folks are still focused on Cannes or don’t know that we’re doing this or are waiting until that last two week crunch time. Or maybe some folks don’t want us to go back to print. I’m staying optimistic on this one, though, because of the timing of the launch, the early state of the campaign and knowledge of how good-hearted this community can actually be (don’t let the Twitter squabbles fool you; most get along in person).
  4. As Much As I Think I’ve Gotten The Word Out, I Haven’t:
    The lack of response from numerous friends and colleagues leads me to think that the news just hasn’t reached them, either because they don’t check FT daily, aren’t on when the tweet and Facebook updates are circulating, they’re waiting for crunch time… I need to do a better job of spreading the word. I need to do some email blasts to friends and colleagues.
  5. I Can’t Do It Alone:
    As much as I’m making this my top priority for the next 44 days and change, there are actually a ton of other things I have to do on a day-to-day basis just to keep Film Threat functioning to the extent everyone is used to seeing. Not wanting to neglect either, I’m spreading myself ridiculously thin (wish that went for personal weight though), and I need help. This is why, when folks ask me what they can do to help, I tell them just to spread the word. Right now, the message needs to expand beyond what I’m capable of, so people know about the campaign to, at worst, make the last two weeks interesting. To that end, I started requesting for volunteers to help me for each campaign. Team IndieGoGo and Team Kickstarter, 5 additional members apiece, rewarded in the end with the limited edition, collectible drive of all of Film Threat’s back print catalog from 1985-1997 (to join either team, email Team IndieGoGo or Team Kickstarter). As of this writing, Team Kickstarter has two members.
  6. I’m Running Two Campaigns:
    This was pointed out in the comments of the last blog, and it is a valid point: by running two campaigns at the same time, I’m diluting the message to the point that both campaigns are suffering. To combat that, I need to specifically focus on one campaign or another at any given time. This is where I’m hoping the teams mentioned above will be most helpful. Their message spreading will focus entirely on one platform.
  7. Need A Better Pitch Video:
    The first one was fun, but overall it doesn’t do many things, and also assumes folks even know what Film Threat is and why going to print is a great idea. In other words, it doesn’t bring new people in, it relies on previous knowledge and… it’s been 14 years since Film Threat was in print; relying on previous knowledge is not going to do the job.
  8. Lack Of Goal Specifics:
    Yeah, aiming to return to print in a quarterly edition, but what does that mean? When will the four editions be released? We need a launch date for the first issue so people know what they’re funding, and when to look out for it. Secondly, the mobile app… what will it do? Will it cost money? Why does Film Threat need a mobile app? These questions (and more) need to be addressed. The stronger the picture is painted in the pitch, the better off you are. I knew this going in, but I think I was afraid to commit to dates and specifics due to fear of failure… but you can’t behave that way.
  9. Need To Engage The Experts:
    The successful campaigns I featured on FT, and 80% of the campaigns were successful, raised over 4 times cumulatively than I’m aiming for. They know how to get it done, and I need to be asking the right people the right questions.

The Trough

As it stands, it’s still early, and I’m optimistic. Had I done everything “right” and still had a weekend low in referrals and funding, I think it’d be more bleak, but seeing how many mistakes I’ve made, and how many things I can change, or improve upon, means there’s room to fix things.

What suggestions do you have of things I could do to expand the word? Any ideas?

One of the rewards that I pledged overall was that, if both campaigns were successful, I’d release the entire print back catalog online in digital form for free. This roughly comes out to about 60-something issues, and since I’m looking to raise $60,000, it made sense to release an issue per every $1,000 raised. On Saturday, we broke through the first $1,000 tier and so I made the announcement about releasing one back issue per $1,000 we raised on the various social platforms and then put the issue online:

The issue above is the last issue of Film Threat to appear in print, back in February 1997. I decided to upload the back catalog in reverse order, so that the end would come first and, upon campaign success, we’d be back at the beginning… which is the entire idea of going back to print. Over the rest of the campaign, I hope we can re-visit Film Threat‘s history together, because these issues, when I was younger, are part of what got me to this point today, and there’s 14 years of people out there who don’t know what it was like to read Film Threat.

I said I’d touch on this in the last blog, so here goes: why did I choose a 50 day campaign? A number of reasons:

  • Both IndieGoGo and Kickstarter agree that longer doesn’t mean more successful when it comes to campaigns.
  • IndieGoGo suggests a campaign duration between 50-70 days (and backs it up with the graph below).
  • Kickstarter suggests a campaign duration of 30 days (and backs it up with the graph below).
  • From my own experience monitoring campaigns, campaigns don’t get the majority of their funding until there are about 15-20 days left anyway, so too long saturates your community to the point that a positive experience becomes irritating, and too short doesn’t leave time for audience-building and campaign spreading.
Kickstarter Graph (Click to Enlarge)
IndieGoGo Graph (Click to Enlarge)

From the above info, I chose 50 days because it gave me at least a month before the crucial final two-week crunch time to spread the word as wide as possible, and it made sure the campaign didn’t overstay its welcome. Additionally, ending the campaign on the last day of June left the entire second half of the year to actually finish the projects I’m raising funds for (because it will take the time, and focus). Finally, we’re heading into Summer, and Summer is all about free time to spend on the computer or at the theater watching movies, and so the audience that normally focuses on our site will be hear more often, checking in on the blockbusters and other film fun. In other words, if this timeframe doesn’t work out… I don’t know which one would’ve.

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  1. Mark Bell says:

    Still thinking on it, Tamir. I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes setup of IndieGoGo, but it’s hard to battle with the assumed credibility that comes with Kickstarter. I’ll know for sure when this is all over.

  2. Great info, exactly what I’ve been looking for. I will defiantly tweet this to get the word out.
    Have you decided which platform you like best indie or kick?


  3. Mark Bell says:

    Those are good points. The quarterly issues will not be going for $25 each; much lower. The idea behind the reward of a signed issue at that level was mainly that being a part of the campaign was more about helping it return to print than simply purchasing an issue (and that same thinking translated to the $100 level; 4 issues). I do see your point, and I also agree that adding smaller rewards is a good idea.

    As a website that doesn’t make anything concrete yet (until the magazine), it is difficult to come up with what those smaller rewards would be. Doubly difficult because, once people pledge at certain levels, I can’t change the rewards, or even just the wording of them.

    As for giving away back issues, that’s what I’m doing online. I’d love to give away print versions of the back issues, but I don’t have very many beyond my personal collection (even getting the scans of the full archive took years and various volunteers to find all the issues), and I don’t want to go back to print on the old when I’m trying to raise funds to start the new, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, thank you for your feedback, and I’m thinking on the smaller reward levels (and taking more suggestions, if you’ve got them). I’m stuck with the wording of the current levels, however.

  4. Andy Baio says:

    Totally agree that running two campaigns radically dilutes the hitting the goals for either project. But I think there’s one more possible factor: your rewards. Are the quarterly issues going to be priced at $25/each, or more or less? The wording of the $100 level makes it unclear that they’re getting the entire first year run, which may or may not be a better deal than buying it retail when it eventually comes out.

    I’d try to clarify that, and think about adding a couple more rewards for smaller backers. Digital copy of the new issues could be offered cheap, at a $5 or $10 level… Or how about giving away old back issues? Every successful crowdfunding project should offer an attractive deal to potential backers, since they’re taking some of the risk by giving money so early in a project’s life.

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