I'm noticing a growing trend: many people are rushing into crowdfunding to finance their projects without fully understanding the numerous challenges that await them. It's as if they're going out for their first skydive, but they don't bother to take a skydiving lesson or get a few practice jumps in. They just close their eyes and hope it all works out.
And then they realize they forgot the parachute.
For many crowdfunders, my advice serves as a trusty parachute to help them land safely at their target amount without too many bumps and bruises. But oftentimes, if you're scrambling to come up with new ideas because you've hit a lull –– a few days without a single contribution –– chances are all the good advice in the world may not help you with that particular campaign, especially if you're making these changes as the clock ticks down to zero. Best-case scenario? You'll have some solid knowledge to utilize in your next crowdfunding endeavor.
But why not simply go into crowdfunding as fully prepared as possible before you realize the inevitable truth that crowdfunding is hard work? Yes, people like Charlie Kaufman and Amanda Palmer make it look easy, but it's easy for them because their names are what's selling the campaigns. Other projects like the OUYA game console and the Impossible Instant Lab raise between $100,000 and $1 million because they're pre-selling a product that people want. But a look at other projects, like most arts-related ones, will show that a well-wrought campaign is a time-consuming venture, that you will need to constantly focus on keeping one day ahead of the clock. This is where proper research comes in handy, or what Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu calls reconnaissance in his famous handbook The Art of War, in which he tells us, "those who do not know the conditions of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes, and swamps, cannot conduct the march of an army."
Italian historian and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, in his pamphlet The Prince, calls it virtu, knowing the nature of what you're working with and its (and your) limitations. And in my own book, Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, I repeat the most important thing everyone needs to know about crowdfunding: it's is a full-time job. To do it right, you need to have all your perks in a row, perfect your pitch, and construct a social marketing strategy that will last the duration of your campaign. And even then you'll encounter some troubled waters here or a short-winded lull there, but you'll also be that much more prepared to deal with it without muddying the campaign itself.
Perhaps my father said it best regarding sickness and health: "prevention is better than curing." I'd tweak this to "preparation is better than curing," which is true in all things, and especially so in crowdfunding.