Much the way you shouldn't go about crowdfunding any project by yourself, you really shouldn't expect to reach a substantial goal of, say, $30,000 or more without doing the proper preliminary work, and one of the most important, yet highly overlooked aspects of this homework is building your audience first.
Sure, you can and will establish a community while you're crowdfunding, but you'll need a core fan base first, made of folks who've been on your side for months or maybe years, and who will be among the first ones to fund your film or startup. This way, in those first few days of your launch people will see your crowdfunding campaign is not an empty diner, but a bustling restaurant with a steady flow of funding that potential contributors will take notice of immediately.
The unfortunate truth is that most crowdfunders don't do this because it takes a lot of time. Prior to the launch of my crowdfunding campaign for my short film Cerise, I spent nine months mapping out the social landscapes of Facebook and Twitter. After I cut through the weeds of people I was following who weren't Tweeting anything relevant to my field, I began searching hashtags like #filmmakers and #indiefilm, and that's when I stumbled onto the infrastructure of an entire universe made up of individuals who shared my interests in obscure directors and the independent arts. Before long I was conversing with them on a regular basis. I started sharing posts about things we all enjoyed, and I was even getting retweeted more frequently. New folks soon followed.
And then I found out about crowdfunding.
That's right –– I had no idea what the end result would be when I signed up for a Twitter account. I joined the ranks of this 140-character-at-a-time army because I wanted to connect with others and talk about indie film and filmmaking. Today, however, far too many creatives sign up as project owners instead of people simply because they're about to launch a crowdfunding campaign, and this is easily recognizable: If you're following 1,000 people and only 50 are following you, you're not socializing for the right reasons. On Facebook, too –– if you've got 500 friends but only engage with the same fifteen close ones, you're not doing it right, and it'll reflect in how much funding you ultimately raise.
So in crowdfunding, be patient and build the crowd before you fund your project. The best way to do this is to sign up on Twitter and Facebook and give yourself three to six months and just Tweet, chat, post interesting links, and build solid bridges without realizing where they lead. Trust me, you'll be amazed by all the places you'll go.