The 9-Step DIY Fan- Funding Checklist
The following contains excerpts from the e-course “In The Key Of Success: The Five Week Jump-Start Strategy”.
From June 2010 to March 2011, I raised over $25,000 in fan donations to fund the production of my record ONE UP. It’s possible, people. But no one will give you a dime if your campaign is “I really really want to make a record- please give me money!”. You need to create an opportunity for your fans that will inspire them to participate.
I offered different levels of donation from $50 to $5,000, which meant bigger prizes for those who donated more. Play big! Never think no one will ever give “little old you” that much. You will be surprised. The prize for a $1,000 donation was singing with me on a song. This is an experience exchange. Someone did donate $1,000 to my record, and she told me the studio experience was worth it ten times over. A couple also donated $5,000 and I wrote a song for their wedding anniversary (in addition to giving them the other levels’ benefits: a free mp3, credit in the album, a signed poster, a homemade brownie, etc.). Again, I gave them an experience, a memory, something unique for them to have forever. These are the things to offer your fans to make it personal.
The gist of my fan funding campaign:
- I set up a landing page using basic HTML that users would see first before heading to my website. (Mine is still live so you can still see it even though it’s hidden)
- I set up a PayPal account to accept donations on my own time table, on my own website.
- I sent out a monthly email to my fan list with the SPONSOR button and link in the email (the fewer clicks the better) telling people what I was up to and how they could be involved.
- Once people started giving, I gave them regular updates on the recording process-photos, sound clips and webisodes to keep them in the loop and to let them know their money was going to good use. You could even throw your donors a party!
It may also be a good idea to get some feedback from a handful of fans before you start the project. Ask them what they would want as incentive to give to your record. You will learn what is valuable to fans and then be able to offer them exactly what they want!
“What about a fan-funding site like Kickstarter?” you ask? The debate about sites like Kickstarter can go on for days. My biggest concern is that some sites challenge you to make a certain amount of money by a certain deadline, and if you don’t meet that goal, you don’t get ANY of the money.
9-Step Fan-Funding Campaign Checklist
- Send an email to fans asking what they’d like to see as a reward for donating to your next project’s funding venture. Tell them you’d love an answer by the end of the week. If you haven’t yet set up a mass-mailing system for collecting and managing emails, I highly suggest using Constant Contact.
- Use the answers plus some of your own creative ingenuity to develop a rewards scale from $5 to $5,000.
- Create a one-page website to store all of the information on the project. If you don’t have any web design skills, request that a friend or fan help you make a simple site for this project. Also, post on Facebook and Twitter… someone will be able to help! Offer them one of the tiered prizes.
- Set up a PayPal account and create a Sponsor button. (You will be creating a “donate” button, but be sure to name the button “Sponsor”. “Donate” implies money is going to a non profit, so unless you are a 501c, don’t be misleading.) Embed this button on your website.
- Schedule a timeline for the production of your record, even if you are still in the songwriting stages.
- Announce to the world via social networking and email blasts that you are launching a fan-funded project. Be sure to include a direct link to the PayPal page. Make a short video announcement as well, like Barnaby Bright’s. Remember to keep away from the “starving musician” victim voice, and be the inspiring opportunity- creator that you are!
- Determine the length of the project to decide how many updates you will be sending. If the project is more than one month, send an update once a week. If it’s over a year, once a month. You don’t want people drowning in your project, but you want to communicate enough so they don’t wonder what you’re doing with their money.
- Send updates about how the project is going. I liked to send an email with a quick 2-3 minute video of me talking about how it’s going, mixed in with some footage of songwriting, recording, heading to the studio, etc. If you aren’t so hot with video editing or basic production, shoot another email out to fans and friends requesting assistance. Offer one of your rewards for said assistance!
- BE ON TIME. Make sure to send everyone their rewards by the end of the project. Be up front about when you will be sending them their rewards. If you can’t be on time with what you initially said, then at least communicate it.
You now have the main tools to jump start your fan-funding campaign and make the most of your fans’ enthusiasm for you. Go rock it!
Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a composer for films, ads and CollegeHumor.com, and a singer/songwriter who’s booked a bunch of tours around the USA and Europe and gotten her recorded music placed on lots of TV shows. Her website is www.CBEmusic.com and she writes a music industry blog called Living On Gigging. You can follow her on Twitter @CBE. She just released “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump- Start Strategy,” an incredibly valuable and effective E-Course for independent musicians on how to jump-start their careers to radically change the results they’ve been getting.