Crowdfunding 101: Why your crowdfund isn't working

Running a crowdfund and it feels a bit like this?


Here are just a few of the common reasons crowdfunds hit a wall after launch. And what you can do about it.


You don't have enough followers

You were raring to go, had a concept, set up the page, launched the campaign, tweeted about it from your personal Twitter account and - ooops. All of a sudden the 12 friends and family from your 137 twitter followers (who are mainly comprised of similarly skint people to yourself) have all donated and NOONE ELSE is interested. You've run out of funding reach.


What you should have done was set up a twitter account for the actual project itself four or so months ahead of the project launch, engaged with other people, RT'd some influencers (people with a shedload of genuine followers who have an interest in the kind of project you are running), backed some crowdfunds, created interest in the project with a  "moodboard" (songs, quotations, artwork).

You should also have set up a Facebook page to direct people to. On this you would have lots of additional content that helps people get to know you, your team and your project.


What you can do now:

Engage like mad! Retweet, have conversations. Back a couple of campaigns and share those projects on twitter. Find influencers and woo them. (Do NOT ask them to RT you or back you). Start creating that moodboard.

You can bounce tweets back and forth between your personal account and your project account, creating a bit of action and impetus. Get other people in the team to RT and tweet themselves. But don't let them start asking for money (read on....)

Set up a Facebook page and start cramming it full of interesting media for your twitter followers to be directed to.


You keep asking for money

"But I'm crowdfunding - I need money!"

No, you need engagement. Unless you have engagement you won't get any money. Ask for money as a last resort. Show people an irresistable vision, with a capable team and a visionary leader and you won't need a hard sell, they'll want to be part of the journey.

I have FAR too many tweets and direct messages saying: "Hey!" (my blank face happens right here - I've never seen or heard from you before - who actually ARE you anyway?) "I'm making a film but I'm an indie filmmaker so I have, like, NO MONEY so I need YOUR MONEY to make my dream come true. It means SO much to me to make this film - it's going to be awesome - so....can you please give me your money?"


Also, NEVER ask individuals directly for money publicly in a tweet. If you do that to me (and people do) you are off my Christmas card list for all eternity.


What you should do:

Stop asking for money and start selling the experience of being in partnership with you on this adventure. Give your potential backers something to salivate over, don't just scrounge like the world owes you this.


You have no personality

Sorry, you're just a bit "meh".

Every campaign needs a bit of va-va-voom. Your campaign should feel like a gorgeous romantic partner you want to be around, stroking them, listening to their voice and laughing at their jokes. Your campaign is a lover first, a crowdfund second. Make your followers fall for you. Then they'll share how wonderful you are.


What you should do:

Start seducing. Use that moodboard, baby. Pay them compliments, make them feel special. Unravel the fascinating project that you are and make them want to be with you.


You're lazy

"If I build it, they will -"


If you build it and then sit on your ass and just tweet "Please help make it happen for my film" occasionally you will damage your campaign. Why would anyone back someone who can't be bothered to pull out all the stops? Do you even really want to raise the money? Or are you just having a go to see what happens? What if your attitude to the actual project is just as entitled and sluggardly as your attitude to the crowdfund?


Also, hardly anyone will find you via the crowdfund site. They just won't. You have to find them. Only one of our backers found us through the actual crowdfunding site. The rest came through Twitter and because I worked hard to get a great reach they came from around the world. Around 80% of our backers were complete strangers when they contributed.


What you should do now:

Get your ass into gear. Sign up to Hootsuite or similar and schedule tweets for when you can't tweet in person. But when you're not at work you're crowdfunding. You're not doing anything else. Except running to the loo. If you don't put 200% into the crowdfund you don't deserve the money. It's that simple.


Your crowdfund page is terrible

This is a BIG problem!

Go back to your page and look at it dispassionately. Does it have a must-watch pitch video? Does it have great photos? Are your perks intriguing? Are your perks offered in a range of values - with some affordable lower-end, cheap contributions? Often the cheaper contributions will hook people in and they may then contribute additional amounts further down the line. Do you look like you can be trusted to deliver? Don't be having so much "fun" on your page that you look like an amateur and only your friends will donate. Probably out of sympathy.


Here's one of the crowdfunds I ran, we significantly over-funded. I'm not technically savvy, you don't need to be. You just need to make backers fall for you. To fall for you they have to get to know you through your page and they have to trust you to deliver.


What you should do now:

Make changes to your page so that it will offer prospective backers a sense of professionalism, a strong vision, organisation, excitement and potential.


Remember, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. So take control, make the changes and turn the boat around!

Write a comment

Comments: 9
  • #1

    Steve Ince (Saturday, 18 July 2015 08:44)

    This is a really great post, Vanessa. Thanks.

  • #2

    craig teal (Saturday, 18 July 2015 17:31)

    Hi Vanessa,

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together, it was a fantastic read.

    I just wanted to know if you would be able to have a look at my project and indigogo campaign and give me your thoughts.

    Either way, thank you for sharing this insightful post.

  • #3

    A. Cecile Watson (Sunday, 19 July 2015 00:48)

    Excellent post and bang on!

  • #4

    vanessa bailey (Sunday, 19 July 2015 07:43)

    Hi Craig - yes, of course. If you send me the link to I'll gladly take a look

  • #5

    Vanessa Bailey (Sunday, 19 July 2015 07:46)

    Thankyou Cecile! So glad it was of interest :)

  • #6

    Vanessa (Sunday, 19 July 2015 07:47)

    Ah, Steve - thanks! Pleased it was useful :)

  • #7

    Michael Z. Gordon (Monday, 20 July 2015 01:07)

    This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this. Great idea!!

    We have half the money ($2MM) for a follow up to a film that earned $20MM but we can't seem to raise the other half. So, in pure desperation, we are going to try Indiegogo but it's a long shot to raise the other $2MM. Any thoughts?

  • #8

    Vanessa (Monday, 20 July 2015 02:01)

    Hi Michael - without knowing the details it's impossible to say. It depends on the film, who you are trying to reach, whether you have the right "feel" for a crowdfund, where your existing funding has come from. Lots of factors. Finding the most appropriate crowdfunding platform for your project is important Indiegogo and Kickstarter have quite distinct feels and I've crowdfunded on both, more successfully on Kickstarter - for a number of reasons, but one of them is due to consumer confidence generated by the all-or-nothing set up. Do you have a link to the film?

  • #9

    Douglas John Thorp (Tuesday, 21 July 2015 11:59)

    That was some of the best & most helpful advice I have read yet. Thank you, Vanessa, much appreciated! I'm launching a 30 day campaign on Friday for an illustrated book, first time I've done this so I've been researching just about everything everywhere. Your points have been digested and will be actioned, but hope I've covered most of them already. Thanks again...