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, $50,000 or more without doing the proper preliminary work, and one of the most important, yet highly overlooked aspects of this legwork is building your audience first.
Sure, you can and will establish a community while you’re crowdfunding your indie film, 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 contribute to your film campaign. This way, in those first few days of your launch people will see your campaign is not an empty diner, but a bustling five-star restaurant with a steady flow of funding that potential contributors will take notice of immediately.
The unfortunate truth is that most filmmakers don’t do this because it takes a lot of time. Prior to the launch of the Indiegogo 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 film topics we all enjoyed, and I was even getting retweeted more frequently. New folks soon followed. A community had been born.
And then I discovered 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 genuinely wanted to connect with others and talk about indie movies 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 engaging for the right reasons, and it’ll reflect in how much funding you ultimately raise.
So in crowdfunding, be patient and build your crowd before you try and fund your film project. The best way to do this is to sign up for Twitter and Facebook and give yourself three to six months to just Tweet, chat, post interesting links, and build solid social bridges without worrying about where they might lead to. Trust me, you’ll be amazed by all the places you’ll go.