Our team at Ability List launched an Indiegogo campaign on Dec 15, 2014. If you don’t already know, Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter but geared toward non-profits and personal or community projects. Here are a few things I could have been more aware of before starting!
1. Writing Outreach Emails Would Be the End of Me
As a Software Engineer who does technical programming for a living, personalizing 200+ outreach emails sounded like a vacation from work. I could not have been more wrong. The best part about outreach, getting to say hello to friends and relatives you haven’t spoken with for a few moons, is also the most challenging part.
When you genuinely want to connect and say meaningful, appreciative things, it takes a lot of brain power and time. I’m so thankful to have received nothing but support, constructive suggestions, and kindness as feedback, but when it suddenly comes from 200+ people it can be overwhelming and draining. I never saw this coming and I wish I had been more prepared!
Through some connections on the Indiegogo team, we learned that hitting 33% of your campaign goal within 24 hours of the start of your campaign is one of the features that the GoGo Factor algorithm uses to select featured campaigns like the ones found under “Trending Now” on the Indiegogo.com homepage. Though we were aware of this, we didn’t effectively stage our campaign to shoot for that goal.
We were so close! $2700 at the 24 hour mark. I think the problem was that we didn’t express any urgency in our outreach when we easily could have. More of my supporters donated on the second and third days of our campaign, and it’s a bummer because we easily could have made it clear that it would have helped us to jump on it the first day.
Going into the start of our campaign, I think we were already feeling worked. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but my week would have been more joyous with a full nights rest and some yoga. We used an indispensable tool, Boomerang for Gmail that allows you to schedule hundreds of emails to be sent all at the same time. It’s great and you should check it out!
For a full 24 hours before our launch (no, sleep, ‘till launch!), our team was scheduling outreach to ship during the first hour that our campaign opened. In retrospect, we could have been scheduling piece by piece over the course of 1–2 weeks and it would have left us feeling much fresher when the deadline came.
We had concentrated so much in the days leading up to our launch on polishing our site and campaign page (which I think turned out amazing)that we neglected to really consider our social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter hadn’t been updated for half a year! Our old copy and content was still up (it is still in the process of being fixed) and it created problems that we just didn’t have the time to fix.
If we had do-overs, I would flip our schedule. Instead of beginning at the end of the year with an ongoing campaign until February, I think a 200% improvement would be to start around Thanksgiving and end during the holidays. In our defense we were pressed for time finishing our Beta site and outreach video, but this case about timing didn’t present itself as obvious to me before going through with the schedule.
With more than one connection in PR and press sectors, I think we imagined outreach to large media organizations to be more straightforward and accessible. We did get picked up on Laughing Squid! This was exciting and an enormous help, but on the whole, press outreach has turned out to be an amorphous and somewhat confusing task.
I’m still not sure what gets a topic considered “newsworthy” but I guess that’s an answer that a lot of talented people are constantly trying to come up with. What I imagine might help is to have more shareable content. Rather than just a website and an Indiegogo page, maybe we need to diversify our stories and imagery on a variety of social media platforms. Not least of which is this blog!
You can still check out and share our campaign at http://igg.me/at/abilitylist