The Video: The Face of your Crowdfunding Campaign
Welcome back! Last week we looked at a lot of the crowdfunding sites and what they offered as well as timelines and the different kinds of campaigns you have at your disposal. Now that you have decided which platform is a good fit, you can begin building your campaign. This installment is all about the video; why you need one, how to go about making one and what you should include in it.
Do you NEED a video?
Yes…Yes, you do. Well, it’s not completely compulsory to have a video to promote your campaign, but you would have to be a raving fool not to! In short, having a well thought-out and well put together video can mean the difference between failing miserably and being wildly successful. With this in mind, it makes sense to make the best video you can. This is one of those other really important things that I feel the need to repeat. You should have a video for your crowdfunding campaign!!! That’s three exclamation marks! But just in case you don’t believe me, here are some of the reasons why:
1. People See and Hear Much Better than they Read
Subjecting a potential backer to mountains of text is what some people would consider cruel and unusual punishment. Having a video is a much easier way to grab someone’s attention and hopefully connect with them in a meaningful way.
People who don’t know you, can put a face to the project and see that you are, in fact, a real-life human being. This is very helpful when your potential backer is not familiar with the crowdfunding process or if they don’t know you personally.
I’m not saying it’s not possible to inject some of your own personality into text that you write. In fact, I would say the exact opposite. However, it’s a lot easier to convey that personality through video, with the help of audio. Some music can add a lot to a stale looking video.
Social media is an incredibly important part of your campaign and having a video that people can easily pass around cyberspace is crucial to crowdfunding success. It also helps if your video is worth sharing. Make it remarkable!
According to Kickstarter, you have about a 20% better chance of reaching your goal if you have a video. According to their statistics, campaigns without videos only reach their targets around 30% of the time, vs. 50% for campaigns with videos.
So now that we’ve decided that a video is a good idea, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
Short and Sweet
Keep your video short and engaging! The video is THE most important part of your crowdfunding campaign. It’s what you will post to your social media outlets, it’s the face of your campaign and the first impression people outside your personal network will have of you. If you make it too long, your message will be diluted and people will click away from your page and never pledge. Always err on the side of being too short rather than too long. If you think your video might be too long, but you’re not sure, it’s probably too long.
Do whatever you can to create the best possible video, even if it means forking over your own money. Think of your crowdfunding video as an investment in your own campaign. The people I interviewed for this series of articles all paid someone to help them make their videos, and it shows. The videos really are a cut above the rest. They understood that investing in the front end of their campaign would pay off in the long run. (You can watch these videos by clicking on any of the quote boxes on this page. They will take you to each person’s crowdfunding page.) To be fair, each of them knew people with either the equipment or skills to help them and they were all able to get a friend’s discount, which leads me to my next point…
Enlisting your Friends
Do you have any friends who have equipment and experience with video production? Call them up and see if they can give you ‘mates rates’. This is one of those place where you can get people engaged and involved even before you’ve launched your campaign. Any videographers you know will most likely be creative types (much like yourself) and will probably be much more open to the idea of working for a reduced rate.Get these people excited about your project. See what you can do for them. Think of what they can get out your project. Once you make it a collaboration rather than a freebie, it ends up working out better for everyone.
Failing that, ask anyone involved in your project if they know anyone with the skills to record and produce a short video. Go to your local universities and colleges and see if any students in the film department are trying to build a portfolio. They may even work for free! If they still plan on charging, butter them up and try and get a reduced rate because of the nature of your project. If you don’t have a camera of your own, and can’t find someone who does, you can always rent one for a day. The cost shouldn’t be too high, especially when you think of the cost as an investment in your campaign. Failing all of this, today’s smartphones are usually well-equipped with video recording capabilities. It’s not ideal, but it will work in a pinch.
Does the video really need to be that good?
Yes…and also no. You don’t need to make a big-budget Hollywood style movie, but consider this: If someone were to stumble across your crowdfunding site only to find a 10-minute video of you, in your poorly lit bedroom talking endlessly into what is obviously a webcam, they will get bored fairly quickly. You could count yourself lucky if they reach it to the second minute of your video. People who know you personally, like parents, friends and colleagues will be more forgiving when it comes to this, but only to a certain extent. You want to get your point across before people who don’t know you, lose interest and click away. You don’t want this to happen. A quality video will help you immensely when it comes to grabbing and keeping your potential backers’ attention.
A quality video also means also means that you plan everything about your video in advance. Have a script that you follow as well as a concept and tone for the video. (Is it serious and formal or light and playful?) I understand it may be difficult or intimidating being in front of a camera, but it is something that must be done. Thinking in advance of the way your video will play out will help you so much when it comes time for shooting.
Well, how long should it be?
Keep your video concise, close to 3 minutes. No longer than your average pop song. Any longer, and you risk losing your potential backers’ attention, unless the content of your video really is that good. (In my research, I only found one video that was compelling enough for me to watch the whole 10+ minutes)
It would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to put everything you have into your video, even if it ends up being ten minutes long. I can’t advise against this strongly enough. If you believe it is really that good, show it to a friend for honest feedback or better yet, someone you don’t know. You could even post your video online to get truly anonymous and uncensored feedback. If you wanted an experienced eye, try finding someone who has knowledge in the area of crowdfunding and ask them to look over your campaign.
One thing to note!
While I have been saying how important it is to have a video that looks and feels professional, you don’t need to go overboard with all kinds of fancy (and expensive) production. I mentioned this before, but your video does not need to compete with Hollywood type trailers or anything like that. If that were what your backers wanted to see, they would be at the movies instead of watching your video. It’s your job to engage your ‘viewers’ on a deeper, personal level.
Keep in mind that you will have space to get into the nitty gritty details of your project in the accompanying space reserved for your ‘blurb’. Whatever you can put in this blurb, you don’t have to put into the video. If your video does its job and sparks peoples’ interest, they will go down and read your blurb! That’s where you can put more detailed information. Whatever you do, PLEASE do not sit in the video and say everything that’s in the blurb including the rewards. If you engage people with your video, they will scroll down and look at your blurb and rewards on their own. I would also recommend you include a tiny URL in the blurb and a call to action for your followers to spread your message. We will talk about this soon enough though.
A Note on Consistency
Your video and your blurb work together to give potential backers all of the information they need to make a decision about funding your project. This means that you should keep the overall tone of your video and blurb similar. You don’t want to have a hilarious video that shows lots off your personality and a blurb that is stiff as a board. It can be easy to fall into the trap of making your blurb sound cold and disconnected. Thankfully, there is an unbelievably easy way to fix this kind of problem.
Simply read your blurb out loud. It should sound conversational, as if you were talking to a potential backer one-on-one. It shouldn’t read like an essay. Perhaps if you were a technically minded person trying to fund some kind of scientific venture, then your blurb may be more formal, but in general, music lovers don’t want to read boring text, the same way they don’t want to listen to boring music or watch boring videos.
Engage people! Look at lots of other crowdfunding pages and see what you like and what you don’t. That will give you ideas on how you want your message to be presented.
What should go in the video?
As far as the content of your video, that will depend on your project. A video for a metal band and a classical string quartet will be totally different (although I see some potential for some hilarious cross-over…) However, there are a few things that you should include regardless of your project.
- Who you are and a brief explanation of the project (including what you’ve already done)
- Exactly what you plan to use the money for
- Don’t forget to mention that you want people to donate their money
- Personality (We’ll get to this soon)
Shouldn’t I Explain Myself?
As to whether you should explain the concept and process of crowdfunding will again depend on the project and the audience. You’ve got to know who you are targeting! If your target audience is tech-savvy and will probably have heard of your preferred funding site, then the need for explanation is definitely less. You may want to put an explanation in your blurb though, just in case. If your audience, however, isn’t quite up to date or haven’t heard of Internet fundraising, then perhaps it would be a good idea to explain the process and ease people’s nerves about giving out their credit card information online. If you have gone with a fixed funding campaign, it may also help to mention that their card is only charged when (and if…) the funding goal is reached.
Above all, you’ll want to engage your audience!!! I cannot stress this enough. Parents, friends, old teachers, your dog, anyone who knows you, already have some kind of emotional connection with you. It will be a lot easier to convince them to fork over their hard-earned money to benefit you. It is another thing entirely to get the same response from a total stranger. A great crowdfunder’s appeal will go deep and engage people on an emotional level. A great video will leave an impact on the viewer. How do you do this? Well I’m glad you asked.
Figure out what’s unique about you. Showcase THAT. From my research watching hundreds of these videos, the ones that stuck with me were the ones where I got a sense of the people behind the project. They were able to inject their individuality into their video in a way that made it infectious and personal. The ones that stuck with me for all the wrong reasons were the projects that involved the makers the video following a very dry, boring script. They sounded like salespeople, and nobody likes to be sold to. Sadly, projects like these often have potential, but the creators failed to see that crowdfunding is more about connecting and engaging than getting people to give you money. The people I interviewed all had very different videos, but they were all distinctly different kinds of people. Check out Anna Morsett’s video right here. It’s functional, hilarious and filled with personality.
If you are truly camera shy, you can show your personality without saying a word. Check out this campaign by Amanda Palmer. She doesn’t say a word for the entire video, but her personality drips off the screen. Oh, and it also raised nearly $1.2 million (Although, you probably should know that she had a huge and loyal following before this campaign). Check out as many videos as you can stand and find out what you like and what you don’t like. Use this information make your own decisions about your campaign.
Make It Happen
The most important thing is to just get your video made so you can start getting people excited about your campaign. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get your message across in your own voice. Be as creative, elaborate and high-budget as you want or keep it as simple, minimalistic and low-budget as you want. There is no real wrong way to make a video. Watch as many as you can stand and learn from what other people have already done. As long as you showcase yourself, your project and your personality, you’ll be on-track to crowdfunding bliss.
Join The Conversation
Once more, thanks for reading. Next week it’s all about perks and rewards for your backers.
Anything to add? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let me know about them. Leave a comment down below.
Found a good (or bad) example of a crowdfunding video? Paste the link in the comments for all to see! (Do it…)
Next post in one week. Stay tuned…