If you’re a designer or illustrator who could use some money to make your next big dream project come true, here’s my advice: create a shrine to Alex Daly and light some candles. While many struggle to crack the crowdfunding code, the so-called Crowdsourceress has been working her magic to fund creative campaigns for the past three years, cranking out massive hits like reissues of the standards manuals for Massimo Vignelli’s 1970 NYC Transit Authority (743% funded) and NASA (596% funded), and most recently with RAMS, the feature documentary on the life of Dieter Rams (139% funded).
It’s not unusual for her campaign pledges to gross near the million-dollar mark, the most famous exception being Neil Young’s Pono Music Player, which raised $6.2 million. Even more remarkable? It was her very first hardware campaign. With such phenomenal success in such a short span of time, it came as no surprise to me when she made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year.
So what’s the secret behind her winning streak? Lesson no. 1: the work doesn’t stop when the Kickstarter campaign ends. To help her clients navigate those murky post-campaign waters, Daly is now pivoting the model of her crowdfunding business, Vann Alexandra, to focus on the vitally important but often neglected parts a of campaign—the planning and publicity during the months before and after. Because designing an amazing book or illustrating a beautiful poster is one thing, but launching the physical product and managing the business side of things is quite another skill set. That’s where Daly shines.
Here, she shares the the three biggest mistakes she sees newbie crowdfunders make, as well as three of her pro tips for successful campaigns.
- A sloppy video indicates a sloppy product. Invest in a sound mix and color correction. And lest you think you can slide by without a video at all, consider that campaigns with videos are 66% more likely to be funded. Kickstarter offers some video tips to get you started.
- Not promoting your campaign tells people you don’t care. If you don’t ask for money, how do you expect to get it? Not sending emails, press releases, and social media updates makes it seem like you’re not actually all that passionate about this—who’s going to invest in that?
- Not communicating with backers is like taking their money and running. These are people who believe in you enough to give you their money, sight unseen. Replying to their comments and sending regular updates (at the very least) builds your reputation as a credible entrepreneur they’ll want to invest in again.
- Get backers committed to the project prior to the launch date. These are people who will back you the minute the campaign goes live, getting dollars on the page as soon as possible. Daly says if you hit 20-30% of your goal within the first 24 hours, you have a 78% chance of success.
- Set your funding goal according to your actual needs. If you need upwards of $100k to finish the edits on your film, don’t set your goal lower out of fear of not being funded. Even if you meet that lower goal, you’ll be left with only a portion of the real cost, and instead of focusing on your film you’ll be stuck trying to raise more money.
- Treat this like the launch of your business—not a one-time, one-off deal. Who knows, if your first campaign goes as well as the ones in Daly’s portfolio, you could likely be heading back to Kickstarter for your next.
Currently, Vann Alexandra’s client roster includes an ambitious urban renewal project called The Underline, a 10-mile linear park and urban trail in Miami, and Daly continues to consult with past clients like The Standards Manual, the independent publishing imprint born out of the NYC Transit Authority campaign, and Makerarm, a beautifully designed digital fabrication system for makers that Kickstarter called a tech product to watch in 2016. If her track record is any indication, we expect to see these grow from mere campaigns into fully fledged businesses in record time.