How We Exceeded Our Crowdfunding Goal

Last night marked the end of our Indiegogo campaign for This Is Art. Our funders reached our $6000 goal ten days early and we’ve had the last leg of the journey to exceed our goal by as much money as possible. After 34 days, we’ve raised $7,010. Because our donors have exceeded our goal by such a significant margin, we’ll be able to make the show just the way we envisioned it and still have enough money left over to help us start promoting the show. Needless to say, our gratitude is boundless!

Meeting our goal presented us with the challenge of incentivizing our community to go above and beyond our original request. We knew that once we met our goal, we’d have to give our donors a good reason to keep giving and that our influx of funds would slow down significantly.

We decided the first thing to do was to lay out exactly what the extra funds would be used for and to show donors the effect that those additional donations could have on the project. We knew we wanted to take the show to conventions and film festivals, but that gets surprisingly expensive. Originally we hadn’t put that into our budget because we were already unsure of our ability to even reach our initial $6000 goal just to cover the show. Exceeding our goal gave us the opportunity to cover those potential costs. However, we realized that some people weren’t going to be familiar with the kind of impact festivals and conventions could have on a webseries, so Emily wrote a great blog post about developing a community and garnering support through attending these events.

We had originally intended to do a Livestream event when we got close to our goal, but we reached it so fast that we didn’t have time to put it together beforehand. Instead we turned it into a celebration of our success and our donor’s valiant efforts to make the show the best it can be. I contacted our cast and crew and invited them to participate, whether it be on camera or in our chat room. We ended up with one special guest on camera, Clint Okayama, and Bryan Vu, our webmaster joined us in the chat room to moderate. We also had cast member Chris Ruth stop by the chat room for a little bit. We hoped that this event would function as an opportunity for our growing community to see the results of our efforts and to get a little more insight into the people behind the project. If you want a more detailed description of the event or if you want to view the recorded video of the broadcast, you can check out our post about it. In the end, this was a great community event and we’ll definitely do more like it.

When we got close to $7000, we pretty much stalled out and stopped getting donations which was completely understandable considering how many people have been so generous with their contributions. Still, I couldn’t resist setting just one more incentive milestone for our donors to see if we could in fact raise $1000 more than our goal. I released an announcement on all of our social media streams that if we broke $7k, we’d release our favorite piece of concept art yet. It was down to the wire, but we did reach that last milestone! So of course, we released our final bit of concept art for the campaign. I can’t believe our supporters met every goal we set forth. That just blows my mind and I love them for it!


As I drew up our four main characters in this image, I couldn’t help but to swell with excitement as I realized that very soon they’ll be leaping off of the page. It’s absolutely thrilling to be done with the daunting task of fundraising. I’ve been so humbled by the outpouring of support for the project and I cannot wait to tell our story!

I’d like to honor the funders who brought us through the home stretch of the campaign! Thank you all so much!

Anonymous
Markus Hunt
Katharine Nathan
Alan Ruscoe
Anonymous
Alexandra MacArthur

A full list of our donors can be found on our Donor page and I’ve done my best to link back to those with projects of their own. If you are one of our donors and would like a specific link attached to your name, please feel free to drop us a line at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll be sure to include it as soon as possible.

We’re now entering a new phase in our journey and we have lots of plans for production updates as we move through this part of our process. One of our major plans for the blog during this period is to feature content by other new media artists. So if you have a webseries, podcast, blog, vlog, webcomic, sketch blog, etc., link to your project in the comments and we’ll get in touch with you to do a feature. We already have a few submissions, but we’d love more!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Tips for Livestream Broadcasters


 

Last night, we hosted our “This Is pARTy” Livestream event. We planned this event as a way to get our community interacting with us and each other. We wanted to publicly share our excitement and gratitude with them for all of their support in funding the project on Indiegogo (66 hours left!) and spreading the word. We’ve had over 6,800 views of the project and a thousand of those views were referred by donors. Thank you so much for carrying our banner!

This post will give you some insight into our process for the event.

Originally, we were going to use USTREAM to do the event, but when Emily and I tested it out, the whole system seemed super slow, clunky, and hard to operate. There were a few different chat streams and the one it automatically put you into was not actually the chat room. Most notably, Emily said that the sign in process was confusing. The last thing we wanted to do was discourage people from logging in to the system to start a dialogue with each other, so we thought we’d try Livestream and see if it worked any better.

The entire Livestream system was cleaner from start to finish not only from the viewer side, but from the broadcaster side. It puts everything on the same page (recording monitor, view counter, chat room, twitter, moderator privileges, etc), so that you can easily monitor your broadcast and interact with your viewers without having to move all sorts of windows around the screen. Note: Close down the actual channel when you start the broadcast or you’ll get a horrendous echo. The biggest plus for Livestream was how easy it was to enter the chat room. You start typing, the system asks them for a nickname, and you’re put into the chat room. It doesn’t require any involved account making or registration.

The ease of chatting resulted in viewers of all ages and demographics being able to participate in the Livestream event. It was incredible to see people gathering for the stream a whole hour and a half early. When I peeked in the chat room, folks were already buzzing about what was going to happen and starting to meet each other.

Part of this is because I recruited a bunch of friends from online chat rooms I frequent to come and help us break the ice. This was wonderful, because it made our chat room active when the bulk of people arrived around 9PM EST when we officially started the broadcast. Thank you to everyone who came and “pre-gamed” for the event in the chat room!

In addition, give your supporters their time in the sun. This kind of event gives you the unique opportunity to thank specific people in the chat room who you haven’t been able to thank face to face. Because we’re all about bringing artists and creators together, we also tried to plug their projects whenever possible.

We filmed the whole thing on my MacBook Pro, but in the future, I think we’ll try to use a nicer camera. This would allow us to get a better picture that wouldn’t require us to huddle so closely. As much as I love my cast mates, it made lighting difficult and one of us always had to be far from the mic. Having a separate camera would also allow us to keep the computer closer to us so we could interact more with chat room while filming. Having reviewed our footage, the biggest issue is that I think we need to be closer to the microphone, which is also in the computer. So, those are all things to think about if you’re putting one of these events together.

One integral part of the event was having a moderator in the chat room. In our case, this was Bryan Vu, our webmaster and graphic designer. I chose him because I wanted to involved as many cast/crew as would come and because I know he’s frequented these types of events in the past so he would know what to expect. He’s also based in Texas, so unless he flew out to NYC, he wouldn’t be able to be on camera. We did have a few “trolls” pop into the chatroom, but we banned them as soon as we were able. This is bound to happen with an open event on the internet. It’s just part of the territory. Don’t panic, just deal with them accordingly. Note: When you ban them, select ban IP address instead of ban nickname because they’ll just create a new name and come back.

You’ll also need someone to keep track of interesting questions that folks in the chat room ask because you will be so busy talking most of the time that you won’t be able to follow all the text that’s scrolling by on your own. I also tasked Bryan to instant message me questions that people asked so when we got to the final section of the show, we could answer them. Bryan had a big job that evening, so thank you so much for being an absolutely integral part of our This Is Art team!

One of our less successful parts of the event was our contest. Here are the details:

Anyone who Tweets about this event with #thisispARTy or tags “This is Art: The Series” in their Facebook status (http://www.facebook.com/wa​tchthisisart) between now and the end of the party on Thursday night will be entered to win a digital download of our score and original songs by the amazing Laura Intravia (www.lauraintravia.com).

In theory, we hoped this would help us spread the word about the event and increase interest, but I think it may have been premature. We’re very early in our process for the show and while we do have a growing number of supporters, we didn’t get very many entries to the contest. The biggest factor here was that our incentive doesn’t carry much weight at this juncture. While Laura is a wonderful composer and has a lot of fans of her work, we haven’t completed the scoring process for the show and people don’t have much to go on when imagining how cool that reward might be. In addition, because we’re so early in the process, her fans probably aren’t even aware of our show. In my opinion, this kind of contest will be more successful once we have our episodes online. If you choose to use this kind of reward system for those who help publicize your events via social media, choose an incentive that will have a more immediate reaction and, as always, let us know how it goes!

The last suggestion I have is that you plan the event as best you can. Don’t script it, because then you’ll be visibly wooden and the whole point of this is interaction and spontaneity. We just plotted out sections of the broadcast- Welcome, Introductions, Thank the Donors by name, Clint Interviews Anne & Emily, Emily & Anne Interview Clint, and answer questions from the chat room. With this loose framework, it allows you to know where you’re going and watch your timing, but it will also allow you to move freely with whatever is happening or being requested/suggested in the chat room.

In fact, we are now creating a This Is Art meetup at New York Comic Con because someone in our chat room suggested it. So be open and aware of the ideas your viewers throw at you because they may not only be brilliant, but your audience will enjoy knowing that they had an effect on you. Interactive projects go both ways. You affect your viewers and in turn, they’ll affect the project. That’s one of the biggest joys when it comes to working on the web.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what everyone thought!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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You’re Cordially Invited to our “This Is pARTy Livestream Event!”

You’re cordially invited to our
This Is pARTy LIVESTREAM EVENT
or the Party Formerly Known as USTREAM


Celebrate the success of our This Is Art IndieGoGo campaign LIVE on
Thursday August 11th @9PM Eastern
At: http://www.livestream.com/watchthisisart

Meet Creators/Writers: Anne Richmond & Emily Floyd!
Meet Cast Member and Social Media maven: Clint Okayama!
Chat with our graphic designer/webmaster Bryan Vu in our chat room!
Network with other new media artists!

AND most importantly: ASK US ANYTHING YOU WANT!

That’s right. We said anything.

There will be streaming interviews, discussions, and shenanigans a’plenty! All you have to do is go to http://www.livestream.com/watchthisisart and start watching!

We’ll also be running a CONTEST:
Anyone who Tweets about this even with #thisispARTy or tags This is Art: The Series in their Facebook status between now and the end of the party on Thursday night will be entered to win a digital download of our score and original songs by the amazing Laura Intravia.*

We can’t wait to party with you in cyberland!

In the meantime…
Follow us on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook.
RSVP to our digital event on Facebook.

*to be awarded after we complete the release of season one

Even More IndieGoGo Tips!

Yesterday we hit, NAY, exeeded our goal on our Indiegogo campaign!

It has been exactly 24 days since we started the campaign, so that gives us 10 days to spare. Here are some more tips from the last week of our crowdfunding efforts.

Set More goals: We were very close to the $5000 landmark earlier in the week and we knew from our research that once we were less than $1000 from our goal, more people would probably donate because they would feel our goal was attainable . So the first thing we did was to create another incentive program wherein we would release a fun surprise video if we hit that goal within a few days. This was our biggest incentive goal yet; 5 days to raise $420 and hit $5000 funded.

We were so grateful to see our supporters rise to the occasion again not only by donating money, but by posting our links all around the web. We had our greatest number of retweets and shared links this week since starting the campaign.

Entertaining Video Updates: So many people just rely on posting their link everywhere. The problem with this is that people begin to turn a blind eye. They see the same link over and over and they may not even read about your progress. This is why our video updates have been so successful. They create a bold new way for our supporters to interact with the campaign. It’s fresh, it’s alive and it’s entertaining (or at least we do our best to make sure it will be!).

People get tired of hearing and reading the same thing over and over again. If you want to get your information heard, package it in a new ways. Some people respond to the incentive goals we’ve been running but others like to see how you’re faring personally on the journey. This is where videos can be a great tool. They don’t need to have high production value. They just have to get the information across and they should be fun. We like to put as much color into ours as we can manage just to make the images pop off of the screen.

In our most recent video, Emily and I decided to announce some new incentives for the campaign, but in order to make that more entertaining, we decided to frame that information within the constraints of our rampant geekitude. That way, we gave some insight into our own personalities and camaraderie while also providing more insight into our plans for the campaign and our excitement over the growing community around our project. Give it a try. I filmed everything on my computer and edited it together using iMovie. I’m never the one behind the camera, but it’s easy enough to figure out and with a little time and effort, you’ll provide something fun that really makes your campaign feel alive to the people following it.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the fruits of our labors, here’s the video we released!

l

Donation Matching: We were lucky enough to be approached by an anonymous donor who told us that after we hit $5,000 funded, they would match every donation until we hit our goal. This was one of the things we announced in the video and within hours of releasing this information, we had an influx of 5 new donations by people who wanted to make their contributions count for twice as much.

Now you may not be approached by a volunteer, but if there is someone who you know you can get to donate a large sum of money, ask them if they’d be willing to donate some at the outset to get you rolling and then some at the end. If they agree, approach them about helping you use the second portion to create a donation matching program. That way you can finish out the campaign with a rush of momentum that’s very exciting for both you and your donors. Most likely, your donor will be very excited to be an integral part of your campaign.

Getting people to link your campaign: Some people will do this naturally. We’ve certainly had some very kind souls who shared our campaign with their friends. If you feel this isn’t happening as much as you’d like, don’t be afraid to ask for help in your social media status updates. It will remind people that passing the word on is equally as important as donating.

This is a chance for the world to start hearing about your project. You want to get it into as many ears as possible. As for those that do help you, thank them and let them know the impact they’ve had. I told individuals whose referrals I could see on our IndieGoGo analytics just how many people they sent to our site and that over 5500 people have viewed our campaign. That’s pretty impressive considering we don’t even have a product to show yet and we definitely could not amass that many views without the help of our supporters.

Follow Up Email: When we hit exactly 14 days left in the campaign, I decided to send out my final follow up email to coincide with our video release. I was originally going to wait till there was only a week left, but I wanted to capitalize on the matching grant from our anonymous donor whilst it hadn’t been used up yet. I knew I was inundating our social media outlets with info, so I limited myself to two mass email calls to arms. The first one gave all of the info on the project and the impact the donations could have, etc., while the second one was shorter, more to the point, and mentioned our matching grant. By now, all they would have to do was to view our page on IndieGoGo to see the progress of our exciting developments for the campaign. The other benefit was that those who had seen this as an impossible task at the outset of the campaign would now see how very close we were to victory and perhaps that would encourage them to donate. This plan proved very profitable because just a few days after sending this follow-up email, we hit our overall goal.

Increase your GoGo Factor: This next tip is specific to Indiegogo. I’m not sure if Kickstarter has a similar aspect, but if it does, please share it and/or your advice regarding it in the comments.

IndieGoGo doesn’t leave you hanging if you take the appropriate measures to run an active campaign. They measure the activity and effectiveness of your campaign with something they call “GoGo Factor.” According to IndieGoGo:

Your GoGoFactor is automatically measured by the number of times you share your campaign, update your contributors, update your campaign, or refer people using your custom URL. It also measures the overall level of contributor activity, including funding, comments, and pageviews. Campaigns with a high GoGoFactor are featured on our home page, in our social media outreach, and at conferences or in the press.

The great thing about this is that you can control half of the things they mention. You can link your own campaign as many times as you want and you can also control the number of updates you make. Crowd funding should not have a “set it and forget it” approach. You control the activity of your campaign. How invested you appear to be in making your campaign fun and interactive has a direct effect on how much your contributors help you spread the word and find more supporters.

I’d consider us to be very successful on this front because @Indiegogo began tweeting at us and sharing specific perks of ours that they liked with their followers. They also featured our campaign in their monthly newsletter which was just so awesome!

The coolest part was that we learned that this had happened through the many people that saw us in the newletter rather than being told by IndieGoGo. It really helped us visualize how many people we were reaching. None of that would have been possible without the help of our growing This Is Art family. It’s truly amazing to think about all the people who have had a hand in our success.

* * *

I hope this insight into our campaign has been helpful to anyone considering this method of funding their work. We are so ecstatic to have reached our goal and even more happy to have the chance to raise even MORE money before our campaign ends.

Any additional funds that we raise over the next ten days will be put toward promoting This Is Art, submitting the show to festivals, and finding sponsorship for season two. If you’re wondering about the impact this kind of thing can have on a webseries, check out Emily’s recent blog post, Conventions and Community. Now that we know we’ll be able to make a great product, this extra money will help us make sure it gets into the right ears, which is exceptionally important because we don’t have any recognizable faces in the project to catch the eye of industry executives.

Lastly, I want to honor our recent donors. We are so touched by your support and moved by your will to see us succeed in this endeavor. Words will never be enough to express our gratitude.

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew and Lizzie Park-Floyd
Anonymous
J. Sibley Law
Jenna Freed
Jon Riddleberger
Nancy and Howard Ansorge
Victor Solis
Linnea Haley
Michele Baltazar
Anonymous
Hall Morrison
Anonymous
Jason Leake
Sean Fearon
Gavin Linkens
Josephine Morrison

And of course: Our Anonymous Angel Donor who provided our generous Matching Grant.

Look out information on our USTREAM party in the next few days!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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Indiegogo Home Stretch Video

Once again, we set a goal and our amazing community has risen to achieve it!

With exactly two weeks left in our campaign, we are over $5000 funded. Thank you so much for all of your pledges! As promised, we have attached our Homestretch Announcement video for your enjoyment. In the video, we not only have a lot of fun, but we make two huge announcements for the webseries!

 

Announement #1: Donation Matching
Now that we have gotten within $1000 of our overall funding goal, an anonymous supporter has offered to match each donation up to a limit of $500 to help us reach our $6,000 goal.

If you haven’t yet donated to get us into production, here is a chance to make your gift work twice as hard. If you have given, thank you for getting us to the point where a like minded angel has decided to make this generous challenge grant.

Announcement #2: We’re having a USTREAM Party!
We’ve noticed an amazing community growing around “This Is Art.” Emily and I want to bring the community together in cyberspace to celebrate the home stretch of our campaign and to make sure all of you have a chance to meet each other. That’s why we’ve decided to throw a USTREAM Party so that you can interact with us in real time and living color while getting to know the many incredible individuals who have been getting involved with the show. This is your chance to ask us any questions you might have about our project and/or our process. We will be announcing the date of this LIVE streaming event as we approach our final $6000 goal. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and check here on our blog so you don’t miss out on the event details.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our most recent donors. Without you, none of this would be possible!

Kathleen Moran
Wendi Richmond-Brown
Bryan Munden
Terry Floyd
Christopher Feyrer
Anonymous
Andrew Park-Floyd
Anonymous

I continue to be profoundly moved by your support of our show.

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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More Indiegogo Tips

I’m very pleased to report that we are 77% funded on Indiegogo after two weeks! We are just $1430 from our goal with nineteen days of fundraising left. Not only that, but we are the fifth most popular campaign on Indiegogo and we’ve been featured on the front page of their website for a few days. That’s pretty incredible and it’s all due to to our supporters out there in cyberspace. All your liking the campaign on IndiegogoLiking us on Facebook, retweeting us on Twitter, and emailing your friends is very visibly paying off judging by our campaign diagnostics. Whatever you’re doing to help us get the word out, please keep doing it!

 

Here are a few tips that we can pass on to all of you who might be currently conducting or planning to conduct your own crowdfunding campaigns.

Avoid the lull: After raising over half our funding in one week, we expected a bit of a lull in donations and we planned accordingly. In order to keep the momentum going forward, we strategically pulse out ask letters to new groups of people every few days so that we can keep the money coming in regulary, even if it is in smaller amounts as we approach the tail end of the campaign. People like to see progress and it gives us something to report and therefore gives us an excuse to send out our campaign link on all of our social media outlets whenever we hit a new milestone.

Use every tool available to you: If you are a member of an online forum, post your info. Contact friends with blogs or podcasts and see if they’ll interview you about your project or help you retweet your information to their followers. Go to the facebook pages for your high school and your college and post your information there to drive more attention and more traffic to your page. Find relevant fan pages on facebook and like them as your show. If there are industry events that you can go to, attend them and meet people. They might contribute to your show, but more than that, they may have very useful tips on how to improve your strategies. Your peers are one of your greatest resources so support them in their work and they will support you in yours.

How to handle friends that say they can’t donate: Continually encourage these folks to help you spread the word about your campaign. It’s not all about making money here. It’s about making sure your project falls on the right ears. Treat your friends like gold and make them feel like they are valuable assets to the team, even if they can’t help you monetarily. They can still help reach untapped audiences.

Continue to set attainable goals for your contributors: When we got close to the $4000 mark, I decided to launch another incentive. I talked about this a little bit in our other post and I’ve found it to be one of the most useful ways to inspire people to donate. I announced that if we reached it within two days, we’d release another exclusive character sketch. True to fashion, our supporters rallied to our battle cry and helped us reach our goal. Monday morning, I released the following character sketch for Cami: The Musical Theater Fanatic, played by Emily Floyd. Nothing says “razzle dazzle” like fringe!

Facebook Tagging is your friend: One other tip that was given to us early on by one of our cast members was to tag as many relevant people as possible when posting on Facebook. Inspired by this advice and by a campaign used by our friends at the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective to promote their show, I decided to launch a campaign introducing all of our actors and crew. Each day, we release a bio (written by the actor/crew member) and a headshot in order to introduce a member of our team. This way, it shows up on our stream and also on their page so that others may discover our show and hopefully our Indiegogo campaign. Today we began this series with Clint Okayama!

Meet Clint Okayama (KUKAOO)! He grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. He thought he was going to be a novelist or a chemist until 8th grade until he acted in the modern masterpiece There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom as an 8th grader. As testament to the power of arts education, he has pursued acting ever since. He also soloed with the Honolulu Symphony on the 1st Rachmaninoff and 2nd Prokofiev concerti, and won the Hawaii high school division of NATS in classical singing. At NYU, he performed in numerous productions including the role of Song Liling in M Butterfly. He is currently auditioning like a madman, writing a screenplay entitled “Green Dreams” and is very, very pumped about This is Art.

Lastly, I’d like to honor our week two donors. These are the incredible people who are allowing us to bring our story to life:

Joseph Amiel
Anonymous
Michele Jarrett
Justin Nichols
Annie Stoll
Sheila Floyd
Anonymous
Agatha Bochenek
Yelena Sabel
Eileen Murphy
Hanna Floyd
Tim Ferrara

You guys are the best and we wouldn’t be here without you. We cannot wait to share this project with the world!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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P.S. If you live in the NYC Area, Emily and I are both performing in Alice, a new Off Broadway adaptation of Alice in Wonderland written and directed by Steven McCasland and playing at The Soho Playhouse. We open this Saturday and have an open ended run, performing every Saturday at 1PM. Tickets are $25. Come enjoy the show and romp through Wonderland with us!

P.P.S. Bloggers get in free in return for writing about the show! Contact me at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com for more info!

Launching our Indiegogo Campaign

Things have been very busy for the whole This Is Art Team. We had our first table read of the script with our cast and we have been tweaking it and making some changes that were illuminated by this process. After a year of hard work, writing, and planning, I’m very proud to announce that our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo is now LIVE!

We have 34 days to raise $6000 in order to fund our project. Our production team is currently ready to shoot the entire first seasons if This Is Art at the end of August. We have a big idea, the passion, and the drive to make this happen, but we’re reaching out to everyone we know to ask for your help.

So please, take a moment to view our introductory video featuring test footage and behind the scenes interviews with some of our cast. You’ll find more information about the show and our goals listed below it on our campaign’s page. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and by email. Each donation comes with it’s own thank gift or “perk” so take a look on the right side of the campaign page to see what we have to offer! Please consider donating to our project because you’ll not only be helping us realize our dream, but you’ll also be supporting new media entertainment, an industry that redefines what art is every single day.

 

 

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
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