FINAL UPDATE: Post-mortem
The crowdfunding goal for THE STICK-UP KID was not reached this morning. As backers of the project, the important thing for you to know is this: Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, so your pledges did not go through and you haven't lost a dime.
#1 -- I should have spent more time on the campaign.
Because I'm a dummy, I scheduled the crowdfunding campaign in the middle of a move, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Big mistake. I wasn't able to shoot all of the various videos and other updates I wanted to, and I wasn't able to do the kinds of hands-on outreach I had anticipated. There just wasn't enough time.
#2 -- I didn't do enough preparation.
Once your crowdfunding campaign has started, the clock is ticking. If I had it to do over again, I would have prepared a lot more: had video updates shot and ready to post, already had my list of potential backers ready to contact, enlisted others to help spread the word. All of this is stuff that I did while the campaign was in full swing, but it should have been done beforehand. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
#3 -- I worked my campaign too virtually.
I spent too much of the crowdfunding campaign on Twitter and Facebook or sending emails. That makes sense -- Kickstarter is a website, people can see your link and go straight to it. But if I were to do another crowdfunding campaign, I would at least spend some of the time reaching out to folks in person, either one-on-one or through hosting an event. That would make potential backers feel like they were part of something real and tangible, not just something that exists on the web.
#4 -- I should have built an audience beforehand.
I think the campaign would have been much more successful if I had a built-in audience of fans that I could reach directly to be potential backers. A good example is my friends the Ross Bros., who toured the film festival circuit with their first movie, 45365, and used the mailing list they accrued to help with their Kickstarter campaign for their second, TCHOUPITOULAS. As such, they were able to exceed their goal and get their movie out into the world. I didn't have a mailing list or a built-in fanbase, and I think that made a big difference.
#5 -- I should have been more aggressive about reaching out past friends and family.
Friends and family are your base, and if you're doing a crowdfunding campaign, you can expect a good number of those folks to make a pledge. One place I believe I went wrong was not being proactive enough in reaching out to folks beyond my base: blogs, press, alumni networks at my college, the greater film community, local activist groups, and more. My campaign never really reached beyond my base, and that in and of itself was part of the reason we didn't meet our goal.
There's no doubt about it: it hurts to fail, and hurts even more to do so publicly. But I'm humbled and overwhelmed that almost 70 friends, family and fellow filmmakers were willing to part with their own money to aid in helping me fulfill a dream project. Even though the Kickstarter campaign failed, I thank you for your support, and I will go back to the drawing board in an effort to get this project off the ground, somehow, some way, some day.