Demetrio Fortman shares his experience with crowdfunding photography software and Crowdfunding Best Practices he learned as a result.
Demetrio’s Kickstarter campaign for Defrozo Photography Software is a great follow-up to yesterday’s campaign review of Brian Cattelle’s BARE USA campaign. Photography and video projects have really benefited from crowdfunding and the exposure from the medium. With crowdfunding, artists no longer have to have high-profile connections or confine themselves to the trendiest neighborhoods to get discovered and be successful.
First, tell us a little about yourself.
Originally from Ukraine and currently in Brooklyn, I have been creating sustainable software solutions for more than 10 years. I’m an avid marathon runner and I guess that’s my habit to set long-distance goals combined with my passion for web development that led me to creating such products as MotoCMS, Defrozo, and MotoPress. The Defrozo campaign on Kickstarter is a free web-based platform to help creative professionals better showcase and market their work online.
Did you try to raise funding before crowdfunding?
No. Crowdfunding was our plan from the very beginning since it perfectly fits our product vision and development strategy which is heavily based on user feedback and suggestions. When we thought of sources that would bring us both contributors and investors, a crowdfunding campaign appeared an obvious solution.
The community effect in crowdfunding is one of the biggest benefits I talk about on the blog. There’s really two benefits here for campaigns. Demetrio is spot on pointing out benefits to development through community involvement. I have seen small businesses fail because they didn’t REALLY know what their customers wanted. What better way to find out than getting your potential market involved in development.
The second benefit to community in crowdfunding is that, with that level of involvement, supporters feel a huge level of buy-in with your product. Your community of campaign backers will not only be lifetime buyers but they’ll be cheerleaders of your brand.
What did you do before starting the crowdfunding campaign to get ready? Can you take us through your process?
As with any project of mine, this one started from research and planning. During our “Kickstarter meetings” we defined 5 major directions to work on during the pre-launch stage of the campaign:
- funding goal & reward system
- project video
- campaign page design
- media outreach
- ongoing product updates
Writing everything down in the form of checklists and sharing responsibilities ensured consistent and effective workflow during our prepping period. The entire process of getting ready for our Kickstarter campaign was shaped by three major takeaways we made while researching crowdfunding best practices:
- It’s your job to bring backers to you project.
We realized we need to attract a large volume of external traffic to our campaign, therefore, I started working on our media outreach right away. I began by putting together a list of blogs and magazines catering to our target audience (photographers, designers, artists) and also the publications covering general technology and Crowdfunding news.
We then brainstormed some guest post topics that would look attractive to blog editors and would mention Defrozo in a natural, non-advertising manner. For publications that wouldn’t accept guest posts we tracked down the names of reporters who cover relevant stories (in our case, photography software, photography Kickstarters) and sent them email pitches highlighting the benefits for them to write about us. We even developed an exclusive printable freebie to offer to some top media channels as an additional incentive for coverage. We also reached out to the photography industry’s opinion leaders and asked them to provide feedback on our tool and thus, raised awareness of our project.
- Crowdfunding is just as much about crowd as it is about funding.
Creating a community-driven product, our main goal for the Kickstarter campaign was to involve backers into the project on a much deeper level than just supporting us financially. Hence, with our reward system we let backers take the steering wheel by providing us feedback and specific suggestions that we will make use of while developing our software.
- The more things you get ready beforehand, the more chances for success.
From the project video to Kickstarter update posts and social media shares, we tried to prepare everything we could in advance so that we could focus on the incoming tasks after the launch. I’m really glad we implemented this tactic from the very beginning because if we didn’t, then speaking the retro gaming language, Mickey Mouse would have hard times catching all the eggs the hens are laying during the campaign :-D
There is a whole chapter of information here and I really like Demetrio’s use of crowdfunding best practices. Too much media attention goes to highlighting the campaigns that raise millions of dollars and not enough attention goes to the process that actually goes into a successful crowdfunding campaign. It’s the reason 60% of campaigns fail to reach their funding goal and the reason for this blog. I’ve put the entire process together in an eBook, Step-by-Step Crowdfunding.
Whether trying to raise money for school fundraising ideas or crowdfunding your business, it is all about the work you do in pre-launch crowdfunding. Researching prior campaigns similar to yours will give you a good idea of what to expect and can uncover a lot of great ways to promote your campaign. Outreach is tough and sometimes disappointing but you need to drive people to your campaign. There is a crowd out there but you have to give them a reason to come to your page.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in crowdfunding?
I think it’s underestimating the time for preparation. Our initial timeframe for the pre-launch stage was 2 months, in reality it took us about 5 months to get everything ready. So if it’s your first crowdfunding campaign, be sure to add up a couple of months to your estimated preparation time, as you’re likely to hit a few pitfalls while exploring this new land.
How are you reaching people on an emotional level?
As I mentioned above, we strive for giving our users the feel of involvement, on many levels. Among the examples of how we approached this goal are personalized email replies to every backer. We designed a sweet “backer card” template that we send to backers in this thank-you-message along with some heads up regarding the reward delivery process. These emails work like a charm for starting productive communication with feedback and suggestions from backers coming along. Another example is our project video in which we show 3 different stories of 3 photographers so that the viewers could look at them and say, “Hey, this guy is just like me. He’s even got the same camera!”
What 3 resources or tools should every crowdfunding campaign have?
Among the Kickstarter-specific resources I would highly recommend Jamey Stegmaier’s Kickstarter Lessons, turned out a goldmine of information for me. For general crowdfunding questions, I’d recommend Crowd101, I wish I found your blog earlier, tons of valuable tips on it! Among the must-have tools I’d suggest to every creator are Hootsuite to effectively manage your social media presence and Buzzsumo to identify some catchy topics for guest posts.
Awesome that Demetrio included the blog in his resource list. I have seen a lot of crowdfunding promotion scams over the years and have tried to provide a valuable service to crowdfunding campaigns built on quality advice and outreach.
There is a ton of work to be done in a successful crowdfunding campaign and tools like Hootsuite and Buzzsumo do a good job of making some tasks easier and automated.
What’s next for you?
When it comes to plans for the future, shipping rewards to our backers is obviously our top priority. There’s a lot of work ahead but we’re powered by amazing support from our community so it’s gonna be an enjoyable ride. We also look forward to establishing relationships with other creators and software providers in order to bring more growth opportunities to our users and the creative industry in general.
I want to thank Demetrio for a great campaign review. It’s obvious the team has put a lot of work into the campaign and is seeing the benefit with backers. As I write this, the campaign has more than 132 backers and likely more than 5,000 page visitors given typical crowdfunding stats. That kind of exposure is worth more than money and Defrozo is well on its way to becoming THE platform for creatives.