mistakes made in my crowdfunding campaign

Thanks so much to those who have supported the Indiegogo campaign for Chocolatour during its four-week run. We raised approximately $8,000 on and offline during the 30-day campaign. That was enough to do a small print run and cover the production costs for the book. Gratefully, donations continued to trickle in via the Chocolatour site from people who missed the Indiegogo campaign or preferred to send cheques.

As there has been tremendous interest in crowdfunding from the writing and creative community at large, I thought I’d sum up the experience by sharing the mistakes I made during my own campaign, so that you don’t make the same mistakes if you launch your own campaign. The 2 previous posts on this blog shared why I chose to crowdfund my project and tips I learned from the crowdfunding process.

Mistakes I made in my crowdfunding campaign for Chocolatour:

  • I set my goal too high. Setting a more realistic goal would have been smarter. I was reaching for the stars at $15,000. It was what I hope for, as I could have printed a sizeable print run of 500 copies using my printer of choice, and had enough left to pay my editor and designer and some some promotional events. Had I set my goal at $10,000 I have no doubt I could have reached it. Statistics have proven that more people will support a campaign that is likely to achieve its goal. As well, had I reached my goal, Indiegogo would have refunded 5% of the fees they charged me.
  • I should have studied the algorithm that determines the “gogofactor” on Indiegogo. These parameters determine whether IG will promote your campaign or not. I didn’t know about this until just 2 days before the end of my campaign (my mistake for not reading the site’s Help pages thoroughly.) It says that they will promote campaigns that have a lot of activity. If I’d asked my entire network to each tweet or share the link in the beginning of my campaign and make comments on the site, it would have created an algorithm that would have got me noticed by Indiegogo.
  • My video was too long. The video itself was only about 4 minutes, but then we added a slideshow with  music, and a few wrap-up comments and the next thing I knew we were at 8 minutes! Gratefully, enough people took the time to watch it or made donations without watching the video, but with people’s shortage of time and short attention spans these days, shorter is better. We should have done the slideshow as a separate video. Not as part of the pitch video.
  • I should have become known on the Indiegogo site before I launched my own campaign. I had supported a few Kickstarter projects before I launched my own campaign as they seemed worthy of my support and I was trying to learn the ropes. I then realized KS doesn’t accept Canadian projects, so I had to turn to Indiegogo and was unknown there. I think that your overall activity on the Indiegogo site also affects your algorithm.

I think that these four faux-pas were the reason my campaign did not reach the goal I was reaching for.

I hope this information has helped you understand the process. I’d been told my at least one person that the idea of crowdfunding is so foreign to them. But it is definitely a concept that is catching on and becoming much more mainstream.

I was also asked if I would do it again. I’m not sure. It was highly stressful and consumed an entire month of my time. And initially, I thought that it is only  polite to reach out for help one time. But the concept has really taken on in the past few years and I just may do it again for the second volume of the book unless I find an alternate source of funding to help me bring Volume II of Chocolatour to fruition.

If you have any tips to share about crowdfunding, please do so here. We’re all learning from one another. And we’re all here to help one another.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

38 Responses

  1. Hello,Thanks to share your experience about crowdfunding, I hope this is very helpful for others. Nicole Martin

  2. A.K.Andrew says:

    Sorry for my late comment Doreen – ill health set me back there for a while. Thanks for sharing your insights into how to do crowdfunding differently. Hindsight is always 20/20, but good to learn by our mistakes. I agree with Jeanette actually , that you raised a lot of money – $15,000 was prob. unrealistic, so it may have made $7500 seem ‘less than’ , but as you say it is enough for a small print run, so that’s the best way to start anyway. I’m so glad you’re going to be able to finally come out with the product you’ve worked so hard on. Feel proud of yourself Doreen for achieving so much. You deserve it!!!
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…5 Books made into Films – Which Version is a Modern Classic?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thans so much, A.K. I ended up raising $7,800 in total, so am happy with that. And yes, you are right in that $15,000 was too hefty a goal. I thought it I set my goal too low, it might encourage people to give less. You never know. That may have been true. And had I let the campaign run longer, I may have achieved my original goal — if I survived the stress of the campaign!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…mistakes made in my crowdfunding campaignMy Profile

  3. Doreen — your experience was very informative. I personally think you raised a lot more money than I would have expected. You must have a very large email list! As I’ve been following your chocolate travels for the past year or so I’m pleased that you are achieving your dream and getting it published. I’ve made a very small donation that may allow you to print an extra book! Congratulations!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…There’s No Second Chance to Make a First Impression on Social MediaMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Jeannette! No donation is every too small. Your support is very much appreciated. And your comments to both my blogs over the past couple of years have been very much appreciated as well.

      It’s been very difficult building my platform over the past 3 years, but it is finally really beginning to take shape in time for the launch of the book! The memberships I have in professional assns and presence I have in groups such as the BHB to which we both belong have given me the strength and support I’ve needed to succeed. Thanks again, and stay tuned to https://chocolatour.net for details about the launch. 🙂

  4. Thrilled that you were able to raise so much! Everything new, especially a notion like crowdfunding, is always going to be a learning experience. Thanks for sharing all that valuable info with us. You’re brave to put yourself out there and I’m glad the universe answered!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Gridlock: a conspiracy between construction and speed traps?My Profile

  5. Aayna says:

    You are a true and an honest person. It takes a lot of guts to accept the mistakes, and you happily wrote about them in this post. I am way too impressed wth your honesty. In my opinion, mistakes are a form of learning institution. If one does not commit mistakes, one can never succeed. Just learn from the mistakes and move on. Thanks,
    Aayna recently posted…How to use Flash Fill with Microsoft Excel 2013My Profile

  6. Leticia Roncero says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Doreen. I’m sure this information can be very helpful for those who are thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign.

    Cheers 😉

  7. Fatima says:

    Realistic goals are measurable and they give you a sense of fulfillment when you achieve them. Being honest is the key element to success in everything. Was a pleasure reading your post. Thanks for sharing.
    Fatima recently posted…How to Use Excel Options using Microsoft Excel 2013My Profile

  8. WizardOfWords says:

    This wraps up my discussion and campaign on the subject of crowdfunding. I raised $7,800 in 5 weeks, so am pleased with that. But it took a lot of time and hard work.

    I’ve just discovered this service that helps people promote their crowdfunding projects if they don’t have the time or energy to do it themselves. You may want to check out this link for more info on that: http://crowdfundpromotion.com/.

  9. Jeannette says:

    I have heard of Indegogo, but this is the first time I actually checked it out. Thank you for sharing your experience. Good to know. May use it for Rage to Redemption some day. It needs to be a movie.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Exciting, Jeannette! Yes, Indiegogo is being used to finance all sorts of creative projects. It’s really a cool way to ask the universe for help. And fortunately, most of us get what we need to drive our projects forward. Good luck with it, and thanks for joining the conversation.

  10. This is very helpful information, Doreen. Thanks for taking the time to share it with the rest of us! 🙂
    Kim Goldberg recently posted…Launched! Force Field Anthology of 77 Women PoetsMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      You’re welcome, Kim. I’m glad you found the crowdfunding info helpful.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  11. KellyWade says:

    Its understandable that you wouldn’t want to go through a month of continuous stress again. It is exciting that you made over half of your goal though. That is a great start and something you should be really proud of.
    KellyWade recently posted…Can You Workout Your Face?My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Kelly. Now that the campaign is over, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. It was just really hard being on the campaign trail and having to ‘bother’ people.

  12. satinka says:

    You write with such candor and such class. Thanks for sharing your experiences—the good, the bad and the ugly—from which the rest of us learn. In the end, you raised a lot of “free” money. You were brave to jump in. Lots of us would be too timid to try—me for one. I am proud of your accomplishments with this campaign! Great insights!
    satinka recently posted…Love of NatureMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much, Esther.

      It was necessary for me to raise these funds. I used my own $$ over the past 3+ years to travel and research the book. I could not also afford to pay the printing and production costs. So I am grateful that I raised just enough to make it happen. It won’t be in a “big” way to start, but I will get enough books published to introduce it to the world and hope that every chocolate lover on the planet finds me. 🙂

  13. Harry Hobbs says:

    Very interesting Doreen and thanks for sharing. I know that some creative people are nervous about crowd funding for fear they lose creative control of their work. this probably won’t happen with a small one time shot like yours. But the issue is an interesting one – would you refuse or return money if a sizeable donaioin had been made then conditions placed on the donation. for example say Hersey’s chocolate offered you $10,000 on condition you said that Hersey’s was the best chocolate out there. I’m not being facetious because in this day of so many cut backs to the arts corporate funding is being used and there can be a price tag for that!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Harry, and thanks for raising this issue.

      It had actually come up with a potential donor who wanted to advertise in my book. I told her that chocolate and travel related ads will be welcome on the site for the book, but are not appropriate for the book itself.

      So, to answer your Q, I definitely would have turned down the “donation” from Hershey’s, but would have invited them to purchase advertising space on https://chocolatour.net.

      Crowdfunding definitely allows authors to maintain artistic control over every segment of their projects. I have been able to choose the title, the cover design, interior photos, the editor, designer, printer, and even the paper that is used to print the book. It will be totally my creation, and I will be ultimately proud of that. And it is thanks to the 115 people who offered donations and enabled me to raise the essential funds that this will be possible. Cheers!

  14. I’ve never used crowdfunding for anything but if I do I’ll be sure to keep your experiences in mind. Thanks for sharing. It’s not often you find someone who can be honest with themselves, let alone their online audience. Well done.
    Johnny Bravo recently posted…How To Exponentially Build Your Business Through ReferralsMy Profile

  15. Linda says:

    Doreen, thanks for sharing this. I commend your effort and I’m sorry it wasn’t as helpful as you’d hoped. But, I guess you at least have a bit more cash now than you did a month ago. Keep breathing.
    Linda recently posted…His Red Journal: Finding My Father x twoMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Linda. And thanks so much for having helped spread the word about my campaign. It sure made it better and more fun having others (like you) along with me on the campaign trail.

  16. This is really helpful. Thanks for being so transparent!
    Trinidad Pena recently posted…Mood board: Look at the Bright SideMy Profile

  17. Jon Jefferson says:

    At least you made enough to get the book going as well as valuable lessons to share with everyone else. Sometimes the best experience is that which can be shared with others so they too can learn.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Jon.

      Yes, it’s already been suggested that conduct a workshop on crowdfunding, as I’ve now got the makings of my presentation done via these blog posts! I do love sharing my knowledge and experiences — which I guess is why I love being a writer!

  18. You should be so proud. That is a great start for the first time. The learning will be invaluable to you in future endeavors I’m sure. That may not include crowd-funding, but there will be others you will embark on that this will help guide you. That all said, I can’t wait for the book. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…The Gloaming: Poem (Podcast)My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Susan. Having you as one of my cheerleaders has been really helpful. And yes, I think that if we learn from every endeavour we undertake, it has been a worthwhile venture. I’ll try hard to get that book done without further delay. 🙂

  19. I am impressed with your honesty. I am all about keeping it real…

    Brevity is best. More is actually less.

    Congratulations on what you have accomplished, Doreen!
    Lorraine Marie Reguly recently posted…The Silent Struggles of the Writer – Can You Survive or Thrive? (A Guest Post by Author/Editor Kristine Millar)My Profile

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