Learn a Lesson in Crowdfunding From a Pro

Everybody wants to be a crowdfunding pro. But I’ve learned time and again that few are willing to take the time and do the work in order to get there, and failure ensues. The lesson: if you want to win like a pro, in crowdfunding you’ve got to learn what it takes.

So I was excited when I received an intriguing email sent by a familiar name. Andrew Heard is a Canadian writer-producer whom I have come to know as a regular social media participant regarding crowdfunding since I began actively following it. Heard could be relied upon to post interesting and noteworthy links about crowdfunding, expanding my horizons in ways for which I have been grateful.

The email in question, entitled The Hero is Coming is Heard’s test run for his email marketing campaign for his crowdfunding campaign. I Am the Bucket is a charity web series about a Good Samaritan who gets a bucket stuck on his head and decides to become a superhero.

What makes it worthy of mention is that unbeknownst to me—and probably many others who received the same email and recognized him as a regular and helpful contributor on platforms such as LinkedIn—is that Heard never mentioned he was planning to eventually run a crowdfunding campaign of his own—a campaign, I should add, about a topic for which he has a personal affinity and experience.

Instead he wisely decided to establish a solid social media presence by being helpful to others. That accomplished, he’s now ready to ask his list of trusted followers to return the favor.

Sound familiar? This is the constant, and often unheeded, drumbeat of all crowdfunding consultants worth their salt. Don’t swoop in out of nowhere and ask strangers for a favor! Instead prove yourself to be a giver so that when the roles are reversed people will be way more inclined to help you.

I sent Heard an email the other day asking if he would like to be interviewed for The Crowdfundamentals. I even sent along a list of questions I would like to ask him so he would know what to expect and could prepare some answers. Instead he did me the great favor of responding to my questions by email, thereby saving me the trouble of a real-time interview, which I’d then have to transcribe. (I hate transcribing.) Before reading, you can check out his series trailer here.

What is your project?

The project is an inspirational web series designed to raise money for charities through crowdfunding and merchandise about a guy who gets a bucket stuck on his head and decides to become a superhero. We’re going to have celebrity guest stars to help raise awareness for various issues.

Why is it important to you?

It’s important to me because it is basically my life on screen. Several episodes are taken directly from personal experiences where I helped someone. As an example, one episode involves the main character, Buckethead, intervening when a couple was fighting and there was a baby being held by the mother. The episode is almost word for word a description of an actual event where I was the Buckethead character in the situation.

When did you begin?

Five years ago I originally came up with the idea of Buckethead and have been developing it ever since with a lot of successes and failures along the way. One of the failures being a crowdfunding campaign that resulted in zero donations and lead me to research the topic incessantly ever since in preparation for a hopefully successful one in the future.

How’s it going so far?

The project is in the best shape it’s been in years. The scripts are written and basically ready to go and I have been in discussions with investors. I also just submitted for a grant with the Independent Production Fund‘s web series program for funding.

What have you learned?

I’ve learned that success is a long road and short cuts ultimately lead to failure. There are a lot of people who believe in the “If you built it, they will come” mentality to business, whether it’s film/television/digital productions or crowdfunding or any other business and I’ve learned that’s not the case. The thing to remember about “Field of Dreams “is that Kevin Costner’s character had no idea what he was building, why he had to build it or who would come if he finished it. You need to know all three of those things before you start constructing anything people are going to buy. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test things out and just sit around thinking about it. By all means do something, but do it with someone who has already figured out those three things first so you learn what not to do.

What is your ultimate goal?

My ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world. I know that seems rather vague but my philosophy is that changing the world is easy, it happens one person at a time. It’s changing yourself that’s hard. I want people to come up to me after they see the final product and say, “You helped me” whether that’s through the charity work or through the themes and ideas that I present. If I can make a living off this where people come up to me and say that for the rest of my life, then I’ll be happy.

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