If you remember, I ran my first Indiegogo campaign back in February and March and it’s finally time to share some of the lessons learned as a result of that crowd funding experience. Read till the end – there is a news item, too 😉
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
I am sure you have all heard this saying – I had heard it, too. I am a strong believer in it, actually! And yet, I did fix something that wasn’t broken and it cost me not-sure-how-much forgone profits…
Anticipating the increased traffic we would have to the Meliway site as a result of the Indiegogo campaign, we decided to upgrade our shared hosting to a VPS. We would anyway need it eventually because of some technical details I won’t bore you with right now.
So on we went and did the switch. It was only a couple of weeks later that I found out our new VPS IPs were blacklisted. Which meant all the buzz I was creating on social media and via email was in vain, because:
- People could not open the links to the site from any social media (popular or not)
- My emails were going straight to the spam folder
- All the credibility I had and all the relationships I was trying to build – gone.
Just imagine – what would you do if you got an email or saw an update about an Indiegogo campaign and clicked the link only to find a malicious website warning on your screen? What would you do? Would you support the campaign? I know I wouldn’t…
By the time we fixed the IP issue, whatever chances we had to attracting fresh funds were gone – and the time for the campaign was almost over. I don’t know how much funds we would have attracted if it weren’t the IP issue – but I can speculate it did matter, and a lot…
Having said this, the toughest lesson learned was if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Planning is a must
I will never get tired of repeating this – planning does matter, and it matters a lot!
We had a nice campaign page. We planned what updates to release when. Our website was ready for visitors and potential supporters of the campaign. So were our social media profiles on popular networks. We had video material to release to the general public in due time.
We knew our financial goal of $12,500 was ambitious, but the planning and all the work we put into the campaign page and execution alone brought us to 7% fulfillment of that goal!
Never underestimate preliminary research and preparation!
I know from my experience as a marketing consultant that one can never be too prepared. And yet, I fell in the trap I have seen so many clients fall into before me – I thought I know it all and I could wing it 😀
Yes, we prepared for the most part. But what I didn’t do well was my homework and my preliminary leg work.
My research showed the majority of the people who’d buy our product are baby boomers – but I thought my research was wrong. I didn’t know anything about baby boomer audience; I am not a baby boomer so I couldn’t quite relate… but I was confident travel bloggers of all ages would be attracted to the product like flies to honey. Well, they weren’t.
Had I spent more time networking with the right crowd before the beginning of the campaign, I would have known that and I would have changed the course of the campaign entirely, or chosen a better timing for it; or a different venue… and I for sure would have spent more time getting to know the people who will be buying my product – as they are those who would support the fundraising campaign, too!
And because I didn’t network with the right crowd in the right industry in advance, I had not created demand for what I am about to release as news and product for beta testing.
It’s ironic – I would have never let a client go in to a fundraising campaign without doing their homework first. Why I didn’t do the same for me as a client – I have no idea.
So the second toughest lesson learned here is to never underestimate the importance of preliminary work and preparation. I know we could never be perfectly prepared; there will always be something else and something more to be desired. But there’s no such thing as being too prepared.
Outsource and delegate so you can focus on what’s important
When running an Indiegogo campaign, one thing is for sure – time is never enough. See what you can outsource and delegate so you can focus on the important part – networking (about that, in a minute).
Important note though: when I say outsource, I don’t mean you should spend money on questionable tactics like 1000 shares on Facebook for 5 bucks – and you will get a lot of those invitations, I promise. It is a quick way to con the Indiegogo algorithms for a while, that’s for sure – but I wouldn’t recommend it as a tactic.
It is like link building for SEO – it may or may not work and whatever effect it has, it will be short term and quite possibly might be damaging in the long run if you have values, ethics and reputation to manage.
Also, when I say “outsource”, I don’t mean hiring an expensive marketing agency either. I had a few of those, too! It amazed me how many marketing agencies sent me their proposals to help me reach my financial goal – and yet, none of them were willing to commit to achieving that goal; none of them said “ok, here’s what we will do, you will pay us percent of the money we help you raise” or something. They wanted their money, now, and regardless what they deliver.
If I had hundreds of dollars to give to a marketing agency without any commitment for results, I wouldn’t be running a fundraising campaign, don’t you think?
So, do yourself a favor and find a virtual assistant with some marketing background to outsource and delegate some of the work.
Give yourself enough time to find that virtual assistant and train him or her to work with you. Chances are you will be able to use this person later on for other projects and work, too. But for the Indiegogo campaign, it’s important you train them to think and speak like you do – so that they can address questions, post updates and comments on your campaign page, reply to emails, add supporters to the company website or the campaign data base where needed, and so on.
Those are little tasks which can take a whole lot of time. And this is time which you could be spending networking and attracting more supporters to your campaign.
And finally, the most important lesson learned from my first Indiegogo campaign – networking pays off big time!
Both Jordan and I were surprised and thrilled how much of the support and raised funds came from personal friends, family and… yes, bloggers and readers of my 2 blogs with whom I have networked online at some point about something.
Remember, I never networked in the right industry with the people who would be interested in our product per se. All the networking I have done was with fellow freelancers, bloggers and clients – because I like spending time with them; not because I have a product they might like or buy or promote.
So networking does help a lot when running an Indiegogo campaign (and not only – but that’s another topic ;-))
These circles back to one of my earlier points: make time to network with the right crowd before you start your Indiegogo campaign; this is of crucial importance to your Indiegogo campaign success.
I promised a news item in the end of the post – so here it is 😀
The reason why I waited for so long to publish the lessons learned from my first Indiegogo campaign is…. wait for it… (no, it’s not legendary :D) – I wanted to share the lessons and announce the beta test of the Meliway Travel Movie Maker!
That’s right – we are ready 😀
Apparently I have a talent for finding bugs and breaking stuff. But earlier this week I managed to complete not one, not two, but three travel movies without finding any new bugs. So very soon we will launch the beta test.
Dear Pioneers, look for our “official announcement” email shortly!
And if you are not a Pioneer but want to keep tabs on the travel movie maker, subscribe to our list – you’ll get notified when we make it available to the general public 😉
Thank you for sharing your experience. I was wondering if you set-up a new VPS with a different host than the one you used previously and made sure it was clean? Any idea how your first VPS became infected? Thank you.
Hi, Chas! I switched to VPS with the same hosting provider. I did not check anything – this is the first time i use a VPS and it didn’t even cross my mind they can give me a blacklisted IP (2 of them!) – i was paying for it after all… so it was common sense to me that if i am paying for 2 clean dedicated IPs, i will get 2 clean dedicated IPs. how silly of me to believe in business ethics 😀
My server was NOT infected, not sure why you thought it was – my visitors got such warning because the IP was blacklisted which in turn was because the person(s) who operated a VPS with this IP before me were spamming too much, i guess…
This was a very insightful post! Thankfully I had no problems at all when I switched to a VPS server…BUT it was the same company that had been hosting my site for years! I am embarrassed to say that I did NO research n that particular aspect and I lucked out! I am so happy you are finally launched! Can you do another campaign?
I did not do any research either and switched to a VPS with the same hosting provider. Ironic – i never had any problems with their shared hostings, but the VPS was disastrous. I ended up moving this site back to shared hosting with them and moving Meliway and one other site to a VPS with another provider.
Which is your hosting provider, Jacqueline? I am not quite happy at the moment with any of the hosting providers i deal with and the fact that you praise yours brings me hope LOL
your most welcome its great experience share with us .
Hi, Vivek – what do you mean when you say i am most welcome for sharing my experience with you? Maybe i didn’t understand you correctly… 😀
Sherryl Perry (@KeepUpWeb) says
Goodness Diana! I had no idea that you ran into so many issues with your campaign. That’s a shame that your IPs were blacklisted. What an unfortunate experience for you. You’re right. you’ll never know what that cost you.
Outsourcing is a great tip. We all have our own special skill sets and sometimes we need to step back, access the situation and then bring in help in the areas that we don’t excel in. It sounds like you had your bases covered in many areas but (in hindsight) you can tell that you could have benefited from the technical expertise of someone in IT. A lot of us have confidence in our web hosting companies to keep an eye out for us but unfortunately we can’t always depend on them to spot problems for us. (In some cases, they are reluctant to support anything other than physically hosting your site.)
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. I understand what you’re saying about targeting the right target. Not being a baby boomer yourself does make it more complex to understand our needs. (Yes. I’m a baby boomer.) Good luck! I’m glad to hear that you’re still pursuing this dream.
You’re a baby boomer, Sherryl? Hm, you just got on my brain-picking list – ha! 😉
In this situation, and in others for that matter, the problem (for a lack of a better word) comes from not knowing what to ask or look for. I mean, if i know there’s a potential issue at hand that should be checked and/or prevented and/or fixed, i can hire a professional to take care of it. But when i don’t even know about the existence of this potential issue as such – i can do nothing but fix the damage afterwards 😀
Now i know a little bit more about everything relating to a crowdfunding campaign. I don;t think we will run another campaign for this tool. We might run another campaign for another tool which is in the works. And i might run an Indiegogo campaign for funding the editing of my book (which can be pricey, i suppose).
Whatever we decide, i am sure i will not make the above mistakes but i will sure have at least 5 more lessons learned to share 😉
Ryan Biddulph says
Networking is huge in any business. Awesome tips! Meet folks, more folks, make friends and watch as your network promotes your success….all because you helped out folks, connected with them and persisted.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for your comment, Ryan – i like how you put it: “watch as your network promotes your success” 😀
Seems like you are back with yet another awesome post, Yeah I agree with your points and support planning part. Planning is really necessary to get the things done as expected.
Thanks for your positive feedback, Samir – and you are right; Indiegogo campaign or not, planning is a crucial step for any initiative to succeed 😀
Oh Diana I really feel for you. Knowing what goes into a business and making it right to fall apart has to be devastating. I am sorry you were blacklisted. Did you do research first to see what the VPS reputation was?
I feel that if we don’t delegate we will crash and burn. I can’t do it all, although we thing we can.
Networking does work and look you came out this with some successes. Every learning experience good or bad helps to build your character.
Like you, Arleen, I too believe every experience, good or bad, has its positive effect on what we learn and how we improve 😀
And to your question – no, i didn’t really research what the VPS reputation was but it didn’t even cross my mind they can give me a blacklisted IP. I was paying for it – it’s like, when you go to the store and buy a pack of gum, you don’t wonder if there will be a cockroach in the pack, do you? LOL Besides, i had been a client with the same company for so many years with zero problems with their shared hosting.
Now i know better 😀
Hi Diana, Thanks so much for being so open and sharing your experience with your indiegogo campaign. I am running my first campaign (on deposit a gift) for help an orphanage I am sponsoring and trying to help in Uganda. It is tough, that’s for sure! You offered some great insights. The networking part I have not worked on very much, and I know that is something that would help for sure 🙂
First time i hear about this site (deposit a gift) but i believe the same principles apply for each platform. Hope your campaign went well, Lisha – did you catch-up on the networking part? I know i didn’t get a pledge in my mailbox to help out 😀
Hi Diana; I’ve ben working on starting an indiegogo campaign for about a month now. as a blind computer user i had some trouble with their site and my screen reader. A lady from customer support is helping me fill in all the blanks. But your post has me wondering if I will be able to maintain it once it starts that is if I want to. And I had already ben thinking about networking. It seems I have three different communities. There are people in blogging podcasting and social media. There is the amusement industry my primary niche. And there is the blind and visually impaired community and people who admire and support them. I’m hoping to get support from all of them, but I don’t expect to get much support from the owners of carnivals, fun fairs, amusement parks, etc. I hope I am wrong, but I also hope I understood the message and you intended us to cast a wider net. thanks for the advice. Take care, Max
I am glad i could help, Max – networking in your case will definitely pay off because you have a wide array of connections 😀
Did you launch your campaign after all? What is your goal? (not the financial one but the purpose of the campaign)