Defining Your Project
Defining the concept of your Fotofund project is the first step for every creator. Essentially, you need to ask yourself what are you raising funds to do?
Having a focused and well-defined project with a clear beginning and end is crucial. Fotofund only accepts projects that result in something tangible, such as an archive, a series of fine art prints for an exhibition, a published book, a moving image, or site-specific installation.
Definite project goals lead to transparency between creators and backers. Backers can judge how realistic a project’s aim is, as well as the project creator’s ability to fulfill what is promised. And for creators, defining clear goals establishes the scope of the project, an important step in completing any endeavor.
If you’re unsure whether your project is a fit for Fotofund, we recommend you to read the Fotofund Project Guidelines.
Rewards are what backers receive in exchange for pledging to a project. They are a way of engaging backers and showing appreciation for their pledges. The importance of properly priced, unique, and engaging rewards cannot be overstated. Projects whose rewards are uninspired struggle to find support.
Deciding what to offer
Every project’s primary reward should be a product of the project itself. If the project’s goal is to create a set of gallery-quality prints for an exhibition, then rewards should include a print.
Good examples of rewards include:
- Prints: a book or a print from the show. These items should be valued at what they’d cost in a retail environment.
- Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a subject in a photograph.
- Creative experiences: a visit to the photographer’s studio, a free photo workshop with the project creator.
- Creative mementos: Digital photo postcards sent from location, thanks in the credits.
Deciding how to price
An important question to consider is how much money you’d part with to receive the rewards you’re offering. This will tell you a lot about your project’s potential.
Setting Your Goal
Fotofund operates on an all-or-nothing funding model where projects must be fully funded or no money is exchanged. Projects must have a set funding goal and length of time to reach it. There’s no magic formula to determining the right goal or duration, however here are some things to keep in mind:
- How much money do you need? Are you raising the full budget or a portion of it?
- Have you factored in the cost of producing rewards and delivering them to backers?
- Funding comes from a variety of sources, most of which are your personal contacts — your patrons, your friends and family, fans on your social networks, and, if your project does considerably well, strangers around the web. It’s up to you to promote and build awareness for your project.
Setting your project deadline
Funding can last anywhere from one to 60 days, however statistics from similar crowdfunding platforms show that projects lasting 30 days or less have the highest success rates. A Kickstarter project takes a lot of work to run, and shorter projects set a tone of confidence and help motivate your backers to get on board while they can. Longer durations incite less urgency, encourage procrastination, and tend to fizzle out.
Making Your Video
A video is by far the best way to get a feel for the motivations of a project creator. It’s also a demonstration of effort and a good predictor of success. Statistics from similar crowdfunding sites show that projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without.
Here are some tips to consider before making your video:
- Tell us about you.
- Tell us the story behind your project. Where’d you get the idea? What stage is it at now? How are you feeling about it?
- Come out and ask for people’s support, explaining why you need it and what you’ll do with their money.
- Talk about how awesome your rewards are, using visuals if you can.
Another thing to remember: don’t put any copyrighted music in your video without permission! Here are some free music resources you can use when the time comes: SoundCloud, Vimeo Music Store, and Free Music Archive.
Lastly, your video needs to be 5GB or less and formatted using a recommended file type (MOV, MPEG, AVI, or MP4). If you’re shooting your video on your mobile phone, hold it horizontally so you create a nice panoramic view versus a vertical one.
Writing your project summary
Your project summary is the best place to communicate your project’s goals and intentions. Tell a story, but be clear on what your project hopes to accomplish. If you had to describe your project in one sentence, how would you do it?
Writing your bio
Your bio is a great opportunity to tell people your personal story about what motivates you. The key is earning your backers’ trust.
Promoting Your Project
An exceptional project can lead to outpourings of support from all corners of the web, but for most projects, support comes from within their own networks and their networks’ networks. If you want people to back your project you have to tell them about it. More than once! And in a variety of ways! Here’s how:
- A personal message is the most effective way to let someone know about your project. Send an email to your close friends and family so they can be first to pledge, then use your personal blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter account to tune in everyone who’s paying attention. Don’t overwhelm with e-blasts and group messages, but be sure to remind your networks about your projects a few times throughout the course of your campaign.
- Meet people face-to-face. Nothing connects people to an idea like witnessing your enthusiasm first hand. Host pledge parties, print posters or flyers to distribute around your community, and organize meetups to educate people about your project.
- Contact your local newspaper, TV, and radio stations, and tell them about your project. Seek out like-minded blogs and online media outlets to request coverage. Writers are always looking for stories to write about, and the media has a big soft spot for DIY success stories.
Project updates serve as your way of connecting to your backers. Backers expect you to share your progress, post media, and thank them.
Enlist and inspire your backers to help you spread the word by approaching your project like a story that’s unfolding. Tease them along the way with bits of progress to keep them engaged.
The story of your project does not end after you reach your goal. You still have an audience that is rooting for you, and interacting with them is one of the most rewarding parts of the process. You have direct access to your patrons!
Once your project has been successfully funded, the final step is fulfilling the rewards promised to backers. Sending out rewards can feel overwhelming, but staying organized and having fun with it will make the process much simpler. Enlist your friends to help you with a mailing party!
Remember to take shipping costs into account while budgeting your project. Shipping is often a larger part of your budget than imagined. Keep in mind how you’ll send each package, how much they will weigh, and how many will require international shipping.
We recommend conducting some online research, starting with the USPS mailing guide and bulk mail info.