Great success! (Reader’s guide to crowdsourcing for the farm)

22 Feb

So, our indiegogo fundraiser was, in my mind, a smash hit. I can’t say much more than what I’ve already said (i.e. I’m humbled, so happy, so thankful, so surprised, etc.) about that. But I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what I learned about crowdsourcing for any other farmers/artists/anyone thinking about doing a similar thing.

The main thing I did was I wholly underestimated myself and my support system. I was too conservative. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the opposite, but I can say that I definitely a. undershot how much funding we’d actually need to buy a good greenhouse and b. overshot the amount of time it would take to reach our target dollar amount. DO NOT FORGET that you have to spend money to fulfill perks, no matter how little your perks feel compared to the donation. It takes a lot more money than you think. Remember shipping, remember to really research how much those grocery bags cost (ours took a hefty chunk out of our pockets and we didn’t even get them screen printed), and tack on $100 just to be safe. Also, if you’re raising money to purchase something (i.e. a greenhouse), pick your favorit-est, most beautiful dream version of it and raise funds for that amount. We chose the minimum amount it would cost to buy us a greenhouse, when we truly needed something a little fancier. So, while I know in my heart we could’ve raised enough for that special one, we are paying a bit out of pocket for it. Not a big deal, but I would do it differently if I had the chance.

As far as how long to extend your campaign- ours practically died after we reached our goal. Funds still kindly trickled in, but we reached our amount rapidly (within two weeks), and have had to wait over a month to see that money. We could have REALLY used it sooner. Remember that it takes two weeks after your campaign ends to get anything from the site, and that doesn’t account for if one of your funders has banking problems, you have banking problems, or the site screws something up.

On that note, indiegogo was crazily easy to use. They guide you through everything. They have easy help pages. Pay attention to their hints and tricks- they’re usually right. You really, really need a video. There’s something that truly connects you with people when you are speaking that a picture of the farm cannot. It’s like pleading your case before the jury. Who can look into your eyes and deny you your dream? If you are a good, kind, loving person, I doubt many people could.

I worked for over a month perfecting our page before I launched it. DO NOT launch it before you are ready or think its a gem. I had several people edit the written sections, we went through various versions of what kinds of perks we wanted to offer, and we had a couple of video drafts from the wonderful Ben Mund (who donated his time) before I launched it. I also made sure the timing was right all the way up to the time of night that I launched. I waited for a few weeks after Christmas so everyone’s giving spirit could be refilled after the season, I chose a weekday evening when I knew a lot of my friends and family were going to see it. I hyped it up with several blog and facebook farm-related posts. I had been talking about what we were doing up to 5 months before I even began asking for money. Indiegogo truly gives back to you all the work that you put into it.

As for our funders- they were overwhelmingly comprised of friends and family. People you have loved but not seen for years come from everywhere willing to give you their hard earned money. For me, it was occasionally very difficult. I felt strangely guilty. I didn’t understand why anyone would be willing to do that for me. I obviously didn’t understand my own worth. My friends and family made sure to let me know exactly what they thought about that nonsense. I am grateful for that. I walk with my head high now. So be aware that, if you’re anywhere near as sensitive as I am, you will be met with these feelings. But also remember that you are worth it. People believe in you. You are beautiful and strong and you won’t let anyone down. Promise.

On that note, it is important to encourage your friends and family to share your cause as much as give to your cause. I was just as thankful to the people who posted the fundraiser on their facebook daily as those who were able to give money. We did receive some donors we didn’t really know who made a huge difference. You need some of these people! They are really important! Each and every one of us only has so much family or so many friends, so you will have to rely some on the kindness of strangers. That’s okay. That’s part of what makes this sort of thing so wonderfully connecting. Also, ask if anyone wants to interview you about it. We received emails from blogs from around the country asking us to answer some questions. Only one panned out (and it was unfortunately after our fundraiser was over), but it was still really, really fun and had it been more timely, it could have really set a fire under the metaphorical ass of our indiegogo page.

I’m glad I could find the time to write this for you all. I want to help anyone else who’d like to do something similar be successful. I’ve seen a lot of these fundraisers cropping up these days, and I wish I could give back to all of them, but then I’d lose all the money I just raised! I thought this would be a good way to give back, too.

I just got news that we got accepted into our very first farmer’s market tonight and it seems so surreal. I started to cry a little from an overwhelming sense of accomplishment even though I am not nearly done and have not even nearly begun. But man, these little things. They say not to let the little things get to you, but that’s only if they’re bad. I let the good little things get to me all the time, and I am so incandescently happy in those moments.


2 Responses to “Great success! (Reader’s guide to crowdsourcing for the farm)”

  1. Steve Vander Veer March 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    Thanks for the positive push – music (& related marketing) is the “aspect of life” that concerns me. It’s great to hear success stories . . .
    BTW – some gal named Teri Connolly led me here . . .

    • beginningfarmerdirt June 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Teri Connolly?! I wouldn’t trust anything that comes from a Connolly 😉

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