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Marketing and publicity specialist Sheri Candler has a post up on her blog entitled “Five Ways to Fail at Crowdfunding” that is a good read for those thinking of kickstarting of gogo’ing their indie feature. She opens:

I am prompted to write this post because I have been hit up many times lately about supporting, advising or donating to various crowdfunding initiatives. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t quite a complaint because I have been known to support many campaigns by doing any one of these things (ask anyone else offering their advice if they have done any of these things by the way, the answer could surprise you). I do get frustrated by the ones who contact me because they have embarked without thinking through the strategy or they are very close to the time limit and very far from their goal.

Like her, I’ve been hit up a lot to contribute or post about crowdfunding campaigns. I post about quite a few on the Filmmaker blog, and I’ve also contributed to a bunch. By and large, the ones I’ve contributed to have been by friends whose work I believe in — people I want to see do well and who I know will make something great. The ones I post about on the blog are ones that I think are of particular interest to our readers by virtue of their subject matter or the filmmakers. Lately, though, like her I’ve been frustrated by some of the appeals. I completely agree with her #1:

1) You do not already a have a support network online. This is a biggie. I know you’re thinking Sheri, how can I already have an audience and supporters of my work when I haven’t raised the money yet to do my work? Do you have a personal identity built up? Does anyone actually know who you are yet? There are many ways to do this, starting with sharing your knowledge and experiences with people and championing others as much or more than you do yourself. This identity building takes time and should be started well in advance of asking for favors. If you don’t have a strong support network of friends, colleagues and people who enjoy the work you do, do not introduce yourself and your project by asking for money.

I’d elaborate here by saying that being a friend on Facebook doesn’t translate into being part of an online community. I like to contribute to people who I know have a team of people ready to help them. In many cases, even, the appeal I have responded to has not come from the filmmaker but by another invested party.

Go to Sheri’s blog to read the details of all of her points, but for the purposes of discussion, the rest are: you do not know who your audience is; your campaign length is too long; your goal is unrealistic; your rewards are unimaginative.

I will add three more:

1) Your goal is vague and won’t produce a tangible result. You are asking for money, but to do what? Complete principal photography, your sound mix, or to fund a DIY distribution campaign? Okay, great. But I’ve seen campaigns that don’t convince that the money raised will result in a final project. If you’re asking for development money, then what’s your plan after that? And, more importantly, how much more money will be needed to finally finish the film? How are you going to raise it? Will you be coming back to us again?

2) You are asking for money for stuff other filmmakers get for free or do themselves. I was sent a link recently to a filmmaker who wanted $5,000 to finish a 10-minute short doc. It was shot on video, done mostly as a class project, it seems, and would have hardly any distribution outlets. The post-production help he was asking for funds for were the kinds of things that so many filmmakers today — including those who create videos for — basically do themselves on Final Cut.

3) Your crowdfunding appeal uses the language of aggrievement. It is tough out there. Everyone is having a hard time — even the ones you think aren’t. Your funders want to support you do something great, not endorse a vague concept of “indie” or a negative critique of the current film business. Be positive and inspire people through what you are doing, not by the indignities you have suffered.

Which ones would you add?

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