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As I’ve written in the past, sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter can be useful for obtaining financing, but their real potential lies in their ability to attract attention. This is not news, and it is certainly no secret to investors. Big money has been trying to capitalize on the internet from the get-go — but how do they pick the winners?
In order to figure out what the public wants, you need a proxy for attention, something quantifiable, and that proxy is views. Views may go by many names: visitors, clicks, fans, but ultimately serves the same purpose.
The internet is increasingly becoming a “proving ground” for new content, with web originals such as Web Therapy and Drunk History being picked up by big names in the mainstream (these two were picked up by Showtime and Comedy Central, respectively).
Of course, views are not sufficient to attract investors (If they were, cable television would consist of cat videos and MTV would stream Gangnam Style 24/7), but they are necessary.
So how do you make this work for you?
Well, for starters, you may not want to be so quick to give up.
Even if a campaign seems bound to fail, it may make sense to keep it going. Sure, if you’re halfway there with two days to go, canceling the campaign may be moot. But if after a month you have a lot of support (just not quite enough to make completion seem realistic) it makes sense to continue hyping up the campaign.
Not all failures are created equal: fail with a hundred fans, and you won’t get much — fail with a hundred thousand, though, and you’ve demonstrated that your project has a fan base to tap, and can use that to draw in investors.
Secondly, you may want to consider asking for less.
First off, setting your goal too high may scare off backers — and you can always make up the difference later, once you’ve proven that the project has market appeal, with capital from investors.
Further, focus on the small backer. It’s always preferable to have a thousand people chip in a dollar than to have a single person chip in a thousand. Investors don’t care about how much you made, only how much you will make. A thousand backers who are willing to put up their money — even a dollar — to see you succeed is a thousand backers who will be buying a ticket when you do.
Finally, make sure to use your project page as a soap box.
Talk to your fans, and get them to talk about you. If you get good word of mouth going, even if you don’t draw in many more backers, people are still talking about you. And the thing about people talking on the internet is that someone is always listening — if you can attract positive attention from the public, you may soon attract attention from investors.
And don’t limit yourself to just Kickstarter. Make liberal use of social networking sites, and Youtube, to get word of mouth going.
At the end of the day, whether you meet your goal or not, it is important to make the most of your campaign. Investors want to see big view counts: Facebook fans, Youtube views, and Kickstarter backers — no matter how little you get from them directly — all make your film more likely to succeed in the marketplace, and more attractive to investors.