A Guide to What Works and How

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Learning My Own Lessons While Preparing the Project

Lest you think that I’m Mr. Slick, I am learning and re-learning my own lessons about launching a crowdfunding project while trying to launch my own.

I’ve known for months that I would need a video for the Kickstarter project. Kickstarter doesn’t make a perfect correlation, but a much larger percentage of projects with videos get funded than those without. (Kickstarter’s FAQ says 50% of projects with video fund versus 30% without; those that fund, bring in more money, too.)

I spoke months ago with various folks I’d interviewed before about recording a little video with them to include in my project. I did an in-person shoot on the windiest day ever in Washington, D.C., with Pleasant Pops. I spoke with the folks behind Glif (Dan and Tom) and with Ze Frank via Skype video. I started edited the video weeks ago to pull together pieces.

A personal appeal is part of the charm of crowdfunding, and every single person I’ve spoken to with a successful project, as well as Kickstarter staff, said, be direct, personal, and straightforward in the video.

I tried taping myself with an inexpensive but decent digital camera I own, but couldn’t get it to look just right. I recorded a few roughs, wrote some dialog for myself, recorded voice overs to intro the video interviews, and it wasn’t there.

My friend Jeff Carslon, who has written books on using Apple’s Final Cut Express and iMovie, has a digital SLR camera that records video, and a bit of a studio setup. I went over to his house; we set up the shot; it looked more or less good. But what I was saying still wasn’t right, and we didn’t manage to record the audio (through a separate mic) to sync up perfectly with the video. The audio from the camera was too cavernous.

So I’m reshooting again, and re-recording the voiceovers to make them all consistent. It’s just a minute or so of video and a few seconds of voiceovers, but I need to get it right. If I don’t sweat the details here, then how can I get backers of my project to believe that I will sweat the details in the book?

It’s clear that you don’t need an expensively produced video for a crowdfunding project. But you need a perfectly competent one. For my purposes, if I can’t be competent, then my project shouldn’t be funded.

So it’s back to record again, re-edit, and make it fly. This delays launching the project a bit, but that’s a small price to pay in order to get the fine points right.