How to Kick Ass on Kickstarter: Five Tips from "The Crowdsourceress"

When it comes to crowdfunding, nobody knows their way around collective cash-gathering better than Miami-born Vann Alexandra Daly. Known as "The Crowdsourceress," she's the genius behind Neil Young's insanely successful PonoMusic audio player campaign ($6 Million+ and 18,000+ backers), and the go-to expert of the moment.

Daly splits her time between New York and Miami, and her company, Vann Alexandra, specializes in running professional crowdfunding efforts (which, we might add, are way more challenging than they look). For those of you looking to embark on a fundraiser of your own, we got Daly's suggestions on how to kick ass via Kickstarter (or Indiegogo, or whatever).

See also: Who Is Kickstarter for, Anyway? Indie directors weigh in -- and the site responds.

A film producer by trade, Daly fell into this line of work by chance. "I was talking to this director one day who was trying to get funding for film to finish editing. He said to me, 'Did you hear about this thing called Kickstarter that you can use to raise funding on the internet?' I said, 'Sure let's give it a try.' We did it for $50K and we got over $80 grand."

Since then, it's been one success after another for Daly and team: 11 campaigns in total, from film to tech to music projects. Emmy and Oscar-nominated film producers, celebrities -- you name it, Daly's done it.

"Running a crowdfunding campaign is like a full-time job. That's why my company exists -- it was birthed out of the need to have someone like me running a campaign," Daly explains. "There are so many moving parts, design, copywriting, reward strategy, a marketing plan, producing a video, social media, etc."

Here are some of her top tips for bringing in the bucks:

Plan, plan, plan.

You can't just throw up a campaign and expect it to succeed, Daly says. "I have what I call pre-production -- all the work you do before launch, that's the most important part of the campaign. You have to have so many different things lined up and ready to go. Mailing blasts, people tweeting about it, having some money ready to get dropped into campaign on first day ... the first day is always so incredibly important," she explains. Securing guaranteed backers in advance is key.

Messaging is everything.

According to Daly, this includes the messaging on your campaign page, in your video, in your rewards -- anywhere you're forward facing, basically. Plus, it's crucial to message your own networks in the first 24 to 72 hours through personalized emails in addition to messaging your backers via updates and your networks throughout the duration of the campaign. Stay in touch.

Be human.

This might sound obvious, but be yourself, Daly says. Keep your messaging short, sweet and infused with personality. Be engaging and informal. (Cute puppy pictures are always a good idea.)

Embrace your backers.

Make them feel like part of your vision, Daly suggests. "Send them personalized thank yous. Do video shout outs in exchange for their generosity. Get creative with it and have fun," she says. They are part of your team, after all.

Leverage influencers.

If you've got influential orgs or individuals on your side, use their audience to your advantage. And, when it comes to press and the media, think quality over quantity, Daly adds.

Above all, it takes effort and investment. "You can't just put your creative idea online and expect that people will come running. You have to take time and resources and bring people to it."

You can check out more of Daly's crowdsourcing suggestions via her Big Think column, and learn more about her company on her website.

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