Everyone’s crowdfunding these days, am I right? Maybe you, too?
My offer for your crowdfunder
(This assumes that I know you, or that there’s some natural relationship between your crowdfunder and my work. Please read this whole section before emailing me about your crowdfunder!)
I regular donate coaching sessions and workshop slots to relevant crowdfunders. By offering in-kind donations, I’m happy to help friends raise a lot more money for creative projects!
Here are some examples of successful perks I’ve donated:
Suggested reward level: $10 or other (if part of a book bundle)
Signed copy of Minal Hajratwala’s Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents, winner of four literary awards.
write like a unicorn coaching session
Suggested reward level: $100
Ready to take your writing to the next level? Enjoy a one-hour private mentorship session with experienced author & coach Minal Hajratwala to work through your creative doubts and leap forward on your writing project. We can work on craft, process, book structure, storytelling, and more.
Mini Manuscript Massage
Suggested reward level: $150
Get one story or essay, or five poems or flash pieces (up to 15 total pages), critiqued by writer & coach Minal Hajratwala. Includes in-depth editorial letter/revision guide and a 30-minute follow-up coaching conversation.
CUSTOM WRITING WORKSHOP
Suggested reward level: $500
Author & coach Minal Hajratwala will craft an exciting, dynamic three-hour creative workshop or master class for your group, university, conference, corporate team-building event, or other community. Workshops can be customized for up to 25 participants and can be virtual (online), or live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bangalore, or other areas (with the addition of travel costs).
write like a unicorn
Suggested reward level: varies
[I offer several types of courses throughout the year. If I have an active class about to start, I may be able to offer 1-2 slots in the class to your crowdfunder. Please see minalhajratwala.com/coach/courses for upcoming options.]
I have a limited capacity, and obviously I’m also judicious about where I want my stuff to appear, so this is all subject to availability and the right fit. I usually can offer no more than 2 perks per campaign, and they almost always sell out. If we’re working together, I always tweet about your campaign at least 3 times. To inquire about having me provide a perk for your campaign, please email me with a link to your campaign and the date you propose for the perk to go up (at least 1 week ahead of time).
(If you decide you want to take me up on this, there are no restrictions on how you word the items or what reward level you decide to offer them at, and you don’t have to linkback to me or anything like that. The focus is on YOUR crowdfunder, and this is my donation to support your awesome work.)
Folks have been asking me for advice because about a year ago, my colleagues in The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and I raised $12,000, thanks to the generosity of our communities—enough to build the infrastructure of our new press and publish three more books over the next year. Woohoo! So here’s what I know:
• It’s not about easy money.
Crowdfunding is SO MUCH WORK. If you’re fantasizing about throwing up a link and watching the money roll in, um … no.
Clear the decks as much as you can. Get as many hands to help as possible. Don’t expect to juggle other big projects at the same time.
Get ready to work your a** off.
• It’s not about being shy or modest.
You absolutely must be willing to contact everyone you can think of and ask them to spare a minute to look, share, and donate.
You must do 1:1 personal outreach. This includes private FB messages and emails, long-shot tweets to celebrities, and personal phone calls or meetings with people who could become major donors.
Feel weird about asking for money? Yes. Money is weird, right?
Do what you need to work through the feelings. Use your crowdfunder as an opportunity to learn about asking and receiving gracefully.
• It’s not about love.
Your BFF might not give. Some random friend of a high school classmate might become a major donor. A person whose politics are awesome might not put her money where her mouth is. A person you thought was a clueless jerk might surprise you with a chunk of change.
Don’t take it personally. Don’t read meaning into people’s actions. Ask everyone you can think of; try not to rule people out too soon.
Be grateful for what comes in, and let go of what doesn’t.
• It’s not about what you want.
It’s about your audience. How can you offer something they want? More diversity in publishing, a fantastic reward, a wonderful feeling, a better world?
We almost made this fatal mistake. We thought we’d written our appeal well; after all, we were three writers! But a few days after our crowdfunder went up, a good friend gave one of us excellent feedback.
She’d donated because she knew us, but she told us that, frankly, it sounded like a vanity project to publish our own books.
We were horrified. We had utterly failed to center our campaign around what we planned to do for the greater good.
Thanks to her honesty, we were able to rework our language to highlight our true goals: Publishing excellent unknown writers as an empowering poet-centered collective. Diversifying the range of literary voices published out of India. Creating access to mentorship and workshops for emerging poets from various backgrounds.
Donations picked up immediately. Our communities cared about these things, and responded.
• It’s not about doing it alone.
Collaborate: Donate to other people and share other campaigns generously. Share perks and incentives; our Facebook community loved the “book bundle” contest that we ran, with donations from many amazing poet friends. We had an amazing volunteer who met us once and decided to create social media memes/postcards for our campaign, and another amazing volunteer who shot our campaign video. Give what you can and accept what’s offered, and all the karma will someday bounce back to you.
• It’s not about location, location, location.
We had donors from South America and Europe, even though we founders are based in India and the U.S. The power of crowdfunding is that you can reach the whole world. Don’t be provincial. Make sure you have some perks at each level that people in distant places can also enjoy.
• It’s not about me!
Frankly, there are a LOT of better resources out there than my blog post. Google “crowdfunding tips.” Look within the guides of whichever platform you’re using. Browse some campaigns and analyze what makes you want to give. We learned so much from reading blogs in which other people generously analyzed their own crowdfunding strategies, successes, and failures.