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How to Use Video to Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign

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In her book Cash From the Crowd, Sally Outlaw, founder and CEO of crowdfunding website peerbackers, reveals the secrets of funding your business with help from colleagues, peers, family, friends and even perfect strangers through a crowdfunding campaign. In this edited excerpt, the author offers easy tips for creating a pitch video that attracts funding.

While videos aren't usually a crowdfunding platform requirement, campaigns that use them have a significantly higher success rate than those that don't, and those with videos raise more money as well -- up to 122 percent more! Not only could videos attract an audience that may not have the inclination or patience to read your written story, but they also have the power to more strongly engage those who watch and motivate them to support your project.

Many crowdfunders panic at the thought of having to create a video. Whether it's because they don't have a background in production or because they don't like to see themselves on screen, this element can seem daunting and actually derail the wish to move forward with a campaign. But with cell phones offering such high-quality video and editing apps, and software so prevalent, producing a campaign video is more accessible than you think.

It's best to have your video created as your primary and self-contained pitch because it will be the first and often only stop visitors to your page will make. You'll need to hook them within the first 30 to 60 seconds, or they'll move on. David Basulto, who raised $16,728 for his iOgrapher (an iPad filmmaking case for adding shooting accessories) and is in television and digital design, offers the following tips for creating a strong campaign video.

Sound is everything. Even the worst movies can have a reprieve as long as the audio is clear and concise. Bad sound is the difference between holding your audience captive and losing them immediately. Don't just rely on the built-in audio capture of the video device you use (such as an iPad). Get a solid microphone, and plan your audio capture correctly.

Setting. Make sure where you set the video—its location—fits the product you're promoting. If you're making a high-tech gadget and you shoot the video in your kitchen while food is cooking, you may not be taken seriously. Either find a great location or buy a backdrop off a website like TubeTape or eBay.

Lighting. A well-lit video distinguishes the pros from the beginners. For those with a budget, there are some great lighting sets you can get. At least pick up an onboard light for interviews. Even a lamp from the bedroom added to your scene can make a big difference.

Stable footage. The hardest videos to watch are those where the footage is shaky and unstable. If possible use a tripod or a handheld stabilizing device.

Camera. The iPad mini for its price point not only shoots great video, but you can edit on it, too.

The following software programs will help put the final polish on your production:

  • iMovie is great and easy to learn, and only $4.99.
  • Adobe's Creative Cloud includes Adobe Premiere Pro for editing video; After Effects for video effects, titling, color correction; Audition for audio fixes and mixing; and Media Encoder to render out an H.264 file perfect for You Tube, Vimeo and all crowdfunding websites. The Adobe Creative Cloud costs less than $50 per month, and you can use it for a month and then turn it off if you like. It works on both a Mac and PC.
  • Soundtrack. VJAM is a great app for adding soundtracks to your video.
  • YouTube has some limited but free editing tools built in as well.

Script and Narration

You want to highlight the key features or benefits of your product or business (the unique selling points), introduce your team and state what the funds you're seeking will allow you to do. Once you write your script -- a good length is between 300 and 400 words -- time it and make note of what visuals will accompany each portion of audio. Remember to keep your audience in mind and find the right tone.

Here are a few content tips for a great pitch video:

  • Shorter is better. The ideal length is between two and three minutes so you don't lose your audience's attention.
  • Who and why. Explain who you are and what you're trying to accomplish. What problem are you trying to address, and how does your business solve it? Don't forget to end with a call to action, as in "Please support and share my campaign."
  • Avoid boring facts and statistics.
  • Show yourself. Although you'd probably prefer to just do a voiceover, donors would love to meet you, and seeing you helps build trust.
  • If you can't stand being on camera, use a voiceover while demonstrating the functionality and benefits of your product or business.
  • Be entertaining. If you can just have fun while you shoot your video, this energy will come across.
  • Bells and whistles. If you want to go the extra mile, don't forget the addition of music, graphics, and even fun visual filters to strengthen your message.

If you express yourself in a genuine way, and clearly and enthusiastically communicate your vision, you'll make the emotional connection necessary to engage and motivate your backers.

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