How to Use On-going Crowdfunding Sites to Market Yourself as an Artist

With Ratafire as an Example

Ratafire is the first free to use on-going crowdfunding site

I am Fari, the founder of Ratafire, the first free to use on-going crowdfunding site for artists and researchers. In this blog post, I will explain to you the details of using an on-going crowdfunding site.

Before we get into the topic, I must first offer you a mindset that will benefit you greatly — marketing is as complex as the creative process.

Therefore, please take it seriously.

I am a programmer, a designer, and a composer (You can view my work here). By default, my mindset is all about creating, and I value the product to extreme.

When the popular saying is that the execution is everything, and ideas worth nothing, I still think making the best product is the only way things work.

However, a great product, or a great piece of art you have just created, worths the best marketing. It deserves the attention you pay to tell the world, and it is an art itself in the spreading of your ideas.

In this article I will show you how to use Ratafire as part of your monetary and marketing plan.


How to Market Your Work in General

A rule of thumb is to spend 20% of the time on creating and 80% of the time on marketing.

You may say, “This is too much, and I can’t help myself in not creating! I want to paint, and play the instrument and make things.” Neither can I.

Mozart’s Daily Routine

The above is a chart I use to convince myself, regardless of its authenticity. What is Mozart doing on the “Lunch and social” hours? Why didn’t he spend all of his time composing? He can spend 10 minutes on lunch and there was no need to talk to people… but he didn’t.

Because the “Lunch and social” is his marketing time.

The good and bad news is: if you have resources, you can pay others to do your marketing. So you can expect as you grow more successful, you can spend more of your time creating. However, no matter how successful you are, you still have to spend the money equivalent of your time on your marketing.

For example, suppose 80% of your time worths $4,500 per month. If you are now spending 100% of your time creating, you have to spend $23,200 on marketing to keep the 20/80 ratio.

Now that you know you have to spend 80% of your time or its monetary equivalent on marketing, we can move on to what you should actually do.


Traction Channels

Ratafire is the first free to use on-going crowdfunding site

Here are 20 traction channels from the book Traction. You don’t have to be an expert on all of them. Only one channel will work for you at a given period of time before the channel becomes saturated.

I suggest you first scan through all of them to open your mind to channels you didn’t know previously, so that you don’t have to feel you have no other cards to play if Facebook ads didn’t work for you.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing consists of growing your userbase by encouraging your users to refer other users.

Public Relations (PR)

Public relations is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines and TV.

Unconventional PR

Unconventional PR involves doing something exceptional (like publicity stunts) to draw media attention.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing allows companies to advertise to consumers searching on Google and other search engines.

Social and Display Ads

Ads on popular sites like reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and hundreds of other niche sites can be a powerful and scalable way to reach new customers.

Offline Ads

Offline ads include TV spots, radio commercials, billboards, infomercials, newspaper and magazine ads, as well as flyers and other local advertisements.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is the process of making sure your website shows up for key search results.

Content Marketing

Blogging.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert prospects while retaining and monetizing existing ones.

Engineering as Marketing

Develop widgets, create free tools.

Targeting Blogs

Collaborate with small blogs, and guest blogging.

Business Development

Partner with another business.

Sales

Creating processes to directly exchange product for dollars.

Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions.

Existing Platforms

Focusing on exiting platforms means focusing your growth efforts on a mega-platform like Facebook, Twitter, or an App Store and getting some of their hundreds of millions of users to use your product.

Trade Shows

Trade shows are a chance for companies in specific industries to show off their latest products.

Offline Events

Sponsoring or funning offline events — from small meetups to large conferences — can be a primary way you get traction.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking at trade shows and offline events.

Community Building

Community building involves investing in the connections among your users, fostering those relationships and helping them bring more people into your site’s circle.

Before you have exhausted all of these channels, please don’t give up, but I bet you can go somewhere with some of them. You can easily see that most of these channels demand a marketing budget which you may not have, but some of them are available to everyone-

-to the point where you simply have to spend time on them.

Before we go into these more accessible channels in detail, I will first show you how to setup Ratafire so that you can incorporate your marketing efforts on these bootstrapping channels with your on-going crowdfunding setup.


Ratafire’s Role in your Marketing

Ratafire is the first free to use on-going crowdfunding site.

By on-going, it means your fans will support you to do your projects on a monthly basis. Every month, if you have updated your project, and your fans stay on your Ratafire patron list, their cards will be swiped with the value they select.

Here is how you should use Ratafire:

Use Ratafire as your fanbase management tool, and look to sell to your fanbase when your work is done.

If someone has supported you during your creative process, it is increasingly easier to try to convince this person to buy your work when your creative process is done.

Never do marketing after your work is done and is ready to face the market, do it when you are creating.

To break the ice and make the initial contact less awkward are very important in marketing (as long as you remember to keep up your effort and continue to talk to the person afterwards… or else it is useless).

Using an on-going crowdfunding site just make your initiation much less awkward and make it possible for you to think about marketing when you are creating.

After you have spent around one month of time on marketing, you will understand what I just said, and see the incredible value in building a fanbase when creating.

Create an account on Ratafire, sync a Facebook fan page, and then click “Accept Patrons” to setup your account.

After you have setup Ratafire or other on-going crowdfunding site, we can talk about some basics on several traction channels you may use.

I will only mention the channels I have experience in, and leave the rest for you to explore. Feel free to contact me directly if you have great discoveries!

Please do not give up, and do not think that because you are a creative, you have no talent in marketing. I am an extremely introverted nerdy programmer, and even I can learn to do this.

You definitely have a better chance than I do.


Facebook

You have to admit he has created something strange…
Facebook is strange. It is a mystery just like Mark Zuckerberg himself.

Before we dive into the mystery of Facebook, I would like to let you know that you can sync your Facebook fan page on Ratafire, so that you don’t have to update manually every month.

Facebook has a huge population, and everyone wants to market on it. It also has the lowest customer conversion rate — which has driven everyone crazy.

The most important thing you need to know about Facebook is that normal people are not doing their business related activities on it. When they log onto Facebook, they expect to spend time and have fun with their friends.

So be their friend.

Post only immediate consumable content, ideally entertainment on Facebook and never post a direct advertisement.

Post no more than once a day, or else Facebook will mark your content as spam.


Twitter

Twitter is another mystery…

The time now is October 2015. Twitter is no longer a frontier, but just like you need a Facebook fan page, you will need a Twitter account.

Twitter is very unfriendly to newcomers now, where people who joined 10 years ago have too many fans, and it is increasingly hard to build a fanbase on Twitter if you are starting now.

Please don’t give up on yourself if you are not able to gain a following soon enough.

The following number on Twitter nowadays marks your popularity score, however, your followers hardly pay attention to what you are saying on Twitter now… So it is only a score.

The only way to build a following on Twitter is to follow others. You can pay someone to do this work for you because it is a repetitive task.

To have an active Twitter account, I highly recommend Buffer to you:

Schedule all your tweets a week in advance, so that you don’t have to update every couple of hours. It will take around 2 hours to schedule a week’s worth of tweets if you have 20% new content.

However, you can reuse content on Twitter.

It is ok to tweet the same thing multiple times, because high frequency marks the characteristics of Twitter. Speaking of which, schedule 5 tweets for each day will be sufficient.


Public Relations

This channel is highly recommended. One of its preparation is to have a blog for whatever you are doing, so that you can get into the writer mindset. We will talk about content marketing in detail later.

Public relations is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines and TV — mainly contacting journalists.

There are generally two styles of PR. The first I would call Number PR, because it treats PR as a number’s game, including data analysis and most importantly- a lot of data.

The second style is Relationship PR. This style focus on building relationships with journalists, and is recommended by many.

I would say you should pick the style that you like best, because at the end of the day, you have to spend quite some time with it, and it will be boring if you have picked something that may bore you.


Number PR

  1. Search a topic related to what you are doing in Google news or other news search engine.
  2. Find 100 journalists who have written on the topic (journalists are hired based on topics, so they usually only write about one topic).
  3. Write 5–7 templates, each with 75–150 words.
  4. Send the slightly customized templates to these 100 journalists, and track open and reply rate. Find out which template work for you best.
  5. Research on the angle of the template that works best for you and find journalists who cover this angle most. Send more emails to these journalists (another 100 journalists).

Here are several notes for you when you are using the 5 Steps of Number PR:

  1. It is ok to cold email journalists directly. It is in fact the industry norm to do so.
  2. Email journalists on the morning of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  3. You can email the same journalists up to 3 times over a certain period of time if he or she doesn’t respond (some PR companies email journalists 15 times).
  4. Expect 10% respond rate.

Relationship PR

This is a personal PR, with the focus on building a relationship before pitching. I would recommend Dmitry’s guide.

His course on Relationship PR is also worth checking out.



Content Marketing

This is one of my favorite channels. It is not the most effective, nor the fastest, but the most creator friendly.

Content marketing means blogging. It is not only blogging that counts as blogging, for blogs include videos, images, audios and so on.

Content marketing takes 6 months to mature.

Please be patient and most importantly, be consistent.

Content marketing is useless if you do not update consistently. A blog in the middle of nowhere is not going to generate traction, but a blog that is not updated consistently is dead.

Update every one or two weeks, for over 6 months at least, then you will start to see the effect.

Use content marketing as an underlying layer for your PR, your guest blogging, your social media and your email marketing plan. It should be run consistently in the background to guide everything else.

Just like how you market your artwork, you will have to market your blog posts. Email them to people, and ask for comments and recommendations as a start.


Email Marketing

Email marketing is the most effective way of marketing so far. It is like the nuclear bomb of marketing, so use it with caution. You should look for an interaction rate of 40%.

If you can’t reach 40%, you will need to re-craft your message.

I personally is not fond of creating a lot of promotional emails, however, I do use email to connect with people on a personal level.

On the business level, write short emails, write short emails, write short emails…

I must repeat the most important thing for 3 times.

The length of the email should be determined by the relationship with the person you are writing to. If you are friends or lovers, then however long it takes to talk about a topic in-depth is encouraged.

If you are cold emailing, or interchanging business emails, then keep them short.


Teaching

This channel is especially mentioned here for all creatives, because you have skills to share.

Post your lessons on YouTube.

Of all the content I tried to put into my content marketing, I found out the ones that contain most knowledge work best.

Knowledge is not the way to make money. Knowledge is money.

Therefore by sharing lessons, you are putting money into marketing. As for on-going crowdfunding sites. I highly recommend you use educational materials as the rewards for your patrons on Ratafire.

You can even consider giving private lessons to patrons who have paid you most.

When Plato first created his academy in Athens, it was a free institution. For him, knowledge should be given out freely, since it was the ideal of Socrates. Socrates was not killed because he was giving free philosophy lessons, but because he had connections with the 30-man tyranny in Athens.

Share you knowledge, and the world would want to know you.