Crowdfunding a one-way flight to India.

crowdfunding-trip-to-india

How I crowdfunded a one-way plane ticket to India.

Crowdfunding is the act of raising capital for a project in small amounts from a large number of people.  

How I crowdfunded my trip to India.

  1. Read as much as possible about crowdfunding
  2. Signed up for every crowdfunding site I could find.
  3. Built my own crowdfunding website using wordpress.  (http://funding.chuckmanley.com)
  4. Created a video to promote the project.
  5. Promoted it through chuckmanley.com and social media.

There is a ton of information on the net about crowdfunding.  By searching for “how to successfully crowdfund” you can find a ton of information from many sources about the subject.  Crowdfunding is about being able to tell a story to a lot of people and deliver value to them for their contribution to your project.  You need to have a story that is convincing enough to encourage people to contribute to your project.  You also need to provide an exchange of value so people feel like they’re getting something by helping you reach your goal.  Lastly you need to have people who are willing to back you.  Try to get people close to you as early adopters to help build momentum from the start.

There are a ton of sites out there with the post popular 3 being kickstarter, indiegogo, and gofundme.  For a much bigger list and the pros and cons of the sites, check out http://marketingmoxie.biz/the-big-list-of-crowdfunding-sites/.

I took an alternate approach by building my own crowdfunding platform using wordpress.  For my crowdfunding site, I used the free plugin, crowdfunding by astoundify.  The plugin was a bit over my head so I looked at many premium templates and purchased Franklin for $45.  Franklin does everything I need it to do, was easy to setup, and easily customizable.  It means I’ll never have to pay a fee, but the downside is not having the potential audience that comes along with an already established site.

I had been shooting video lately and looking for an excuse to learn some editing.  This was the perfect excuse to learn some new skills and I’m really happy with how the project came out.  I uploaded it to Vimeo, Youtube, and Facebook.  You don’t need to have a ton of fancy equipment to make a short video.  Smart phones these days can record in HD and also have apps for basic editing.  I did mine using my Pentax K-5, an iPhone as a sound recorder, and piecing it together in Adobe Premiere.  I learned a lot and can’t wait to make more videos!

I set a lofty goal of $3,000 promising to buy a motorcycle there if I could raise that much.  In the end I got around $1,200 which won’t send me on a motorcycle trip, but will definitely get me somewhere in India.

What I learned crowdfunding my trip to India.

  1. Try to avoid looking like an asshole while asking other people to fund your travels.
  2. Provide updates along the way to keep things fresh.
  3. Have cool rewards and be able to show them early on.

I got a lot of flak from mostly anonymous people saying negative things to me about asking for money for a trip.  It took a lot of the wind out of my sails and I found myself kind of quietly letting the project fade a little bit because of that  (see:  5 ways I make criticism my bitch).  I also wish I could have kept things updated along the way.  I kind of launched and hoped the momentum would carry without minimal input.  I should have created additional videos and updates along the way so as to have a reason for reminding people about it.  I finished my designs last minute as usual and after posting them online, a lot of people are starting to get excited and want a shirt or sticker of their own.  I should have gotten these done earlier so people could have seen them and got excited earlier on.

Silkscreen for making screen prints.

Silkscreen for making screen prints.

I leave in 2 days and I’m not ready.

I feel like I just got back to Detroit and now it’s nearly time to go.  I have a one way plane ticket to New Delhi, India leaving from Newark, NJ 600 miles from me.  The trip to New Jersey will be with my parents over the course of the weekend with a visit to see my brother in West Virginia and then stopping in Philadelphia along the way.  They’ll drop me off at EWR where I take a 17.5 hour trip through Belgium ending in New Delhi, India.

I’m excited about my lay-over in Belgium because they’re known for having some of the best beer in the world.  My bucket list includes going to Belgium and drinking Belgian beer.  It doesn’t say anything about what kind of establishment it has to be in!

But for now I’m still saying hello’s and how are you’s, but time is running out for those.  I’m aware that these are becoming the last times I’ll be seeing people on this side of the trip.  I’ve even adopted the goodbye of saying “see you on the other side” knowing that there’s a chance that it won’t be in our living days.  Life happens and so does death.  I want to cherish the moments with so many people I love while I”m here and never let go.

I’m nervous, excited, scared, happy, sad, anxious, terrified and elated that this is finally happening.  Going to India has been a thought in the back of  my head for as long as I’ve been traveling.  It’s something I knew one day I’d do, but it’s something that I’ve managed to tell myself over the years that “I’m not ready for.”  It’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time putting off for a later day…

…and that day is Monday.