My Indiegogo Campaign: Ditching Social Anxiety For Fun And Profit
I've been meaning to make a video summarizing my Indiegogo campaign since, oh, the middle of August, but I never got around to it and I think I know why: I wouldn't be able to keep it short and to the point. I'm a rambler and prone to tangents, and written blog posts allow for a level of skimming that videos largely don't. They also allow for bullet points! So, without further ado, here's a rundown of how I got a new laptop and my to-do list exploded, and why I'm running behind on a lot.
This is what I crowdfunded:
And this post is a (long, long) account of how that worked out for me.
I only moved this blog to my own hosting and started blogging properly after I got my new laptop — it was one of the reasons I wanted it — so most of you guys missed both the campaign and all the subsequent meltdowns. Be glad you did; it was not pretty.
The Planning Stages
From the beginning: I started an Etsy shop in December. In January, the purpose of that shop switched from ‘selling vintage jewelry from my grandma and little things my mom and sister made' to ‘selling prints of my original photography.' It was not successful by any stretch of the imagination, so most of the time I've had the shop, I've been thinking of new things to try to make it work for me on a financial level as well as in terms of fulfillment. Over the winter and spring, I added cards, phone cases, and product photography packages. Still slow. I redid my product photos a few times, redesigned my shop, tweaked descriptions, you know, the usual.
Around April I started to think about fashion design and how I'd always loved it, and for some reason — Pinterest? — it began to seem to me that sewing would not be impossible to learn as I'd always thought it would be. But I kept thinking about how hard it would be to manage two shops on my old laptop, which was already making it hard to run one shop and fulfill my product photography trades and edit photos for print, and eventually I came upon the idea of making it relevant to my current shop by using my photographs as a base for fabric design.
I'm not sure when I decided I'd run an Indiegogo campaign for it, but it wasn't long after. I wrote up the pitch for the campaign — the text on my Indiegogo page — in May; I know that because Indiegogo sent me a few automatic follow-up emails about launching, and I was like, no, wait, wait until I have some more things made up.
But then one night in June, I was feeling kind of weird and I went for it. I launched.
Cue a month of, well, like the title of this post says, poking my social anxiety in the face, every day, constantly. I sent out so many messages and emails and tweets to bloggers, fellow shop owners, and even a celeb or two — I broke so many networking rules, and I knew I was breaking them as I did it but I couldn't possibly bring myself to not. It was all I could think of to do. Some people were sweet enough to feature my shop (thank you, Emily and Mandi), let me guest post (thank you, Julie and Fifi), retweet a link or two, post about my campaign on Facebook, reblog my posts on Tumblr, etc. A lot of emails and tweets went ignored, which wasn't entirely surprising — all I felt (all I was) capable of offering was $10 towards the blogger's choice of perk, which involved a donation on their end on top of featuring me. It's still the best I can do.
Towards the end of my campaign, I purchased an ad space from Postcards From Rachel, who also allowed me to run a giveaway on her page even though it wasn't one of the incentives offered with my ad package. I honestly don't know how much traffic it brought me; the Indiegogo stats feature is pretty rudimentary, and it tracks referrals kind of oddly. It doesn't let you know where visitors clicked to get to your campaign, or how many views are unique. The giveaway didn't get a lot of entries. But I don't regret it at all; Rachel was a sweetheart, and now that I finally got into blogging, her corner of the blogging world — expats and travel bloggers — was the first I dug into. And they're wonderful and supportive and lovely, so I'm grateful for that.
In the end, what made my campaign successful — and oh, I was so terrified throughout the month that it wouldn't be; that I wouldn't be able to get my new laptop even though summer was getting hot and that meant my old one was pretty much out for the count, overheating and shutting down so often as to make it impossible to do any work on it, let alone graphic-heavy tasks like editing my photography. No, but, in the end, what made my campaign successful was the same thing that's made my life easier since I was fourteen and discovered Harry Potter fanfic: fandom, and more importantly and specifically, the amazing, wonderful people I've met through it. My friends in every sense of the word: the people I regularly talk to, the people who understand me and who have been with me through my teenage years and power suspensions and problems with my father; the people who have offered me support, who care about me, who I have fangirled with and commiserated with. The people who, in a big way, have made me the person I am today — confident in my views, passionate about media, self-aware and outspoken, a writer and a friend and a survivor.
They also made me meet my goal of $1,800 for a new laptop — a MacBook Pro, originally, but eventually I switched to the more affordable 13″ Air — and materials, mainly Spoonflower fabric, for my photo-printed fashion line. I went to bed on July 7 about $200 off from my goal, and woke up to see that I had met it. I was delighted, and so, so relieved to be able to a) stop bothering people (I'd even taken a two-day break during my campaign because my anxiety was doing so badly) and b) replace my ancient laptop.
I was also happy I'd met my goal because Indiegogo takes a smaller percentage of your funds than if you don't, and Indiegogo — well, I used their website and that worked for me. Thanks for the interface, Indiegogo. That's all they did for me. I was never acknowledged; all emails I received during my campaign were automated, and — I remember this well — when my campaign had eight hours to go, the campaigns showing under the ‘Final Countdown' heading on the Indiegogo homepage had several days left. All of them. I never expected them to pimp me, or find me, or contribute or anything, but it was a completely individual experience. I did all my marketing and all my campaigning. Upon meeting my goal, the first thing I said was, “Ha, suck on your 4%.”
Look, I never claimed to be a bundle of goodness.
Throughout June, I'd been so focused on my campaign — so terrified, so excited, so nervous — that I'd barely been able to think about anything else, or do anything else. The end of my campaign meant I'd be able to catch up on things — actually sew, for one.
That's when the wait for my funds started.
The Crossed Wires
There's really not much to drag out here. In short, Indiegogo lets you take contributions via Paypal or credit card. The Paypal contribs are deposited in your account as they arrive; the credit card contributions wait together until the end of your campaign, when they are disbursed by bank transfer in one big lump. This makes sense because of transfer fees — $25 flat for international wire transfers, plus third-party fees, some of which came as a surprise to me, but we're not there yet.
The point is, I waited. The credit card funds showed as ‘not yet disbursed' on my Funds page, which I didn't fully understand because, underneath, my credit card contributions said “Disbursement started Monday, July 8.” I kept checking that page as well as my bank account, constantly, every day. Refreshing tons of times every day. Indiegogo info said funds would be disbursed within 15 days of the campaign ending and arrive in your account 1-5 days after that, but I was really confused by the ‘not yet disbursed' heading.
After two weeks — 10 working days — I was pretty much going out of my mind with worry that something had gone awry, so I contacted support. The girl who got back to me was pretty nice and linked me to a page that I'd already read, which I let her know. I wasn't fully clear on what I'd originally asked, so I emailed back and forth with her until she finally got what I was saying — I had to attach a screenshot of my Funds page — and addressed my actual question with actual words not taken from the FAQ.
She told me my campaign had been placed under additional review, and I should hear from their Trust & Safety team soon.
As you can imagine, this did nothing to soothe my worries. I emailed her back asking what info they needed from me and where I could send it, and she wasn't getting back to me, so after a couple of days, I sent a follow-up email and asked to be please let in on what was going on because my anxiety was not faring well. Nothing.
So I sent in another support request asking about the status of my campaign review.
The person who got back to me on that copied an email I had allegedly been sent on July 8, asking the questions they needed answers to, all regarding my bank account information and name. I'd thought that must be it, since Lix Hewett is not my legal name and the bank account I put up was my mom's, but no one had confirmed it, so it was good to actually know. I sent in my info straight away, as well as a terrible quality Photo Booth cap (the best I could do with my old laptop) of my ID. I let them know I'd never received the original email, which no one ever, ever acknowledged.
And I kept waiting. Two days later, I asked for confirmation that they'd received my info, just to set my mind at ease. I sent in another support request, and the woman assigned to my first email told me to wait until July 30 — the 15-day deadline — and contact her if I hadn't seen my money by then. I said okay, thanks for putting up with me. I sent in another confirmation request.
I was going fucking crazy, if you'll pardon my French. Like totally fucking insane. I don't think people realize just how serious I am when I say my summer was a slump. It wasn't just the heat; the anxiety I felt throughout July was absolutely paralyzing. All I could think about was that things would go wrong somehow. All I could do was play Candy Crush on my laptop until it shut down from overheating, and play Vortex on my iPod while my laptop cooled down enough for me to play Candy Crush again. Some nights I indulged my consumerist streak and went around Etsy sending trade messages, which was quite the act of faith because it involved saying, “I'll have a new laptop to do this on soon,” when I wasn't actually sure at all that it would happen. That only exacerbated my anxiety more.
On July 26, I got an email that my campaign had been cleared. Finally! My funds would be disbursed the following Friday — it was Friday already, and that's when they do their disbursement rounds.
Basically, if I'd got the original email, I'd have had my funds before mid July. If they'd fucking bothered to prioritize my campaign review after I sent in the info, which I think would have been the right thing to do given a) it wasn't my fault I never received their original email and b) I was going fucking nuts, I would have got my funds within 15 working days of my campaign ending.
I didn't. They were disbursed on August 2. That's three days outside the 15-day window.
At this point I was just angry as shit. I was happy when my funds finally came in, but I was fucking pissed. The Indiegogo support interface asks you if you're satisfied with their service, and support reps are people so my first instinct was to say yes, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized they'd pretty much been fucking with me. My specific questions were met with links to FAQs I'd already read; I never got confirmation despite asking for it multiple times because, hello, I'd already not received an email; instead of informing me when I said I hadn't received any info about my campaign being flagged for additional review, no one even acknowledged that until I asked about its status.
You know what? If I could have, I would have kicked them all in the face. My blood is boiling just thinking about it. If there's one thing I've learned from my anxiety, it's how not to let it out on undeserving people. I warn people when I'm irritable and I try not to engage my own anger. But this shit was not my fault.
But anyway, I had my funds. I was 20€ shy of the Apple Spain price for a 13″ MacBook Air through the Education Store, so, even though at first my mom was an asshole about it, eventually she told someone and that someone gave me the money I needed. I would have to make up money for the rewards on my own, but I was confident enough that I'd be able to do so when I had my new laptop — and that's proven true, so if you're expecting a reward, trust me: you're getting it. Fulfilling them is my #1 priority budget-wise.
So anyway, I ordered my laptop. That was another week of waiting, though at least my laptop was shipped straight away, and it had tracking on it, and it got here when it said it would.
While I was waiting for it, I gave into how much I wanted my own hosting for a website and a blog — it had been killing me not being able to get a nice theme with a wide content space on WordPress.com — and a friend of mine kindly, uh, “sponsored” my tunnel vision and I took advantage of an old offer on Dreamhost that was still active. We share hosting now — we're webhostmates, if you will. She's pretty damn amazing, and she posts about books and beauty so obviously you should follow her. (I'll mention her again in a post where she's not buried by my rambling, promise.) You can probably equate this to the trade offer sprees throughout July.
But I got my laptop in August. I set up my blog with a simple theme, doing the bare minimum to begin posting because I had other things to do, namely catch up on product photography and sewing. That's still true, and this is still that theme. My portfolio still has a Coming Soon sign. I'm working on it! I feel like I've only been able to get properly started this week, though, because just before August…
…my sister moved back into my room. I shared with her for years; there are three bedrooms in my family's apartment: one is my parents' (though they don't share the bed anymore; my mom naps there after lunch and sleeps on the couch at night), one is mine and my sister's, and the third used to be occupied by my grandfather until he died back in 2006, and occasionally by my grandma after that. My grandma has three daughters and spends six-month periods living with each one of them. Her last one with us ended in June last year, and after that, after years of me talking about please making the spare bedroom (which I called the Panic Room) inhabitable for my sister and her flatout refusing and nothing being done, she (my sister) got it into her head that she was repainting and refurbishing it and moving out of our bedroom.
This was fucking excellent. Let's be real, I probably wouldn't have made half the progress I made over the past year if my sister hadn't moved out at the same time I started taking antidepressants. We became closer, too. It's pretty great.
Fast-forward to late July this summer, and it's time for my grandma to move back in with us — and for my sister to move back in with me. I actually wasn't feeling too scared, despite the ridiculous number of nightmares I'd had about it. Those were usually the nightmares I woke up screaming from, actually, in case anyone's wondering. But I wanted to move my sister's bed back in as late as possible, and my mom kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and the Friday before my grandma was supposed to move in on Sunday (which she didn't; she put it off afterwards), my mom plowed in, and I ended up having a panic attack and crying in my bed from sheer anxiety.
So that was fun.
Then the week after I got my laptop, my sister inherited my old one, and she decided I had to reset it for her. Which would have been fine, except I had a ton of things to do and I couldn't actually reset it in August because it would inevitably overheat and shut down! But she kept pushing, and eventually I had another anxiety fit.
I don't know about you, but after a month poking my social anxiety with emails and another month going out of my mind with worry and paranoia and being literally paralyzed by anxiety, not being able to make the most of my long-awaited new laptop and getting to work on my campaign rewards and then some only extended said paralyzing anxiety. And added on guilt to it. And eventually I broke.
At least after that she mostly stopped bugging me. But she didn't stop being in my room all the time despite my constantly reminding her that I needed peace and quiet and space to work — and to stay sane. My mom didn't get it, my father still thinks I'm selfish, blah blah blah. But it was pretty hard to deal with when she was on vacation. I got some photography done, but I've yet to do any sewing, and I haven't ordered any fabric since June, and I'm nowhere near caught up on anything except maybe blogging, which was a new addition to my workload anyway.
My sister is finally back to school now, as of Tuesday, which means mornings at least are free for me, so I'm sorting my shit out and I'm ready to plow through my to-do list. That's a huge delay, huger on some things than others. But I hope this post explains it, and justifies it as much as it can be justified. That's why I made this post. I'm sorry it's so long. But I needed to tell this story at some point, and I'm glad it's now written out and published. Thank you so much for reading.
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