Kickstart Your political Campaign
Websites, Fundraising & Social Media
Congratulations! You've decided to run for office! With a record number of filings yesterday here in Oklahoma and even more expected today I expect there are quite a few candidates that are now preparing for next steps.
If you consider yourself a DIY'er then this article is for you.
I'm pulling back the curtain and giving you a playbook with my notes and guidelines to help you kickstart your campaign off on the right foot. While there are numerous options for web hosting, donation processing, etc that we use for different clients I thought about what a DIY'er would need and I've put together a plan outlined below that is my recommendation of platforms and systems that are known to be very user friendly, quick to set up and have competitive pricing. This checklist is intended to help you overcome the hurdle of too many choices and not understanding which systems work together.
CHECKLIST - I'm running for office now what?
1. Set up campaign email address in gmail
2. Identify campaign committee name and address - (you'll probably want to set up a PO Box or use the address of your campaign accountant - DO NOT USE YOUR HOME ADDRESS)
3. Set up campaign banking account in the name of your campaign committee
4. Register your website domain ($20/for 1 year) on squarespace.com
5. Create account at Stripe.com for donor processing - will need to add your banking info for processing. In the account set up you'll add your banking info, your birthdate, your social security number, campaign address and website address (it's ok that your site isn't built yet, they just need the domain url to be registered)
- Modify the collection form and add employer and occupation to the data collected from each donor. (you are required to attempt to collect donor name, address, email, phone number, occupation and employer for each donation you accept.
- Note - If you already set up a PayPal account you'll be frustrated to learn they don't allow you to modify the form. I'm mentioning this because it seems like everyone goes to PayPal first! I strongly discourage candidates from using PayPal, if you absolutely are committed to it you'll need to create a form page then link from your form page to your donor page and no, this isn't easy. You'll need some custom css coding to insert in your PayPal dashboard and you'll need to upgrade your PayPal account. Paypal is a pain for candidates.
6. Create PayApp Merchant account and download app and add to mobile device to accept donations at events. You'll enter your stripe login credentials and presto, you're ready to take that credit card donation the next time someone says "I forgot my checkbook"
7. Create mailchimp.com account - will use this for email campaigns
- Create list in your account to accept web subscribers, create second list for donors. You'll connect these lists to subscriber opt in's on your website.
- Embed subscriber form on your website to capture emails on home page as well as a checkbox on donor form.
8. Set up web hosting with SSL on Squarespace.com ($30/monthly) I personally recommend using squarespace.com because it's a strong platform that is mobile friendly, works beautifully with Stripe, Mailchimp and google docs + bonus we have an entire series of helpful tutorials you can follow.
- Build an announcement page in Squarespace - this is a one page website. Set this page as your homepage.
- Add your contact button - direct to your campaign gmail address
- Add a donor button and link your stripe account in the settings dashboard
- Personalize - add your photo and a brief declaration note about why you are running
- Add your domain you registered back in step 4 as your primary domain in the settings dashboard
9. Create a Campaign page on Facebook
- Name it the same as your committee name / domain url name
- Make sure it is set as a Political candidate page
- Add a profile picture, header picture, your website address, and campaign email address
- Write your first post and include a link to your website
- Return to your campaign website at squarespace.com and add your social links to your announcement page
AT THIS POINT YOU HAVE A ONE PAGE WEBSITE UP THAT CAN COLLECT DONATIONS!
This is where you do your happy dance!!
The first half of the checklist is urgent to complete for anyone wanting to capitalize on the momentum and free press surrounding filing day.
Moving on from here you can tackle the remainder of this checklist on your timeline, still necessary to accomplish quickly because primaries are coming up quickly!
10. Create campaign logo - ask your designer for a few versions to use on signs, shirts, transparent background, etc. You'll need high resolution pdf's as well as small png files for your website.
11. Book a session with a professional photographer for campaign photos - you'll need stand alone horizontal headshots as well as family photo's
12. Write your bio and add to your website
13. Write your issues statements and add to your website
14. Write voter education series and add to your website
15. Add blogs/news & updates to your website each month - these should be events you are attending, announcements, etc.
16. Collect testimonials and add to website - make sure you have written permission to share publicly
17. Write out and schedule your social media posts with a mix of video, graphics, photo's and links that support your message, your issues, voter education and community events.
**We wrote a blog a while back about how to be your own social media manager, to read that with more tips visit: Social Media On A Budget
18. Plan your advertising budget, create ads using email lists and donor lists to drive traffic to your site and to increase your branding base.
HUGE DISCLAIMER - this is not an exhaustive list of everything that you'll need to be doing, this is our take on what you can do as a DIY'er to kickstart your digital marketing of your campaign. Ordering signs, donation envelopes, filing monthly donor reporting, walking neighborhoods and booking speaking opportunities etc should also be high on your to do list!
SHAMELESS PLUG - Digital marketing can be hard but doesn't have to be, it's why I built this agency. If you need help with any of your website, social media management & ads or email marketing we can help. We can provide full service where we take care of everything or if you are doing it yourself but need just an hour of coaching to get your campaign back on track let us know how we can help! Click below to view our campaign packages.
Last thoughts because websites are important, it's your digital front door that is working for you even when you are sleeping so folks usually have some strong opinions about the best way to build a website. Now you may be saying, but Stephanie I've heard that wordpress is a better hosting platform for websites or my friend told me I should be using Wordpress... here's my response to that. Wordpress is a fantastic platform and there are literally thousands of political themes you can install for a wordpress website BUT and here's the kicker, a typical wordpress website will take at minimum 80-100 hours for an experienced web consultant to build and customize. Do you have that kind of time? Do you want to pay for that kind of time $$$$ because Wordpress has NEVER been DIY friendly, the learning curve for wordpress is painful and brutal for DIY'ers.
Also, what about Anedot or Act Blue for donations? Yep, those are both good processing options for donations but they charge more than Stripe and have a waiting period to begin accepting donations.
So... yeah you can see that there are SO MANY choices and just because I didn't mention it in this line up doesn't mean we don't love it and use it regularly. It's all about putting together the best options for each client and their needs and for this I tried to pick solutions that were low cost, easy to use + access to online tutorials and quick to implement for your launch strategy.