If you are planning to run for office, you should start campaigning as soon as you can. That’s all. End of post.

No, not really. It’s a little more complicated than that.

While much of your campaigning activities will happen close to Election Day, you can lay the groundwork for your campaign much sooner. Planning, prioritizing and building early support are crucial for victory.

Start with the campaign basics

If you are a new candidate, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to start a political campaign committee. You will need a committee in place in order to legally accept donations or even spend money on your campaign. Rules and requirements on establishing a committee differ somewhat from state to state. You’ll want to go to your local county Board of Elections who can provide you with information and the paperwork necessary to start your campaign committee.

Once you have a campaign committee in place, along with designated treasurer, you will have to establish a campaign bank account. This account will be used for deposits and paying expenses. It should be  a stand-alone account and completely separate from any personal funds.

Build your online support network

building campaign supportThese days, technology is crucial to all aspects of political campaigns. As a candidate, you will want influence over what people see, hear and read about you online. To do that, you need an online identity and to create a personal brand for yourself. This means creating personal accounts social networks and professional websites. Only provide information that you are comfortable sharing. Keep in mind, of course, that if you are running for public office, eventually there won’t be much information about you that isn’t public.

Local #political candidates need an online identity to create a personal brand. via @onlinecandidate Click To Tweet

The value in building an online network is that you can begin slowly and grow your connections and influence with others. These connections can help  build relationships and get yourself better known. The purpose of engaging others online is to get people to know, like and trust you. The earlier you start this, the longer you have to build support.

Build even more support offline

Of course, as much as we deal with the online realm, it’s the boots-on-the-ground work in the real world that wins elections.

Build relationships with supporters long before you ask them for help. http://ow.ly/JWDl30gBiyb Click To Tweet

It’s important to build relationships with potential donors and supporters long before you ever ask them give you money or put them work. Get supporters in on the ‘ground floor’ of your campaign and give them the opportunity to have input on issues that are important to them and to help you create your campaign plan.

Ultimately, you will ask these people to act on your behalf. Individuals with whom you have built relationships and have an investment in your election victory will become your most important supporters and volunteers.

Not sure about running? Consider ‘testing the waters’

You may even want to ‘test the waters’ before deciding to campaign for office”. As a potential candidate, particularly for Federal office, may want to conduct polling or travel your district or state to see if there is enough potential voter support for your candidacy.

Some candidates are even using crowdfunding before they make the decision to run. That way they can secure seed money donations before they start campaigning.

While others are recovering from #ElectionDay, smart candidates are already hard at work. via @onlinecandidate Click To Tweet

Smart campaign managers and candidates are preparing for the next election before the current election is over. While others are recovering from Election Day, the next cycle has already begun – and the forward-looking candidates are already hard at work.

Learn the basics of online campaigning including social media, SEO, fundraising and online advertising at OnlineCandidateResources.com. Access is free for Online Candidate website clients.
FREE TIPS SHEET: 7 Preparatory Steps for a Political Campaign Website


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