Want to know how to launch your political campaign?

Learn How In Just

-10 Simple Steps

If you found your way here, you’re probably already thinking about running for office. Some offices like Sheriff may have specific eligibility criteria, while federal campaigns have specific requirements and rules.

But for most local positions, if you’re eligible to vote, you’re probably eligible to run. Each state and jurisdiction will have their own regulations. The easiest way to find out if you’re eligible is to contact your local elections office and just ask.

Once you’ve picked the office you’re interested in, and have determined you’re eligible, it’s time to start planning your campaign.

This is different than writing a resume. This isn’t a job interview where you need to convince a hiring manager. You need to win over voters.

The key is to keep it narrative, and focus on telling your personal story. Give voters a reason to connect with you. Focus on the things that make you stand out.

Writing a good biography will come in handy down the road. You can use all of it for your website or mailers, or just take parts for social media posts. If you’re struggling, try this easy five paragraph format:

  1. State who you are and why you’re running
  2. Describe your personal background – where you grew up, went to school, or worked
  3. Highlight professional/personal accomplishments – highlight achievements or what you’ve done in the community
  4. Share your family life/hobbies – add details that showcase your connection to the area you’re running in
  5. Show your vision – connect your background to what you hope to accomplish. Share how you’re uniquely qualified to serve your community well.

It’s probably the issues that drove you to run for office. However, in local elections these matter less than connecting with voters. Many voters will pick the candidate they know personally before they even think about whether they agree on every issue.

Picking your issues isn’t about trying to convince voters to agree with you.

This doesn’t mean the issues don’t matter. Instead, focus on explaining to voters why you care about the same things that they do. You are showing voters your values, and why you will be a good advocate for them.

Write out a list of your positions on as many issues you can think of. You can draw from when you need posts on social media or answers in open forums. Then pick your top three. These you can reference again and again.

Write a paragraph or two for each of your issues. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but focus on strong action words and how it is proof of your values.

It’s always best to get professional photos taken. If that’s not an option, find someone to take some for you. Even a new smartphone camera will do in a pinch.

Dress nice, but skip the formal business attire. Opt for something you’d wear in a nice family photo. Stick to simple colors and prints, and be sure to smile.

The most important thing is to go outside, and take the photos in landscape – so it’s wider than it is tall. You don’t need to be super close to the camera because you can always crop later. This way you have the most versatility later when it comes to using your photos on your website or in print. There should be plenty of room to add graphics on the photo.

Lastly, take more photos than you think you’ll need. It’s always good to have options.

No matter what office you’re running for, you’ll need to officially file. You’ll need to ask your local board of elections about what are the filing requirements. In most states, all it takes is some paperwork and a filing fee. Sometimes you can gather signatures instead of paying the fee if you’d rather do that.

No matter what, don’t put off getting your paperwork in order and making sure you meet the filing deadline.

Some campaigns may choose to hold off on filing until the last possible moment. Just be careful to have your things in order well in advance, and that you know the rules.

You’ll probably need to file two separate forms. One to become a candidate, and a second to create a political organization to raise and spend money. Make sure you do both.

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Once you’ve filed your paperwork, you should open a bank account. This is best practice to ensure that you are following campaign finance laws, and will make fundraising and reporting even easier.

Many large national banks will be able to do this very easily, but some local banks or credit unions may also help your campaign open an account. The key step is that you need to obtain an Employeer Identification Number, or EIN. You can get one from the IRS after you’ve filed your paperwork to form your campaign committee.

This is great task to designate to a campaign treasurer. If you don’t know someone, get connected with your local party to find someone who’s gone through these steps before. They should be able to help guide you and even fill out paperwork for you.

Online fundraising is a powerful resource. It’s easier than ever to start collecting donations online. Most donors will expect you to have some way to give online.

Once your paperwork is filed and bank account is open you can very easily set your campaign up to accept contributions. For conservative candidates, WinRed is the premier technology that campaigns can use.

It’s simple to submit all your information, but it can take several days before you can take your first contribution. Keep this in mind when planning on launching your campaign.

Now that you’ve got your campaign messaging written, and you’re set up to take online contributions, you’ll need a campaign website. If you have the budget, you can pay a designer to build a custom website for several thousand dollars.

Today there are so many tools that make it easier than ever to build your own website. Ryvall is a campaign website builder designed for candidates. It’s easy build your own site in just a day.

If you make your website yourself, just remember that the function is more important than the design. Focus on making sure your website is able to collect donations, gather emails, and provide people a way to get in touch. That’s all your website really needs to do.

You don’t need to be on every new social media. There’s no point in having a TikTok or Instagram if you don’t plan on using them. At a minimum, you should set up a facebook page, which a simple, free way to reach many voters.

Creating your page is as simple as uploading the photo you took in step four, using the bio you’ve already written, and linking to your website.

Once you are all set up, you’re ready to launch your campaign!

One single day isn’t going to be make or break for your campaign, but your launch can kick start your campaign.

If you do nothing else, send an email blast to as many people as you know, and make an announcement post on social media. With both these things, be sure to link to your website, and to encourage people to sign up or donate.

There’s lots more that you could include in your launch, from an announcement video to press releases. This guide is just the basics, and you can always do more to help your campaign to victory. But if you’re running a smaller campaign, don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Focus on what you can accomplish that has the greatest impact.

Lastly, wining isn’t about the fanciest PR strategy or most expensive website. It’s about talking to voters. Don’t waste your time spending hours building out complex plans that ultimately make very little difference.

Instead focus your energy on raising money and meeting voters. If you do those two things well, you’ll be able to hire the right campaign team to help you with the more complicated things like direct mail, videos, and advertising.

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This guide was built by the website experts behind Ryvall. We’ve helped campaigns win from City Council to Congress. Best of all, our newest website builder is designed to keep you focused on crafting a winning message – no coding required. You can build your own website for a fraction of the price of a custom website.

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