Running for office, no matter the political office of choice, isn't an easy thing to do. Before you even make the decision to run, you need to know how to run for office, and you need to be sure you have what it takes to see it through.
Are You Ready to Run?
Before you even start doing all the things you're going to need to do in order to get ready to run for office, you need to know if you're ready to run. Being prepared to run takes more than just feeling an urge – you need to have some experience, a lot of drive, and a few other things.
Do you know the office you're running for?
You shouldn't be running for an office you don't know about. Take the time to know what you'll be doing if you win your seat, how long you'll be serving, and what you need to have in your background in order to qualify for the position.
What does your family think?
Support is important when it comes to running for office. Have you talked to your family about running, the office you'll be sitting in if you win, and how much time (and money) you're going to need to dedicate to this venture (whether or not you win).
Do you understand the time commitment?
Different political offices take a different amount of commitment, especially when it comes to time. Will this impede on your work schedule? Will you be able to fulfill the needs of the office for the time you need to be there?
Can you afford it?
Not only do you want to be as debt free as possible, but you also need to make sure you're paid up on your taxes and that
you don't have any old parking tickets (as well as making sure you don't have a tarnished past that can be dug up). You also need
money to keep paying your normal bills while also affording your campaigning adventure.
How to Run for Office
Campaigning is a major time commitment, but you want to do everything you need to do in order to make your campaign run as smooth as possible. You want a successful campaign, so you'll want to use the following tips to help you stay on the right path.
1. Take a Look at Yourself
It's important to know all of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running for office.
You will want to work on your weaknesses and rely on your strengths. Depending on what office you're running for, things could get heated – if you don't work well under pressure, you may get swallowed whole by the competition.
It will help to rate your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know your public speaking is a 2, but
your ability to tell a joke is a 5, you'll know that adding some comedy into
your speech can help you feel more comfortable in front of a crowd. Take a look at the following, within yourself, to help determine where you stand.
- 1Your public speaking skills
- 2Your funny side
- 3Your ability to tell a story
- 4Your honesty and compassion
- 5Your confidence
- 6Your leadership skills
- 7Your organizational skills
- 8Your best qualities (and your worst)
You also should consider whether or not you'd vote for yourself. Are you someone that you could get behind?
2. Get Help
Don't attempt to do everything on your own – build yourself a support network, and you'll have a better chance of success. There are plenty of people needed for a successful campaign; you're not the only person (and you can't do it all by yourself).
You'll need a campaign manager, events director, communications director, and a fundraising director, at a minimum. Start by looking at your friends and family that may be
able to fill these positions, followed by general volunteers.
3. Get a Budget Set Up
Your political budget is going to be completely separate from your home and work budgets. That's an entire third budget to deal with. You might need to get someone on “staff” to help with budgeting and finance since it can be time-consuming.
Take a look at other campaigns (if this is your first time running) so that you have some idea how much money you're going to need. You also want to know what it is that you're spending money on, and focusing on the things that are most important to your campaign.
Here are some things that you'll want to consider having in your campaign budget:
4. Do Some Research
Planning to run for office includes knowing all the steps you need to take in order to officially run. You can't simply say, “I'm running for State Governor,” and expect to see your name on the ballot.
You will need to file for office, so you need to know what that entails. You'll likely need to acquire signatures from local people and pay a fee. You also need to know the requirements of the office you plan to run for so that you know if you're actually qualified (before you put time and money in for nothing).
There are donation limits that you can take, so you need to research everything revolving around financing your campaign (unless you're extremely wealthy and paying for it all
5. Before You Tell the Public
Before you tell the public of your intentions to run for office, there are a few more things that
you are going to want to do. You need to come up with a political message and a political brand – this is all about politics after all.
Your message is what makes you the ideal candidate – what do you want to say to the public? What are you going to need to be doing while you're in the office you're running for? Be sure to consider the wants and needs of your community when you come up with your message.
Your brand needs to show people that you are authentic. Your brand should be relevant to the position you're running for, and to the community that you'll be serving. What are you offering people once you're in office – this speaks to your brand.
Planning your announcement for candidacy requires you to know what you're going to say, which is part of the reason you need that message. Along with your message, you need to explain to people why you're running. Then, determine if your announcement needs to be a big event or not (you may just announce on the radio or in a commercial, or you may throw a big shindig).
You're Going to Make the Announcement, Now What?
Before you make your announcement, you want everything set up so that people can start researching who you are, and they can have online sources that will let them know where you stand on all of the important issues.
You also want people to have a way to reach you and help you out on the road to public office, which requires a few things:
- You need a website – Your website is a place where people will
learn about you, where they can make a donation or buy merch, and where they can reach out to you with their important questions.
- You need to be on social media – Social media is essential and will help lead people to your website and to your campaign. It's the ideal way to reach more people and to allow possible voters to feel like they can reach out to you with their questions.
- You need to keep track of your supporters and volunteers
– Set up a database to keep track of these things, as well as keeping track of expenses and the money that you've received in donations.
Final Thoughts on How to Run for Office
Once you've gone through all of these steps, it's time to announce your candidacy. You'll spend time on the road, time making speeches and participating in debates, and you'll be doing a lot of talking and traveling. You'll need lots of drive.