I have coached quite a few people through the crowdfunding process and I often get invited to the party AFTER it’s almost too late. It makes it harder to gain momentum when you have not pre-prepared. Here is what to know first
• You need to have an existing fan base – crowdfunding is not a discovery tool.
• You need to understand your target audience and create not only compelling rewards, but also a compelling story/ journey to bring them on.
I have found the most unexplained aspects are a step further back from these two bullet points.
1. Choose the right platform
There are several platforms available for crowdfunding. While many of them seem to offer similar experiences, choosing the right one takes some consideration. There are hundreds but here are the 4 you should look at:
This list of four is a place to start. However, there are many more to consider, so feel free to do your homework.
Hands-down the largest platform in the crowdfunding space, Kickstarter is open to art, design, fashion, has become known for quite a few record-breaking campaigns, including tech startup Pebble Watch, pre- selling 275,000 units, Amanda Palmer’s $1,000,000+ album-focused campaign.
Kickstarter takes 5% of successful campaign funding. If a campaign is not successful, all money is returned.
Indiegogo allows you to keep a partial raise, regardless of whether you hit the goal or not. Of course, similar to RocketHub, the standard 4% commission charge is raised to 9% if you don’t hit your goal. Another benefit is you candesignate your campaign as a 501(c)(3). When you create your campaign, you will be asked “Which person or organization will receive funds from your campaign? All funds will be sent to your organization through FirstGiving” (from the Indiegogo website).
crowdfunding platform focusing most of its efforts on campaigns that surround educational technology and educational programs. If you raise 100% of your funds, you are charged 4%. If not, you are charged 8%.
Separating itself from the rest of the crop, PledgeMusic focuses on the experiential component of crowdfunding campaigns by offering unique, direct-to-fan experiences that could not be obtained elsewhere.
PledgeMusic has a strict application process, yet, also the industry’s highest success rate (although they take a 15% commission from all completed projects).
Acquaint yourself with all of the platforms and do some research. Ask people around you if they have had experiences, good or bad, and then make your informed decision.
2. Deciding the timing of your campaign
It is a natural thought to start your campaign with all of your cards out on the table, but I have learned that it is actually far more effective to continuously update your campaign with more and more as time goes on to keep interest high and persuade those still on the fence about which tier to go with for those on the fence about contributing to your campaign at all. So save some blog posts and update fodder for later in your 30 day sprint.
As with any launch, there is a long tail effect where the launch starts with a bang but then trails off, slowly fizzling out as time goes on. It is important to plan out the campaign so as to counteract this effect, keeping interest high throughout.
3. Partnering with friends and colleagues for mutual benefit
Crowdfunding campaigns can very quickly become about me, me, me. This is especially true when creating the rewards. And rightfully so in many cases… after all, this whole experience is about taking your followers and customers on your journey.
But why not get others involved?
When I ran my crowdfunding campaign, I reached out to several friends and allies in my industry to take part as well by offering up products and services for my reward tiers. I helped them to connect with their target audiences, and in return they helped to drive attention towards my campaign. Win-Win.
4. Creating ALL of the content needed for the campaign
There are two obvious pieces of content that you need for a crowd funding campaign:
7 to 9 levels of rewards
But something that you may completely overlook is the truly overwhelming amount of OTHER content that you will also need in order to launch your campaign, including:
Possible new pages on your website
Expanded campaign videos
Custom skins for your social media profiles
5. Overcoming Your Fear…
One of the biggest complaints about crowdfunding is the fear of failing, but you may encounter something else – it’s a different kind of fear. The fear of sharing your big dream. Your campaign probably isn’t just ‘help me build a new product’, create a new album, etc… this is ‘I’ve got a dream and it’s in your hands to help me achieve it’.
I found it incredibly difficult to find the best way of saying just how important this was for me and my clients feel the same, without it coming off as cheesy or cliche. My advice for this is – do it anyway – speak from your heart and be clear about what you want and how it benefits anyone who contributes and you will be sure to have a successful crowdfunding campaign.