Six Steps To A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money, promote your project and network at the same time. This has become very popular among artists, filmmakers, musicians and entrepreneurs online. It used to be that raising money meant that you had to be well connected and have a network of private investors to support your work. Now you can simply go online and use a website like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to make your project come to life. Here are some things to know before you get started on your crowdfunding campaign.

 Preparation
This is far and away the most important aspect of your campaign.  As a matter of fact preparation is even more important than the campaign itself when it comes right down to it.  A great idea, a noble campaign or an amazing project can still fail miserably in raising the funds it needs if you don’t prepare properly.

Hold on, I know some of you are already pointing to specific campaigns that threw up an idea on the spur of the moment and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It’s true, there are a few like that, and every week I see a few people in the news who win the lottery but I wouldn’t bet my project on that.

If you want to understand what preparation really means then you should read what Memoto did in raising more than $500,000 in their Kickstarter campaign.

 Promotion
Forget the idea that “if you post it, they will come”.  Creating a campaign on a crowdfunding site will not in itself drive traffic to your project.  The main purpose of these sites is to give you a platform from which you can manage your campaign and raise funds.  You must promote your project like you expect no one to have heard about it, because likely they haven’t.

Understand who your target market is and who is most likely to want to contribute to your campaign.  You don’t need to wait until your campaign is live to start promoting.  Let people know that it’s going to happen and try and build the anticipation so that when your campaign goes live you can drive a large amount of traffic as quickly as possible.

You may also want to consider a promotional giveaway where people can register and/or “like” your content in order to win a prize that is relevant to what you are eventually going to be doing.  A promotion is a great way to build an opt-in email list while promoting your upcoming campaign, by providing information and links to people as they are registering to win the giveaway.  Of course most of those people want the giveaway not the campaign, but if your prize is relevant you can limit that factor.  For example, if your campaign is going to be about eco-friendly wetsuits, giving away an iPad may not be as good an idea as giving away a surfboard.

Social Media Strategy
In today’s world there is no substitute for a strong Social Media presence, and having a strategy to utilize it effectively is critically important.  If you’re someone who already has a good network that you can use to help promote your campaign your already in a good position, however, if you’re not that doesn’t mean that you can’t get there.

There are usually two kinds of social networks, personal and business.  If your Facebook friends list can be counted on two hands you’re probably a little worried, but don’t be.  You just need to dig in and get to work by setting up accounts for Twitter, Facebook pages, Pinterest and a good blog site where all the content will revolve around the topic of your campaign.  You’ll need to post good articles or aggregate topical content and link to that content, tweet and post about it online and get involved in communities and forums where like-minded people hang out.

You want to build a following of people who are a good target audience for your campaign long before you launch, so that when you do, you now have a powerful Social Media network to help support your campaign and spread the word.

Giveaway Cool Stuff
People do not mind giving money to causes that they support, but they do want to get something in return.

Campaigns that are related to “tangible” items often create perks that are essentially “pre-sales” of the item, and the perks range from a single item to bulk orders that offer substantial discounts.  This can be a good strategy to raise the required funds, however keep in mind that if you bulk sell a lot of product at a low price you may end up price competing with those users as they resell them on eBay and Amazon.  You don’t want to destroy your sales channels or product value by flooding your market.

If your campaign isn’t a product then you need to figure out what types of things your audience would like to receive. It could be a t-shirt, poster, book, cd, download, or anything else you can think of as long as it is of good quality.  On the other hand if your campaign revolves around some “social good” or “cause” you may not need to offer a perk beyond a heartfelt thank you.

Make a Compelling Story
Talk honestly about your journey as the creator of the project.  Mention both your challenges and triumphs because that is what people really connect with. You do not need to be perfect, but you do need to be yourself.

Follow Through
Sometimes you’ll have a campaign that really resonates with people and you’ll be communicating with hundreds of funders and sometimes you’ll only get a few.

In either case you need to stick with the campaign by providing updates and following through with your marketing plan.  Even if your campaign does not reach its ultimate goal, you’re setting a precedent that will help you on your next go round, which in some cases may even be round two of your previous campaign.

When the campaign is over make sure to thank your supporters and let them know when they can expect to receive their perks.  By keeping an open line of communication you can save yourself from any headaches or issues with your supporters, especially if you run into any problems with getting the perks out on time.

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