Stop Dreaming. Start Crowdfunding.
Does your creativity keep you up at night?
Do you have a practical solution for a problem you can’t ignore?
Maybe there’s a movie you’re determined to create, or an album you want to record (just like TLC).
Maybe you have the coolest idea for a product you know people can’t live without, or you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own business.
You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the know-how, and you have the determination.
What’s holding you back? Most likely, the answer to that question has to do with money.
Luckily, thanks to crowdfunding, lack of money is an obstacle you have a better chance of overcoming without having to rely on venture capital, investors, or the bank, and it’s becoming easier and more popular than ever.
In 2014, the crowdfunding industry nearly tripled, becoming a $16 million dollar industry.
Even better, a crowdfunding campaign will give you the freedom to follow your passions and make your own decisions.
But creating a crowdfunding campaign isn’t easy, and many say it’s comparable to having a full-time job.
Here are ten tips that will make your campaign easier to manage and improve your chances of success:
1. Create a Community Social Media Presence Before You Launch Your Campaign
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
Once your campaign starts, you only have about thirty days to reach your goal. Dragging out your campaign for a longer period of time probably won’t help.
The first day, and even the first hour of your campaign, matter more than you might think, which is why it’s so important that you start finding backers well in advance.
Let your family and friends know about your campaign as soon as you can and start spreading the word ASAP.
It’s also important to create a community of people who will be excited to back you and help you spread the word the minute the campaign starts.
The creators of Exploding Kittens had it easy. They had a ready-made community of game lovers to reach out to (much, in part, thanks to Cards Against Humanity), not to mention the popularity of cats on the internet.
They introduced themselves to the world like this:
And then this happened:
Need help planning the timeline of your campaign? Here’s a free calendar from Indigogo and an actionable timeline.
2. Make Donating Irresistibly Easy
The campaign for Scrub Bugs looks great and promises a really useful, unique and cute product:
And the creators have professional website with a popup that makes backing their product easy:
Without an obvious, direct link to their campaign, would you dig around the internet trying to find their campaign page? Probably not.
In other words, don’t give potential backers time to think and change their minds.
3. Provide Perks and Rewards
Though it’s safe to assume that your backers will appreciate perks and rewards, and the idea of your backers walking around in t-shirts or carrying tote bags that advertise your project is appealing, it’s not necessary to spend a huge portion of your donations on swag.
What’s more important is giving backers a sense of participation and appreciation.
Many great rewards can cost next to nothing.
So get creative!
The creators of “Break if Off,” an independent film about a girl who gets dumped while trying on wedding dresses, are offering some pretty creative perks that range from invitations to their screening party to critiquing screenplays.
Need some ideas? You’ll find plenty here.
4. Solve Problems
Some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are for products that solve problems.
Can’t sleep because your spouse snores? Here’s a solution. Are you having trouble storing the lids of your pots and pans? There’s a solution for that, too.
Having to leave pets home alone is one common problem that’s being addressed by crowdfunding campaigns.
We love our pets and are happy to take care of them, but in this busy day and age, it’s nice to have some help.
Thanks to Petcube, humans and pets can stay connected even when they’re separated:
The creators of Petcube have taken to social media to share stories of satisfied customers:
Since their launch, Petcube has had tremendous success and has attracted attention the attention of CNet, Forbes, CNBC.
5. Hook Into Trends
Even before the bipartisan appeal for computer science education, the idea of teaching kids to code has been rapidly gaining popularity.
Code.org, an organization that helps bring computer science education to schools, turned their goal into a crowdfunding campaign:
“The Code.org team is working hard to put your donations to work: more new computer science teachers trained & more students learning foundational 21st-century skills that will change the rest of their lives.”
Almost immediately, they became the most successful Indiegogo campaign of all time:
The Hour Of Code is still going strong, with more students all over the world participating every year.
6. Keep Backers Updated
When Linda Liukas started the Kickstarter campaign that funded her extremely popular children’s book “Hello Ruby,” she knew what she was doing.
As what was done with The Hour of Code campaign, Linda drew on the popularity of coding for kids to her advantage. A kid-friendly computer science book was needed and very much in demand.
On top of that, she had built-in communities, including Rails Girls, to kick off her support.
She raised over one hundred thousand dollars in the first twenty-four hours.
But it was her interactions with her backers that pushed her to her final tally of $380,747. In addition to posting regular updates on Kickstarter, she blogged regularly about how her campaign was going and the development of her project.
Then she went above and beyond by sharing her knowledge of crowdfunding on Tumblr.
Linda’s success has continued to grow. Her book is selling all over the world, she gave a hit TED Talk, and she’s got new projects in the works.
7. Tell a Story
“Story is everything. Let me back up. Your story is everything. People aren’t so much getting behind the idea as they are getting behind your passion to produce it… It HAS to have heart.”
Nathaniel Hansen, filmmaker who raised over $350,000 on his crowdfunding campaign.
Buying a pan doesn’t seem like a huge deal. Even buying a nice cast iron skillet, with all the work involved in seasoning it and learning how to use it doesn’t seem like much to write home about.
And yet, by bringing in their childhood and sharing stories about their trip to Poland, the creators of The Field Skillet drew in backers with a compelling story:
Here are some tips from Kickstarter on telling your story.
8. Create a Powerful and Engaging Video
When Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, decided to buy Tesla’s original laboratory, he took to Indigogo. He had a solid idea and exciting perks, but the graphics and video, made with his already familiar artistic style, played a role in catching people’s attention.
Videos are embedded prominently on campaign pages, and are what potential backers see first. They also add authenticity and help backers get to know you. Campaigns with strong videos are 30 to 50 percent more successful than campaigns without.
His campaign was successful, but he had a problem:
The problem? The crowdfunding campaign raised enough to buy the land. But not enough to build the museum. Two years later, Matthew thought about what it would take to get Elon Musk (whose electric car company is called “Tesla” after Nikola Tesla) to contribute to the build. He decided to create a comic “What it’s like to own a Tesla Model S – A cartoonist’s review of his magical space car.”
It was a great idea, but it didn’t work.
Until he sent out a tweet:
Today, plans for the new museum are in the works!
These tips will help you create a powerful video of your own.
9. Fail With Grace and Keep Trying
What should you do if you’ve put your time and energy, not to mention your heart and soul, into a crowdfunding campaign that doesn’t work?
What you shouldn’t do is give up and stop trying. You can always try again.
Keep in mind that one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns failed the first time around. Instead of giving up, the creators of The Coolest Cooler analyzed their mistakes, improved their product, created a new video, and got the help of the backers they already had.
Update: Unfortunately, since their huge success, the creators of The Coolest Cooler have run into some trouble, which they are working hard to overcome:
10. Succeed and Keep Going
What do you do once your crowdfunding campaign succeeds? Celebrate! A lot. Perhaps with a bubbly beverage of your choosing.
Then, if you haven’t already, get the attention of the press, boost your social media presence and make sure you have a professional and easy to use website.
After that, keep creating. Case in point, NOMAD.
NOMAD’s first campaign, for a USB charger that fits in your wallet raised $161,000.
Not even a year later, they launched another campaign for a charger that looks like a key and charges your phone without an outlet and raised $172,274.
Their business has taken off, and they’re still creating new products.
Thanks to crowdfunding, people have been able to keep their pets, help the homeless, revive favorite childhood shows, benefit from medical care and advancements, discover new books, movies and music, and enjoy products that might not have been produced through more traditional methods.
If you have a creative idea, don’t be afraid to put it out there.
The world needs you.
So stop dreaming. Start crowdfunding.
“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”
~ Shel Silverstein
Have you ever run a crowdfunding campaign? Are you planning to? Leave a comment and share your experience.