So you’ve got a grand game-changing idea that will make the world a better place, and all you need is the money to make it happen? I’m going to share how I created my best crowdfunding campaign, and the mistakes I learned from my previous failed attempt.
Compared to Indiegogo and the like, Kickstarter gets the most traffic and has that “prestige” factor. It’s home of some of the world’s best crowdfunding campaigns that have seen huge success. One advantage that Indiegogo does have is that you can keep what you raise, even if you don’t reach the goal amount. With Kickstarter, you have to hit your total goal to cash out. Both will take a percentage of what you raise so read the fine print on all associated fees.
The advice I am going to share still applies whether you launch on Indiegogo, Kickstarter or any other donation or crowdfunding platform.
So my grand idea was to create a project around relocation. After two major international moves in as many years, I learned a lot and figured I could help others through the process. Given the increasing number of people moving for work and the rise of digital nomads, I wanted to create a fresh resource for modern (and mindful) relocation. This would include a guidebook, a workbook and additional online components to support and inspire #bigmoves.
Fast forward, through two Kickstarter campaigns, I am now the proud author of a guidebook called How To Make Big Moves: Relocate Without Losing Your Mind.
But let’s rewind back to why and how I put myself through the crowdfunding grind not once, but twice. The first time (20-day campaign, September 2015) I really did not know what the hell I was doing and, as such, was unsuccessful. However, I quickly learned from my mistakes and re-worked the project and re-launched a 30-day campaign in late December 2015.
Here are 10 of my key lessons learned which led to my BEST crowdfunding campaign ever
#1 The Why: Your Raison d’être of Your Kickstarter or Indiegogo Campaign
Why are you creating [insert project here] and what are the benefits to others. Really dig deep on this and write down your core motivations and. Write on Post-its and put the notes in a place where you can see them. When times get tough, it will be nice to have these reminders.
#2 The What: Your Product
This is your vision in tangible form. It goes without saying that it must be well researched and fill a gap in the marketplace. All components of your product must be clearly presented in a relatable way to instill confidence and generate interest. First, from investors, and second from your target market.
#3 Stating The Benefits Of Being A Part Of Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Why do people need your product?
Hone in on your ideal customer and create a persona for her or him. What movement or culture are you supporting, or trying to make better with your product offering?
#4 Your Best Crowdfunding Campaign Needs An Amazing Support System
Who is going to help you through the campaign? You might need a graphic designer, a marketing assistant and/or a PR consultant… What will you have to pay for these services?
You will most definitely need friends ready to answer your panic calls. Know who you can count on to calm your crazy.
In my best crowdfunding campaign, I made sure I lined up all the people who could assist in these areas so that I could be stress-free when I needed last-minute things dealt with.
#5 The Budget: Your Funding Goal
Of course, planning your best crowdfunding campaign ever needs to take having a proper budget into consideration.
This amount has to cover not only your start-up production costs, but also campaign costs, your rewards and (if not a digital product) shipping those rewards out to backers. As mentioned earlier, whichever crowdfunding platform you decide to use, there will be fees so read the terms and conditions carefully because this affects what you will net out on the campaign.
#6 The Money Rules Necessary For Your Best Crowdfunding Campaign
Do not forget these words: Know where the bulk of your funding is going to come from BEFORE you launch. Make a (long) list of people who you are confident will put money down in large or small amounts. Every dollar counts, so be grateful for anyone who comes through.
DO: Ask people to share the campaign and make sure your request is as compelling as possible.
DON’T: Ask people to share the campaign more than once.
#7 The Rewards
Backer rewards must be two things: (1) very appealing to potential backers and (2) produced at a reasonable cost to you.
If your rewards are too expensive they’ll drive up your funding goal and quite possibly make people think your aspirations are too high. I made this mistake the first time around. I was going to print the workbook and also produce tote bags.
Factoring in production costs and shipping, never mind the fact this would have been a ton of extra work for me, this was a very bad idea.
For the my best crowdfunding campaign, I chose to work with friends who already had great products that I could use. One was a naturopathic doctor who made essential oil blends that were perfect for travel. The other, her sister actually, had a beautiful collection of inspirational jewellery that fit perfectly with my whole “big moves” theme. Highly appealing, check. Cost effective, check.
#8 The Marketing
Think about your ideal customer and the different ways to reach them. If you don’t already have a built-in following on social media like, for example, Rachel Brathen (aka @yoga_girl) did for her oneOeight campaign, then you will need to get creative. Take a look at the best crowdfunding campaigns from other successful innovators which can help you get inspired.
Having the right eyes on your campaign will be a huge factor in having the best crowdfunding campaign in your industry.
Start with the emails you do have and focus on different pockets of people and create targeting emails and promotions with the intention of inspiring them to engage in your campaign.
Now, please don’t think you need to send out some big press release. There are many so-called PR pros that will, as soon as you launch your campaign, email you and offer to create buzz and traffic and blah. Some are legit, and most are absolutely not worth your money.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to reach out to the press during your campaign. Because of the volume of crowdfunding campaigns, journalists are quite skeptical and some publications have even refused coverage because successfully funded products have missed delivery deadlines and/or not reached the market at all. Better to save your PR pennies for after the campaign – when you can lead with “successfully funded on Kickstarter”.
However, this is not to say you should do zero PR. Put your energy into connecting with influencers. Do you have product samples or a prototype? If so, provide a select group with a demo package in exchange for them talking about it on social. If you are a member of groups like BossBabe, make sure to share your campaign as well as look for other Facebook groups that match your product’s target market. Abide by group rules and regs and share the key benefits of your product and the amazing rewards for backing the campaign.
#9 The Campaign Setup
Graphic design is important here. Lay the information out in sections; use lots of images to show the product and the people involved. A short video is crucial as potential backers want to see your excitement. Plus it will help you promote the campaign on Facebook.
I know, I know, video is scary…It took me a thousand takes the first time. By the second campaign I figured out a few tricks that made it easier and I will share those in the masterclass that you’ll find in the yes supply collective
In terms of how long your crowdfunding will run for, 30 days is the minimum, but take it to 40 days if you can. Not entirely sure why I thought I could do it in 20 the first time around. Anyway, lesson learned.
#10 The Updates
If you are running a month-long campaign you should plan at least one update, via the fundraising platform, per week. All the best crowdfunding campaign include regular updates to keep buyers happy and to give potential funders more reason to participate. These updates go out to backers with the goal of getting them to share your campaign. These people are your biggest cheerleaders after all, so do everything you can to engage and inspire them!
If you look at my campaign you will see only three updates, which were done in the last two weeks. This is because I was sending a lot of personal emails to make people aware of my second campaign; roping people back who had contributed before.
However, for Rachel Brathen’s oneOeight campaign you can see that updates were done almost daily . Take some inspiration from her methods for continuously connecting with the yoga community.
Want access to the COMPLETE hour long masterclass on how to successfully run and fund your best crowdfunding campaign ever? Join the yes supply collective and see the complete masterclass with Sara on How To Avoid Mistakes and Have A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign.
Sara Graham is a content creator and communications consultant, as well as a travel/style/business contributor at The Huffington Post. While producing content for both Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses, Sara launched three lifestyle blogs and continues to travel extensively. After two international relocations in as many years, she self-published a guidebook (though a successful Kickstarter campaign, of course) called How To Make Big Moves. Follow Sara as she makes her next move to Italy!